Friday, October 5, 2007

October 1-5

I joined a program called Tandem. In tandem, people are paired up with someone who's maternal language they would like to learn. It's a program for conversation practice to improve
language skills. It's loosely regulated, basically the partners just choose how often, how long, when, and where they meet. I went to the meeting for Anglo-Franco- and Germano-phones. Everyone had to pin big white cards on their shirts that said "....... Chereche (looking for)......" You filled in the blanks with the language you speak, and the language you want to improve. Then you walk around the room and find someone with an opposite card. My partner's name is Erika. She is from France and she's studying Geology at UNIL (the other university.) She's very nice, and her english is great; much better than my french. She's been to the US several times. Her dad's job requires him to travel a lot. He speaks 5 languages. Amazing! She also spent 2 weeks one summer in with a family friend near Boston.
Anyway, after the info session. We went back to her apartment and made crepes! She really didn't measure anything. This is something she does often I guess. Basically it's just flour, a little salt, an egg, and a bit of milk; add water if not runny enough. They were very tasty. The first one I had was with ham and cheese, then cranberry jelly, then just sugar. You can really put anything in them. They're a bit like tortillas in that sense. I miss tortillas.
Erika lives in a building of studio apartments. Most of the people there are students. Her apartment was very nice, but very small. I think the whole thing, including bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and living room, is smaller than my first dorm room was. We sat out on the balcony for a little bit and drank tea. A couple of the neighbors joined us. I didn't really catch most of what they were saying. Turns out there are some words/phrases that are different in Switzerland than in France. That's' good to know.
Erika and I are meeting every Friday for lunch to practice our languages. She's intrigued by Thanksgiving. It was rather difficult for me to explain Thanksgiving and Black Friday to her in French. She wants to learn how to cook sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
After that we went to "boire une verre" (go out for a drink). It was the first time that I had ridden in a car since I left Nebraska. I had a small beer. It was called kreiche, and was made of cherries. It was alright, but not terrific. Interesting though. I also ate a piece of something that I can't spell, but is native to the Alsace area of France. It was a thin crispy crust, with oil and some spices. I think it sometimes has cheese on it. I guess in a very broad sense it was kind of a thin crispy version of Pokey Sticks (for all you Iowa Staters.)
It's been about 22 degrees Celsius here this week (around 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Beautiful weather. It has rained a few times this week though, but they were very nice rains.
I met with my Thermodynamics professor. I thought I was having a lot of difficulties in that class. He thinks I was exaggerating. It's encouraging to know that I was doing better than I thought. All of my professors are very understanding and willing to help. I suppose my professors at Iowa State were the same way, but I never really took advantage of Office Hours. I think that is something that I will do more when I get back.
I went to my first "Discotheque" on Wednesday. I danced. Can you believe it? Me, dancing, at a club, on a school night! It was fun, but I didn't stay very long. I wanted to catch the last bus home. I missed it by about 2 minutes, and had to walk. Luckily I had a couple friends going the same direction, so I only had to walk alone for half of it. It took me an hour.
Last night I went to a cafe with a group of international students that I meet with on Thursday nights. We all had "chocolat chaud" or hot chocolate. It was nothing like Swiss Miss, it was much more delicious. Wow, it was really amazing. It was thick, we had to use spoons to drink it. It was kind of like warm pudding and the whipped cream on top was real whipped cream. None of that Reddi Whip stuff. Wow, just thinking about the hot chocolate makes my mouth water. It was heavenly.

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