Monthly Slice: July

I am writing this post from grey Monterey – it’s the first time in weeks that I’ve been able to get cozy in my sweatpants and spend some quality time with my own MacBook, not at work.

If you are at all in sync with the Gregorian calendar, you may have noticed that July ended a few weeks ago, and yet here I am still writing about it, because I stubbornly refuse to stop writing these monthly posts until I have a collection of twelve. I may have to rethink them next year though – my blogging time is limited and I would rather write more useful posts.

Highlights

July was awesome because Hugo’s parents came to visit from France! It was their first time on the west coast and they loved California. We showed them around San Francisco, spent a sweltering weekend in wine country, and took them down to foggy Monterey, Carmel, and Pacific Grove. They were surprised by the Bay Area microclimates – drive twenty minutes east and the weather is completely different, for better or worse!

We visited Calistoga and St Helena, two tourist spots on the wine trail, but Healdsburg was my favorite. Exploring these little towns was the best part about visiting this region – wine tasting here can be pretty expensive. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather just pick up some bottles and have a DIY tasting with friends.

img_2875We had less than two days to show them around the Monterey area, where we’ve been living for most of the last year, but we came up with the perfect itinerary that hit almost all our favorite spots. (We went to three beaches in one day!)

There is always fresh, Instagrammable produce at my parents’ house. This turned into a delicious California dinner for Hugo’s parents. (There was even California cheese, which got the French stamp of approval.)

Our friends came to visit San Francisco on the one boiling hot day of the summer. We waited in a huge line to get ice cream from the Garden Creamery. It was so worth it.

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The company I interned at this summer encourages employees to take time off work to volunteer, and that’s how I ended up spending the day at City Slickers Farms in Oakland. Their mission is to educate community about urban farming and healthy food and to provide organic produce to West Oakland residents who wouldn’t otherwise have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

If you’re in the Bay Area, I highly recommend dropping in to volunteer on a Thursday or supporting their organic market on Saturday!

The company also took all 300+ interns to Santa Cruz for the day… and I remembered that I hate roller coasters! Turns out I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m about to be flung to my death.

The sunset was nice though. Next time I’ll stay on the ground and take pictures.

Weekday happy hour at Uno Dos Tacos is my go-to because it goes all evening (none of this 6 pm cutoff nonsense). And they make a great margarita in those pretty blue-rimmed glasses.

My favorite thing about living in California is the coastal views. Hugo and I were driving back from Half Moon Bay and we just pulled over to watch the sunset. Pictures never do it justice.

Reading

I blazed through Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on marriage. She relates her personal story of reconciling with her aversion to marriage through musings and a thorough examination of the institution of marriage across couples and cultures. This all happens when her partner – yes, the one from Eat, Pray, Love – is threatened with deportation, and the only recourse to get married… the one thing they’ve vowed not to do.

Watching

Master of None. Did anyone else watch the second season?! The first episode takes place in Modena, and it made me want to fly to small town Italy and eat all the pasta. I like this show because it’s not afraid to depart from the main arc and tell a story from someone else’s perspective (while at the same time telling the oldest story on earth: Dev wants a girl he can’t have.)

Trader Joe’s July favorite

We tried the vanilla éclairs and they are pretty tasty! The choux pastry can’t compare to a fresh éclair in France (it’s a little chewy), but if you eat them before they defrost all the way, the filling tastes like ice cream. Yum.

Pinterest board of the month

In honor of summer, a board of refreshing cocktail recipes! (If you’re not into cocktails, I have a board just for smoothies.)

Full disclosure: I am way too lazy to make any cocktail with more than three ingredients, but I keep adding fruity drinks to this Pinterest board in the hopes that I will someday become the kind of person who makes her own simple syrup and ice cubes with flowers in them.

I have a little break before the semester starts and I’m looking forward to catching up on my blog reading – I’ve missed a lot over the last couple months. (I’m sorry, blogger friends!) Let’s see if I can write about August before we’re already halfway through September. Cheers to the last month of summer!

 

A French Guy in California: Hugo talks about culture shock in the U.S.

I think that Hugo’s biggest moment of American culture shock was when he opened a bottle of ibuprofen.

He came running in and exclaimed, “Sweetie! The weirdest thing just happened!” He held out the plastic bottle. “Look what was in it!” Wide-eyed, he pulled out a wad of cotton. “C’est pas comme en France!” 

Continue reading “A French Guy in California: Hugo talks about culture shock in the U.S.”

Monthly Slice: March

A slice of March…

Highlights

A day in Santa Cruz – Hugo and I drove up to Santa Cruz and spent a lovely day wandering. We left our laptops behind and took the day off from normal life and it was wonderful. It was like a tiny vacation. That sounds silly because it’s less than an hour away, but I thought it was as much fun as wandering through Lisbon or Sète or Oxford. It’s just nice to go somewhere beautiful and explore, no matter how far from home you are.

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First Semester at MIIS

Wow, this is the first time in two years that I’ve gone more than a month without a post! I am pretty low-key about blogging, but I aim to write at least once a month. I’ve only missed one month since I started blogging two and a half years ago – make that two months now.

That should give you a good idea of just how busy school has been keeping me. Now that it’s officially school vacation, I’ll try to catch up a little. Some people expressed interest in hearing more about my program at MIIS, so I thought I’d explain what I’m studying and what the program is like so far.

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A different kind of rentrée

Hi there! I write about la rentrée (when all of France goes back to school and back to work after summer vacation) every year (2014, 2015), but it’s my first time in years being a student for back to school season!

I have to say, I like it. I love being a student. I’m currently studying translation, localization, and interpretation at MIIS and it keeps me busy seven days a week. It is fun to be back on the other side of the classroom and remember how I felt when I was the teacher. (I don’t miss it.)

I think that being in an international environment and a familiar city (I grew up here) have muted the effects of reverse culture shock. It was surprisingly easy to quit my beloved Franglais (for the most part) and I’m almost never surprised by sales tax anymore (but I’m leaving my weather app in Celsius!)

A few observations:

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Goodbye France, Hello California

Hi! Guess where I am? (I suppose if I really wanted you to guess I shouldn’t have put it in the title.)

I left Lyon (in tears) and flew back to my hometown last week. Most of August was spent emptying our home in Lyon and trying to cram all of my belongings into two suitcases. (Bless the Lufthansa agent who let my overweight bag slide through!)

Everyone knows moving is the worst, but sometimes you forget how really Not Fun it is until you’re weeding through everything you own and getting stood up by Leboncoiners who are supposed to come buy your crappy chairs (RUDE!) August was hot and stressful and I was pretty cranky for most of the month. I pretty much stopped checking my email, which is terrible because some really nice people emailed me during that time. (I’m sorry, nice people!!!) It seems like a pretty wimpy thing to complain about, but I get so overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox.

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