Friday, November 29, 2013

3 months of "oh my god this is amazing"

I'm baaaaaack blog readers!! Here to quench your "Siobhan's France blog" thirst and fill your day with joy and bad almost-jokes.

As you can probably guess I have once again thoroughly enjoyed the time that has passed between this blog post and the last one, I celebrated 3 months of being on exchange with some ridiculously awesome foreigners like myself, I got to see one of my favourite bands perform live in Lille, and I got to visit the capital of Belgium with an awesome Mexican and my wicked host family.

Also, as if I haven't said it enough already, Christmas at Lille is BEYOND beautiful and exciting, and I'm pretty sure I'm driving all my French family and friends nuts with my constant jabbering about it (in fact a friend specifically brought me a pair of men's boxers to show me today in a clothing store for the sole reason that they were Christmas-y... I loved them obviously.)

Well anyway this post will be mostly about my last awesome weekend which I haven't had time to write about yet this week on top of all the busy tasks involved in university applications (bahh stress!) and trying to keep up with French school and basically life in general.  

Saturday, after I had lunch with Yann and Theophane at the house, I went into Lille to meet up with my friends Liz, Veronica, Ian, Kathi and Elise.  Elise is this really cool girl from Estonia and Kathi's from Austria.  They aren't doing a Rotary exchange but are in Veronica's class at school and have therefore been pretty much adopted into our little Rotary student fam.  Any foreigner in Lille is our friend pretty much, and I keep getting blown away by how many there are! We went and got food at our favourite galette place together (we are pretty much becoming regulars which is so fun and makes me feel cool yay) and then we went to the concert of the fabulous band Phoenix who I listened to even before exchange. I would love to post photos of the concert except that every single one I took looks like every other "I took this from a mosh pit" photo in existence and therefore is trop moche for my blog.

Liz, Elise, and Veronica before concert time
I found this funny; the grocery store was selling red solo cups (something which any Canadian high schooler will know very well) and advertising them as something "seen in all cult tv shows and movies" "DISH WASHER SAFE AND REUSABLE" lol, if only they knew the song...
La Grand Place de Lille!! Right in front of the huge Christmas ferris wheel... and yes the photo theme of the night was "hold up 3 fingers because it's been 3 months".........and yes that was my idea
Since the concert didn't end all that late, we had time to head back into Lille for a little bit before catching the last tram back to Veronica's house.  We met up with my friend Ana from school and her friends for a tiny bit of time, and we took a turn on the giant ferris wheel for the first time and saw Lille at night! I was practically not breathing with total happiness and excitement.

Us with Ana and her friends
Ready for some ferris wheelin'
View of Lille's giant Christmas tree from the top of the wheel
And that was Saturday.

Sunday Liz and I woke up early to make it back to my house in the early morning because Yann was taking us to Brussels! It's only an hour from Lille, and since we got there in the morning we made it in time to go to the flea market *cue my happy dance.*  The flea market was sooooo cool, it reminded me of La Braderie that I went to when I first arrived in August, only I was a little more aware of what was going on and less in a state of shock and culture absorption.  I'm a pro now pretty much mwahaha.  Liz and I spent so much time wandering around and browsing.  Since some stalls basically consisted of a pile of stuff you could pass a good 10 minutes just standing in one spot trying to pass your eyes over every little trinket and spot a diamond in the rough.  There were quite a few things that caught my eye, but my diamond appeared in the shape of a most beautiful leather backpack with colorful patterned threading that hung in it's stall calling my name.  I was almost positive my skinny wallet didn't contain enough for me to buy the beauty, but I asked the vendor how much it was anyway.
***Commence story in which I bargained for the first time in my life and won, doing it all in ANOTHER LANGUAGE***
Not even going to hesitate to pat myself on the back for that one.  So the guy takes this bag down from the rack and tells me it's 40euro.  He must've seen the hope in my face disappear because he immediately said "Okay 35euro" without me even replying in the first place.  Fair enough but still too expensive.  The longer I stood there holding it and looking sceptical, the more he seemed to panic because he then said "30euro."  (Part of me wondered if I stood there long enough if he'd just bring the price down all by himself and not need me to do anything with the rate things were going.)  He seemed like he'd decided on 30, so I confidently offered 20 to which he replied with a straight up "No."  Well fine.  I swallowed my disappointment and left the bag because it's my way or the highway French vendor man.  That was my attitude for approximately another 10minutes after which I realized I reeeeeeeally wanted this bag, and I needed to get it.  So I took 20euro from my wallet and waltzed back on over and mustered up as much confidence as I could and looked at him and said "20euro." He replied with a "25 or nothing,"  I put my money in his face and said "I have 20 right here but it's all I have," that stubborn son of a gun kept saying no... until finally I just said "PLEEEEEEEEASE it's all I have and I would love this bag!!!!!!" (sneaky me actually had more money but I lied) AND HE GAVE IT TO ME YAY!! Mission accomplished.  Mission accomplished kind of lamely but mission accomplished all the same.  Booya.

fruit of my labour
The rest of the day was an awesome touristic promenade throughout Brussels in which we saw La Grand Place of Brussels, the famous Manneken Pis (little pissing man), and then spent the afternoon in the museum of les beaux arts.  We even had time in between to taste some delicious Belgian waffles.  C'est la vie my friends.



My host family is cooler than your host family

look mawm I'm in Brussels

"It's gonna make me gain exchange weight!"


It could have been worse guys...

How you could work here and not weight 500 pounds is a mystery

My favourite Mexican

Little pissing man!

thumbs up for the Mannekin Pis
Life is good.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Christmas is undeniably present in Lille these days.  OH YEAH and today it snowed.  Overall, things are swell.

Lille is awesome at xmas time 

Gabby bought a skate! Another skating buddy yay!!

We stumbled upon the Lille Christmas market that actually only opened today.  It's going to be happening from now until Christmas, and it was beyond cool.  There were so many Christmas themed booths, and delicious Christmas yummies being sold, not to mention that the sun was going down and the Lille Christmas lights really came to life so everything had an amazing ambiance.  To top it all off there was Christmas music too.  And no it isn't too early ;)

THEN IT SNOWED. IT. SNOWED. IN FRANCE. They told me it wouldn't happen before January.  And here we are, it's the 20th of November, and I witnessed snow as I was exiting the metro station and walking up the steps into the night air (please note when I say "snow" I'm referring to the giant white flakes that melt the minute they land.. but it was snow all the same).  The second I saw it I let out a cry of glee and froze, and then immediately reached for my phone to get a photo.

My first oh-so-glamourous view of la neige.  Yes.. the barely visible white streaks are the snow I am referring to...
Then it kept snowing as I walked back to my house, and I remained ridiculously pumped.  Summer always makes me forget how much I love snow, and there's nothing like that rush of joy when I see it again at the start of every winter.

just so happy


Monday, November 18, 2013


[Thank God It's The Weekend]

I had a fantabalabalabulous time this weekend.

Saturday night I headed over to Gabby's house.  Her new host family is awesome and hilarious and they have an adorable dog (I miss having a dog in the house!) We ate/made a delicious dinner using a raclette in which we first melted cheese and then poured it luxuriously over steaming hot potatoes, with some vegetables, salad and charcuterie on the side.  Definitely a meal worthy of adding to the dreaded exchange weight, but I didn't care it was so delicious.  

Gabby and I then had your typical North American girl sleepover in which we spent hours talking and finally fell asleep watching a movie (it was a Disney classic lol).  We woke up early the next morning because Gabby's host mom, Anne, wanted to take us to the Marché de Wazemmes, which is this big Sunday market on the opposite side of Lille than the one we normally would go to.  There were loads of stands and vendors that braved the cold morning air to come and sell their various goods whether it be delicious fruits, slick fish, raw veg, soft fabrics, or some clothes of the latest fashions (pat on the back for my description in that last sentence.)  

early mornings, french baguettes, and busy markets.  it's a happy time.


Trying some pineapple before Anne bought it



After a little over an hour of market browsing, Anne took us to a little cafe to catch our breath and take a little pause.  Gabby and I walked in and fell in love immédiatement.  Both of us looked at each other and shared big goofy grins as we both came to the same conclusion that the place was just AWESOME.  It had just the right amount of people to feel comfortable but not crowded, it reminded me of the adorable unique cafes you can find at home, and it emitted a Christmas vibe that got me under it's spell right off the bat (IT'S GETTING CLOSER EVERYONE).  It's specialty was that it had teas and coffees from all over the world.  Gabby ordered a special tea from China and I got a cappuccino that came with a good two inches of whipped cream on top of it.  No complaints there.


We wandered around a little bit more before heading back to Gab's house for some lunch.

Lunch was just as yummy as dinner the night before had been, and for dessert we had dark chocolate fondue with the pineapple we bought at the market that day.  Along with some other delicious yummies (do I talk about food too much here or what..) That afternoon Gabby and I went into Lille to explore a bit.  We've noticed recently that hanging out with the big group of exchangers seems to take us to all the same places and we move really slowly, so the two of us took that Sunday afternoon to explore.  We found some beautiful parks and places we didn't know existed.  Sunday means all the shops are closed, so Lille was calm and peaceful, and it made our exploring a little cooler (probably saved us some money too).  

We hung out in the city until the sun went down, and ended our day by talking on the steps of the opera house and making up a totally lame handshake that we will continue to do for the rest of the year because it was funny and who doesn't feel cool with a handshake.  Just as we were heading back to the tram and metro station, we looked down one of the big streets in Lille and saw that the GIANT CHRISTMAS TREE was going up in the middle of La Grand Place.  Think along the lines of the giant Christmas tree that goes up in NYC (it's been enough movies we've all seen it), but on a smaller degree, and European-ized.  We both started squealing, giggling and being foreigners but frankly my Christmas excitement is uncontainable so there's nothing that can be done.  Then we skipped back to the station.  Yep.  Good day.