3.29.2009

Learning French with Rosetta Stone

A few years ago I was in Italy with one of my sisters. We walked into a tobacco shop to buy some stamps. In Italian we exchanged pleasantries with the shop owner and then asked about buying stamps. When we were paying for our purchases the shop owner asked us in perfect english if we were from California. We were shocked and asked how he knew. "You are both speaking Spanish," was his reply.

This story always makes me smile. It reminds me of how hard I try to speak the native tongue of a country I am visiting and how humbling that can be. I always try to learn the language when I travel. Key phrases always include please and thank you; directions and foods. I also usually learn how to say "I'm sorry, I am still learning whatever language I am learning". I have found that trying to speak the language, even when I butcher it, always gets me what I need. My really bad language skills and a smile have seen me around the world.

I took a semester of French in college about four years ago. The only thing I remember is how to ask if an apple is organic.
I have a love for languages, but not an ear for them. When this trip became a reality I decided to try to learn French again and bought the Rosetta Stone language immersing CDs.

I am still on Level 1 (I bought Level 1-3) but I thought I would write about my experience so far. First I would like to say that I am retaining a lot of what I am learning. The system is an interactive CD with images you match up to a phrase spoken by a native speaker. There are times when an image will be shown and I have to say what it is. The mic on the program rates my pronunciation. New vocabulary is introduced in each lesson (Lesson one is broken up into five sections with ten to eight sections in each of those). The system jumps right in and you are speaking french.

So what kind of French are you speaking? Well nothing I think I will be using in France. I am learning things like:
The man drinks
The girl runs
The boy swims
The woman cooks

And the plural of all of those. As time goes by I have learned:
The man and woman eat rice
The boy drinks milk
The girl does not eat a sandwich

So while I am excited to be retaining the french I am learning, I am wondering if it is going to help me in France? I can just picture myself now; I go into a shop to buy stamps and my brain switches to Spanish because the only french I can remember is "The boy swims." I guess I can always ask "Cette pomme, est lui organique?"

3.22.2009

Road Trip

Did I mention I am taking a road trip this summer. I know I have been all Paris and ohh la la but I am taking a road trip this summer too. My Man is remodeling the Airstream and this summer we are going to take a trip to Yellowstone National Park. I have never been to Yellowstone and am excited to see a few states I have never seen before on the way. I have seen a lot of the "world" but not so much the country I live in. The original plan was to do a trip here (in the states) once a year and on the off years go somewhere that requires a passport. This summer is going to be busy one for me.

The Man and I are working on a road trip plan and I will post it when it is more then just dinner conversation.

This is going to be a summer to remember.

3.18.2009

Seattle: A Paris shake down

Hello from Seattle. I am up here for a conference and it has turned into a Paris shake down trip. First I brought a bag I was thinking of using around Paris. It is a mesenger bag and I thought it would work well but after this trip I am not so sure. The shoulder strap broke on the way out of the airport forcing me to use the purse strap until I found some keychain rings to jerry-rig it back together. Now is seems to be working okay but it has an envelope design where the flap folds over the bag and the buckles on this design keep catching on my clothes. I am going to keep looking for a bag, but have this as a back up.

I brought my big digital camera but left it in the hotel after the first day. My iPhone is just easier to use. I can upload my pictures immediately and use apps on it to help me find cool things in the city. I am not sure how all of this will work in Paris (being able to upload pictures and all) but I think the big digital camera may be too big.

Something I didn’t bring this trip was some sort of video recording device. The stars were not aligning when I was trying to buy one so I said forget it. This got me thinking if I even want to bring a video recording device to Paris. Do I? I like the idea of making short videos during our trip, maybe someone will see them and offer me some sort of dream job, but I am not sure if I want to lug something around or be so caught up in trying to capture something that I don’t get to enjoy it.

Here are a few images from the trip. We had great weather (read sun) the first two days and then the typical grey skies and rain and SNOW on the last day.





Travel notes:
Yoga mat. Brought it, didn’t use it.
Swim Parka: too big, too hot, NOT fashionable= Not worn very much.
Check out local events. There was a St Patty’s’ parade, 4mi run….
Gloves and a scarf are always welcome.
Does Yelp work in Paris?
Keep headphones with me at all times. It is always nice to have the option to listen to music.
Umbrella.

3.08.2009

Paris Airfare is BOOKED!

Game on. Airfare is booked.

I found airfare through Kayak.com

I thought we would have to fly out of LAX, but found a flight out of John Wayne! We fly CA to Chicago, Chicago to Paris. For under $900. Not great, but not bad. I am so happy to have this taken care of.