•12:33 AM
Just a thought on French words: over half of the English language finds it's origins in the French language. We have stolen alot, and we usually have no idea.

But let's look at our word repose. "Repose" is defined as
1. The act of resting or the state of being at rest.
2. Freedom from worry; peace of mind.
3. Calmness; tranquillity.

Let's look at the French word it derives from, shall we? The verb "reposer" is actually 2 words. "Re" and "poser." Re- means to do something again, for example, redo. Poser is a verb, it means to put, to place.

So, to re-pose something means to put something back, to re-put something, if you will. The French verb "reposer" means
1. poser de nouveau une question, un problème (to repose a question)
2. délasser, mettre au repos son corps ou son esprit (to put to rest one's body or one's spirit)
3. être posé sur un support (l'étagère repose sur des briques) (to be put on a support)
4. poser à nouveau ce qui a été enlevé (to put again that which has been taken)
5. être basé sur (ce rapport repose sur de fausses informations) (to be based on)

So, when we rest, we put back on or put back in. We would call it recharging ourselves. I just really love that the French literally look at it as physically putting ourselves back together, physically putting energy back inside ourselves.

Just a thought.
•12:30 AM
Clearly, I've been home a while. However, I never finished the blog, and I want to, if only so I can look back and remember what I did. I also enjoyed writing, and I'd like to continue that as well. If school ever settles down, maybe I'll get into a good habit of doing it often.

Well, today is a blog on Pau. I walked around downtown one beautiful day and took a lot of pictures, just of things and places. Nothing special, but it's what I saw all the time.

Oh yes. A pun off of "Pau" and "Hollywood." Isn't that creative?

Also, this is Henry 4's birthplace. He later became King of France, and we actually talked about him in my French Civ class last week. Don't ask me what he did, because I don't know, it wasn't on our test. But, he was important, even if only because he was royal. Pau's pretty stoked about their status as his birthplace. And it's not actually a palace, it's a chateau. It's not really all that magnificent. But, it puts Pau on the map and in the history books, and after all, that's what matters!

The palace has some gardens, and this lovely walkway with the arching arbor. There were grapes on that vine too, huge clumps of green grapes. I was very tempted to taste them. I didn't, because there were people around, but I thought a lot about it.

Now, this one might be hard to see, but it's at the top of the Funicular, which is over 100 years old and still running (for free!), and it's a view of the Pyrenees. On a really clear day, you could see the whole mountain chain running from one side of the horizon to the other. Towards the end of my stay, they got snow, and that was stunning beautiful. I have some pictures of that to come later...

One day, while Jennilynn and I were on our way home, we detoured and saw a beautiful view of the Pyrenees. Also, it happened to be in front of a field of wildflowers... yes, my weakness. We stopped and played for a long time, used a board with nails to set up my camera and get this picture. Basically, we looked like idiots, I'm sure, but it was fun and I got some beautiful flowers! We also bonded, which was fun.

And, for more, I was journaling downtown one day when the leaves were changing, and I just thought "Wow, this looks like France." Not real France, but the France that everyone has in their heads; it was the "French" that make prints in Hobby Lobby and cool posters. I think it was the color of the leaves, combined with the benches and gravel walk, and the lamp posts (is that one word or two?) that looked straight out of Narnia. Altogether, it was pretty fun.

•5:56 PM

USAC Excursion #2: Gavarnie.
Weather update: Rainy and cold. But who's really surprised?

So this was USAC's second attempt at an excursion. Unfortunately, it was still raining. Misting, actually. Regardless, it was fun and clearly, absolutely beautiful.

We started off our adventure with the Beret museum in Nay, France. The picture to the right of the stream with the house in the background is at the beret factory. The factory is one of, I think, 2 left in France that still make the beret the old fashioned way. It's a tiny spit of a town nestled into the foothills of the Pyrenees. I learned that the Beret originated in Bearn (the region I'm in), and the most common colors for the beret are brown or black, depending on if you live more towards the mountains or more towards the sea. Red is worn for special days. However, there was one man on the video we watched that said that brown was for holidays, and he wore brown all the time, because he said life was a party. Good thought, but I like the red better anyway. We also went to eat, and had a wonderful three course meal of salad with duck, chicken, and a wonderful tart for dessert. This little fox fellow was part of the decor in the restaurant. He was one of about 3 dressed foxes.

After that, we drove about another hour to the foothills of le Cirque de Gavarnie. Gavarnie was a tiny town that is apparently very popular for hikers. It was a beautiful hike at the beginning, very level and pleasant. Towards the end, it got a little steeper. And the last 150 meters were torture; it was a slate/ gravel mountainside that you were supposed to climb to get to the waterfall. To be honest, not all that pretty. But I am competitive, and I couldn't stop just halfway. So yes, I climbed all the way up, and just about slid all the way down (I only fell twice...). I really don't have any more to say, but I put up a lot of pictures! There's Jennilynn and I (we're neighbors), and a lot of the trail along the way. Enjoy~

•5:52 PM
Our teacher mentioned something the other day that I had noticed unconsciously but couldn't put into words: the French are pessimistic. Not just one or two, but all of them seem to look for the bad. Why is that?

Our professor mentioned that the negative phrasing is more commonly used. Which means, if they want to say that it's hot, they'll say "It's not cold in here." Even for positive expressions, like "The bus is always on time," they will say "The bus is never late." By the definition of their language construction, they will say everything negatively. And I think, eventually, that gets into your psyche. Maybe that's why people think the French complain all the time. It's true, but it's something that's bred into them by their very language. Not an excuse, but something to think about.

Moral of the story: say things positively. It can affect the way you think!
•4:31 PM
I have won twice today. I went to buy a cherry coke, and when I put my .70€ in the machine, it spit it out. I was about to be sad, but in a desperate moment, I pressed the button anyway. The machine started to make its noises, and out falls a Cherry Coke! THEN, about an hour ago, I went to buy a water. No one was around the machine (so I'm not cheating people here), and there was 1.00€ credit in the machine!! Water only costs .60€. So I got .40€ back. It was wonderful!! I love this country...
•10:13 AM

I am finally posting the last episode in the Dublin saga (you're welcome Mom!).

Before I start, one quick correction: Wonder Wall is not American-they're British. Je me trompe.

Ok, here we go:
After we went to St. Audoen's, we headed back to the hostel to rest before we got dinner. We got there, are we were just trying to decide what to get to eat when a couple staying in the same hostel room walked in with 2 friends. We all said hello, and they said they were going to play a game, would we like to play? We declined the first few times, but eventually we gave in and agreed to join them. Thus we met Jonathan from Finland, Peri the Iranian from Sweden, Charles and Anna, both from Detroit. We played a really ridiculous game with animal sounds, and at the end of it, most of our new friends are well on their way to being a tad intoxicated.

Well, we then discover, as fate would have it, that Peri is into martial arts. Nick didn't really believe her, so he said "show me" (Mistake #1). Peri refused, but Nick pressed her and said "Show me." "Ok," Peri said. "Choke me." So Nick acted like he was choking her (Mistake #2). Peri told him to choke harder. Nick does it (Mistake #3), and all of a sudden, Nick's hands are twisted around at his waist. And he just looks at Peri and goes "Oouuhh..." She starts to knee him, then she twist and spins or something, and before we know it, Nick is on the ground, sliding towards the other side of the room. It was really one of the fastest and most surprising things I've ever seen. She spent the rest of the evening apologizing, and Nick spent the rest of the evening nursing his wounded pride...

So, after that little adventure, we joined them on their way to the Temple Bar district. We went to a pub, danced ridiculously, and had a great time! We agreed to go eat breakfast with them the next morning, and then we walked an hour to Kilmanhaim jail. It was extremely informative, a brief overview of recent Irish history, and intriguing. Afterwards, the three of us went back to the hostel to rest, and we planned to meet Charles at 8 for coffee. We met him at 8, and he and Nick decided they wanted tea instead. Well, in France, a cafe is always open. Not really true in Ireland. The only thing we could find that sounded at all remotely offering tea was the Thunderoad Cafe (doesn't that sound like it's going to have tea? I mean, any establishment that has "thunderoad" in the title shound definitely have tea...) Notwithstanding, we sat down in a booth next to some Dutch people. Correction: crazy Dutch men. And when I say "we " sat next to them, I mean that I was the only one actually physically next to them. By the by, after less than 5 minutes, Dutch boy A (let's call him Hans) tries to start a conversation. I was polite, but very short, but Hans just kept talking. Clearly, drunk or something else, something isn't quite right with Hans & Co. Anyway, in the course of this one sided "conversation," Hans picks up a hair off the floor and says "Is this yours?" I said no. He asked again, and I said no, I was sure that wasn't mine. Then Hans did the unthinkable. He put the hair in his mouth. I almost gagged. Our whole table just "ewwed..." but it gets better. After putting the hair from the floor in his mouth, Hans turns to me and asks
"Can I taste your hair?"
"Absolutely not."
"Why not?"
"Because. No, you cannot touch my hair."
Then Hans says, "watch this" and grabs Fritz and stands in the open space in front of our table. Hans stands there and Fritz does a handstand. A handstand. In the restaurant. Fritz locks his knees over Han's head and tries to crawl all the way around him. We're just staring at them, open mouthed. The bartender finally came over and asked them to stop, but by that time, Nick and Charles were both chugging scalding tea to just get us out. As we got our stuff together, Dutch man C leaned over to us and said "We're not all like this..." Like I'm taking the chance to find out!

So that pretty much concludes Ireland. We flew out the next morning to Carcassone and took a train back to Pau. It was pretty unforgettable! Yay Ireland!
•7:31 PM
I know this song is really old, but I really like it. I think I like the honesty of this guy yelling at God. I also like that he meets God at the corner of first and Amistad (which means friendship in Spanish). God says "Ask me anything," and the songwriter just goes for it.

Where were you, when everything was falling apart.
All my days were spent by the telephone that never rang
And all I needed was a call that never came
To the corner of 1st and Amistad.

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

And it does seem, so often, that God comes too late, that He finally shows up just when everything is lost. Ah, but do not despair, that's just because He's dramatic.
At church on Sunday, we looked at the book of Ruth. Great book. It comes right after Judges, which as Mr. Sciacca once said, is the armpit of Jewish history. Bad king after bad king, and horrible, horrible crimes committed by the people. Absolutely godlessness. But in the midst of this blackness, you have the bright book of Ruth, who stands as the single good thing out of this period of just depravity. The pastor came up with some great points from the passage. But the phrase that I loved was "par hasard" in chapter 2 verse 3. It says "So [Ruth] went out and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech [Ruth's father in law]." Life was going to be hard for Ruth; she was a foreigner (and what's more, a "forbidden" foreigner), she was widowed, and she had no livelihood nor any relatives to look to. But, she happened into the field which happened to be owned by Boaz who happened to be related to her. He happened to be a man of God and happened to be single and happened to find Ruth beautiful. Really? Concidence? i think not.
The book of Esther doesn't mention God's name once, but His fingerprints are all over that. What seems like coincidence isn't. Things just happen, but the trick is to connect all those little dots. Eventually, the bread crumbs lead back to God. But you have to keep a weather eye open, He comes to those who look for Him.

A few times, including today, we've talked about religion in my French classes. I love it, because I think I'm just hoping that eventually I'll get to talk about Jesus. But until then, my heart is just hurting from all of these misconceptions of God that the French (among others) have. People here time and time again have pinned me as "the Southern conservative." They apologize to me when they curse, they try to watch their actions around me, and they say, "oh, don't talk about that around her..." because I'll get offended. Which is fine- I'm a child. But, I hate that people automatically categorize my beliefs simply because of where I'm from.
I have been undoubtedly shaped by my family and my surroundings, and I know that, and that's good, but there's more to it than that. The fact that I just might have a real relationship with a very real God that supercedes "church" and "religion" and "Southern Baptist conservatives" doesn't factor in at all, and it should! It's not about religion. It's about Jesus; His redemptive work on the cross that paid, once for all, my debt; and the response to that. What are you going to do with a man that claimed to be God and did what he did? Where do you turn with that? Oh, that I could just jump out with the truth. But I can't. It doesn't work that way, especially here. France needs Jesus. No, correction: people need Jesus. Full stop.