30 August, 2006


I'm in Grenoble! I haven't got time for a long post right now 'cause I spent the evening trying to get pictures up (failure) and now I have to go to sleep, but I'm here! When I've slept and have a little more spare time you can hear all about the train ride.

26 August, 2006


Well, today I packed up all my stuff and came to the hostel where EAP's hosting us for the next few days. I'm a lot less lonely now that there are, like, people here. (This post comes to you courtesy of the 1 euro/10 minutes computer in the hostel lobby, so it's going to be kept short.)

The hostel I'm in is in a different part of Paris, near the Seine and I don't really know what else. I think it's in the 6th arrondissement, to give you a general idea. It's nicer, I think- bigger, anyway. It's staffed all the time, so that's nicer.

When I got here everyone from the program who'd gotten here already was getting ready to go for a walk, so they got to see me struggle with my two gigantic suitcases AND two large bags besides. I felt a little silly.

The people here offered, when they found out I had diabetes, to purchase for me a little refrigerator that I could have for the year and then sell back, so that was waiting for me at the check-in, which was really remarkably nice of them. I'm not sure, actually, whether I'll sell it back or not. It is the most adorable little refrigerator I've ever seen in my life. It's tiny- enough to fit my insulin and four things of yogurt and a couple sodas, and it is shaped like a panda. I shall try to post a picture when I have more time.

Time's up! G'bye!

25 August, 2006

On the Seine

I am sitting next to the Seine, writing this in a notebook I purchased fifteen minutes ago in a "supermarché" in the Quartier Latin (I think). This morning I woke up around 7:30, tried to go back to sleep, got up, wandered around Montmartre trying to find an open market, purchased some strawberry jam (confiture aux fraises), and sat next to the steps of Sacré Coeur eating yogurt with jam for breakfast.

I took a taxi from the airport to the hostel yesterday. I would have preferred to take the metro, which aside from being cheaper is more of an adventure, but one relatively small person simply cannot take two fifty pound suitcases on the Paris metro. (Although I have thus far resisted, I constantly feel the urge to apologize for the amount of luggage I have. "I'm sorry, it's just that I'll be here for a year. I'm sorry, but I have diabetes and need a lot of medical equipment," and so on.)

The driver of my taxi was a small Asian man whom I felt I should be helping with my suitcases ("I'm sorry..."). I got in back and directed him (in horribly accented French, I'm afraid) to 45 rue Gabrielle, Montmartre. He wasn't quite sure where rue Gabrielle was, and I couldn't quite understand the questions he was asking me about it, so it was a few minutes before we got everything straightened out. After a little bit of silence I, as is my wont, tried to make conversation by asking him how long he'd been a taxi driver. Unfortunately, he took this as a commentary on his knowledge of the area and expostulated vehemently for a short while on the navigational difficulties associated with the Montmartre area, after which silence again reigned.

A little while later I asked him what the "Pte" abbreviation on the freeway signs meant ("porte"), and in explaining he must have warmed up to me, because we chatted happily for the rest of the ride.

When we got to the building I took out my wallet to pay him and dumped all my cash out into my hand in search of euros. The driver was in the middle of unloading my luggage (I'm sorry, but...") and rushed over when he noticed me doing this. "Oh, you should not do that! This is not a nice part of town! You won't do that tonight, will you?"

I personally have never found the French particularly arrogant or uncaring. Perhaps my helpless demeanor catches them off guard.

24 August, 2006


I write this sitting in an internet cafe in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. To get here, I walked out of my hostel in the 18th arrondissement (more about the hostel later, I promise), up to Sacre Coeur, down the hill, and along a main-looking street until I saw a neon @ sign next to a building.

(I haven't really got time to edit this, seeing as how I'm paying by the minute for the internet, so you'll excuse me if it doesn't shine with my usual grace of phrase.)

I have a lot to say about the airport, and the taxi ride, and the hostel, but that'll have to wait 'cause it would REALLY need editing. So for now I'll just say: my first French guy tried to pick me up about fifteen minutes ago.

I was wandering through the streets looking for a cafe where I could drink a cup of coffee and sit down and write about the trip here, and this guy walks up behind me and says, "where are you from?" So I said California, and he said that he could tell I wasn't from around here- I had an "American face." We chatted a little about nothing for a while, and then I got bored, so I answered one of his questions in French. He stopped dead in his tracks, looked at me, and said, "But you must be French!" I allowed as how I wasn't but I thought I spoke passable French, and he said that next time I didn't need to say I was American. "Vouz pouvez dire: non, non, je suis francaise!" We talked for a while longer, he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere with him, I politely (I hope) declined.

His parting words were, "Remember. By your French, you are French."

I'm happy now.

21 August, 2006

Susanna says...

"You and packing are not a match made in heaven"

One day, sixteen hours.

14 August, 2006


After a fingernail-biting weekend of no confirmation email (okay, ten days to go, still no place to stay in Paris... okay, nine days to go, still no place to stay in Paris... perhaps I should have reserved the hostel on the competent-looking third-party website instead of the poorly-translated hostel-run website? perhaps they didn't recieve my request? perhaps I should have booked three months in advance if I was going to do it online? perhaps... okay, eight days to go, still no place to stay in Paris OH MY GOD I WONDER HOW COMFORTABLE THE PARK BENCHES ARE IN FRANCE...), I have recieved word that I have a place to stay for my two days in Paris.

My hostel search started a few weeks ago at Borders when I had a few hours to kill. While wandering through the store I discovered a wonderful book that has reviews of a bunch of hostels in France and Italy. So I sat down with it for a while and looked through the Paris section and got some idea of what I'd be in for if I booked a hostel bed for two nights in Paris in August. I decided that the two requirements I had were that it have a kitchen accessible to guests, so that I could store my insulin in a fridge, and that it didn't have a lock-out in the middle of the day. My flight gets in at 7 in the morning Paris time, which is 10 at night my time, and while I'm going to try to stay awake all day I do want to have the option to crash in a safe place just in case.

The one downside to the book was that it didn't list youth hostels (some hostels, apparently, have age restrictions). So I went online about a week after looking through the book, googled "hostel paris" and found a website, hostelworld.com, that lists, reviews, allows customers to review, and helps book beds in hostels. After a little poking around, I found a couple hostels that looked good, and called one of them to find out whether I needed to reserve a room. They said, "Paris? August? At least two weeks in advance."

Well, two weeks in advance was almost a week ago, and I didn't. On Friday, when I finally got around to trying to book a room, I discovered that 1) the hostel I'd chosen had a bed available on Thursday night but was booked on Friday and 2) many of the prices listed on hostelworld.com weren't really prices: they list prices "per bed," and many of the places on the site only had "double private rooms," which have two beds per room, both of which you had to reserve. So I panicked for a while, and performed many complicated searches on the site, and ended up looking through the list of hostels with openings for my two nights starting from the top-ranked place and moving down the list.

I booked a room in a youth hostel- 18-25 only. It's a little unorthodox in that it's not one big building: it's a series of apartments housing 4-6 people, with a full kitchen inside each apartment and no lock-out, and it was the highest rated youth hostel on the site, which made me happy. 29 euros/night, they gave me directions from the airport to the metro station, and they'll meet me at the metro station.

My mother's a lot less worried now.

10 August, 2006

13 Days to Go

So. I currently have 13 days until I leave for France. I've spent the past week saying, "Oh lord, I'm going to FRANCE! In TWO WEEKS! What am I going to DO?!?!" at random intervals to people in my general area.

Good news: They do, in fact, have novolog insulin available in France (as my friends keep telling me, they don't just let their diabetics die in France). Also, I've made an appointment with an endocrinologist in France for a few days after I get to Grenoble (in French! Entirely in French! I didn't have to ask the receptionist to speak English and she didn't offer!). Also, I'm very excited about speaking French.

Stuff I still need to take care of: Luckily, all of the essential things (insulin) are up in that first paragraph. But I still have to make a reservation with a hostel for the two nights I'll be in Paris by myself. And I need to find out how to get test strips and pump supplies (although I'll have three-six months' worth of pump supplies with me when I get there). And of course I have to pack.

My feelings about living in France for a year vary wildly from day to day. If I've just completed something important having to do with leaving, I'm very excited about it. If I've just done something here that I love and will miss immensely, I'm not so sure. In general, I think, I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm also nervous that I'll forget something important and have to be shipped home in disgrace. Of course, I hear that they only ship you home if they catch you skinning kittens alive in the basement of your apartment building, and I'm planning on leaving my taxidermist's kit at home.