Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Snow & Notre-Dame de Guadalupe :D (another long one)

I brought Wisconsin snow with me!
It's the first snow in Paris today!! However, since I have come down with a cold, I am not going to class today and I will not be able to capture Eiffel, the Champs-Elysee, or other sights in the snow. Tear tear. I will get them later, I promise. In the mean time, enjoy the pictures from my house! Also below, that would be Jean-Pierre, who loves to hang out with me now... I guess he knows that I'm leaving and that's why he's happy.
So today, I'm staying indoors and watching a couple movies (Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati and Cléo de 5 à 7 by Agnes Varda) for film class and getting a start on my extensive reading list for this winter break (Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen and Désert by J.M.G. Le Clézio) both which are in french! Also, my host family and I are decorating the Christmas tree today! It's called a "sapin" in french. I probably should be going over some notes, but most likely I will probably get a start on my Italian phrasebook/pictionnary. But here's a picture of the tree inside the Galeries Lafayette. Pretty in Pink.
Notre-Dame de Guadalupe
Alright, for those of you who are Catholic and know about Our Lady of Guadalupe (in spanish: La Virgen de Guadalupe) you know that she appeared to Juan Diego on Dec 12th 1531 almost 480 years ago, as the story goes. Our Lady of Guadalupe is an icon of Virgin Mary in the Hispanic community, mostly Mexican because she appread in the city of Tepeyac near Mexico City today. So every year on Dec 12th, there is a special mass in commemoration to her. Considering I am living in a city with a church dedicated to Mary aka. The Notre-Dame (Our Lady in French) I figured that there would be a mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe. AND YES THERE WAS!! Not only was there a mass, but there was also a Mariachi Band that provided the music DURING the mass! I can't explain how excited I was. So last saturday at noon, I witnessed the most beautiful mass dedicated to the Virgen de Guadalupe in my life.
Outside the Notre Dame. Followed by the small chapel inside dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I felt like I was home. I felt like I really really belonged there. The mexican music, mexican food, mexican people, even the priest was mexican. The mass was in spanish and french, the two languages that my heart beats to. (alright I know that last part was a little cheesy, but its true).
I had an epiphany during the mass. I realized that I had been depressed for the last couple of weeks because I missed my family and friends. I realized that this was not an easy transition. I had been naive to think that everything would have been easy, and I feel that it was the perfect timing for me to "wake-up" and see things for what they are. 2010 is arriving and nothing is better than starting new and making the best of it for the new year. To top it off, I was interviewed by one of Televisa's reporters so hey if you're in Mexico and you saw me.. let me know!! Her question was " Are you Mexican? How do you feel to be here in Paris celebrating la Virgen de Guadalupe at this historical church? " wowowowooww.

Paris Winter Wonderland
Above: Place de La Concorde (where Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette got their heads chopped off marking the beginning of the French Republique).
Above: The Champs-Elysee. You can kind of see the Arc de Triomphe at the end there.
Everyone is in the Christmas spirit. Below is the building in detail.
Above is the Champs-Elysee which has all the Christmas Creshes. Nativity little stores, its hard to explain so I hope you know what they are. Anyway, I have seen them in every city that I have visited. Paris has quite a few streets that have these. Barcelona did too. People, this is where your presents are coming from. haha.

My own little chic apartment in Paris
I got the keys to my new apartment last night and I think it's really gonna help me 100%. In my studies, in my faith, and in the search for what I want to do with my life. Incredible right? I move in January 5th, just after I return from Italy. I'm sad to leave my host family because they were great especially because they've helped me a lot in finding the strenght when discovering a new culture and way of life. I definitely know it was worth it, but I know I need this new apartment to finish what I am meant to learn.

The Louvre (finally)
Last week, I made my way to the Louvre for the first time with my friend Eric. Alright I know, I have been here for more than 2 months and I hadn't gone yet. Well, I finally did. THE LOUVRE IS HUGE! It was the first sunday of the month so it was free, but that also meant a 2hour line. It was alright though, I only felt the presence of all the people when we were taking a look at the Jaconde (Mona Lisa). I then returned later than week on friday after 6pm when its free for those 25 and under. It was a part of the Louvre Nocturne, which is basically a group of students that present paintings or other artifacts. It was really nice to learn about the museum that way. Yet another reason why I love Paris, being under 25 has sooo soo many benefits.
Wait, what is everyone trying to take a picture of? Oh yeah... only the most visited painting in the world right....? The Mona Lisa! ahaha.Oh by the way, some of the museums and the suburban trains have been on strike for quite a while. What does this mean? That means it takes 2 hours for me to get to class everyday and 2 hours to return. Also it means that Eric couldn't see the Musee D'Orsay when he was here last weekend. That is France for you. Proof below.
Cooking Class
My friend Meg Mahon, who I met this summer at Midd @ Mills invited me to a cooking class last week. The instructor is so nice and the class was in her apartment which had a panoramic view of Paris. It is my dream to have an apartment like hers. Also, I think I'm her favorite student because I payed a lot of attention and I resemble one of her cousins. (haha) On the menu: Courgettes Croquants, Marget de Canard Grilles, Salade de Mache aux coquilles St. Jacques, un Tarte Tatin, et des champignons farci. If you want, you can translate the menu yourself, because it won't do it justice if I do it. I'm taking three more classes, so I will keep you updated on what we make.
Doesn't that last picture (the Marget de Canard Grilles) look so delicious!? Well it was, I can tell you that.

I'm wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! I think I will be able to update while I am in Italy, but if now. Happy New Year 2010 as well!!

With hugs,
Mayra <3

Ps. Here is a clip after the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass when we made the circle to the Chapel and sang songs for her. Incredible!!
video

Monday, December 7, 2009

starting with London & Oxford ending with Barcelona (warning: its a long update..)

Eurostar to London
The weekend of Nov 20-23rd I took my first EuroTrip to London. I took the Eurostar, the train that goes straight to London across the Chunnel!! It was approx 2h30min. Rountrip price was only 60 euros! Of course, I had the earliest trains at 6am both ways, but either way it was worth it! So I'm of to an english speaking country..... woooo!
London and Barbican Jill.
Jill met me at St. Pancras and I was directly on my way to my first London sight the minute I got off the train: Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross! It took us a while to find it since the train station is under construction (for the Olympics 2012 & stuff) but when we found it, I was bit dissapointed. Don't worry I still love you Harry!! Jill and I then saw New Moon (it was my second time watching it since it came out two days earlier in France) and since our day had started so early we had so much time on our hands. We then met up Kristin and they both took me on a "Historic London" tour. Including Buckingham Palace (pictured above), St. James Park, Picadilly Circus, Oxford Circus (the shopping equivalent of Champs-Elysee?), The London Eye, Big Ben & Parliament, the Tube experience, fish n chips, and so much more.
During the grand tour of London, I realized that I knew almost nothing about this city, not even what the big tourist sights were or anything. I'm happy that I was able to have two great great city guides with me. However, I feel like my visit of London wasn't that long (so I have promised my friend Silvia that I will return- and spend all the pounds that I have left over-- like a bag full!).
Oxford and Eric
After spending all of Friday in London, Jill-Kristin-and I were all off to Oxford (about 1.5 hours from London) to visit my friend Mr. Eric Rucker studying at Oxford this fall. Yes, like Oxford as in the oldest university in the English speaking world (according to wiki). We visited the Museum of the History of Science & the Oxford University Museum of Natural History & of course Christ Church! For those of you Harry Potter lovers, the Christ Church dining hall, is indeed the Great Hall in HP. Wowzaa! The museums had Darwin expositions because it was the anniversary of his findings/research so that was interesting. I sometimes forget about what I learned in high school. Wow, I did learn something! In the end, I have to say that Oxford was a bit toooo tiny for me, but I loved the history that is attached to that town. The entire weekend I was unable to speak english correctly, or any language as a matter of fact.
One week back in Paris, and its Thanksgiving!
So the Thanksgiving spirit was completely absent in Paris. Except for my fellow american friends that are also living here.. no one wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. I think ONE person from back home sent me a message (my brother- who is probs the last person I would expect it from). Anyway, I was invited by my friend Margaret Schultz from Hamilton College to their program's Thanksgiving dinner. It marked my 4th official Thanksgiving dinner. Yes because my first was with Alicia Zhang who delivered her own cooked meal to my house junior year of high school- second, when I decided to do it myself at home, but with boxed stuffing and mash- and third, last year with my ex Michael and his family (which is more accurately the first). Voila. It was amazing, and I loved being with all the students like me, studying in Paris from the States. Margaret has invited me to Brooklyn for Thanksgiving, and I am so not going to forget, so that's what I'm doing next year!!
Barcelona and the Mediterranean
While my fellow Americans were getting their sleep in preparation for Black Friday, I was on my way to Barcelona. I had been waiting all week for this trip, because of course I was very excited to finally speak Spanish freely and incorrectly (my Spanish has gotten rusty with the whole Americanisation and Frenchisation thing over the years). Anyway, I have completely fallen in love with the city. The first day, Margaret & I took the cable car ride across one of the ports, and it was incredible, it reminded me so much of Mexico (there is a cable car in Zacatecas, MX that rides across the city- one of the longest in the world). Saturday was above all my favorite day, we did so much (thanks to Mandy and her lovely planning).
Everything Gaudi
If you don't know about Salvador Dali, alright that's fine. If you don't know who Antionio Gaudi is, then you are not a fully cultured person (face it). Gaudi is the emblem of Barcelona where also the language is not Spanish, but Catalan. And don't you dare say Castellano. We visited the major works of Gaudi: La Pedrera (house-now apartments designed by him), La Sagrada Familia (catholic church), and Park Guell (awesome park with houses designed by him again). Simply incredible. La Sagrada Familia-pictured above- is probably my favorite of all, only because its been in construction for about 120 years and still has about 50 more to go. I promise myself I will be there on its inaguration day! We also ventured into La Boqueria, the huge market off Las Ramblas (party streeet). The girls and I bought grapes, champagne, cheese, bread, plastic knives (very important) and had a party. Lovely! I can't wait to do that again once it gets nicer in Paris.
Jaime!
Barcelona would not have been Barcelona without my friend Jaime Viteri. Ohhhhh how much I have missed him! Although we haven't hung out at Marquette a lot a lot a lot, I feel like we're tight and I could go to him for anything. Jaimeeee you're the best!! He invited my friends and I to a party (which actually overlooked the market we had been to earlier) and I felt like I was able to be a real college student there. (okay I am not talking about the drinking part) I mean, the part where you meet people from all over the place and they have really really cool aspirations and you just want to tell them how cool they are. Yup that's what it was like. Not to mention the group of francophones that were there who spoke spanish/french/english probably the first time I have ever encountered anyone with those abilitiessss. Sigh**** haha!

Well overall, I loved Barcelona (I am now a Barca fan!) and I will go back to London in Jan/Feb. My two eurotrips were a successss and I'm happy to tell you that I'm going to Italy for Christmas/Winter Break/New Years to visit my friends Maria & Luca! ahhhH! Wowwowowowowowowoww! Sorry for the long update, but atleast it had pics... right?

with hugs,
<3 Mayra.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Snow & Notre-Dame de Guadalupe :D (another long one)

I brought Wisconsin snow with me!
It's the first snow in Paris today!! However, since I have come down with a cold, I am not going to class today and I will not be able to capture Eiffel, the Champs-Elysee, or other sights in the snow. Tear tear. I will get them later, I promise. In the mean time, enjoy the pictures from my house! Also below, that would be Jean-Pierre, who loves to hang out with me now... I guess he knows that I'm leaving and that's why he's happy.
So today, I'm staying indoors and watching a couple movies (Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati and Cléo de 5 à 7 by Agnes Varda) for film class and getting a start on my extensive reading list for this winter break (Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen and Désert by J.M.G. Le Clézio) both which are in french! Also, my host family and I are decorating the Christmas tree today! It's called a "sapin" in french. I probably should be going over some notes, but most likely I will probably get a start on my Italian phrasebook/pictionnary. But here's a picture of the tree inside the Galeries Lafayette. Pretty in Pink.
Notre-Dame de Guadalupe
Alright, for those of you who are Catholic and know about Our Lady of Guadalupe (in spanish: La Virgen de Guadalupe) you know that she appeared to Juan Diego on Dec 12th 1531 almost 480 years ago, as the story goes. Our Lady of Guadalupe is an icon of Virgin Mary in the Hispanic community, mostly Mexican because she appread in the city of Tepeyac near Mexico City today. So every year on Dec 12th, there is a special mass in commemoration to her. Considering I am living in a city with a church dedicated to Mary aka. The Notre-Dame (Our Lady in French) I figured that there would be a mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe. AND YES THERE WAS!! Not only was there a mass, but there was also a Mariachi Band that provided the music DURING the mass! I can't explain how excited I was. So last saturday at noon, I witnessed the most beautiful mass dedicated to the Virgen de Guadalupe in my life.
Outside the Notre Dame. Followed by the small chapel inside dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I felt like I was home. I felt like I really really belonged there. The mexican music, mexican food, mexican people, even the priest was mexican. The mass was in spanish and french, the two languages that my heart beats to. (alright I know that last part was a little cheesy, but its true).
I had an epiphany during the mass. I realized that I had been depressed for the last couple of weeks because I missed my family and friends. I realized that this was not an easy transition. I had been naive to think that everything would have been easy, and I feel that it was the perfect timing for me to "wake-up" and see things for what they are. 2010 is arriving and nothing is better than starting new and making the best of it for the new year. To top it off, I was interviewed by one of Televisa's reporters so hey if you're in Mexico and you saw me.. let me know!! Her question was " Are you Mexican? How do you feel to be here in Paris celebrating la Virgen de Guadalupe at this historical church? " wowowowooww.

Paris Winter Wonderland
Above: Place de La Concorde (where Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette got their heads chopped off marking the beginning of the French Republique).
Above: The Champs-Elysee. You can kind of see the Arc de Triomphe at the end there.
Everyone is in the Christmas spirit. Below is the building in detail.
Above is the Champs-Elysee which has all the Christmas Creshes. Nativity little stores, its hard to explain so I hope you know what they are. Anyway, I have seen them in every city that I have visited. Paris has quite a few streets that have these. Barcelona did too. People, this is where your presents are coming from. haha.

My own little chic apartment in Paris
I got the keys to my new apartment last night and I think it's really gonna help me 100%. In my studies, in my faith, and in the search for what I want to do with my life. Incredible right? I move in January 5th, just after I return from Italy. I'm sad to leave my host family because they were great especially because they've helped me a lot in finding the strenght when discovering a new culture and way of life. I definitely know it was worth it, but I know I need this new apartment to finish what I am meant to learn.

The Louvre (finally)
Last week, I made my way to the Louvre for the first time with my friend Eric. Alright I know, I have been here for more than 2 months and I hadn't gone yet. Well, I finally did. THE LOUVRE IS HUGE! It was the first sunday of the month so it was free, but that also meant a 2hour line. It was alright though, I only felt the presence of all the people when we were taking a look at the Jaconde (Mona Lisa). I then returned later than week on friday after 6pm when its free for those 25 and under. It was a part of the Louvre Nocturne, which is basically a group of students that present paintings or other artifacts. It was really nice to learn about the museum that way. Yet another reason why I love Paris, being under 25 has sooo soo many benefits.
Wait, what is everyone trying to take a picture of? Oh yeah... only the most visited painting in the world right....? The Mona Lisa! ahaha.Oh by the way, some of the museums and the suburban trains have been on strike for quite a while. What does this mean? That means it takes 2 hours for me to get to class everyday and 2 hours to return. Also it means that Eric couldn't see the Musee D'Orsay when he was here last weekend. That is France for you. Proof below.
Cooking Class
My friend Meg Mahon, who I met this summer at Midd @ Mills invited me to a cooking class last week. The instructor is so nice and the class was in her apartment which had a panoramic view of Paris. It is my dream to have an apartment like hers. Also, I think I'm her favorite student because I payed a lot of attention and I resemble one of her cousins. (haha) On the menu: Courgettes Croquants, Marget de Canard Grilles, Salade de Mache aux coquilles St. Jacques, un Tarte Tatin, et des champignons farci. If you want, you can translate the menu yourself, because it won't do it justice if I do it. I'm taking three more classes, so I will keep you updated on what we make.
Doesn't that last picture (the Marget de Canard Grilles) look so delicious!? Well it was, I can tell you that.

I'm wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! I think I will be able to update while I am in Italy, but if now. Happy New Year 2010 as well!!

With hugs,
Mayra <3

Ps. Here is a clip after the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass when we made the circle to the Chapel and sang songs for her. Incredible!!
video

Monday, December 7, 2009

starting with London & Oxford ending with Barcelona (warning: its a long update..)

Eurostar to London
The weekend of Nov 20-23rd I took my first EuroTrip to London. I took the Eurostar, the train that goes straight to London across the Chunnel!! It was approx 2h30min. Rountrip price was only 60 euros! Of course, I had the earliest trains at 6am both ways, but either way it was worth it! So I'm of to an english speaking country..... woooo!
London and Barbican Jill.
Jill met me at St. Pancras and I was directly on my way to my first London sight the minute I got off the train: Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross! It took us a while to find it since the train station is under construction (for the Olympics 2012 & stuff) but when we found it, I was bit dissapointed. Don't worry I still love you Harry!! Jill and I then saw New Moon (it was my second time watching it since it came out two days earlier in France) and since our day had started so early we had so much time on our hands. We then met up Kristin and they both took me on a "Historic London" tour. Including Buckingham Palace (pictured above), St. James Park, Picadilly Circus, Oxford Circus (the shopping equivalent of Champs-Elysee?), The London Eye, Big Ben & Parliament, the Tube experience, fish n chips, and so much more.
During the grand tour of London, I realized that I knew almost nothing about this city, not even what the big tourist sights were or anything. I'm happy that I was able to have two great great city guides with me. However, I feel like my visit of London wasn't that long (so I have promised my friend Silvia that I will return- and spend all the pounds that I have left over-- like a bag full!).
Oxford and Eric
After spending all of Friday in London, Jill-Kristin-and I were all off to Oxford (about 1.5 hours from London) to visit my friend Mr. Eric Rucker studying at Oxford this fall. Yes, like Oxford as in the oldest university in the English speaking world (according to wiki). We visited the Museum of the History of Science & the Oxford University Museum of Natural History & of course Christ Church! For those of you Harry Potter lovers, the Christ Church dining hall, is indeed the Great Hall in HP. Wowzaa! The museums had Darwin expositions because it was the anniversary of his findings/research so that was interesting. I sometimes forget about what I learned in high school. Wow, I did learn something! In the end, I have to say that Oxford was a bit toooo tiny for me, but I loved the history that is attached to that town. The entire weekend I was unable to speak english correctly, or any language as a matter of fact.
One week back in Paris, and its Thanksgiving!
So the Thanksgiving spirit was completely absent in Paris. Except for my fellow american friends that are also living here.. no one wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. I think ONE person from back home sent me a message (my brother- who is probs the last person I would expect it from). Anyway, I was invited by my friend Margaret Schultz from Hamilton College to their program's Thanksgiving dinner. It marked my 4th official Thanksgiving dinner. Yes because my first was with Alicia Zhang who delivered her own cooked meal to my house junior year of high school- second, when I decided to do it myself at home, but with boxed stuffing and mash- and third, last year with my ex Michael and his family (which is more accurately the first). Voila. It was amazing, and I loved being with all the students like me, studying in Paris from the States. Margaret has invited me to Brooklyn for Thanksgiving, and I am so not going to forget, so that's what I'm doing next year!!
Barcelona and the Mediterranean
While my fellow Americans were getting their sleep in preparation for Black Friday, I was on my way to Barcelona. I had been waiting all week for this trip, because of course I was very excited to finally speak Spanish freely and incorrectly (my Spanish has gotten rusty with the whole Americanisation and Frenchisation thing over the years). Anyway, I have completely fallen in love with the city. The first day, Margaret & I took the cable car ride across one of the ports, and it was incredible, it reminded me so much of Mexico (there is a cable car in Zacatecas, MX that rides across the city- one of the longest in the world). Saturday was above all my favorite day, we did so much (thanks to Mandy and her lovely planning).
Everything Gaudi
If you don't know about Salvador Dali, alright that's fine. If you don't know who Antionio Gaudi is, then you are not a fully cultured person (face it). Gaudi is the emblem of Barcelona where also the language is not Spanish, but Catalan. And don't you dare say Castellano. We visited the major works of Gaudi: La Pedrera (house-now apartments designed by him), La Sagrada Familia (catholic church), and Park Guell (awesome park with houses designed by him again). Simply incredible. La Sagrada Familia-pictured above- is probably my favorite of all, only because its been in construction for about 120 years and still has about 50 more to go. I promise myself I will be there on its inaguration day! We also ventured into La Boqueria, the huge market off Las Ramblas (party streeet). The girls and I bought grapes, champagne, cheese, bread, plastic knives (very important) and had a party. Lovely! I can't wait to do that again once it gets nicer in Paris.
Jaime!
Barcelona would not have been Barcelona without my friend Jaime Viteri. Ohhhhh how much I have missed him! Although we haven't hung out at Marquette a lot a lot a lot, I feel like we're tight and I could go to him for anything. Jaimeeee you're the best!! He invited my friends and I to a party (which actually overlooked the market we had been to earlier) and I felt like I was able to be a real college student there. (okay I am not talking about the drinking part) I mean, the part where you meet people from all over the place and they have really really cool aspirations and you just want to tell them how cool they are. Yup that's what it was like. Not to mention the group of francophones that were there who spoke spanish/french/english probably the first time I have ever encountered anyone with those abilitiessss. Sigh**** haha!

Well overall, I loved Barcelona (I am now a Barca fan!) and I will go back to London in Jan/Feb. My two eurotrips were a successss and I'm happy to tell you that I'm going to Italy for Christmas/Winter Break/New Years to visit my friends Maria & Luca! ahhhH! Wowwowowowowowowoww! Sorry for the long update, but atleast it had pics... right?

with hugs,
<3 Mayra.