Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tim's Pre-France Blog!

"And tonight will go on forever while we
Walk around this town like we own the streets
And stay awake through summer like we own the heat
Singing 'Everybody wake up! (Wake up!) It's time to get down!'"

-Brand New Soco Amaretto Lime


The countdown has officially begun! As of this post, in less than two weeks, I will board the plane that will officially mark the beginning of my excursion to France: the world-renown centerpiece of food, architecture, and beautiful scenery (but apparently not soccer). What perfect reasons to make every single second of every minute count while I'm overseas. Who knows if I'll ever have the chance to do this again?

The lowdown for this upcoming attraction is about a group of students traveling to a distant country for a month of learning not only a foreign language and their history but about what we ourselves are capable of when completely submersed in a foreign culture. We'll be completely and utterly enveloped in a language that some of us will have to work extra hard to understand quickly. It's going to be challenging, but I know we're all up for it. Speaking of challenges, I would like to send a special shout-out and thank Mr. Euro for its continued domination over the American Dollar. It's going to be a challenge just not to buy every other item I see on the streets within the first week!

As you all will be reading my words, I believe it's best to explain a bit about myself. I'm a Stony Brook junior/senior majoring in Psychology and Sociology. My overall goal in life is to research/teach neuroscience at a research university like Stony Brook. I'm traveling to France to begin my training in the French language and culture so that I'll accomplish some life goals of mine: to be multi-lingual and also to be as well rounded in life as possible. In my spare time I write and record music in my studio, play hockey and frisbee with friends, and enjoy taking photographs and throwing myself into situations that are way over my head.

So here's what I expect in France: a lot of hard work, a lot of laughs, and a lot of food. One of the things I'm most looking forward to will be the copious amount of cuisines I will devour on a daily basis. Not to mention, I would love to sample some of their exquisite wines and spend a few days visiting their beaches! July is going to be their hottest/driest month of their season, so I'll assume it'll also be the busiest month for their Mediterranean shore! I can't think of a better place to surround myself in their culture and observe some of their... fashion.

I recently went to a local Applebee's for some scrumptious half-priced appetizers and a few drinks with friends that have traveled through Europe and France. They recommended a few places to visit and some tips on surviving (pretty much, learn to speak French as quickly as possible if I want my life to be easy). One fact they stressed through the entire night (and something that even more people have placed emphasis on to make sure I realized where I'm going) was that the beauty of southern France is absolutely unparalleled!

A photographer's paradise!!!

I cannot stress enough how excited I am about going overseas! I'll do my best to entertain you all with my words of wisdom, opinions, pictures and stories! So stay tuned...


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Casey's Pre-Departure Blog

Bonjour, mes amis!!
In four and a half weeks’ time, I will be en route to beautiful Montpellier in the south of France. Not a big deal or anything. Everyone asks, “So what are your plans for the summer?” It’s one of those questions you face all the time as a college student, but only like 32% of the askers actually care about the answer. So I casually lean back in my chair and mention that I’m going to France. They start caring. At that point in the conversation I usually answer an important text or check my important nail beds... let the message sink in.
But really... I’ve never been out of the country before, and how great it is that my first international experience will be in France! I’ve studied French language since grade school, but I must say it doesn’t come in all too handy around here. Whenever I venture to drop a French phrase around here, I get an impatient “Huh?” and a “please-stop-trying-to-show-off” eyeroll. Fine. You have left me no choice but to go where my skills will be appreciated. Au revoir, suckers!
But really... To be perfectly honest, one needn’t be fluent to get by in France. Most French citizens speak English. I’ve resolved to study anyway before leaving-- it’ll be interesting to see how far my French will get me.
Sooo let’s talk about how extremely pumped I am about going! I live for new experiences, and what’s more unfamiliar to me than a month in a foreign country, taking classes in a foreign university, walking the streets of a foreign capital city? Ohh and the food! Expect a thorough analysis of French vegetarian cuisine. It might be slim pickings, since French cuisine is typically rather meaty and fishy. While I normally follow a vegan diet, research tells me I’ll probably have to accept cheese if I want to get by over there. But cheese is a big deal in France, so I’ll probably dive head-in to that and return to the states a cheese connoisseur. And oh, what to pack... I’ve been told by at least six people that the south of France is hot hot hot in July. That’s a start.
We leave New York on July 3rd and fly back in on the 31st, so we’ll have an entire month to explore and be French. I’ll miss American Independence Day on the fourth but I’ll be off celebrating French Independence Day (La Fête Nationale) on the fourteenth. Exciting much?
I’ll be taking a course in French language and one in French culture (for a total of 6 credits) at the University of Montpellier. Apart from Intensive Intermediate French last summer, my college career has been (and will likely continue to be) French-free, as I’m quite-busy-enough-thank-you with my premed curriculum. I love the French language and culture, but there’s little wiggle room in my fall and spring schedules as long as I’m fulfilling the requirements of a Biology major and premed student (when my brain shifts to full out science gear). I think if I’m going to go on with my French, I’m gonna do it the right way-- overseas, bien sûr!
Till next entry..

À tout à l’heure,