a TAPIF language assistant blog / un blog d’une assistante d’anglais

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chansons, Pt. 1

Well, as you know, I'm currently on my Greco-Roman adventure, and won't have time to do much real blogging. So here's a post I started when I'd been in Europe only three weeks, but never posted. Enjoy!


I thought I'd do a little something different today... this post is about music! Everyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE music. When I'm comfortable and happy, I sing a lot. Sometimes without even knowing it. (Or when I'm stressed, sometimes I also have to sing as an outlet or an escape.) Anyway, the convenience store where we go for WiFi (Ha, ha. I know.) plays music videos, and I also have a radio on my phone (DE-LUXE!) and while I know a lot of the songs because we play them at home, there are also lots that are new to me. Some I really like, others not so much. But here you go... here's what's playing in France right now! (I know some of the English language songs are probably out in the States already, but they're new to me here. I've been in Europe for three weeks already!)

DISCLAIMER: There's some risqué stuff happening in some of these videos, and if that bothers you, feel free to skip this post and/or just listen (rather than watch). Up to you, of course!

Marlon Roudette feat. Lala Joy "Anti-Hero (Le Saut de l'Ange)"
Canardo feat. Tal "M'en Aller"
SHY'M "On s'en fout de nous"
Khaled "C'est la vie"
Laza Morgan ft. Mavado "One by One"
1789, Les Amants de la Bastille* "Je veux le monde"
1789, Les Amants de la Bastille* "Tomber dans ses yeux"
Simple Plan feat. Sean Paul "Summer Paradise"
Psy "Gangnam Style" This one isn't French (it's actually South Korean) and I have NO idea what's going on. But it cracks.me.up. Also, this one is ALL.OVER.EUROPE. (...and probably the world, but it wasn't in Texas before I left).

Other (English language) songs, including Taylor Swift "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Cher Lloyd "I Want You Back," Adele "Skyfall," Carly Rae Jepson "Call Me Maybe," Muse "Madness," David Guetta feat. Sia "She Wolf (Falling to Pieces)", etc. are all over the place as well. 

I plan on doing a post like this periodically (that way I can remember later the sounds of my year in France). Hope you enjoyed your peek into French radio!

*This is a musical about the French Revolution. Haven't seen it, but I know it from these songs.

Also, on an unrelated note, it's my mom's birthday today! Buon compleanno from Rome, Mom!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mamma Mia!

Well, first of all, I haven't posted much about my life in Narbonne lately, and that's because things have been busy! I have (finally) started working, and I am enjoying it! There's a lot of variety as I work with lots of different classes, and the teachers I work with are really great. I feel really lucky because I've heard some interesting stories from some other assistants in other cities. I will write later about all my teaching adventures so far, and what my job is like. (Which, by the way, is mostly awesome. At least so far.)

Second of all, why is this post called Mamma Mia?

1) A little shout out to my mom, who sent me two packages with things I really needed/wanted from home!

Ta-da! All the way from Texas! :)

It's been a week. I have two left. I'd say that's pretty good.

2) An announcement: I have a two-week vacation starting tomorrow for All Saint's Day, or Toussaint. That's right, people. I've worked for two weeks and I am now getting a two-week vacation. (And, hopefully, a paycheck on Monday.) Where, you might ask? Let me give you a couple of hints...

Never heard of this book, but hope it's good!
Shout out to Frank Bordoni!
Someone go buy this book.

You don't have to buy this movie if you don't want to.

That's right, people! You guessed it. 

Tomorrow morning, I leave for Italy and Greece for a 15-day trip with my friend Kimberly! I'm KIND OF excited. Tentative plans: Milan - Venice - Athens - Naples - Rome - Florence. It's going to be amazing. I'm off to pack... Ciao!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fun. times in Barcelona!

This past weekend, I headed down to Barcelona for the weekend with a few girls from my program. We had planned the weekend back in July when Alexandra posted in our Facebook group that there would be a concert for the band Fun. on October 20th. A few of us decided to go, and it was amazing! Not only was it a chance to see Fun., but it was also an opportunity to visit a new city (and a new country, as Spain is the first new country for me during this trip - I had already been to Germany, Austria, and France before this year) and to meet some new friends!

I went with Natalie (from Minnesota), Natalie (from Chicago), and Alexandra (also from Chicago). The adventure began as both Natalies and I arrived Friday night, took the metro to our hostel, only to be greeted with a woman who rapidly and repeatedly told us (in Spanish or Catalan*)... well, something. As I don't speak Catalan or Spanish, you can understand how I don't know what she told us. Despite three blank stares and my repeated confession/supplication of "no entiendo," she refused to slow down. All I got was "todo completo," which is NOT great news. Moral of the story is that apparently our reservation did no good, and they had called another hostel where we could stay in separate rooms. Gracias?

Obviously that wouldn't work for us. I had spotted another hostel up the road, and after much effort (imagine me speaking Spanish through an intercom on the street in a bit of rain at night), we secured a hostel for a little more than we were originally going to pay, but we had a private room and the owner was awesome. So sweet, and allowed me to use my broken Spanish to communicate (she went slowly and made efforts to understand).

We headed out to get a very late dinner (at 12:40 am), and almost weren't allowed to eat (the restaurant closes at 1), but I assured the server that "puedo comer rápido."

macaroni with Catalan cheeses and sausage... delish

The next morning, I had to sort some things out with the lovely hostel lady. That went something like this: 

"Nosotros libre habitación a los doce, pero no dormir aquí esta noche. Puedo dejar (gesture for bags) aquí?"
("We free habitation at noon, but no to sleep here tonight. I can leave (gesture for bags) here?")

As you can see... my "Spanish skills" aren't great, but hey, it works.

Plaça Catalunya

more Plaça Catalunya

Then we headed down La Rambla...

which is a long street with shops and restaurants

...and a market!

(here begins a series of awesome super colorful market photos)

Natalie bought some of the candied walnuts, and they were delish.

action shot

dragon fruit... didn't even know that was a thing

las golosinas (candy!)

something about the arts... I dunno, it's pretty.

You know you're not in the Estados Unidos anymore when a
drinking fountain looks this pretty.

near the port

me and Natalie (Minnesota), just chillin' with this león

Check out Columbus, pointing to the sea.
(Also check out how GLOOMY it was Saturday in Barça!
But much better than rainy.)


ridiculousness, part 1

ridiculousness, part 2

This statue is called the "Cap de Barcelona," and it was designed by 
the American artist Roy Lichtenstein for the 1992 Summer Olympics.

our lunch spot - notice the Pizza Texana? I love how many "Texan" 
foods there are in Europe... which very rarely resemble anything Texan.


paella carne

all four of us post-lunch**

Obviously I need to live on this street, because this is where the party's at.

action shot! Minnesota Natalie took this picture while walking backwards.**

me gusta

We thought maybe we could go into this building...
we couldn't.

 "I'm not hungry at all." "Me neither." "Me neither!"
2 minutes later... gelato happened.**

Barcelona Cathedral
(There are apparently 13 geese kept in the cloister, which is
pretty legit. If only the line hadn't been forever long, we could've
visited our feathered friends.)

I really like old fortifications, and that's what I'm
guessing this might be?

People in Catalonia are very proud to be Catalonian...
you can see the flags (red and yellow stripes) everywhere.

It looks gloomy and cold, but it was actually pretty 
muggy and 23° (~73°).

On our way to Fun., I was clearly VIP as I had my own row of metro seats.**

After some confusion, rain, and a line, we found ourselves
(hot and sweaty) inside the Sala Bikini, which was a pretty sweet venue!

Walk the Moon, the opening act
(I'd never heard of them, but the couple songs we got to hear were
pretty good, especially this song.) (Soon I'll put up a video I took.)

And then... FUN.


Because it was a small venue, we were so close!


They were great live, and I loved getting to sing as loudly as I could to something familiar. I love and connect to music and it serves as a kind of escape for me (though right now, I don't need an escape, because if you haven't noticed, my life is pretty fantastic). Basically, it was so.much.Fun. (See what I did there?) Also, the lead singer (Nate)'s parents were there, and he played a song he wrote for them ("The Gambler"), and it was precious.

Here are some clips that I took during the concert. I apologize for the following:
     1) None of them are complete songs.
     2) They're shaky.
     3) You can probably hear my hoarse/loud/out-of-tune concert singing voice sometimes. (I have several more videos I'm not posting as to not assail your ears with my bad tired singing.)

Afterward, we were EXHAUSTED (twelve hours of walking followed by three hours of standing at a concert will make you tired) so we headed home to the hostel like the old ladies we apparently are.

The next day we got up and constructed our own little Gaudí tour of Barcelona. Gaudí was a famous architect whose style is very unique... as you'll see! His designs have a dream-like, whimsical quality.

 Casa Batlló (Gaudí)

close up

Casa Milà, aka La Pedrera (Gaudí)

Not Gaudí... but... CAROLINA HERRERA!

I got a little distracted.

Check it, the sun came out!

Palau Güell (Gaudí)

Plaça Reial

the Sagrada Família, Gaudí's magnum opus

construction started in 1882 and is set to be finished around 2026

Honestly, the one non-Fun. thing I definitely wanted to see this
weekend was the Sagrada Família (I wanted to go inside!), but
unfortunately the line was incredibly long and we couldn't go in.
I'm still pretty sad. Guess who'll have to come back to Barça!

more construction, and a statue showing the date 
when construction began

My feet hurt sooo badly at this point, you have no idea
how difficult it was to get up after this.

And just like that, way too quickly, our weekend in Barcelona was over. I would have loved to have been able to do more, but there just wasn't enough time. Fun. was awesome, and totally worth it. It was my first taste of Spain, though I'm told Barcelona is very different from the rest of Spain. I know that I really want to come back. Oh, and another thing, my feet hurt REALLY badly. I made a mistake (as a somewhat seasoned traveler, I should have known better) and made poor shoe choices. Don't.ever.do.that. (Thunderstorms were predicted all weekend, so I prepped with rain boots. Which, as it turns out, are incredibly uncomfortable.) Anyway, I will definitely be coming back sometime, hopefully this year. On the to-do list: inside Sagrada Família and a picnic in Parc Güell. It's gonna happen, people!

*Catalan is the language spoken in the region of Catalonia in Spain (and in France, too). It is kind of a mixture of Spanish and French. For instance, in French, exit is sortie, in Spanish, it's salida, in Catalan, it's sortida. However, not all words are that easy to figure out.

**These pictures stolen from Minnesota Natalie. Thank you! :)