Hello everyone!

It's been nine weeks here in the old ville de Lyon. It's been quite the experience for me.  Even though writing this has forced my technologically-allergic self to actually upload all of my pictures onto my computer (okay fine I didn't do it all by myself...), it's allowed me a small bit of reflection on all that I've done here and how much I've learned. I also realized that I could do an entire passage all about food :) (and I probably will eventually!!). But I think it would be best if I just did kind of a highlight of the places I've seen. This is just a taster, though. I've kept a journal of my time here in extensive detail, and unfortunately, copies are already on backorder but you can email me to be put on the waiting list for a SIGNED copy of my journal!!!!!!!

My host family's apartment is right on the Saone. Cool fact: the Saone and the Rhone are the two rivers in Lyon. La Saone is feminine, and Le Rhone is masculine. The two rivers join and become one big river and when they do, it's just called Le Rhone because when a man and a woman get married, the woman traditionally takes the man's last name!

My first trip was to Avignon in the south of France. This is a picture of the Pont d'Avignon, from the song: "sur la pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y dance." It was stuck in my head the entire time there. Unfortunately, we didn't get to dance on the bridge. But we did find the most amazing indoor market, so I was happy!

My next excursion was to Geneva. We saw their timepiece museum, which has definitely been my favorite museum. There were all these amazing clocks and enamel paintings and jewelery pieces and other cool things like that! There was one timepiece that said the time, date, weather, moon cycle, star positioning, and some other crazy stuff like that. We also saw yodelers for a little! It was so cool and even though the audience's average age was well over 60, I thought it was a necessary Alps-y experience. There is no picture to accompany Geneva though, because even though we saw a lot of cool things there, Geneva was actually pretty bleak the day I went and there are just a lot of high-end name buildings, but the architecture wasn't anything remarkable (do you hear me being all hoity toity now about architecture?!?! So hard to please now that I'm cultured...).

Anoush (my attached-at-the-hip travel buddy) and I FINALLY got a breath of fresh English in LONDON!!! It was so great to be able to understand everyone!  We saw Benjamin himself, Westminster Abbey, and and aaaaand!! There's a Dartmouth Street!!!

During my vacation week, we did a lot of traveling. Up to bat is Barcelona, with Rome on deck and Paris in the hole. I stayed with some of the gentle members fo the Dartmouth men's soccer team in Barcelona. I got to see some of Gaudi's works, namely Casa Battlo and the Sagrada Familia, shown here. Talk about architecture. It's like nothing I've ever seen before. Gaudi's meticulous and thoughful approach was fascinating. We also saw La Rambla, the huge touristy-trap street, and I spent a lot of time wandering around La Boqueria, another huge indoor market with vegetables that look like they're on HGH.

We were asked for our most interesting work out story and mine was in Barcelona! Anoush and I ran down to the beach in Barcelona. I know whatever adjective I use to describe how awesome it was is going to make me sound like an idiot, so I'll just let you guys imagine- like "glorious" just makes me gag, but it was like that. So anyhow, I took off my shoes and socks and ran down to the water and started doing sprints there, when this little bulldog started chasing me! When I stopped, he waddled his scrunchy ugly little smiley face up to me, so I petted him, then started my sprint and he chased me again! So I ran multiple sprints with this dog. The best part is that I was so determined not to lose to him. So on the last one, the dog had a huge head start, (cheater) but I ended up beating him muahahaha. Except in my determination, a few effortful grunts may have escaped me... the dog's owner thought I was nuts. But it was so fun haha!

Rome was a little too cold for my toga, but other than that is was so great.This is the Coliseum. It was used as a public way to punish felons, by having them try to kill each other, or having them face a ravenous animal (usually the people outnumbered the animal). The opening ceremony of the Coliseum lasted 100 days and about 5000 animals were killed. After a fight, people would give away the dead animal's skin, meat, tusks, etc. for free. When someone died, they would sponge up the human blood and save it cause they thought that drinking human blood was a cure for epilepsy. Mmmm.

Paris round two! Across the river from the Musee d'Orsay, there is a bridge called the Pont des Arts, on to which bujillions of people lock "love locks," on which their names are written. When I was there I did a Dartmouth women's soccer love lock, but my friend has my picture and I'm still waiting for it so this ruins the surprise but at least now you'll know what it is. I also tossed the key into the Seine so that no one will ever be able to unlock the Dartmouth women's soccer love! I did an express tour of Paris, seeing the Louvre's most important pieces, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame again, the Tuleries Garden, and the Eiffel Tower. It was a long day but it was the best one I've had here!

The following weekend, I went to another small city in France- Annecy. It's got a beautiful lake with a wonderful view of the Alps.! I also got the chance to go with my host family to their house in the countryside. Part of the house dates back to the 14th century, while the other parts are from the 17th and 18th century. My host mom knows a lot about that history, so the tour of her house was very interesting. I also saw a tree in their garden that's almost one thousand years old!!  Our class went to Provence together, which is a little south of Lyon. Provence is famous for their nougat, lavender bushes, wine, and truffle mushrooms. In this picture, you can see the lavender fields and a chateau in Provence. We went to a factory where a woman showed us how she made wine, then we did a wine tasting. We also went to a goat farm and saw how goat cheese is made and did a tasting of that too!! We got to play with the little goats too J. The babies sucked on our fingers cause they look like udders. My favorite professor here, named Madame Villard, is just the best. She was talking to the goats, asking if they liked her and giggling.

I'm going to finish off my stay here with a weekend in Versailles. I apologize for the length of this, but it was hard for me. I've learned soooo much. This thing would be four times as long if I allowed myself to talk about the food, but I probably should write about that in another letter because everyone knows that food is the foremost thing on just about every female soccer player's mind...

I'm definitely ready to come home- I miss home a lot, but I'm not ready for this to be my last time in Lyon/France/Europe for a long while. I've definitely had a worthwhile experience here, and I'm so glad I took this opportunity.

Kelly Brait