Hello everyone and welcome to 2013! I have spent my vacation doing a ton of exciting things. I stayed in France to keep expenses down (heh, or at least I tried…) and got to spend Christmas in Nancy, Boxing Day in Strasbourg, New Years in Paris, and then I returned to Nancy. Just two days ago on January 13th, I attended (but did not take part in, if that makes sense) the enormous (~ 800,000 people) demonstrations against Gay Marriage and Adoption in Paris with my host family to acquire qualitative data for my thesis. What a break it’s been, although I never made it back to the States so I greatly miss my family, friends, and home. Finally I’ve had the chance to write a bit on it during my final week of break.
Christmas was spent at my friend Hugo’s house where his family welcomed a friend and I into their family’s holiday celebration. Let me just say that it is a good thing their entire family was staying at the house for the four days around the 25th because WOW, do they drink a lot of champagne and wine. It’s simply part of the Christmas holiday and serves discussion point for the whole family. Hugo’s parents went so far as to visit many of the wineries themselves to pick up the wines. On Christmas Eve, we stayed up until 4:00 am after opening presents at midnight. People talked, watched movies, and enjoyed people’s company. His family is very warm, inviting, and like no family I’ve ever met before! Hugo’s mother made a gracious effort to make the holiday special for the two visiting American “ambassadors,” making us translate (in French) what Hugo announced in English to present the dinner menu. Nevertheless, I missed my family greatly and look forward to seeing them hopefully this spring.
After Christmas, I dashed off to stay in Hugo’s apartment in Strasbourg with Mackenzie. This was a great time of recuperation away from Hugo’s lovely (as well as warmly exhausting) family. The famous Strasbourg Christmas markets were still in fill swing and we took part in the festivities by walking the city and seeing parts we had missed on our previous visits. The Cathedral is the third largest church in the world, and extremely impressive. I consider it more interesting than Notre Dame de Paris, even, because of the dark facade that shows its old age.
From Strasbourg, Mackenzie and I continued on to Paris where we met Hugo in the train station (Gare de l’Est). We took a taxi to a his sister’s beautiful Montmartre apartment, situated near metro stop Guy Moquet. There, we spent a few days touring Paris before Mackenzie left for NYC to visit her boyfriend for the remainder of the break. Meanwhile, Hugo and our friend Jean-Félix enjoyed the neighborhood, went to eat Japanese food in the 1er Arrondissement, and got to experience midnight on the 31st in the Metro system! The Parisians went wild as the clock struck midnight. They poured glasses of wine for one another and clinked together their bottles. Soon after we had finished discovering the Parisian New Year, we returned home.
I returned from Paris to Nancy where I spent the next week preparing for school, staying active in the park (it was in the 40’s and 50’s, so I could go on runs and such) and visiting with French friends who were slowly returning from their breaks. I got a little bored during these few weeks, so I did the following things to stay productive:
1) I got creative and painted 4 paintings, including one of feet. I included the pre-sketch below!
2) Went to the library to read a book my professor sent me from my University on biodynamic wine in Oregon. I’m now in the process of indexing the book in a way she can easily use it when writing her papers. Even if she never uses it (she never asked me to do this), I will simply have a better understanding of the book by the end! It’s called Voodoo Vintners.
3) I decided what I would write my thesis on (still quite generalized at the moment): Catholic family culture in Nancy in reference to its disapproval of the “Marriage for all” law that will undoubtedly be passed in the French Congress this spring.
4) To begin my study (well, I already began it when I moved to my Catholic host family’s home in September, but now it’s official), I have already done two interviews, one of which was with a priest this morning that my host family knows. I went to the presbytery in the snow this morning to do the interview. It was great to experience and see where a priest lives. It’s a quaint little house that smells of old, musty wood (much like a barn). This interview proved to be one that will be invaluable to have collected for the sake of diverse qualitative data for my thesis next fall.
Lastly, since it dumped snow today, I took advantage and took some pictures. You may recognize many of the spots like the canal, the park, and the cathedral, so look carefully! Enjoy the photos, and above all, good health to you all this New Year (or as the French say, Bonne Année! Et Bonne Santé, Surtout!).