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It has been over a month since our plane took off from O’Hare Airport and it has already been quite the experience! I have yet to really blog about France and here are my keen observations regarding that other Red, White, and Blue country:

1) Scooters

Remember 10 years ago when it seemed every kid had a razor scooter only to be immediately disgarded and shelfed after a solid summer? Well apparently that trend never died in France and they are everywhere to this day. Kids ride them up and down the block like I rode my bike when I was 7. Adults ride them to work (no joke) and even bring them on the bus. It is just one of the many transportation options that should have been killed years ago but still remains popular.

Minus Wolverine this is typical.

I feel like for the amount of effort you put into into riding a scooter, you don’t get much of a return. You can only go so far with those 14 oz. wheels and an awkward center of balance.

2) Fashion

The French dress nice, they really do and it’s somewhat embarrassing how inferior we are on a day to day basis. They deck themselves out: Scarf, berets, layers, muted colors, Louis Vuittons under their under arms!

3) Strikes

To quote my structures teacher, “the French have a proud tradition of public uprisings.” And he couldn’t be more right because they always seem to be going on the strike. The first thing to go? The public transportation system. You see, they play the game that if you get other people mad who don’t have anything to do with their demands, then The Man must cave in. Which sucks because we and the rest of the public who are even more dependent on public transit aren’t able to travel from place to place as easy. However, it also makes it really difficult to have that same structures teacher make it from Paris to Versailles to teach us some maths.

On an unrelated note, I learned all about the French and their striking way of life in Sicko oddly enough.

4) P.D.A.

The French don’t hold back when it comes to P.D.A. Guys and gals everywhere are just mackin’ it. On the streets, on the bus, on a bench, everywhere. Hide yo kids, hide yo wives!

5) Cigarettes

They also feen (spelling?) cigarettes like no other. One of the most common stores in France are tobacco shops, there is probably one every 3 blocks. There is one in Champaign, a college campus no less. Their smoke of choice seems to be rolling one up themselves with or without marijuana sprinkled in there.

6) McDonalds and Starbucks

I’m going to make an entire post centered around McDonalds but to generalize they are extremely common. France and the rest of the world make fun of us for our obesity (and for good reason) but I’ve noticed that there are a buttload of McDonalds and they’re always packed with people. A bit hypocritical no? You’d think that they would want to eat at a number of places before ever considering McDonalds. But then again, all those calories are usually burned off by the end of the day because they walk so often.

Also, Starbucks is extremely common as well. If you’re ever in France, you might as well walk half a block to the nearest cafe.

7) English?

Not so much. The French don’t speak a whole lot of English like I was told before leaving. They speak a little English but for anyone who doesn’t speak a lick of French, it isn’t enough. Restaruants know basic English well but people on the street will give you a look if you are speaking English. That’s happened like 5 times these past 2 days.

The French also talk very quietly. As Americans, we are obnoxiously loud compared to them. In public adults are almost whispering to each other. Our kind on the other hand are always laughing and yelling up a storm where ever we go- that’s probably why we warrant an unwelcoming stare wherever we go.

Do they speak English in “What”?

8) Weather

The day I left Chicago the temperature was in the 70s/80s I can’t remember. The moment I stepped outside of the airport I couldn’t help but notice how noticeably cooler it was. I forgot the fact that Europe is higher in Latitude than Illinois. Despite how much cooler it is in the fall, Paris has may actually have a warmer Winter with the help of the good ‘ol North Atlantic current – the one that stops working and is responsible for all the destruction in The Day After Tomorrow. Time will tell though because I don’t really know who or what to believe at this point.

In general, the weather has been sporadic in which I mean, it’ll be cold, dreary and damp in the morning, and warm, sunny and awesome by noon with a drop off in temperature by night. The weather is extremely unpredictable but according to our program director, ” It [Versailles] gets more rain than London.” Now that is harsh.

9) Drivers

Everyone in France drives like an inner-city taxi cab driver – absolutely bat shit. You really have to be careful with them because they don’t follow many of the basic guidelines of driving an automobile. You even have to be careful crossing at a crosswalk with a green light I am that dead serious.

Driving Instructor: You’re a nice young man and, yes, I am your friend.

Borat: You will be my boyfriend?

Driving Instructor: No I will not be your boyfriend.

10) The French Are Assholes

The French really are assholes. I gave them the benefit of the doubt but they truly are assholes. They may be a proud people, but they are just as conceited to anyone who isn’t French. I have been laughed at so many times at the grocery store or what have you. In a setting where I am giving them money, they still find it amusing to laugh at our broken attempt at French. Sometimes they don’t laugh but are just down right rude. For instance, I went to order food at McDonalds and the woman at the cash register barely acknowledged my existence and showed no human compassion whatsoever. I ordered in French too! AND who is she to be snooty towards me? She is a French citizen who works at McDonalds, probably the most American symbol on the planet next to the flag. When I went to Germany and Belgium, those people were so nice and even helpful at times. The French are the complete opposite except for the French farmer who helped us out on our Normandy trip. Other than that, everyone in the Paris metropolitan area of French descent is an ass. There I said it.

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15 Albums

This is from a facebook thread I was tagged in. The message read..

“The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note– upper right hand side.)”

  1. (Whats the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis
  2. Rubber Soul by The Beatles
  3. Garden State Soundtrack
  4. MTV Unplugged by Nirvana
  5. Funeral by Arcade Fire
  6. Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens
  7. Is This It? by The Strokes
  8. In Rainbows by Radiohead
  9. BBC Sessions by Jimi Hendrix
  10. The Cream of Clapton
  11. Oracular Spectacular by MGMT
  12. Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  13. Silent Alarm by Bloc Party
  14. Give Up by The Postal Service
  15. A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay

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The Checklist

We are T-minus 16 days from departure and what better way to celebrate than to create a “bucket list” for the upcoming school year. This list will be available on one of the tabs at the top of the page marked Checklist and is subject to change.

1. Play Ninentdo 64. Over 32.9 million units of N64 were sold worldwide. One of them must be owned by some Frog who goes to ENSA-V.

2. Introduce The Room to some Frenchmen. If you have talked to me for more than an hour in the past 9 months, chances are you know my obsession with the crap-tacular awesomeness that is The Room. This movie needs to be seen by all film lovers. Even those who don’t speak English. I’m just going to be waiting for the guy who I am watching it with actually know Tommy Wiseau — that’d be nuts.

One of the greatest Wikipedia articles.

3. Go to a concert. It is very possible I and a few others will be going to see Arcade Fire in Lyon in late Novemeber. More on that later.

4. Get schooled in soccer. I would say play soccer with some Europeans but lets face it, I’m going to get my ass kicked. Still doesn’t change the fact the French embarrassed themselves during the World Cup. I wonder how many times I’ll use that card…French TOASTED.

5. Learn Eurail and/or travel internationally via Train. I just hope it’s more like going to Hogwarts and less like Eurotrip.

“This isn’t where I parked my car.”

6. Go to the movies. I am very curious to see what the French theatrical movie experience is all about. What are their commercials/trailers like? Whats a bag of popcorn cost? Will Harry Potter have a french accent?

7. Suit Up! “Because chicks dig suits.”

8. Find Mexican tortillas. Because what kind of Mexican moves to France? Honestly.

9. Make it to Africa. Whether its crossing the Straight of Gibralter or hitting up the Pyramids like the Weasley Summer Vacation of ’93, stepping foot on the African continent would be quite memorable.

10. Catch a soccer game. It doesn’t even have to be the major league of football. In fact, I’d be just as satisfied seeing the equivalent of a Kane County Cougar’s Game or even the Shaumburg Flyers for that matter.

11. Find some Cubans and smoke them. Cigars people!

13. Buy a Shamwow. They’re made in Germany so you know they’re good.

12. Understand the European fascination with Hasselhoff. This came about after watching The Roast of David Hasselhoff and I am still confused about the European fandom phenomenon that is the Hoff. Someone has to get to the bottom of this!

That book doesn’t even have a quote on the back. Nor does it deserve one…


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Top 10 Favorite Films

Being a movie buff, there are certain rules and guidelines that one must abide to, including making a pretentious top 10 movies list. Alas, here is mine for the time being.

10.  ONCE. What can I say? I like romance and I like music. Once has one of the best soundtracks of recent memory but more importantly it is one of the best feel good movies in recent memory. Plus, who doesn’t like Irish accents?

“When your mind’s made up. There’s no point trying to stop it.”


9.  Motorcycle Diaries/ Y Tu Mama Tambien. I was torn when I had to chose which one of these films I liked more but could not decide. And since they're both in Spanish, I figure'd why not group these movies together -- I too dislike it when critics do this. Both movies focus on the open road and young people discovering their identity, while interweaving themes of  social and economical injustice in Latin America. My Latin American Studies T.A. would be so proud.
“¿Cómo es posible sentirse nostalgia para un mundo yo nunca supe?


“La vida está como el oleaje, así que le da quiere lejos el mar.”


8.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Michel Gondry's trick editing and cinematography is a reason within itself to watch this film but the movie's theme (albeit not subtle) of "It's better to have love and lost, than to never have loved at all," is something everyone can relate to.
“My crouch is still here, just like you remembered it.”


7. Magnolia. Not Paul Thomas Anderson's best film (that will go to either Boogie Nights or There Will Be Blood), but certainly his most ambitious. This movie is packed with lots of really great performances, it's difficult to find any loose links in the chain. Magnolia may be alienating to many but if you are tolerant towards 3 hour long movies about troubled characters to epic proportions, then Magnolia is certainly worth checking out.
“And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that strange things happen all the time.”


6. Dazed & Confused. I've always loved this film and it happens to be my favorite teen movie. It isn't flashy like Superbad, nor too preachy like the Breakfast Club. Instead what you get is an honest portrait of what being a teenager is all about -- getting blitzed and not worrying about tomorrow ma'an.
“L-I-V-I-N”


5. Almost Famous. A must-see for anyone who loves classic rock, or music in general for that matter. To me what makes AF a truly great film is that not only does it have a lot of heart and soul but it is also a really funny movie. You’ll be surprised how many quirky moments there are upon first viewing and you’ll be surprised by how many you miss after several viewings. Simply put, Almost Famous is a truly wonderful film about good company and music. You’ll never listen to Tiny Dancer quite the same ever again.

“And you can tell Rolling Stone magazine that my last words were… I’m on drugs!”


4. Pulp Fiction. Best movie of the 90s. Period. Well..Maybe Schindler's List.
“Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face!”


3. The Shawshank Redemption. Also arguably THE best film of the 90s. Almost everything you want to know about life is in The Shawshank Redemption. It’s almost criminal Shawshank lost to the fam-friendly Forrest Gump at the ’94 Oscars. But then again, I’ve recently come to the recent revelation that the Oscars suck hard.

“I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.”


2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In my opinion, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is a better trilogy than Star Wars with or without the taintful Episodes I,II, & III. Sure Star Wars may have been way more influential (we wouldn't have awesome films such as the 5th Element now would we?) but LOTR is a more polished trilogy. Also no Ewoks!
“Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.”


1. The Graduate. Upon my first viewing, I thought The Graduate was overrated. The love story between Ben and Elaine is spontaneous and doesn’t seem too believable. But the story remains timeless even to this day– and may actually mature with age as white suburbia continues to grow. Good day bad day, rain or shine, I can watch this film any day of the week. Plus what’s not to like with a soundtrack comprised of Simon & Garfunkel? And for fans of Boy Meets World, does Mr. Feeney ever age!?

“Wood or Wire? They have both.”


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, There Will Be Blood, American Beauty, Children of Men, Memento, The Departed

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50 Bold predictions for my upcoming school year.

  1. The French really are snooty.
  2. “People Watching” never gets old.
  3. Majority of Europeans know who Michael Jordan is.
  4. The majority of that majority have no idea what team he played for.
  5. Nude beaches are American tourist money traps.
  6. School will take up most of my time.
  7. Europeans love Americans, but hate American Politics.
  8. Mimes will continue to be creepy.
  9. Teenagers aren’t gung-hoe on binge drinking.
  10. Beer pong is also an unknown sport.
  11. Europeans hate Scientologists more than Muslims.
  12. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows will not be available in English (in France).
  13. Europeans get most of their information about America  from Baywatch and The Simpsons.
  14. More nudity, less violence on European TV.
  15. My French won’t be half-bad by the end of the year.
  16. When Europeans hear Chicago, they think Al Capone.
  17. Toilets are scarce.
  18. Europe’s current favorite musical artist is Lady Gaga.
  19. French rap is silly and should not be taken seriously.
  20. I will visit Jim Morrison’s grave
  21. Ellen Page is actually learning architecture in Paris.
  22. Europeans sing more when drinking. Especially when  in large crowds.
  23. I won’t learn to recite the French national anthem.
  24. Props, set design, and lasers play a bigger role at concerts.
  25. The beaches of Normandy have been left untouched since 1944.
  26. Smashing grapes with your feet is super fun.
  27. I will become a pseudo-wine connoisseur.
  28. I will try 43 different types of cheese.
  29. Hotdogs in France are an embarrassment to the name.
  30. Open markets are plentiful and awesome.
  31. Cigarettes are  plentiful and not awesome.
  32. Iraq screwed up American’s image to the rest of the World.
  33. The rest of the world is also confused why we elected George Bush twice.
  34. Making phone calls back home will be a challenge.
  35. Protesting is more common in Europe than it is in the U.S.
  36. I will see a Banksy work unexpectedly.
  37. When the French throw a party, it’s usually themed.
  38. Public transportation is well organized.
  39. Wearing a soccer jersey in France means a lot more than wearing any American sports jersey in America.
  40. Europeans do not know who Lebron James is.
  41. My power point presentation will have lots of video to incorporate by the end of the year.
  42. Most perceptions of Americans include cowboy hats, rodeos, and being loud.
  43. Europeans knew the world changed on 9/11 just as much as we did.
  44. Europeans lock their doors.
  45. There is a larger military presence on the streets than in the U.S.
  46. Most Europeans don’t know the rules of Baseball.
  47. I can play basketball better than most Europeans.
  48. The French loved LOST
  49. Just like every year I tell myself, my goal is start reading on a regular basis.
  50. Bidets are refreshing as they are awkward.

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