It turns out there’s wifi at my grandparents’ house! So here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to on my break.

I arrived in France on Dec. 14th and got to my grandparents’ house outside of Rouen just in time for lunch. I spent the night at my grandparents’ house before heading back to Paris the next day with my cousin Delphine, leaving behind my two suitcases (I ended up paying 120 euros for one of my suitcases because it was overweight leaving Malaga… yeah I know).

I spent the week at Delphine’s apartment in the 19th arrondissement and during the day I was usually out and about visiting people. Delphine still had classes (she plays the cello and is studying music at a conservatory) during the day so I was usually on my own until she came home at night. I also got to know her boyfriend who also studies at the conservatory (he plays the guitar). I saw a few friends from home who either happened to be in Paris/were studying in Paris and got to see a lot of my cousins who were hanging around when we all went out to eat at an Asian restaurant.

I also got to meet up with an alumnus from Dickinson who was also a Theta. We were never Thetas at the same time but she worked on campus last year and was an adviser to our chapter so I remembered her face and knew who she was. We met up and ate at a Moroccan restaurant and it was so good to talk to someone who had gone through the Dickinson/Theta experience and who also had studied abroad in Toulouse. It’s hard to describe the feeling of “sisterhood” if you’ve never been in a sorority, but it heartens me to know there are Thetas all over the world and not necessarily Thetas from Dickinson. In Malaga, one of my best friends, Kim, was also a program participant and a Theta. Morgan, another Dickinson student and a Theta, came to visit us in Malaga and she’s studying in Bologna. And then I got to meet up with Alicia in Paris. It’s hard to put into words what Theta means to me. The fact that I can still meet up with Thetas outside of the US really heartens me.

I also visited the Pantheon, this large temple-like building that has a crypt in its basement and houses the remains of Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and the Curies to name a few of the more famous people interred there. The top floor of the Pantheon is very impressive, it’s very wide and spacious and the ceiling and walls are covered in murals. I revisited Notre Dame and to be honest, the outside of the cathedral is far more interesting than the inside. After visiting all the cathedrals in Spain which were astounding in architecture and decor inside and out, the inside of Notre Dame seemed rather boring and ordinary. Nothing remarkable really stood out. However the outside is definitely what the cathedral is famous for, along with the old story about the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

On my last night in Paris, Delphine, Cristian (her boyfriend), and I decided to take a walk on the Champs-Elysees. The Champs-Elysees are basically Paris’s version of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Very chic shops and expensive stores I certainly can’t afford. However we weren’t there to admire merchandise we couldn’t buy. The Champs-Elysees were all lit up for Christmas and there was a Christmas fair/market with stalls and booths selling various kinds of merchandise on either side of the avenue. It was actually similar to what was going on in Malaga on Paseo del Parque, though I think the Christmas lights were less circus-y and more classic. We walked along the WHOLE Champs-Elysees but I didn’t buy anything since I had already bought presents for my family. I did end up eating a crepe and drinking hot wine. That was kind of weird since I’m used to drinking wine cold but it wasn’t bad-just different.

Then it was back to Rouen. I met up with my family at my grandparents’ and the first person I ended up greeting was my father since my mother and sister were napping. It was the longest I had gone without seeing them–nearly four months! Needless to say I was obviously happy to see them again! 🙂

For Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, we celebrated with my whole father’s side of the family (minus one cousin who was spending it with relatives in Laos… my family is so international hehe) in a party room rented for the occasion. There was a lot of picture taking and for once my family got to participate in the annual family photos tradition that take place usually to placate my grandmother (we haven’t been to France for Xmas in 14 years). These pictures normally are taken on my grandmother’s couch in her living room but there was none in the party room so we made do with a few chairs.

And now I have about a week before I head to Toulouse, the same day my family flies back to NY. It’s been good to be with my family/catch up with my cousins, uncles, and aunts. However I’m really excited for Toulouse. All my French family members have only had nice things to say about Toulouse when they’ve learned that’s where I’m headed for the next few months. After Paris, it seems to be one of the most fun places to live!

OH and ALSO: I don’t think he reads this but I wanted to express congratulations to my oldest (yes he is my oldest on both sides of the family) cousin Sebastien and his girlfriend Joelle who are expecting a baby in July!!!!!! I don’t really know how their baby is related to me, a 2nd cousin/cousin once removed… whatever, it doesn’t really matter. I’m so excited for them! They’ve kept it a secret from the whole family (Joelle’s family did find out beforehand though) since October, when they first found out and waited until Christmas when the whole family was together to announce it. This means my grandparents are going to become great-grandparents…. and my father and mother are great-uncles and great-aunts. Hahahahahahahaha (to my parents).

Happy Holidays everyone!