February 28, 2004

When in Rome...
...it hails, rains, thunders and lightnings. Oh well, I'm still in the "Eternal City", and the weather does break every once in a while. It snowed in Venice during the carnival (I wasn't there, but it was on the news, and I talked with some people who were there.)
I visited Pisa a few days ago, and yes I saw the leaning tower. The city is really beautiful, I think I've said that about Italy a lot, lol! But it's true. Pisa is full of beautiful orange and red houses. Even in the rain and clouds it's amazing.
Rome, well what can I say? There is soooo much amazing history here. I've been totally overwhelmed, and am exhausted from walking around all day. Yesterday I went to Trevi Fountain (and threw in a coin, as tradition says you should if you want to return), then I wandered past a lot of well known sites (the Spanish steps, Coliseum, etc.)
Today I went into St. Peters, as well as several "smaller" churches (they were huge and incredibly ornately decorated). Then I wandered around, and went into the Coliseum.
The pizza here is really amazing (isn't everything here??). They have so many types, that I would never think would taste good, but they do. Then there's the gelati. MMmmm....., that's really good too. I haven't had too much pasta, since I eat a lot of it back in Lille. When I go to Napoli, I'll eat pasta though, because it's supposed to be really good there.
Anyway, I should go and make the most of my evening in Rome. Profitez-en!

February 25, 2004

Hello from Italy. (Once again I have to try to get used to the English keyboard. I don't know where the letters and punctuation are.)
Anyway, I made it to Italy, after over 24 hours on a bus (it arrived late), and three customs checks (the bus started in Amsterdam, so the French customs people went through everyones bags).
Florence is thoroughly beautiful. I can't begin to describe it. I went to the Uffizi museum today, where many great paintings are held. This place just oozes art.
It's a bit cold at the moment, but at least it's not snowing, as it was in Lille when I left.
I'm heading to Pisa tomorrow, then Rome the day after that.

February 23, 2004

French Fashion Trends...
I’m going to talk about a trend that I’ve noticed, and that I hope never ever makes it across the Atlantic. If you’ve lived in France for a bit this year, or maybe even just visited it, I’m sure that you’ve noticed the "I look cool by tucking my trousers into my socks" trend. I’m not joking, many of the French NED’s (Non-Educated Delinquents), and not-so-NED’s, have started tucking their trousers (be they jeans, track pants, or whatever) into their socks. It looks really ridiculous.
A lot of French fashion I can handle, and think looks rather sharp, but not the sock-tucking-in-thing.
Sorry, but I really hope that the trend dies out soon, and never leaves the country. At least I’ll never tuck my pants into my socks.

February 19, 2004

Happy Holidays...
It’s vacation time!!!!!! In case you can’t tell, I’m very excited to be on winter break now.
I’m going to Italy on Monday, by bus (only 24 hours one way). I’ll arrive in Florence on Tuesday, where I’ll spend a few days before going to Rome for three nights. I know that three nights in Rome isn’t a lot, but I’m only in Italy for 10 nights. I’m hoping to see enough that I want to come back. And, it’ll just be nice to get out of Lille for a while. Then I’m planning on going to Naples for a day or two, before heading up to Florence again to see some of the surrounding cities (Pisa, Sienna, etc.).
All in all, it should be a great vacation (it will at least be better than spending two weeks here). I’ve been saving up for a while, so I’m going to treat myself on good Italian gellato, coffee, and biscotti. Not to mention the pasta and pizza, or the olive oil and tomatoes.
To everyone else, I wish a happy holidays (if you have them), or happy continuation of school/work in hopes of happy holidays : )

February 17, 2004

Fire Alarm...
There was a fire alarm in school today (I didn't know what the weird buzzing was, so I asked the kids, and they said it was the fire alarm). Anyway, two ladies came to the door to tell us to get out. I went to the room next door to ask the teacher, who was working with the other half of the class that I was working with, what I was supposed to do. She looked down the hallway, didn't see anyone, so said that I should stay in the room, and not go down with the kids into the courtyard. So we both stayed in the school through the fire alarm.
So I keep teaching through the fire alarm, and I see all of the other teachers and kids lining up in the courtyard. Another lady came by the room and told us to get out, but the teacher had told us to stay, so we stayed.
Then the alarm stopped, after a few minutes, and we just kept working. Until the principal came knocking at the door with a pad of paper in his hand. He looked mad, and said that we were supposed to have evacuated. I said that I didn't know what was happening, and that the teacher told me to stay. He went next door, talked to the teacher, then came back. He said that there are no longer any false alarms, and that we must evacuate whenever there was that weird beeping noise.
It turns out that last year they had a different system that the kids could easily tamper with, so there were many false alarms. Not so this year, which is why it was a real fire drill, and we were supposed to evacuate the building.
I felt really stupid, even though it wasn't my fault that when we were supposed to evacuate the teacher told me to stay (she thought it was a false alarm like last year).
Why does this happen to me?
Oh well, I'm going to Italy in a week, and I finally got money from the CAF (a government organisation that helps you to pay your rent if you're under-paid, like I am).

February 12, 2004

No, it's not a cannabis leaf...
I was talking with the Irish assistant, Geraldine, at my school today. She said that she had to do a presentation about Canada in one of her classes. The kids asked her, completely seriously, if the leaf on the Canadian flag was a cannabis leaf. No she responded, but they insisted that it was a cannabis leaf.
It's a maple leaf.
The French Mistress...
In French class (which I'm paying too much for, and am not learning a lot it), the prof mentioned something about Monica Lewinsky, and how she thinks that the Americans over-reacted to the situation.
She then continued to explain that in general, French people expect the head of state to have a mistress on the side. Ever since Henry II (the one who married Catherine de Medici in the 1500's), most of the kings, and emperors, and presidents, have had a "special lady". The ladies often had an influence on the ruler.
Francois Mitterrand (1916-1996), a well-known French president, had a mistress, Claire
Despres. She went to most public functions, and his funeral. Mitterrand even had the government (read the tax-payers) pay for her flat in Paris.

February 10, 2004

Strikes, Headscarves, and other news...
Four of the teachers unions have called for a national teaching strike on March 12th. We'll see if they strike or not...
The reporters for Radio France are currently on strike, and have been striking since at least the end of January.
The whole Islamic headscarf in public places thing is causing a lot of controversy. A girl in the Academie de Colmar wanted to wear her headscarf to school, but the school wouldn't let her so they kicked her out of school. A comprimise was found, where she can attend another school if she wears a bandana instead of a scarf.
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the South African Health Minister, according to todays MetroFrance said, "I know that some people make fun of me, but I believe that garlic and lemons are crucial in the fight against AIDS."

February 09, 2004

Going to Italy...
As you may or may not have noticed, I've changed the name of my blog from Going to France, to Going to Italy. As you may well imagine, I'm going to Italy for the winter vacation! Only two weeks to go.
I'm going to be spending 24 hours on a bus from Lille to Florence (via Brussels). I'm planning on spending a few nights there, and a few in Rome, with some side trips (i.e. Pisa).

February 05, 2004

Bureaucracy problems, encore et encore...
I'm having some more bureaucracy problems, surprise, surprise. Hopefully they'll all get sorted out.
I was talking to a Tunesian guy on the metro last week. He spent five years studying in Ukraine, and has just moved to France. He said that he's had more administrative problems in five months in France than in five years in Ukraine! Can you believe that? France is part of the G8, and Ukraine is an ex-Soviet state.

February 03, 2004

Crepe Day...
I found out that yesterday (Feb. 2nd) was crepe day in France. Supposedly everyone eats crepes, but we didn't have any in the cafeteria at school (although the second school where I work had crepes sucres).
I forgot to mention that rabbit in Kriek is a northern French specialty.

February 02, 2004

Finally Paid!
Can you believe it? I finally got paid. Up until the end of January I had only received part of my salary for the months of October, November, and December. And at that, they were late, and I had to bug a lot of people to get some money.
Ashley, a friend from Canada living in Strasbourg, came for a visit this past weekend. I took her around to the usual tourist sites (there aren't that many in Lille). Last night we went for dinner and I had lapin a la Kriek avec frites. The English translation being rabbit in a Kriek sauce (Kriek being a Belgian beer - this one without the traditional cherry flavouring), with fries. It was actually really good.