This semester of school is just flying by! When I got back from our big London/Paris trip, I went straight back to studying for my final. Then March 5th rolled around, the most important day of the year! It was my birthday!!! My parents surprised me with a bouquet of flowers and my friends surprised me with another! They were beautiful. Also, I would like to say thank you for all of the wonderful messages I received on my birthday, it really made my day!! Finals were the next day, just my luck, so I didn't have a big party but some of my close friends took me out for a lovely dinner!
We went to our favorite restaurant L'Entrecote. It is very popular in Bordeaux. It opens for a few hours for lunch, and then it opens again at 7:15 for supper. Every single day, rain or shine, there is a line of people down the block waiting to get in. The menu is brilliant because there isn't a menu at all. They serve one meal only, it is delicious, and it is obviously working for them. You start off with a simple vinegar salad, bread, and some drinks. Of course we always get wine, lots of wine. After all, this is Bordeaux. For the meal, you get a plate filled with all you can eat fries and steak cooked to your preference. The steak comes on a giant platter bathing in some sort of rich, creamy, buttery, garlic sauce. This sauce is a secret recipe of the restaurant and is to die for. We pour it over our fries and usually clean the platter with some bread. I don't even think about ketchup. Again, coming from a Weinberger, that is a big deal. I eat ketchup with everything. After the meal, even though we were stuffed, we decided to each get a desert and share. To my surprise, they got a waiter to put a birthday candle in my desert and they sang to me, very loudly, in front of the busy restaurant. Oh I just love when that happens. Not only were they really loud, but they sang to me in English, so everyone had to look. It was adorable though and I loved it!
This was my 21st birthday, and even though I have been able to legally drink since I have been here, turning 21 is still a big deal for an American. So we put off studying for a bit longer and went to a fair. We walked around, listened to music, and bought a bunch of beer. We walked over to the big fountain at the park and in true American fashion, I told them we were going to Shotgun our beers...classy. That turned out to be a bigger project than I had ever imagined. This was a new concept to them, so I explained it over and over and then Emilia and I went first. I finished mine in a few seconds, Emilia took a bit longer but made it! Then Denisse and Mariana tried it. Denisse made it about two seconds before her beer exploded everywhere. Mariana literally took 4 minutes. I have never met a slower beer drinker in my life! We laughed the whole night, and had a really good time. We drank some more and then headed home to study for those darn finals!
On Saturday, March 8th, we went on an adventure to the Dune du Pyla by the ocean! There were about twenty of us in 5 cars. It took about an hour to get to the dune from Bordeaux. Dune du Pyla is the highest sand dune in all of Europe. It has a forest on one side, the ocean on the other side, and is 350 feet tall! This thing is huge! Climbing up 350 feet is one thing, climbing up 350 feet of sand is a whole other story. The sand is all soft and mushy where everyone climbs up it, so the sand came up to the middle of my shins most of the time. For every 3 feet we climbed, it felt like we sunk back down 2 1/2. I was out of breath and thinking "People seriously do this for fun?!" ; )
When we finally reached the top, I completely understood all the hype about this place. It was gorgeous!! The dune itself was incredible and felt like you were on a different planet. For miles and miles you could see beautiful forests on one side, and ocean waves on the other side. There were sailboats in the distance that we watched for a while. We sat in the sand and soaked up some sun. Most of the people that came on the trip with us were from my friends' church group, so I was able to meet a lot of new people and have wonderful conversations. I met a guy named Laurent, who is from Paris and just got done studying abroad for a year at the University of Oregon. His choices came down to either Oregon or Marquette University in Milwaukee, so he knew a lot about Wisconsin. He practiced talking with an American accent a lot while he was in the States, so at first, I thought he was American. His English was perfect and he understood my humor, so we had fun talking! After a few hours, we decided to head back. Going down the giant pile of sand was definitely a lot more fun than going up it. Every step I took I slid about 5 feet down. It felt like we just skied down the hill. We drove back to Bordeaux, went grocery shopping as a huge group, and then went to an apartment to have a party. It was a great day!
Lately, I have just been focusing on school work and having fun in Bordeaux. The class I just finished was Investment Banking Operations. I liked the teacher and the material was pretty interesting! We learned a lot about the major investment banks and their roles throughout history, stocks, bonds, brokers, traders, and all that fun stuff. We focused a lot on the Great Depression, Black Monday on October 19th, 1987 when the stock market crashed, and the Subprime Crisis of 2008. For obvious reasons, the material was a bit dark and depressing, but interesting nonetheless. My next class is Globalization and Risk Management in the Supply Chain!
The weather has been great lately! Last week it rained a lot, but other than that it has been in the 60s and sunny. I was on a major margarita kick for a while, so we had to keep trying different bars until we found a place that made really good ones! We have been going to a lot of movies lately also. Yay for student discounts. Recently we saw Monuments Men, Dallas Buyers Club, and this Saturday we saw Captain America 2! I loved all of them! A few Sundays ago, we went to an outdoor market and got some food, then sat by the river for a few hours. We got some nice tans and had a very relaxing fun day!
Tomorrow is April already!! I just can't get over how fast this year is going! While I still love France and I am having a great time, I am inching my way towards being ready to just go home. Trying to live two lives 4000 miles apart is really starting to get old. This time of year is crazy for having to plan things. I am trying to figure out a summer job, a job in the fall, where I will be living next year, classes I need to take next year, finishing requirements for graduation (holy cow), and a whole bunch of other fun stuff. My only line of communication is email, which already takes long enough to get responses, but then there is a 7 hour time difference, so there is little time in the day to get things done. It gets to be a bit much sometimes!
On an exciting note, I just bought my tickets to go to Dublin, Ireland in two weeks!! My friend Emilia is coming over tonight to talk about another possible little trip, and there is a possible school trip in May to San Sebastian, Spain for a weekend. Also, I received news of a possible visitor or two that might come over here when I am done with school, travel a little, and then help me move back home!! No final plans yet though!
Try not to get fooled tomorrow on April Fool's Day!!
Thank you all for reading!
"Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present."
"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!"