Monday, June 23, 2008

When I was your age, the train went uphill both ways...

Usually when I want to go somewhere, I get in the car and drive. Clearly, this is not the case here in Europe. Today I used several different types of transportation.

1) Bicycle. Because I only had an hour before I needed to head out for the train to Switzerland, I rented a short-term bike and rode to the River Seine. Once there, I parked my bike, sat on the quai (the walkway next to the river) and soaked in the sight of the Notre Dame one last time.

2) My feet. I walked to the train station, my backpack loaded with new exciting things (which made it very heavy!). The walk was not only a great way to see the sights, but it was also great exercise!

3) Train. The train is a great, efficient way to get people from one big city to the next- and it saves a lot of gas! The best part, though, is the view. My train wove through countrysides, which turned into hillsides, which turned into a backdrop of mountains and lakes. Switzerland.

4)Car. My host family here, the Wetzels, picked me up in their car. Even though their car has lots of seats and room in it, it is still pretty small. Whereas they may have had an SUV or a minivan in the states, they have a much more compact car here, which makes parking a lot easier!

I spoke to a Swiss friend that I knew when I lived here before, and when I asked her what the biggest differences between Swiss and American schools are, one of the first things that she said was, "We took the train to school." When she was young, she walked to the station with her mom, got on the train, rode it for a couple stops, then got off and walked the rest of the way to school. I love that idea of independence and responsibility at such a young age.

Okay, question time:

-Mrs. Choren asked about French bakery (bread, etc.) in students' lunches. Students in French schools ALWAYS have bread with their meals, according to Luiza. In fact, when they go to visit other countries, they are a bit perplexed with what to do if they are not served bread with their meals.

- Mr. Schlenker asked about what I meant by "French and un-French". You pretty much nailed it on the head. French people were much more engaged in their discussions, while non-French were engaged in their surroundings. French linger a bit more. Non-french are frankly a little louder. Neither was good or bad- it was a fun game to walk down a street, spot a group of folks and try and guess (before I could hear what language they were speaking) if they were French or not.
-Nathan asked about my favorite band for Fete de la Musique. I think that my favorite was the French band playing mostly American/English songs. They were right on the Champs Elysees, the street which runs all the way from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe. They were actually the band in the first picture!

Tomorrow I will visit a Swiss school- I can't wait to see the differences between French and Swiss school culture. Until then...

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