Hey guys.  So I haven’t written much lately but that’s because there really isn’t that much to report.  When I first started this blog nearly two years ago, it was meant to be a record of my time studying abroad in Europe.  When I came back to the US, I enjoyed blogging so much I decided I would keep using this blog despite the fact that my traveling adventures were over.  Obviously I didn’t blog as much this past year as I did while I was in Europe.  While lots of stuff happened my senior year of college, it all seemed to pale in comparison to what I experienced while I was abroad.  I’ve read through some of the posts I wrote this past year and I’ll be honest, I got really bored with some of the entries and I’m sorry if they put you to sleep too.  I won’t delete them though because some of the things I wrote about were some of my most cherished memories of senior year.  They might not have been the most interesting to read about for some people and that’s okay.

Not everything that happens in my life is going to be exciting.  I won’t always be living in a foreign country or traveling unfortunately.  In fact, this summer is definitely the opposite of exciting which is probably why I won’t blog too much.  Apart from the coyotes attacks.  Oh and I got my first cavity ever (which is really annoying since I usually take good care of my teeth).  But who knows, I still have some time left before I go back to Spain.  Maybe the zombie invasion will finally happen.

A brief recap on the coyotes: In the past year, coyotes have been sighted all over the area though I was totally unaware of that since I was in PA for most of that time.  In recent weeks, sightings have increased and a few weeks ago two little girls were attacked in the span of 4 days.  The attacks were unprovoked and in both cases the attacks were bizarrely similar: the little girl was playing in her backyard in the evening only to be attacked by a coyote.  Both times parents were able to successfully scare the animals away (and both girls suffered non lethal bite wounds so they are going to be okay).  The cops have been told they are allowed to shoot on sight if possible (attempts at this have failed so far).  Professional trappers have been called in and our town has made national news.  Apparently coyotes attacking humans is extremely unusual behavior and only one person has ever died in the US due to a coyote attack.

Obviously the town has been on edge.  I have yet to actually see a coyote but at this point I’m hoping I don’t come across one.  These coyotes aren’t exactly vicious–they just aren’t afraid of humans which is kind of a problem.  When I take the dog out at night, I get extremely nervous and I don’t venture past the front lawn (a poodle in my town was killed in April by a coyote).  I honestly don’t care if one of these coyotes get shot.  I’m not too sure relocating the coyotes to remote locations will exactly help.  They could find their way to another suburban area and terrorize other people.

It’s not that we suburbanites aren’t used to sharing our backyards with the wilderness.  I see deer and rabbits in my backyard all the time.  My dog has been already sprayed by a skunk twice (and likes to chase after the deer and rabbits as well).  And this summer according to el Primo Frances, there’s a raccoon family hanging out somewhere along with the usual lone woodchuck that turns up mysteriously every summer.  I even spotted the garter snake that pops up around this time of year (and got so close to him he smacked into my ankle as he slithered away from me).  And of course, we see the squirrels and chipmunks year round.
However all these animals are naturally afraid of us.  They dart away as soon as we get within fifteen feet.  These coyotes, on the other hand, don’t seem too fazed by us.  One was even caught in Central Park a few years ago (and I have no idea how it managed to get there).

I don’t know if they have coyotes in Europe (I’m sure there are but maybe a different species?) but what are some of the animals there that are sharing the same territory as suburbanites? I know in France (at least in the north not so sure about the rest of the country) wild boar can wreak havoc on people’s properties.  In various parts of the US, apart from the deer that are constantly darting across roads and heavily damaging cars, bears also make their way down from the mountains and rummage around the garbage.  If you happen to be reading this and are from outside of the US, what kind of animals are common in your area and which are the biggest pests?

I know for a fact my dad would nominate the deer in the biggest pest category followed with rabbits as a close second.  They eat everything in his herb garden and no matter how many times we scare them or set the dog on them (imagine a little white dog chasing after a huge brown deer), they just keep on coming back.  I guess the herbs are that delicious.  I literally have seen one just about every day this summer–just saw a smaller one tonight I mistook for a coyote before taking the dog out for his last walk chilling out in our front yard.

Apart from admiring the wildlife, this summer I am trying to hit up as many NYC cultural activities as I can while I’m still around.  Just this past weekend I finally went to Ellis Island for the first time.  Of course I waited around forever to buy my ticket and waited in line for the ferry which actually stops at the Statue of Liberty first (which I’ve been to already).  I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised and really found Ellis Island to be really interesting.  I thought it was abandoned after it stopped being the gateway to NY in 1922 but apparently it was still used until the 1950s.  Then it was abandoned for a few decades before opening up as a museum for tourists in 1990.  As far as I know, none of my ancestors came through Ellis Island but there were quite a few immigrants bearing my mother’s maiden name listed on the immigrant wall.
I really liked the exhibits explaining how immigrants were processed and the 6 second medical overview doctors gave each immigrant while they stood in line.  Immigrants were marked with chalk if doctors suspected they needed to be examined further and there was a whole chalk letter system in place so that the people who worked on the island could easily recognized where they needed to send the immigrants next.  After a long boat ride, Ellis Island must have seemed like a scary, intimidating, and disorienting place.  Immigrants could be detained there for up to a few days to several weeks.  Only about 2% were deported back to their native homelands out of the millions who passed through there–the people that immigrant officials feared would become public charges in society or would turn to a life of crime.  If you ever come to Manhattan, you definitely can’t miss Ellis Island.  However, get there EARLY.  The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are two of the most famous and most visited landmarks in NYC so you want to make sure you have plenty of time to visit.  I spent about an hour on the island but I didn’t want to meander around too much because it was getting late so I didn’t get to spend as much time in the exhibits as I would have liked.

In fact, thanks to the travel camp I’m working at this summer, I’ve been getting to go to a number of NYC/Westchester hot spots such as the Bronx Zoo, NBC studios, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and there will be more in the weeks to come.  I got to see the set of Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon during the NBC tour so that was pretty cool.  And the Bronx Zoo is always a treat (especially the gorilla exhibit which I’ve FINALLY gotten to see), even if it was pouring rain for about half the day and most of the campers brought nothing with them to stay dry from the rain.  I also visited the United States Military Academy aka West Point, about an hour away from where I live.  West Point is situated high up in the mountains overlooking the majestic Hudson River.  It’s a place steeped in tradition and history and even though I know very little about the military in general, you can’t help but respect the cadets who choose to study there.  It’s a beautiful campus–the architecture is very gothic and made of stone.  I even caught a glimpse of some cadets exercising–maybe some new freshmen who were undergoing boot camp (or “basic training” as they call it).  Definitely a place to check out if you’re ever in the area.  Just make sure you have valid ID when you go visit, they won’t let you in otherwise.

I also hope to visit the King Tut exhibit on my own, I’ve heard some good things about it.  There is always something to do in NYC, I have to say I am lucky I live so close by to one of the world’s most famous cities.  Whenever we have French relatives who come to visit, a trip (or several) to Manhattan is a must.  I am not indifferent to the thrill NYC brings but to me, it is normal that there are so many people rushing around, that there are so many tall buildings, and that the taxis are yellow, the things that make tourists so curious.  However, I am always proud to show NYC off to visitors, even if I am not from the city itself.

It will be interesting to live in a major city next year.  I have been to Madrid twice now but only for short visits.  The times I have been there, I definitely loved it.  When I compare cities to each other, naturally New York is my point of reference.  Madrid may not have as many towering skyscrapers and there are no definitely no yellow taxis.  However, it is a very international city but it remains distinctly Spanish.  I really do think I am going to love living there.  I love Spain in general but I really hope I get to know Madrid and its people really well this time around.  I want to find those out of the way places nobody knows about (and if you know about any of these places let me know–I’m talking about cafes, restaurants, bars, libraries, bookstores… your favorite Madrid hang outs).  I want to get to know the Spanish people, possibly make friends with some of them.  This is going to be a challenge because I am ridiculously shy and making friends does not come easy to me.

I don’t know yet where I’ll be living for now.  I will be living with 2 other girls from my program.  We’ve decided we’ll stay in a hostel the first few days and apartment hunt.  Hopefully we’ll find a furnished place before NYU’s orientation starts.  I’ve heard it’s relatively easy for students to find a place to live in Madrid so here’s hoping it won’t be too difficult!

So yeah it’s been pretty much coyotes and camp the last few weeks.  And anticipation for Spain.  This summer is going by so fast though, before I know it I’ll be getting my bags ready to leave.  Everybody will be all over the place next year.  Aside from me in the Iberian Peninsula, Hermana will be in Copenhagen, Denmark and Mom will be continue to work in Boston during the week.  Papa stays at home.  Primo Frances will be in France (in fact he left today, it feels really weird without him around).

Amazing how things just change in the blink of an eye! I’ll probably blog one more time before I leave for Spain.

Amelie

PS.  If anyone knows anything about wordpress, please let me know! I’ve been thinking of transferring my blog to a different host for awhile now.