Sunday, October 17, 2010

Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris

So, I actually put a post it next to my key board reminding me to "update blog" for probably two weeks. Finally I am getting it together.  I literally just got to Freiburg about an hour ago after we went on a week long field trip to Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris.  We got on our "Freiburg bus" at 6:30am on Monday morning.  Now that I think about it, it was kind of amusing to walk toward the bus stop in the dark, and find our group sleepily standing at the corner dressed in business formal attire (we actually looked like we were all going to a funeral) with piles of luggage...definitely was not as amusing at the time.  After we picked up everyone, we started making our way through the first leg of our trip to Luxembourg.  At about 10AM we stopped at Saint-Avold which is the largest US Military Cemetery in Europe.  
We just had enough time to take a quick walk around before we got on the bus again to make it to downtown Luxembourg.  As usual we got packets on the bus on facts and tourist attractions to the areas we are about to visit.  This time it was useless because we had about an hours in downtown, which most people used to get food.  After we got back to the bus I found out that there were a few people that decided to grab something small and did up wandering around the area for the time we had.  I ended up not being one of those people.  I ended up going with a group of people to a restaurant near where our bus let us off, and pretty much used all our time there.   

After lunch, we got back on the bus and headed to Brussels.  Pretty much right after we got there, we were off to meetings.  My group went to the European Court of Justice to have a presentation by a couple of the legal secretaries.  It was clear that our group was pretty exhausted already from being on the bus so long, but it seemed like everyone liked the presentations...well..the second one at least.  The first guy were obviously knowledgable on the intricacies of inner workings of the court, but not so much when it came to giving lively presentations.  The second presenter actually give some examples of some of the projects and cases that she was personally working on which helped to make their job more understandable.  

Later that night we walked around the area near our hotel, and found a few couple chocolate shops....the fact that I don't remember much more than that means that I had my priorities straight and was very determined to get some as soon as possible.  
On Tuesday, we woke up early to head to our next meeting at the Council of the EU which of the Language Coordinators.  I actually really enjoyed the speaker.  But I should also add that as I was leaving I felt very unaccomplished after he listed all of the languages that he knew.  Yes. I know, that he is suppose to know a lot for his job.  But I even more sure that I need to get my hands on a complete set of Rosetta Stone the first chance I get.  

Later that same day I also went to a presentation with a Representative of the Flemish Government, and then with the director of Security and Defense Agenda.  I was surprised at how interested I was with the second meeting.  The speaker was very honest in his opinions and answers that our class had, rather than just reading statistics from a power point.  

This time there wasn't any chocolate involved but I actually remember what what I did later.  I ended up going with Aubrey, Magot, and Alex to a little Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel.  The waiter was really cute and tolerant of us butchering the french names of dishes...ok. when I say "we"...I really mean me.  But whatever.  Anyway, after that we went to the a popular bar nearby called delirium to meet up with other people from our program.  There was a ridiculous amount of different beers on tap there.  I ended up getting a really girly but super delicious drink that my friend found: pear beer.  Sounds weird, but so good.  When we went to the hotel, we almost couldn't get back in.  The guy at the desk looked sooo mad that we were coming back "late."  Other than that, it was pretty fun.

Wednesday, we had a meeting at the European Commission, and then followed that with small group meetings with a professor to discuss our opinions on how we thought the trips were going.  I loved how blunt our professor was about his personal opinions of what the speakers chose to talk to us about or how they had gone about everything.  But definitely by the end of all of that, I was so ready to walk around the city and get out of the business attire that we all to sport around all day.  And if I remember correctly, I ended up hanging out with Josh, Reijer, Kaela, and Nate and wandering all of the place finding somewhere to eat.  I still don't remember the name of where we ended up going for dinner, but it was a really cool restaurant/bar that had a guy that looked suspiciously like Haggard...but either way the food was great.  Then on the way back we ended up finding "The Pisser"  fountain and then ate waffles...of course.  On the way back, we ended up walking through the main square and decided to have a dance-off.  Random, maybe. Awesome, yes.  Simple memory, but I have feeling it is going to stick with me for a while because it was so spontaneous and weird...just how i think life should be.
  photo.php.jpg(How could you not want to dance here?!)

Thursday, we checked out of our hotels and got back on the bus to head to another hostel.  This time, we were not getting rooms but actually went there for meeting with the NATO information officer for Denmark.  Sketchy sounding right?! I don't know who's idea that was, but other circumstances prevented us from going to their official building, so we had our meeting at a youth hostel.  He was also really interesting.  The meeting did go on for a while though...partly because we was really open with telling us about his own personal experiences; including, describing his cute daughter who is learning French.  (I love how that is the first thing that I remember).  Then later that night we got back on the bus, and drove to Paris.  

I think we arrived around 8:30-ish.  After dropping off my stuff, I couldn't fully decide what I was doing at first, but I got a hold of Tim, my friend from high school who is studying abroad in Paris, and got directions to a party at his campus.  It was a little scary getting on the metro by myself in Paris at night after being there for all of 30 minutes but I managed to find it.  After we met up, he quickly handed me some random girl's student id. I should also mention that the picture was of a Caucasian girl with light-ish brown hair...looked JUST like me.  The guard actually almost didn't let me in and even was about to keep the id.  Some how we managed to convince him to let me in and give back the id.  I was shocked to find out that the party was put on by the took up the entire courtyard, and different parts of the the buildings nearby.  We stayed there for a while, and eventually went to another bar nearby.  Even though this is super embarrassing for me, I was going to write about what I did right before we left this second bar: as I was coming down the stairs of the bathroom, I fell down.  It was not just a little slip...but an epic i-can't-believe-that-happened-to-me kind of fall.  I guess the steps with kind of wet, and my converse have no traction (big surprise), and both of my feet shot out from under me, and I my elbows and middle of my back hit the edges of the stairs.  Needless to say, I was been really sore since then (and would still a back rub is anyone is offering....just throwing it out there).  Anyway, Tim was awesome, and took care of me and made sure I got home after that.  
(just to give you an idea of what this party was like when i got there)

Friday, we had a meeting at the French Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs in the morning, and then a meeting with a France based think tank in the afternoon.  The free time that day mostly involved us walking around Paris, and drooling over the Eiffel Tower.
So Saturday, we had the day free and most people went to Versailles.  Instead, I went with TIm and his friends to Euro-Disneyland!  Getting there was surprisingly difficult.  I managed to get to the right stop on time, but I found out that my phone was out of money and I couldn't contact Tim.  I ended up waiting for an hour, during which a creepy guy kept trying to talk to me in French and proceeded to follow me when I tried to walk away.  After I got away from him, I was almost ready to give up, until I found the area that I apparently was suppose to meet Tim, and figured out which train to get on.  After running around for a while, I eventually found Tim and his other friends.  After all of that trouble, it turned out to be really fun.  
After we all had dinner, I headed to the hotel and met up with some people on my program and got a chance to see the Notre Dame.  

hen bright and early this morning we got on the bus one last time to drive back to Freiburg. It basically took ALL DAY but i was able to sleep on it more than usual.  I also realized how much I missed Freiburg. 

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