Tag Archives: france

Couldn’t wait for phase 2

As much as I love traveling around France, visiting medieval cities that have been around since the Roman era, and using my not-so-good francophone skills, I couldn’t wait for Phase 2!

First let me tell you how Phase 1 ended!

After Paris, I took the train to Troyes, to visit another Rotary exchange student friend of mine, Chloé Soto-Mayor. Her city has a population of 60 thousand inhabitants and it is located on the Seine river about 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Paris. Troyes is also the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. In medieval times Troyes was an important international trade centre, centring around the Troyes Fair. The name troy weight for gold derives from the standard of measurement evolving here.

Chloé Soto-Mayor: Maple Grove, USA 2011 / Troyes, France 2012

Chloé and I tried to meet up in France for about 5 months, which never worked out, and then finally as I am leaving the country I stopped by in Troyes to spend a weekend with her. It had been a year since we last saw each other, and as usual, it feels like nothing has changed, like we had just seen each other the week before. The difference is now we had an extra secret language; French. Well, not so secret here.

We spent a great weekend together, plenty of wine, cheese and bread, my favorite things in France. I feel like it was a decent ending for my Phase I: France, and that just made me even more excited to leave France and go visit some other old friends I had met in the United States.

  • Source: Troyes city council website.
  • Photo: Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Troyes.
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Can’t wait to play my RPG

I’ve been thinking a lot about this summer, and I have decided to divide it into phases. Yes, phases, like in a game. I’m still not quite sure what will make one phase different from the other, or how they are going to work. But let’s use RPG games as a metaphor.

In a Role Playing Game you assume the role of a character in a certain setting and created scenario. The players must take responsibility for acting out these roles within the narrative. Being in charge of the decision-making and character development, while undertaking quests that will help him discover his purpose in action, and also achieve his final goal and destination. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines that are given to the player. But of course there can be interpretation of the rules or free form decision making within them.

In the world of RPG games there are also the NPCs. Non-player characters that have a role as the “supporting cast” or “extras” of a roleplaying narrative. Non-player characters populate the fictional world of the game, and can fill any role not occupied by a player character. And just like in real life NPCs might your be allies, bystanders or competitors. One way or another, these characters are fundamental in anyone’s life, as they inspire, teach and helpll help us achieve our goals and complete phases.

The main objective of an RPG is for players to get their characters from one adventure to the next, learning and seeing as much as they can throughout each phase. Now that, my friends, sounds like real life to me! The difference is that I’ll create my own narrative, and I won’t do it sitting on a couch all summer.

Still following? Not too complicated.

The scenario this time is Europe.

The phases I still don’t know. t is like in real life, I guess, one never knows what lies ahead. What I do know is that I am ready for whatever is up next.

The most important are the rules. I have mentioned them before, but I’ll remind you what they are. It’s quite simple.

  • Be First
  • Be on Purpose
  • Be Grateful
  • Be of Service
  • Be Here Now
  • Be Curious, not judgmental!
  • Well, Be a Phoenix, will you?

I hope I can see many of my friends again. I hope to meet many NPCs that will help me throughout my journey. I hope to see a lot and learn as much as I can. For that, I’ll fly like a Phoenix.

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Can’t hitchhike to Paris

Well, school is over, I’m done with DEFLE, I left my apartment exactly a week ago and for the past week I have been hiding in a Rotarian’s attic. And now, finally, it is time to leave the nest and throw myself into the world once again.

At first I didn’t think I was gonna do it alone, I had plans to travel in groups or with friends, but not everything works how we want it to. Once again, I’ll get 2 months to travel by myself, visit some friends, meet new people, discover new cities and countries where I don’t speak a bit of the language. This would be terrifying, but after being in Athens, and hearing greek for the first time, nothing else scares me.

Packing and leaving Bordeaux wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I did make great friends there, Rotary exchange students, Rotex, DEFLE students, and of course, some French people. but I have gotten pretty used to the idea of leaving, and like the title says; Sorry, I can’t stay long. That along with the idea of what lays ahead of me this summer just thrills me. I was so excited, but so excited, that I decided to leave the Aquitaine hitchhiking.

Hitchhiking aint easy in Europe, not because it is dangerous, it’s not! I mean, I’m from South America for crying out loud, I did a 1000km in two days with a backpack in my back and no fear in my heart. The problem here is that no one stops for you. As I have learned earlier, the french are just not as welcoming, caring and helping as the South Americans. Of course I am generalizing, which is unfair, but I feel like that is one of the main cultural differences between us Brazilians and the French. But today I did have 7 awesome french people that helped me immensely on my 1st day of traveling.

The first one of them is Christine Schieber; the Rotarian that hosted me for this past week. The last one is Thierry Chappe; the french with whom I’m Couch Surfing tonight in Paris. In between I have these 5 awesome french that picked me up on the road and drove me for 607 KM today.

So this is how it went:

  • At 8:10 I left the house in Talance
  • At 9:30 Lift my thumb for the first time this morning
  • At 10:00-10:10 My first ride drove me from Bordeaux to Carbon Blanc (10,6 km)
  • At 13:00-13:50 Second one and hardest to get; Carbon Blanc – Saintes (107 km)
  • At 14:40-14:50 Third one; Saintes – St Jean Angely (27,3 km)
  • At 15:15-15:25 The fourth one took me to main important spot at A10; St Jean Angely – Niort (49,3 km)
  • At 15:50-19:50 Last and most important, 5th driver took me from Niort all the way to Paris (413 km)
  • At 20:50 I Arrived at Couch Surfer’s house. WIN!

Rough day? Pff, YES! At some points I didn’t think I was gonna make it to Paris, or even leave my second city. Other times I even had it figured out in my mind my possible sleeping places, because I thought no one would pick me up. But here I am, in Paris for the night, enjoying my cup of tea and admiring the Eiffel Tower. Tomorrow I’m going to Troyes, to see Chloe Soto-Mayor after an entire year, this time I’m taking a train.

PS: 2/5 drivers that picked me up on the A10 road said they only stopped because I had my Brazilian flag out. One was married to a brazilian, the other one had been in Brazil just last week.

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Can’t stay away from airports

The title says it all.

So, there you go, this is my Airport timeline, I definitely don’t have pictures of every single time I said goodbye to a family member or greeted a friend at the Airport, but I will always have those memories.

Only if I got a nickel for every time I went to an Airport.

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Je ne peux pas vivre par ces commandements


Ce sont les 10 commandements et plus afin d’avoir une année couronnée de succès, ou non!

– Tu sortiras tous les soirs

– Tu ne parleras pas anglais quand les professeures t’ecouteront

– Tu piqueniqueras tous les Dimanche

– Tu boiras du Bordeaux

– Tu n’iras pas en cours trop ivre

– Tu manqueras les cours et tu diras que tu étais malade

– Tu feras tes devoirs le soir au dernier moment

– Tu adoreras les Google Translators comme un dieu

– Tu ne reviseras rien aprés le cours

– Tu oublieras toujours les jous des examens

– Tu passeras les examen à la fin du semestre

– Tu partiras en vacances le soir aprés le dernier cours

  • Photo: Piqui-nique
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Can’t wait to see them again and again – Part 2

I couldn’t be luckier, and I know it. All the people I have met throughout my life have touched me somehow. They have all helped me grow and become a better person. But there are some that understand me better than others and as I mentioned before, they are the Rotary Inbounds I met in Minnesota on September 12th, 2009.

Being stranded somewhere, out of your comfort zone, forces you to expand your horizon, look beyond what you normally would, and that was when I found these people. We were all different from one another, definitely coming from different places, backgrounds, we even believed in different things. But that day we were all the same, we were all vulnerable, and we were all open to the new year that was about to start, especially to all the experiences that it would bring.

We had an incredible year, and most importantly, unforgettable. The experiences we shared every time we met and particularly during the East Coast Trip towards the end of our year were the best we could have hoped for.

I can still remember the last time I saw each one of them. It’s true that I have not talked to all of them since, but the fact is that not a day goes by that I don’t think of that year and them. Just the other day I caught myself wondering:

“Is it still worth spending so much time and energy trying to keep these relationships going?”

“Yes, of course it is, you idiot!”

Some of them have made such an impact in my life that I just had to see them again, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunities to do so. Spending a year with them was priceless, intense. Seeing them again one, two years later was in fact, surprising. I realized that even though some of us were in different stages of our lives, all the chemistry we had back in our exchange was still there, just as exciting as our first day together in that middle school auditorium. Some of the people I reencountered, I hadn’t talked to since we had left the United States, while others I have talked to every day that I am able to.

Luisa Teixeira de Paula: Minneapolis, USA 2009 / Sete Lagoas, Brazil 2011

Luisa was the first one I had the chance to see again, and it happened right after our exchange. Once I finished my year I went back to Brazil for two weeks, to get a new student visa and start at Normandale Community College. I didn’t have too much time back home, but it was enough to see Luisa again, and I am happy to say that I have seen her about 4 times since then. It just happens, every time I go to Brazil to visit my family, I must visit her as well. She was my little black sister while in the USA, by “little” I mean younger, because she was definitely the responsible one in this relationship. She is the one I would call when I didn’t know what to do.

Preta, every time I think about going to Brazil I get even more excited because I know I will get the chance to not only see you again but to PARTY, Brazilian style.

Marina Simoni: St Croix Falls, USA 2009 / Londrina, Brazil 2011

Just like it happened with Luisa, Marina and I had a great time in the USA since the start of our Exchange. She lived far away in Albert Lea, so every time we got to see each other was special. We went to her Albert Lea prom together, needless to say that we were the best looking Brazilian couple there. I had the chance to see Marina again after busing for 24 hours from Luisa’s place.  June 29th was when I arrived in Londrina, I stayed with Marina’s family for a week. She sure had grown and gotten a boyfriend, but hadn’t settled down. We danced, went out and enjoyed ourselves to the maximum. I can’t wait to see her again, but I know it won’t take long.

Sofia Silva: Atlanta, USA 2010 / Arica, Chile 2011

Sofia and I never had the chance to talk much during our exchange. When she arrived in the USA, she didn’t know English, and my Spanish wasn’t what it is now, so we just never talked much. But once we started the East Coast Trip, at the end of our Exchange Year, we had a chance to get to know each other. And I am glad we did, Sofia is a smart, strong and independent woman, and I got the chance to see that when I visited her in Arica, Chile.

Wuashi perri, I realize that we didn’t spend much time together, but the little that we did was very important for me.

Dámariz Romero: Orono, USA 2010 / Quito, Ecuador 2011

Dama was the fourth of the Inbounds I got to see again. I made it to Ecuador at the end of July, 2010, more than a month after I had left home backpacking. I stayed with Dama and her family for most of the time and I had a great time seeing her again. While in the USA we went to a Sadies Dance together in Orono, and we had fun in our own way, not only there but at the Rotary events, at the MOA and just about every time we saw each other. With her I learned to be proud of my Latin blood, I learned to love it. I realized it was a part of us, that made us not only unique, but also spicier, if you know what I mean.

Nicole Olmedo: St Croix Falls, USA 2009 / Quito, Ecuador 2011

Nikki and I always have always had this connection. We had a great time together throughout our year, we had a fantastic time during the East Coast Trip, and I just couldn’t wait to see her again. So I got my backpack and left for Ecuador. I couldn’t believe how much she had grown. Between going to college and driving around she was the same Nikki I had met, still responsible but genuinely crazy. Someone I can talk to anytime I need, and that will try to understand my side and rationalize with me.

Bonbon, thank you for being there for me, for never giving up in our friendship and for being the princess that you are. Te amo.

Philipp Roehl: New York, USA 2010 / Bordeaux, France 2012

If it wasn’t fate, then I don’t know what could have been. For an entire year I was oblivious of Philipp, but somehow we got placed as roommates for the East Coast Trip. The differences between us were colossal, or so it seemed like. Independent of that we became friends right away. He didn’t always understand why I did things or my reasoning, but he always trusted me, he was never judgmental, and in less than 4 weeks we had as much fun as we possibly could have had. I got to see Philipp again when he came to visit me in Bordeaux, France. It had been two years since we had seen each other, we were clearly in different stages of our lives, and it was rough at first, but the chemistry was still there, it was just a matter of reconnecting.

Yes, all of us still had our differences, but the bond we’ve created overcomes that. Nothing made me happier than seeing each one of them again and realizing that just like during our exchange year, we will be there for each other for the rest of our lives, or as long as we both want it.  It is not easy to keep a long distance friendship going, it is even harder when the larger part of your relationships are like that. But at the end of the day, it is absolutely worth the effort.

And for the others, just wait for me, I’m coming.

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Can’t wait to see them again and again – Part 1

When I first arrived in Minnesota on August 23rd, 2009 I knew I was going to have fun. I also knew I was about to have a wonderful year, but I had no idea how. Now, almost 3 years later, I have already talked about my Host Families, and how thankful I am for everything they have done for me. I have also mentioned Rotex and I will talk more about them later.

The people I want to talk about now are the incredible group of Inbounds I spent most of my time with during that 2009/2010 exchange year.

I still remember the day we all met; September 12th, 2009. That Saturday morning we had our first Rotary Orientation at the Roseville Area Middle School, and something I never believed in had happened; it was love at first sight. More than 50 kids, from all over the world, speaking all kinds of languages in a single room, I had never seen something that strange and entertaining at the same time. We all became a family right away, a Rotary Family. And after that day there was no going back, we weren’t aware of it yet, but we were going to have each other for the rest of our lives. And we are lucky for that.

I’ve put a lot of thought into figuring out why we became so close that fast, and the reason is nothing but obvious; we were all on the same boat. We were all teenagers that had just left home to come party in the U.S.A., live the American dream. We were all going through similar situations, riding the same unpredictable roller-coaster of emotions that is studying abroad. We were all amazed by the same things, scared of the same monsters and annoyed by the same rules. Not all of us were homesick yet, but we all missed something from home; the food, our family, our friends, our comfort zone. And that is what we saw in one another; at least, that is what I saw on them; a way to miss less my home.

I read it somewhere that exchange isn’t a year in our lives, but our lives in a year. Which is absolutely true, I find that the combination of factors I have mentioned before are what makes this year something out of the ordinary; it is still real, but more intense than anything else we’ve experienced before. And because it was so intense, it doesn’t matter if we were best friends from the beginning of the year, or if we only connected on our last month there, I will keep each one of them forever in my heart.

Of course I can’t speak for everyone, even though I constantly use we and us, but this is how I feel. I am eternally grateful for everything I lived with them, for every second we spent trying to understand each other or making each one another laugh.

We were all accomplices then, not that we did anything extremely wicked or villainous, but we had each other’s back, we became compatriots through the experience we shared, and had the best time together. Now I can do nothing but wait until I see them again.

  • Post’s photos: Group shot at our first Rotary Orientation on September 12th, 2009. Group shot at the end of our East Coast Trip on July 13th, 2010.
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Je ne peux pas gérer la gueule de bois

Cher docteur,

J’ai la gueule de bois. Que puis-je faire pour calmer mon mal de tête?

Merci pour votre réponse.

Marcos (Hillevi et Jenny aussi)


Pour calmer votre gueule de bois, restez tranquille et buvez plus.

Ne vomissez pas et ne dormez pas. Pour calmer votre mal de tête simplement oubliez-le!


  • Post’s photo: April’s house-warming party, February 2012.
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Couldn’t wait for another District Conference

Yes! Another successful Rotary Weekend.

This last saturday Rotary had its 1690 District Conference in the southern French city of Pau. And thanks to Rotarian Christine Shieber I was able to attend it.

We left Bordeaux early saturday and arrived in Pau 2 hours later. Once we arrived there, I was able to see all the other inbounds again, and meet the new ones. The best part of it is that I got to practice my Spanish and even my French, which I barely ever do. And I oughta say; I am pretty happy and proud of what I have learned so far. I know I’m nowhere near ready to teach it yet. But if someone leaves me stranded in a random French city, or Québec. I’m sure I will find my way back home!

At night we walked around the city and ended up going to a bar to dance a little, which can be awkward when done, latin style, in a small city that probably doesn’t see many tourists. After an intense evening in Pau we headed back to the Best Western, the local hotel we were staying at.

Sunday morning we left Pau and headed to Lourdes, city that also lies in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Lourdes is know for its remote Grotto of Massabielle. Where 14 year old Bernadette Soubirous claimed seing “the Immaculate Conception” who she believed to be the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Since the apparitions in 1958, Lourdes has become one of the world’s leading Catholic Marian shrines and the number of visitors grows each year. And like I learned as a kid, it is a really important place within the Roman Catholic church, and the grotto’s spring water is believed by some to possess healing properties. So I had to bring some home for my family.

So, cheers to the french Rotarians, they pulled off a great District Conference. But honestly, this was nothing compared to the ones Minnesota’s District 5950 does each year. Every time I just get so excited I just wanna puke by the time we are leaving.

  • Post’s photo: A break from the 1690 District Conference, walking around Pau on May 24th, 2012
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Couldn’t stay home during my first break

Even though I had almost 10 days off of school last week I didn’t travel much. I stayed in Bordeaux most of the time and walked around, discovered the city, the pubs, the public gardens.

But during the weekend, Rotex Emilie Gravelle drove me, two other Rotex and Inbound Sarah-Jane Fish to Arcachon; a small, charming city in the southwestern coast of France, about 80KM away from Bordeaux. I was very excited to not only see the city, but touch the Atlantic, 10.000 Km away from home.

We walked around the bay for hours, the day started out gorgeous. For lunch, we stopped at this great local restaurant-creperie called L’Ilot, and for the first time I had Moules marinière (mussels), something I had never seen or heard of before. I still don’t know how I feel about it though, it is good, interesting to say the least, but I definitely wouldn’t order an entire bucket for myself.

I had a great time playing with it though, we all had fun there, and before we finished lunch we even got a Complementary Jar of Sangria, typical wine punch from Portugal and Spain. We must be really cool or something, or not. Still, that was a good ending for my tasting experience, since I had never had it like that before either.

As it started to get colder, we decided to hear back home and visit the Dune du Pyla next time, so now we have an excuse to go back!

  • Post’s photo: Arcachon’s entrance sign, February 26th, 2012
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