Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and unchartered places." Isabella Eberhardt

Nosotros viajamos a Barcelona, Espana en una semana! Yo soy muy entusiasmado.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today we visited the picturesque village of Conques. The town was orinally constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries and was made famous by religious pilgrims who came from far and wide to visit the Abbey of Saint Foy.

Had I been living during that time, I think I would have gladly made the treachorous journey to Saint Foy just so that I could stay in one of the storybook houses that cover the mountainside!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

To my awesome little brother: Bonne Anniversaire! It's nearly impossible for me to believe that you're officially a teenager today. While I'm almost brokenhearted that my baby brother has grown up so fast, I'm anxious to see what wonderful things you will do in these upcoming years. I am sending you lots of birthday love across the Atlantic Ocean today (even though I know the word love makes you blush).

I couldn't be more proud to call myself your sister.

Top photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Messina.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Fete

Cheers to the beginning of another week in Southern France! It's hard to believe how fast the weekend went by. I didn't make it to Albi on Saturday like originally planned, but that was all for the better. While having our tea and biscuits with Peter and Margaret on Friday afternoon, the students were invited to join them in the quaint town of Sainte Michel for a "fete," or town festival!

It was explained to the group that each village holds a fete at least once a year, normally during the summertime when it's warm outside. It was obvious that Peter and Margaret are fete veterans because they even brought their own silverware to use instead of the plastic cutlery given to everyone else. There was a band, food with recipes that Saint Michel has been making since the beginning of time, and plenty of vin de table. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to spend every summer fete-hopping!

The picture above is one with my aligot and I. Aligot (pronouced: "ally-go") is an infamous potato and cheese concoction that has been served in Southern France for hundreds of years. Each town has their own special recipe, which was originally fed to pilgrims passing through the area. The people began cheering and clapping when the aligot was brought out; I learned that it is certainly not a food for the faint of heart.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Have a happy first -fall weekend.

Hello my loves. Any exciting plans for the weekend? Today, some of the group will be visiting the English couple, Peter and Margaret, who lives right on down the mountain for tea and biscuits; tomorrow we head back to Albi for some serious exploration!

If you have a minute or two, watch this video of us driving through one of the two extremely narrow [and somewhat terrifying] tunnels you must take in order to reach's quite the ride!

P.S. To my favorite girls in Loretto, PA: I hope the Annual Ebensburg Potato Festival is a blast! Please eat some French fries for me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


It's been decided that for our long weekend, the group is headed to London, England! I'm bloody excited to see Big Ben, eat fish and chips, make a phone call from a red booth, and possibly take a ride on my first double decker bus. If I get the chance to do any one thing, however, I want to take a stroll across Abbey Road.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Monday

What a weekend! On Saturday afternoon, the group embarked on a three and a half hour hike guided by Tim, our program director. Later that evening, a few of our new friends from Albi visited for awhile, giving us an excuse to bring out the French vanilla ice cream (which is a pretty religious experience in itself) and time to exchange music, ghost stories of the monestary, and new vocabulary words. The highlight of my weekend, however, was on Sunday morning. Celebrating Mass in a 9th century chapel was one of the most peaceful experiences I've ever had. I could not translate a single word of the homily, but there is just something about being in a place where people have prayed for over a thousand years that makes the building feel exceptionally holy. After Mass, we had lunch and made the trek back to the village for a tour given by an older lady who seems to have lived here for awhile. We learned a lot about Ambialet's history, which turns out to be extremely fascinating contrary to my inital thoughts, considering Ambialet's very remote location. It turns out that Ambialet has been inhabited by people as long as there have been people in what we now call Southern France...they carved itty bitty houses into the rocks and lived off of the land. I think it's pretty sweet that you can still see the remains of these little caves all over the place (there have been talks of camping in one of them at some point). In the 4th century or so, there used to be multiple "castlettes" on one of the hills adjacent to the monestary. To sum it up: I could very easily be living in a movie right now.

And in order to put the "study" back in "study abroad," today marks the start to our regular school schedule here in Ambialet. For those that care, Mondays will normally consist of History in the am, Social Work in the pm; Tuesday will bring Elementary French in the morning, Religion in the afternoon or evening; Wednesdays we will take field trips to wherever we learned about in our Religion course the day before; Thursday mornings we will go to Albi for more French (I need all the help I can get); and Fridays are reserved for our art course and a "Tour de Table" where we are supposed to find appreciation for French cooking. (Trust me, one taste of Mousse au Chocolat and you will have an immediate appreciation, too).

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Today the group of us took our first official trip into the city of Albi. The day began at the local university where we met our French professor for the semester. Our classroom introduction was followed by tours given by one of six students who are currently attending the university. From my understanding, these students will be spending a considerable amount of time with us, as they are sort of adopting us for the semester to show us around the city. In exchange, they have been invited to the monastary and the trips we'll be going on from Ambialet. The girl who showed Becca and I around is also named Melanie...which, by the way, sounds much more delightful when pronounced with a French accent (but then again, what doesn't?). We were then given a tour of the city...we saw La Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile d'Albi (the video and pictures I took really don't do her justice) and the City Hall where everyone gets married by the Deputy Mayor (who we had the pleasure of meeting). To top it off, I went to my first itty bitty city cafe where I sipped on my first French cafe le creme. Magnifique!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I have finally made it to my new home in Ambialet, France! It's a wee bit early here (3:45 am) but that doesn't matter because, well, it's France. Thankfully classes don't start until Thursday morning so I'll have some extra time to adjust to the jet lag. I haven't even been here for twenty-four hours but I am already more than excited to post pictures of my (very own) room and its windows. You know at the beginning of Beauty and the Beast when everyone is singing “Bonjour” and opening their windows with the double shutters? That is what my windows are like!

Much more to come very soon. xoxo