“get back out there! The world is waiting for you”

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April 2013 // Grenoble, France

April 2013 // Grenoble, France

Sometimes we get fixated on things that we aren’t supposed to and the universe has its way to remind us that we need to go back on track by sending us signs. For instance, it’s true what they say. “We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason.” Perhaps they come and stay for awhile, and maybe touch your life and leave a mark on your heart through their special ways, yet sooner or later they might suddenly leave and by the time you know it, they no longer become a relevant person in your life.

On rare occasion, there are few people who are meant to stay in your life forever, despite the geographical boundary and uncertain duration of separation. Unfortunately, we can’t control who gets to stay and walk out from your life. It hurts but as time goes by, you’ll heal and finally understand that everything happens for a reason, whether it’s good or bad. Like physics, this mystery called life has its own intangible ways to make things work for us. Despite the occasional ups and down, we can always learn from things that we encounter every day. I always try to look at things from the bright side, though from time to time it’s hard. But I know that it’s better than being cynical and the world seriously don’t need another sad cynical species occupying most of the world’s population.

So, this serves as a reminder again that there are so much things that I need to comprehend and see, and I should just stop worrying and let the universe leads me to whatever rabbit hole I’m supposed go through later. It might be scary. It might be thrilling. It might be the best time of your life. Or the next stage of our lives might be ridiculously hard that you will find yourself occasionally bursting out tears in the future. Who knows what master plan life has planned for us? Everything shall pass.

Also, if you can’t be happy by loving and being yourself, then you seriously have a problem. Enough said.

Anyways, here’s just a random thought that crossed my mind. My finger just glued itself to the keyboard and starts typing randomly. Alas, good night world.

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The Italian Journey (LATE POST)

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A week passed like a breeze and now I’m back in France. Of course, I would tell you that Italy is incredibly beautiful and every alleys and streets that I passed in Turino, Florence was magnificent because it was unlike anything that I’ve never seen before. But this particular post will be dedicated for one specific night while I was in Italy. The day that me and Lisa stayed in Florence a day longer to visit the hometown of our Italian friend’s Ambra.

Just a little bit of background story: Me and Lisa sort of met Ambra for the first time during orientation week. We didn’t really know her back then, but then we bumped into her again outside the sandwich shop in the university. I remembered that she greeted us again that afternoon because she remembered seeing us during the orientation. Since we had nothing to do that day, we asked Ambra if she wanted to have coffee and after few banters in French, and me and Lisa occasionally spoke in English, Ambra finally said, “Ah desolé Michelle et Lisa, je parle pas anglais.”

Yup, we discovered that she can’t speak English at all, only Italian and French. After that afternoon, we occasionally hang out with her. To be honest, she is a great addition to our group because when Ambra is around, all of us are obliged to speak French all the time. Sometimes it gets painful given that we can’t really express or describe many things in French due to the limited vocab, but at the same time it’s great because we’re improving our speaking skill outside uni time. I mean, that’s the reason why we come to France, right? To finally able to speak French!

Anyways, we had a relaxing start of the day before we went to Ambra’s. It was the warmest day I’ve felt since I got here, and we even got to visit Palazzo Vecchio (and saw David the Great sculpture!) and chilled in the patches of green in Palazzo Pitti since Ambra asked us to come at 7 to her place. We managed to pick up a bouquet of flower for the Giunti’s, just a little something for them because they have been so kind for letting us stay overnight in their house. And by us coming there meant that our dear Ambra had to sleep on the living room so then we could sleep in her room. Oh gosh, she’s just too nice and I won’t stop saying that HAHA.

The drive from Florence to Empoli took roughly about an hour. We put on Ambra’s address to Mary Poppins (that’s how we called Lisa’s GPS because it speaks in a heavy British accent HAHA) and we were in a highway again, crossing another suburb to Empoli. As we went further from Firenze, we passed a particular street with packed tiny houses, which kinda reminded me of Jakarta. And the street got smaller and darker, and  we finally saw the green sign named Empoli! And surprise, surprise! We stopped in front of supposedly Ambra’s place….. which was a car repair center. WHAT? Damn Mary Poppins!

“Okay, this is not Via Della Torraccia!”, Lisa said.

“Oh wait, wait…. I think we passed it. I think it was that little corner down there!”, I said.

We got off from the car, feeling a bit nervous about how to react when we saw the Giunti’s at their door. Well, why wouldn’t we nervous? Ambra told us that her parents don’t speak English NOR French, and her mom was so excited when she heard that we are coming that she cooked for an authentic Italian meal for us and Ambra also mentioned that her dad would attempt to speak in English and reminded us that it would be horrible. Oh gosh, I am so touched EVEN before I met them! Lol. As we knocked their door, there they were, Senore Mario and Senorina Lorena, standing in front of us, enthusiastically greeted us in a french way (a kiss in each cheek and a big hug). 

When Italians hosted a dinner, it would be a serious business, such as four courses meal that we definitely didn’t expect. As for starter, Ambra’s mom made a bruschetta with different toppings — olives, onions and red-stuff-that-i-couldn’t-remember-its-name-but-it-tastes-super-awesome, and then the spaghetti with home-made tomate sauce. But of course, even after my tummy was fully filled with this savoury heaven, it didn’t stop there. After bruschetta and spaghetti, the ultimate SECOND MAIN COURSE were set in the table (yup, the ‘proper’ Italian meal consists of two main courses): the brasato and torta salata!

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At that point, Me and Lisa were so bloated, but then we just kept eating because we didn’t wanna appear to be rude. For god’s sake, they have cooked us food that could feed more than 5 people that night!! lol. Ambra told us that her mom cooks everyday, like cooking ALOT of stuff almost every single day. I told Ambra that I was amazed that she’s still in shape, because her mom is an amazing cook and I don’t think I will ever leave home if my mom is such an expert cooker like that lol.

Ambra’s mom occasionally attempted to say few phrases in French that she knew to us, and Senore Mario asked where we come from (in English) and opened another bottle of wine for us to drink. Ambra sat on the edge of the table, acting as the translator and occasionally chuckled as me and Lisa lost in translation in casa de Giunti. We told him that we came from Turino, and he was excited to hear it because he is a fan of Juventus football team and I happened to told him that I saw many merchandise store while we wandered around the city. It was an amusing situation indeed, somewhat awkward but in a good way because of this lost-in-translation situation that we had put ourselves into. Between sips of wine and spoonful of spaghetti, Senore Mario and Senora Lorena kept teasing Ambra, which I could see even when I didn’t understand ANYTHING that they said. It was a cute thing to see, and we were surrounded by warmth, the warmth of a family, something that I had been missing after few weeks away from home.

It was surreal to think about it again. I would have never thought that I would have this kind of experience. You can see all of those pretty basilicas and eat in the most luxurious restaurant in Firenze, but not everyone can have a simple Italian dinner with a nice Italian family. It was one of those rare cultural experiences one could ever had. It might sound like a mundane dinner story, but that particular moment is one of those moments that reminds me why I wanted to participate in exchange program at the first place. If only we could speak Italian, it would have been awesome to engage in more interesting conversation with Senore Mario and Senorina Lorena. Their hospitality and warmth are seriously one of the best things I’ve ever experienced during my trip in Italy.

So that is that, the beauty of coincidence. The beauty of welcoming a stranger into your life, who suddenly fills you with this great memory and experience. Sometimes I still need to convince myself that I’m here, surrounded by all things unfamiliar, to be constantly challenged and surprised by this unpredictable life. It’s exhilarating, fun and frustrating at the same time, but I could never ask for a better thing. It made me realise that there are so many things that I haven’t discovered and these kind of experiences constantly remind me to be open-minded about all of the possibilities and knowledges that I can grasp upon.

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Notre belle amie italienne, Ambra (et Zara le chien sympa) 😀

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Things that you should do while you’re in Italy.

1. Attempt to finish off an XL pizza all by yourself.

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In which I did! Well, close enough. Tummy couldn’t finish the crust.

2. Eat at least a scoop of gelato everyday and pretend that you’re walking the Italian street like it’s summer, even though it’s in the middle of February.

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3. Climbed over the 463 narro, claustrophobic steps of Piazza Del Duomo and prepare to have yourself blown by the beauty of Firenze from the top

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4. Have different Italian dish every day because you can’t miss all those good pasta. GNOCCHI! PIZZA! TORTELLINI!

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5. Avoid any eye contact with those bird feeder men if you don’t wanna be forced to pay €10 just to feed the birds

6. Go to Palazzo Pitti in Firenze and if the weather permits, lay on the grass, have cheap wine and fill your mp3 with good music and voilà… you’re chilling on the palace’s garden.

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7. Try to say buonjourno (Good morning), grazie (thank uou), Prego (your welcome) ciao (See you/Goodbye) , Signore/Signora (Mister/Mrs.) as much as you can while you’re in Italy.

8. Stand still and look like an oblivious tourist while admiring the magnificent Duomo.

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Florence // February 2013

Milan // February 2013

Milan // February 2013

9. Lastly, throw your map away, be spontaneous and get yourself lost while exploring the little lanes and streets of Italy. ‘Tis the best way to enjoy the city.

Florence // February 2013 Taken with Nikon D7000

Florence // February 2013
Taken with Nikon D7000

Turino // February 2013

Turino // February 2013

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“Physical feelings are just that—physical. But attraction of the mind, heart, spirit—that’s miraculous. And when you choose to love another unconditionally, without judgment, and regardless of what’s in it for yourself, that’s the fairy tale.”
The reason why I love Thought Catalog. This is one beautiful piece of writing ❤

Thought Catalog

I believe you are my person. I love you, even though you don’t love me. I love you, even though there’s nothing in it for me anymore. There’s just loving you, but that’s enough for me. I find you to be one of the most exquisite humans I’ve ever met, and knowing you is all it takes to love you. I don’t need anything in return. Getting to be acquainted with your intelligence, depth, understanding, endurance, humor, wisdom, (I could go on), is what love is, and it’s why I choose to love you so intently.

Thank you for loving me when I didn’t love myself. I pushed away because I believed that I wasn’t worthy of love. I came back because I thought you were the only person who cared.

But you weren’t, and you’re not. You were, however, the person with whom I fell most intensely in love…

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The Ultimate Bucket List

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I went through old files on my laptop because I need to delete more stuff (laptop memory’s depleting yet again, oh no!) and I found a ‘mysterious’ text document that I made in 2008. Guess what? IT’S MY OLD BUCKET LIST! I made them when I was high school 🙂

Originally, I only wrote 21 random things that I wanna do and I realised that I have done some of them! There are some juvenile stuff, and I also didn’t remember WHY I ever wanted to do those things. But I guess I should just live up to the expectation of my 16-years-old self, cause a list is a list, it’s a promise! :p Also, I decide to add more stuff, the ones that I could think off right now and THIS IS IT! I should start doing all of these stuff from now on! Time’s ticking and I’m not getting any younger 😉

So, in no particular order…….. here’s my bucket list!

1. Going on a road trip with no exact destination

2. Roll down on a hill  (Did this one with few buddies on a summer afternoon of 2011 in Melbourne. Was being stared by the locals because they must have thought we looked like three Humpty Dumpty rolling down the hill HAHA)

3. Staying all night to catch the sunrise

4. Participate in a food fight (This one was from my old bucket list. And I have no idea why I ever thought on doing this one)

5. Go sky-diving. Or bungee-jumping

6. Ride an elephant (Chiang Mai 2008. We went to a little paradise filled with elephants!)

7. Traveling around Europe (hopefully I will accomplish this one on June :D)

8. Color my hair with a crazy hair (I remembered how I thought that it would have been so cool to have blue tinge on my hair…… Tsk, kids :P)

9. Win something from a doll machine! (Felt like a big shot winner when I got myself a big, red ugly doll hahahah. But still, ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!)

10. Living 48 hours of my life without any sleep (perhaps you might find this as a torture. But the way I imagine it is that I’m off venturing somewhere that requires me to stay awake for 48 hours…. So yeah, not so much of a torture 😛)

11. Learn how to play AT LEAST one song on a guitar

12. Lying flat on a thick, fluffy snow and make a snow angel (YESTERDAY IN CORRENÇON SNOW YAAAAAY! I was yet again laughed by the Europeans because I was TOO excited :D)

13. Learn how to dive (this one will be tough as I’m scared of sea depth errgghhh)

14. Got really drunk until you can’t remember a single thing (I had no comment on this one HAHA. BUT I’d blame it on a bottle of Bombay Sapphire and a miserable friend on a quiet summer night)

15. To be able to speak Fluent French (as I’m still sound like an idiot now because I often pause a lot to think of the next word I wanna say HAHA)

16. To take a black and white picture of Cloud Gate in Chicago

17. Take a picture with a baby lion or tiger on my lap!! 

18. To visit musée de Louvre! (PARIS MON AMOUR, I’M COMING TO YOUUU SOON)

19. Staying overnight on a car (should’ve done this one ages ago because we were ALMOST homeless. But I can definitely feel that I will experience this AT LEAST once some time in the future hahahahah)

20. To throw oneself on a field of flower! Oh, or maybe run through a field of flower 😀

21. To hug a sad stranger that I encounter on the street (when I finally have the courage to do so, I will :))

22. Go on a one-week trip with your best buds (Well it wasn’t exactly one-week, but 6 days 5 nights would do :P)

23. Internet fasting for a week (in which I tried to do it few times when I was in high school and failed miserably because it’s ALMOST impossible to do)

24. To punch a bad person on their face (I don’t know why I put this one either lol)

25. Go off volunteering abroad for a humanitarian cause

26. Dance under the rain

27. To get a job that I’m passionate about in which I can finally provide a financial stability for myself (I guess this is a general achievement that most people would want :P)

28. Go camping (I can’t believe I’ve never done this before)

29. To see the Northern Light!

30. Trespass a prohibited area

31. To have a massive sweet-food binge day until you feel like you’re gonna throw up

32. Go biking for 3 hours

33. To have a life-changing experience (This one is abit vague, I know.)

34. To do 5 random deeds for a friend of family member

35. To travel the world! One country at a time 🙂

36. To ride the scariest roller coaster in the world (might have to do a bit of research for this one)

37.  To travel alone somewhere while putting your cellphone on an airplane mode

38. Have a Star Wars marathon (which I’ve never watched before except for the 3rd installment hmmmm…..)

39. To scream “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!!!” on top of a cliff after I climb it!

40. Hitchhiking!

41. Learn how to ride a motorcycle (This is all because I saw that cute little Vespa on Centre-Ville! :P)

42. Have a bonfire and have a sleepover on the beach!

Lastly,

43. To be able to tell all of the adventures that I’ve ever experienced to my children 🙂

Does Platonic Love Exist Between Man and Woman?

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I used to be the one that firmly believe that a girl and guy can be JUST friends without any romantic entanglement whatsoever. But then I begin to doubt this statement myself after my previous relationship. Perhaps there is an invisible line that one can’t trespass in order to keep their platonic status. But then, we’re just human. We tend to follow our curiosity and break the rule, and being reckless in the process without really putting a thought on the aftermath and consequences. Life’s a gamble, isn’t it? We lose some, we win some.

But seriously though, can we ever love someone in a non-romantic way? The kind of love where we would just have an utmost respect for them, and we just love them because they’re simply being themselves, and we just wish them the best in everything they do by supporting them, even from afar. I’ve always thought that it would have been wonderful if you have a lifelong, non-romantic kinda love towards someone. It indicates that we’re capable to just sincerely love someone without expecting anything in return, because we simply don’t need them to want us in a romantic way. Feeling angry or joyous doesn’t take too much effort, but sincerity is hard to attain. It is not something that everyone can express or feel, as I personally believe that sincerity is the purest form of feeling.

Oh, I don’t know why I let my mind pondering over this thought, it must have been because of the random conversation I had with my friend earlier today. Also, I guess it’s also just because a romantic kind of love freaks me out sometimes. The thought of feeling something so powerful and intense that makes your chest pounds so hard it’s about to explode…. Uhhmm, is that how it really feels though? Well, I can barely remember, HA!

Ah, the power of time. It’s amazing how all those memories are now just fragments  that you can revisit without evoking any feelings. It’s like watching a youtube clip, in its lowest resolution, if you know what I mean 😉

Lyon Bound: La Neige, La Vieux, Le Meilleur!

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Salut tout le monde!

Yesterday I finally had my first weekend getaway in France: LYON! We had an incredible, fast-paced saturday in Lyon, the capital of gastronomy and the ultimate urban getaway in South-Eastern France. Some people said that Lyon is the second biggest city after Paris in France. And yup, just as we reached Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu, we were greeted by the busy-buzzing flockers and hectic noises!

A portion of Lyon map on the Metro

A portion of Lyon map on the Metro

Coming from a small city like Grenoble, Lyon looks incredibly big and busy to us. They have metro that comes every two minutes with dozens of different lines, while what we have in Grenoble is just a simple tram line and bus. We were so fortunate that Kitty is a map expert! Yup, that girl definitely knows her way as long as you give her a map. Alas, equipped with Lyon tourist map that we managed to pick up in information station and €5 all-day metro ticket, we first headed off to Fourvière! Little that we know, we couldn’t get to Fourvière with metro, but even something better: the FUNICULAIRE!!

Funiculaire reminds me of those rides in amusement park. I guess it kinda resembles a… spinning bus? Funiculaire is a two-way transportation that takes people uphill and downhill. It’s semi-scenic as compared to metro which stays underground, and you can see a sneak-peek of little lanes in between one closed tunnel to the other as you go up, up and up!

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I was barely in Lyon for two hours but I was already in love with this city! As we got off at Fourviere, an accordion musician started to play the classic La Vie en Rose, and the mood started to kick in. Yup, you’re definitely in France, girl. C’est la belle vie, c’est ça! And that was when we got the first sight of Notre Dame de Fourviere.

And it was beautiful.

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L'interior de Notre Dame de Fourviere

L’interior de Notre Dame de Fourviere

the city of Lyon from Notre Dame de Fourviere

the city of Lyon from Notre Dame de Fourviere

This gorgeous dame has been overlooking Lyon for almost 200 years. Apparently this basilica is also listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site! The beautiful gothic architecture was built in such detail, I must have taken dozens of pictures before we went inside the basicila! Oh I just love old buildings, not solely because of their antique look. But these buildings have also become a silent witness to thousand of stories and histories through hundreds of years. At least that’s how I’ve always imagined it 🙂

It was a beautiful, warm winter day and you could see a clear view of Lyon from up here. I took a brief moment to take everything in, and just to let this amazing spectacle filled in my system. The river that separates Lyon into several pieces, the red-brick colored rooftops coinciding with the others and the unsymmetrical streets of Lyon all laid down there in front your eyes. It felt incredible to just stand there and breathed everything in, the sight and winter air of Lyon.

La Belle Lyon

La Belle Lyon

Next stop, we went to visit Thêatres Romaines de Fourviere! It was an ancient ruin from the early Roman Empire occupation from two milleniums ago. There were two ruins of theaters, and when it was still standing tall, the theater could actually fit more than 11,000 people in total! When we arrived, we could also still see the remains of snow, and we just climbed the whole thing to yet again catch a glimpse of Lyon view from the top. We all got abit carried away here and sort of abused our tourist status in Lyon by taking random posey pictures 😀 Most of them were in Kitty’s camera though, I wish I could post them up here. Good thing there wasn’t that many people when we visited! Well it wasn’t like we’re going to visit the Thêatres Romains anytime soon 😀

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TOURISTS, YOU SAY?!

After two funi trips, we headed down to Vieux Lyon (old Lyon) and met Vicki, a friend of mine back from USYD. Oh oh it was actually quite a story really, about how I got to know Vicki. We were first met each other on the bus ride to uni last year. And suddenly we just sort of got into a conversation because she was carrying a MECO equipment bag. One conversation led to the other, she told me that she was applying for exchange and I was like “OHH I’M APPLYING FOR IT TOO!” Guess if I didn’t run and hop off to the 426 train that morning, we would have never met each other. And here we are now, having a brand new French life together! 😀

Whoops okay, I’m digressing. But the point is, we met up for lunch and she recommended that we should try to eat Bouchon, a restaurant that is très Lyon, where they serve traditional Lyonnaise food such as sausage, duck or… well basically anything meat-y with a French twist. The price range for a Lyonnais lunch starts from €10- €30. I guess the fancier meat you choose and the more complete the set is, the more costly it gets. Although there are few restaurants that claim that they’re Bouchon, but they’re actually not. And guess what?! …….We ended up in the faux Bouchon where they only serve steak instead HAHA. BUT NONETHELESS, it was a great €12 meal (as we’re living on a student budget, we just can’t afford getting lunch that costs more than €15 :P), where one got a grilled steak (although it could’ve been better if the steak was medium well, but I had no clue how to say it in French HAHAA), yummy steamed- potato (BEST POTATO I’VE EVER TASTED IN FRANCE), rosé wine and last but not least…. the dessert: tartine aux pralines! Vicki said that Lyon is well known for its sweet, sticky tartine! Yet it was rather too sweet for my taste.

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the pink tart above is tartines aux pralines!
Specialté de Lyon!

We wondered around Vieux Lyon and just explored the packed lanes (it was Saturday, which explained the crowd) that simply transports you as if you’re in an old French town. We stopped by to Musée des Miniatures et Décors de Cinema! The first few floors were practically Hollywood props from different movies, which didn’t really fascinate me that much. But the miniature floors were awesome, where I took so many new pictures of “Miffy series” that I’m sure that I can make a story-book out of it lol. Lisa and Kitty couldn’t stop laughing at me but they thought that it was sweet of me to bring a little Miffy (which was originally owned by my friend Shinta – hey there Shin, if you’re reading this :D)  – to travel around Europe HAHAAA.

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1: “Welcome to ma crib!”
2: “Je suis une japonaise maintenant!”
3: “Dance, dance, dance!”
4: “Welcome to my thêatres!”
All taken in miniature museum where I was being oddly stared by a little French boy while trying to adjust Miffy in front of my iPhone……

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Vieux Lyon

Vicki reminded me the weather in Lyon could get really moody. Well in that case, IT WAS SUDDENLY SNOWING! Pretty white sprinkles slowly covered the town, and I couldn’t be happier to see it! It was both great and bad to have the snow on the day we visited. It was hard to take pictures and everyone were pretty much soaked after the first one hour. But just look at the bright side: When will one see snowy Bellecour again? 🙂

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Bellecour, Lyon
Fevrier 2013

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Lyon sous la neige! (Lyon under the snow!)

braving the snow!

braving the snow!

Outside St. Jean CathedralVieux Lyon

Outside St. Jean Cathedral
Vieux Lyon

Last but not least, we had a wonderful time up there, despite the fact that our trip was cut short because everyone just had enough of the snow lol. However, I’m definitely gonna visit Lyon again some time during spring time, because POURQUOI PAS?! It’s only 1 hour away from Grenoble …..Strolling through the parks, crossing the bridge and perchance trying the REAL DEAL BOUCHON for lunch! Ahh that would have been perfect 😉

If you think Paris is overrated, you might wanna give Lyon a try! They have handful of itinerary-worthy spots to visit (which I’m so gonna list again before I head off to Lyon next time!), the locals there are nice and they pretty much have English translation for the transportation direction and the museum description (while everything is just completely in French down here in Grenoble HAHA).

So…….. What’s next on the list? Southern France (Montpellier, Aix-de-Provence) on April? Or Switzerland, perhaps? We’ll see, we’ll see. I’ve been always bitten by the travel bug. I seriously wish this adventure will never end 😉

Ah Europe, there’s nothing that can stop me from adoring you. Every sides of you are just beautiful 😀

How to enjoy vin chaud (hot wine):Slices of lemonade + two sugars!I personally think it tastes way too... acidic?  :|

How to enjoy vin chaud (hot wine):
Slices of lemonade + two sugars!
I personally think it tastes way too… acidic? 😐

Avec Mademoiselle Lyon, Vicki!

Avec Mademoiselle Lyon, Vicki!

SELF

Sandwiched between my dear Kitty and Lisa on a freezing day!

SNOW SNOWW

Le Semaine du Pirate, Le Petite Aventure et Le Mal Grippe

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PRETTY BICYCLE

Le velo au Notre-Dame

Hello there,

France has been treating me so well and I’m trying to keep up and not missing out the fun. Yet my body starts to collapse and here I am in my dorm room, snuggling inside my blanket and trying to get over this dizziness and stuffy nose before the next weekend comes up again. Here’s the way universe telling me that I need to take a better care of myself and seriously fix my ruined sleeping pattern. I hope few flu pills and strepsils will get me back in shape before Saturday, because we’re heading off to Lyon! Yup, I’m sooo excited indeed 😀

As you know, being in a small Francophone city means that you have to step out your comfort zone and start to actually speak their languages. Back in Sydney, we learned the technicality of the language, we learned about how this and that grammar are used, but then we didn’t actually get enough time to practice the basic conversation skill. When I got here and did my grocery shopping, I just realised that I couldn’t name any name of basic vegetables in French! All I know is banane (banana), pomme (apple), ananas (pineapple) and fraise (strawberry)…. oh wait, that’s not even veggies’ names! HAHA. So yeah, everyday is an ongoing learning process for me. It’s a combination of information overload, devastating yet exciting experience all in one package that I go through everyday. The good thing is that most of the locals that I met here are really nice and in a way, they become my daily French teacher. So, my conversation with the locals goes on something like this everyday if I wanna search for something and IF I don’t know the French word for it:

“Bonjour Madame, j’ai un…… flu? (pointing at my nose while sniffing)”

The pharmacy lady chuckled, “C’est grippe, Mademoiselle!”

“Ahh oui, j’ai un grippe, haha! Vous avez un medecin pour mon grippe? (Ah yes, I have flu! Do you have a medicine for my flu?)”

“Bien sûr, attendez ici… (Of course, wait here)

Sometimes we become so paranoid due to these assumptions that people put on your head. Before I arrived, I heard how people always says that the French are so arrogant and they will be annoyed you if you speak English with them etc etc, but that’s not really the case really. I mean, I guess they know that we’re students and we’re still learning. At least we try, and I’m pretty sure that they give you a credit for that. And as for the tourists, well they know that you’re a tourist and they don’t really expect you to go all french frency with them. Most cases they take the interest to know your nationality and/or where you come from, because it intrigues them that there are people who come far, far away to reside in their little city!

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Bonne jue, Monsieur!
Saturday afternoon in Grenoble 🙂

As you know, I’m taking 8 subjects here and 2 of them are completely in English, US Civilisation subject and Civilisation du Monde Anglophone (complementary subject to US Civilisation). HAHAAA yeah I know, you’d think that it’s so silly for me to go all the way to France to learn US History from the 14th century! Although geographically speaking, US And Europe are quite close to each other, as compared to Australia to US! So it’s not THAT weird that I’m learning US history in France. Jesse, one of my friends here who’s from USA told me that Americans are always raised to be proud of their country and most times they’re constantly reminded that America is the best country in the world from the young age. Yup, this is a true opinion coming from an American citizen, I didn’t make this up! No hate for fellow Americans out there hahahah. Well, the point is that it’s interesting to learn about US history through French perspective. You could say that one is able to learn from a more objective point of view, and we’re able to get more diverse readings and opinions from different scholars which may not be presented when you learn the history in the said country.

How about Indonesian history, Michelle?”

“Oh, we Indos suffered a lot because we were colonised back and forth by the Dutch for almost 300 years!

This was a conversation that took place during one dinner that we had together. I looked at Kitty, our Dutch friend. Beforehand, we talked about country’s stereotype and we all just laughed about it. It was a random talk :p

Perhaps the least advantageous thing about being an exchange student from Australia is that all the teachers assume that you’re an Anglophone. Well not exactly… Sometimes I get uncomfortable to be labelled as Anglophone, given that English ISN’T my first language! At first I wasn’t aware that by taking class taught in English, it would put me in the position where I would become the only international student amongst the French student in the class. The situation turns the other way around. Suddenly, I am not the clueless exchange student anymore, and no I’m not the one who speaks really slow! Meanwhil,e I struggle to convey my thoughts in few of my completely-French classes HAHA. Language difference is a barrier, but it’ll get better for sure! 🙂

Anyhow, this little city is growing on me day by day. There are still so many things to see and paths to walk. After spending most of our times hanging around in Centre Ville, we realised that we were going in circle and always stayed on the same corner of Notre-Dame and Sainte-Claire, two of the busiest tram stops in Grenoble. Thus, we decided to explore the other side of Notre-Dame, and we walked down the little lanes at the back of the Notre-Dame Square.

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Café de la table ronde à Place Saint André
The second oldest café in France. Might go there next time to try their vin chaud (hot wine) 😀

Places des Tilleuls

Places des Tilleuls

We were walking down to Place des Tilleuls and thus, we found the shops that we all love: an old antique shop hidden in the corner of the lane.

It got all of us really excited. The room is infused by the smell of old furnitures and parchments, the smell of authentic antiquity and untold story. The madame who owned the store was really nice, and she even allowed me to go on her attic if I wanna take more picture of cool old stuff. But I just smiled and said that everything down here is lovely enough. “Merci Madame, c’est bien ici.” 🙂

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Les Belles et Les Anciennes

Les Belles et Les Anciennes

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Le Madame Antique de  Place de Tilleuls

Le Madame Antique de Place de Tilleuls

And just right besides the antique shop, there’s another thing that got Lisa really excited: Pirate Bar! It is called Barbareuse, and I ended up going there last week with fellow Americans. Yup, weekend starts on Thursday up here in Grenoble!

In Barbareuse, you could really feel that you were inside a pirate ship packed with lots of people! We were greeted by old school music (yup, some serious parents tunes like It’s Raining Man and uhhmm….  even old Celine Dion Remix? HAHA) and I tried my the local liquor, which I later learned was called Chartreuse. We took one shot and the burning sensation immediately started to spread all over my tongue. IT TASTED SOOOOO HORRIBLE. I feel like I was drinking herb juice mixed with vodka and spirit UGHHH I still have a goose-bump when I remembered the nasty taste again :X So yeah, I’m sticking with my wine and beer. And wonderful, less-strong fruity drinks! It was a fun night out, and I managed to avoid aggressive French guys HAHAAA.

Things are also going really well back in my dorm, well despite the drama of me almost getting KICKED OUT from my place because of a stupid misunderstanding. There are four of us now, two girls me and Elisa (she’s British btw), and two guys: Alberto and the recent addition into our flat, Hector from Brazil! At first Alberto (whom I secretly called Spanish Sheldon Cooper behind his back HAHA! Mainly because he has a haircut which exactly ressembles Sheldon and he occasionally wears a light brown bomber jacket :p). At first he was reluctant to talk to me but then I think we sort of bonded after talking about Elisa’s habit for not washing the dishes for days and my accommodation drama lol. We speak Franglish obviously, and most of the times his Spanish mates come around to hang in the common room. Fun fact about Spanish people: They have lunch at 3 P.M and dinner at 9 P.M! Yup, that’s just how the Spanish roll.

Anyways, I guess it’s time for me to call it a night. So bummed that I have to miss out on Taco Night Thursday… Although I hope that the weather will be nice and sunny up in Lyon this saturday. Nasty flu, please get out of my system soon! 🙂

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sweet treats from Alberto and his Spanish amies!

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meet my favorite German and American, Lisa and Nick!
Lisa taught me how to drink like the German while Nick and I bond over our love for Thought Catalog and Passion Pit!
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Usual Saturday chez Nick, Condillac!
Koeun, Ayat, Ali, Me, Jonathan And Lisa

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A-a-americano!
Tom, Nick, Jonathan and Koeun

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Samedi derniere: Le dîner chez moi!
Pasta, wine and chocolate pudding 🙂
Kitty, Arlieke, Lisa, Jesse, Me, Hyunjung and Dahye

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C’était carnaval nuit!
I was the mad joker and Ambra was the gypsy princess :p

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Plus de Carnaval!
Les Belles Monsieurs? 😉

How the French have their breakfast! :)

At Pain et Cie, Grenoble. How the French have their breakfast! 🙂

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Salut Grenoble! Ça va bien? :)

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SNOW CITY

SNOW TOWN!
Early morning train ride from Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupery to Grenoble
Taken with iPhone

BONJOUR EVERYONE! 

After 24 hours flight from Sydney, one snowy train ride from Lyon, I am officially here in the little town of Grenoble, France!

Grenoble is a little town in Southeastern France, which resides on the foot of French Alps. It’s been two weeks since I got here, and so far I’m loving my french life! Just like what I predicted, it was snowing when I got to Grenoble! I was tired and I had to drag my two suitcases under the freezing snow while hailing a cab to get to my residence, but gosh, those snow painted the town gorgeously! Afterwards, I headed to the first day of semaine d’integration (orientation week) right after my residence lady told me how to get to uni by tram. It doesn’t take me that long to figure out how the tram system works here. It’s actually pretty easy and similar with how trains in Sydney work!

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The city was painted white. At Chavant, where my dorm is located (From Instagram)

They say that the city is as good as the people. If that’s so, then Grenoble is a foreign land filled with bunch of friendly people. I realised that everyone here is so used to greet people around like it’s nothing! “Bonjour!…… Au Revoir!” The two words that you would often say here if you run into strangers on the lift or when you just bummed into them at the door.

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Anyways, I’m so glad that I didn’t skip the semaine d’intergration, or else I’ll be forever alone here lol. I have made few new friends from different parts of the world (more on that later :D) from attending the orientation! Oh, and the general conception that the French is the snobbiest people in the planet is not true! I’ve met few french students in my friend’s dorm and they’re really nice, despite that I speak Franglish in front of them HAHA. They’re pretty understanding, and I’m so excited that I actually HAVE few French friend now. It’s about time to sharpen my French speaking skill! Although between the international students, sometimes we TRY so hard to speak french all the time, yet the temptation to speak in English is just TOO BIG.

Life in Grenoble is so much different from back home. Imagine that you’re having few drinks at the common room and the numerous conversation that floats around the table is in multi-lingual languages. Sometimes we speak in English and French (or Franglish!). Yet the next thing you know, some people reverts back back to the mother tongue and you hear Portugese, Spanish and un petit peu German and Dutch filling up the conversation! Everyone of us are lost in translation, but it’s seriously the best melting pot experience one could ever had. And it gets really exciting to tell people that I’m an Indonesian who comes from Sydney, Australia! 🙂 (“OMG THAT’S SOO COOL, you’re trés internationale!”, said my Brazilian friend Elisa HAHA no kid). In the minds of European and American, Australia is a far, far away country and I guess they label Australia as something that is extremely foreign hmmm….

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Kitty, Lisa, Dahye and Jesse in Victor Hugo
One of my favorite shots from the day!

The first few days, I wasn’t used to the freezing winter up here. UGG BOOTS IS A LIFE SAVIOR! All this time I always avoid cold winter time, and I’m missing the fun! It hasn’t snowed again since last week, but to tell you the truth I secretly wish it will snow again next week because I wanna make my first snow man and snow angel!! I didn’t get to enjoy the snow when I first got here. But I’m finally learning to embrace the beauty and excitement of winter 😀

Never take things for granted. It doesn’t take me a long time to realise that everything in France takes AGES to be processed!! I don’t know why, I guess it’s just French lifestyle thing. They just like to take things slow and overtly relax (most shops also close on Sunday too! Bummer). Coming from a country that gets everything done in express, it’s really frustrating to wait for one week to get your phone fully running and I was THIS CLOSE to live with only €5 for a week because I couldn’t withdraw my money from the bank because I haven’t got my debit card and the teller closes at 12 p.m! And dealing with language difference is also makes it even harder. I think I must have looked so stupid when I opened my bank account, because I almost didn’t understand all of French bank terms that the lady blurted out to me lol. Trés difficile, indeed. But hey, I’m learning!

EVERYTHING HERE IS SO CHEAP. It’s awesome to be a student in Europe!! For instance, I only have to pay €20 for an UNLIMITED tram past per month! Back in Sydney, I think I spent AUD200 every month for a train + bus ride. And I think I went nuts when we had our first grocery shopping in Casino (French version of Coles + Target, I assume) here. We can get a bucket of strawberries for less than €5!! And alcohol, in this case, wine, costs less than 1.5L water HAHA. We found €1.5 worth of wine and they sell aisles of it. AND RENT! I only paid €320 for a room near Centre Ville, while it costs AT LEAST AUD350 / week for a single room in Sydney CBD (SAAAY WHAAT?!) Australia, all this time you’ve been ripping me off! I’m staying here forever HAHAHAAAA kiddinggg 😀

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Aisle of yoghurt at Carrefour. Yuppp, they’ve got everything from crème brûlée to apple flavor! *.*

Class started last week and so far it’s been hard and exciting at the same time. French has a particular way of teaching, there are few classes where lecture + tutorial are combined together in two-hours block. Most of the times, the lecturers would just talk and students would just take notes. I took 7 subjects, which is twice the amount from the usual class amount I took in Sydney. But each subject has less credit which is why I have to take more classes. I took 5 subjects in French and 2 subjects in English. I don’t think I can manage to take EVERYTHING in French, that would kill me! I am actually freaking out, because there are few classes where the lecturers would talk French in maximum speed. Yet it’s a relief to know that other international students that were in the same classes with me also didn’t understand the words the lecturer said O_o “Don’t worry, it gets better and you’ll be used to it”, said a friend of mine who has been in Grenoble since last year. Argh, I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. I might have to alter my uni schedule again and I seriously need to revise my French grammar book again!

Anyways, I’ll write more about my new friends in my next blog post. There are so many things that I wanna write about my first two weeks in Grenoble, but that’s just gonna make this blog even more lengthier lol. France, you’ve been treating me well so far. I’m so excited to see the upcoming surprises you have in store for me for the next 5 months! Here are some of the pictures that I’ve taken around Grenoble so far (with short captions too!). Nikii’s so excited to finally get to see Europe with her own eyes! And I’m surely excited too to snap more awesome sights around the town!:)

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The view of Grenoble from musée de Grenoble
Taken with iPhone

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Notre-Dame, old town Grenoble
We travel with tram!

Victor Hugo, Grenoble(from iPhone)

Victor Hugo (from iPhone)

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Jump shot at Pont Saint-Laurent. Gather enough people to jump in this bridge and it will move with you once you land! 🙂

DSC_1400DSC_1355bylisahedlerTaken by Lisa Hedler, edited by me.
She’s one awesome photographer indeed! 🙂

Marhaba Dubai!

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LYON

SYD-DXB-LYS.

The longest journey began since yesterday. I’m now in Dubai, indulging myself with the privilege to stretch my legs on a airport lounge sofa while I’m waiting for my next flight to Lyon, France! By the end of this journey, I would be up in the air for 24-hours in total. I arrived at 6 a.m half-awake and DXB was swamped by sea of people. Took me quite awhile to find a trolley and found a lounge that would accept cash!

Being a solo traveler has its perks and disadvantages. Somehow I find a tranquility in traveling alone, but it gets really tiring that you have to be with your stuff 24/7!!

Hence, I kinda regret my decision to bring extra hand-carry bag.

And……… I just checked the weather forecast and I’ll be greeted by snow when I arrive. So I guess winter is finally here 🙂

Anyways, really excited yet nervous at the same time. Given that my French isn’t that good (omg I barely could carry a full-french conversation for more than 2 minutes HAHA), let’s just hope that I’ll survive living in France for the next 6 months.

Adventure officially starts tomorrow. Wish me luck! 🙂

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My Cinematic Week

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I spent my last week in Sydney to catch few flicks in the cinema. My friend who resides in Switzerland told me that it will be super duper expensive to catch a subtitle movie in Europe, given that they dub the actor’s voice into national language! And while I will have my exchange on a small town in Southern France, we figure that it would be alot harder to find a subtitle cinema. I mean, imagine watching your favorite actor dubbed into other dude’s voice! Even if you understand what he’s saying, it seems all weird and depletes our watching experience. Anyways, the three movies that I managed to watch were The Life of Pi, Les Misérable and Gangster Squad.

While I’ve been anticipating The Life of Pi since its advertisement bombardment on early….. October, I guess (?), it fails to exceed my expectation, story-line wise. Indeed, the wow factor of the movie is the highly magnificent visual impact, especially if you watch it in 3D. It was an indulging experience. But other than that, I didn’t seem to get any other impact or underlining message from the movie. Oh, I didn’t read the book beforehand, but I assume that Ang Lee abandoned some of its plot detail and just really focused on the aesthetic impact of the movie. Perhaps the movie supposedly carries a deep philosophical message throughout it, but I couldn’t be bothered to closely see the subtlety of the message, as I was too overwhelmed by the deep sea beauty presented throughout The Life of Pi 😛 Although I should say that I really love the CGI details of Richard Parker the Tirger. Oh wait, Aslan from Narnia is still on the top chart of my coolest CGI animal list HAHA.

I’m not a fan of musical, but Les Misérables is probably the only musical that successfully made it to my all-time favorite movie! Too much awesomeness is packed in a three-hour non-stop singing and chanting. At some parts, it felt funny to see that the actors and actresses just kept singing instead of saying lines, guess because I don’t watch a lot of musical. While other Tom Hooper’s movie that I watched was The King’s Speech, but I could really see his signature cinematic style in Les Misérables as well. There are lots of head-shot-on-the edge-of-the-framing style going on! (oh gosh, one semester of Film Studies has really turned me into a overly-analysed so-called cinema nerd lol, pardon me) While Anne Hathaway only had a short appearance time, but her “I Dreamed a Dream” performance just really took my breath away. And of course, Hugh Jackman gives a solid performance. He’s too good, period. Bravo! And Eddie Redmayne!! Aaa I just have so much love for that guy. And that little boy who joins one of the rebels. He definitely steals the show 🙂

At the end of the movie, I was just thoroughly stunned and perhaps might indulge myself to watch more great musical movie. I’m expecting to see much more awesome movies directed by Tom Hooper!

Gangster Squad is a revival of film noir in digital screen. I love the dark and mysterious feel of film noir, it’s one of the most coolest era which constantly being remaked and produced in popular culture. While the movie is inspired by true stories of Mickey Cohen, the story-line of Gangster Squad is quite simple, while I was expecting something more complicated than the plot offers by the director. You kinda expect that the bad guy will lose to the good kids, it is pretty much a predictable story. But guys in suit and old hats take on the underbelly of Los Angeles street, my love for film noir-esque genre lures me to catch this one in the cinema. It’s raunchy, it’s explicit and worth watching. And I’m saying this not because I’m a fan of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone! Hahaaa :p Now that I think of it, it seems that the Hollywood duo have been paired together in several other movies. Okay, digressing. But seriously, from these three movies, I’d definitely recommend Les Misérables! Although, those who can’t stand being a cinema for more than 2 hours should be aware, as the movie is longer than usual and perhaps if you really can’t stand musical movie, then I’d suggest that you could just back out HAHAAA. Oh well, loving a musical genre is hard. It’s either you love it or you hate it.