Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Alright! Here I am, Echenevex, France. Whoever would have thought?! I’ve been here for a week now and am starting to feel as though I’m settling in. :) I had been taking notes at the beginning of the journey in hopes of having a chunk of time for internet access BEFORE now. I’ll warn you though... it seems as if I’ve been here FOREVER... or at least like 3 weeks... maybe longer... it’s possible this will be a LONG blog. Brace yourself.

So, last Wednesday was the beginning of my departure... my life here in Europe. I was running behind, of course, the grandmother of the children I’m caring for had invited my parents and I to stay at their house Wednesday night to get acquainted with them and to ease our transition a little bit. We got there two hours late. Cheri, the grandmother, had angel food cake covered in whipped cream and strawberries ready for us. She did a beautiful job of sharing photos and stories with us... creating excitement and anticipation in me. The night was difficult though, knowing Thursday I’d be leaving my family and friends for another year. I wasn’t able to sleep because of nerves and mom and I decided to sleep in the same bed, so we snuggled, of course.
Thursday I was terribly nauseous and scared. I had no idea what I was getting into and had not had a good record of flying as of recently. Much to my surprise my travels were the best I think I’ve ever had! :) Once I got to Detroit I ran into Deb Dulin, a friend of our family’s from Cedar Falls. I was going down an escalator and she was coming up... it was definitely a pleasant surprise!

The Detroit airport was fascinating! When I got to the bottom of the escalator I was in this amazing tunnel with the moving walkways and such that most normal airports have... but there was also this crazy, techno elevator music and matching moving lights! I got to my gate and made myself at home for my 3 hour layover... I was able to call my sweet friend/big-sister Nikki in Portland and talk to her for a while, she reassured me that it was good for Momma Carole to be stretched in this way. :) I’m pretty sure we all know this to be true.
While waiting for my flight from Detroit to Amsterdam I made friends with an older woman named Shirley. She really enjoyed sharing her thoughts... about everything. :) Shirley was a drama director for a children’s theater and was on her way to Vienna for a drama conference. Before we said our ‘good-byes’ and boarded the plane she gave me her card and told me how she had better hear from me! She was so extremely excited for me she gave me a brochure on a children’s museum of some sort in Italy - Reggio Emilia. I’ll have to add those details in the next blog.

Shirley wasn’t the only friend I made during my travels. Many of the people I met I wasn’t able to get their names, but wow, they really made this step much less nerve-wracking. My next friend was a pretty young woman a couple years older than me who had previously lived in Paris. She worked for the Assembly of God in Paris and was on her way to two good friends’ wedding. She had said while she was living in Paris she was so frustrated with the language she took 21 credit hours of French at the local university and only when she was done with that was she comfortable communicating... yikes. Doesn’t exactly shed much hope on the topic for me.
Finally, it was time to board my FIRST flight to Europe!! The man I was seated next to was an angel... I’m sure of it. Haha. Well, he was remarkable if not quite an angel. He was from the Netherlands and had a very pleasant accent. He works for Nestle and Purina and has lived in St. Louis for the last year or so. He travels from St. Louis to Amsterdam once a month. Wow. He was a fantastic conversationalist. We talked of culture, people in general, the world, education, religion, life in Iowa and Europe... lots of things! I wish I was writing this right after I got off the plane so I could share the details! Ooo! He shared with me the beauty of Geneva and how it was nearly the best place in the world to live then asked me where I recommended to see while he was living in the states. Of course, I told him Oregon. He had already seen Iowa, don’t be offended. I told him how Oregon was like having the whole world at the palm of your hands! The Pacific to the west, desert in the east, the valley of Salem, lush green life all along the west, mountains throughout... ah, the beauty. :) It was getting to a point where most people were trying to sleep so I was looking for a movie to occupy myself. I was far to uncomfortable to actually get any sleep. I ended up watching "Slumdog Millionaire" and most of "Marley and Me" both were pretty good!

In Amsterdam I was under the impression I only had 25 minutes to catch my flight to Geneva. Thankfully, I had my new Dutch friend to help me out. I then figured out I had closer to an hour, but had to stand in line for customs for pretty close to forever... Shirley and my red-headed friend were there to keep me company though, and I got my first stamp in my passport!!! :) Woooo hooooo!!!

As for my next friend, Giles, he has lived in Switzerland for the last 18 years. He was really funny; he referred his two-year-old daughter to a character in the movie, ‘The Omen.’ Seriously, he did. He moved here from the UK and informed me nothing has come up that would ever make him want to live elsewhere. As far as he’s concerned, Switzerland is the perfect place to ski and provides a way to easily travel anywhere in Europe easily. He also gave me his card in case I had an emergency of some sort.

Finally, I landed in Geneva!! It was so bazaar! I retrieved my luggage FAR too easily... it was there before I was! That NEVER happens! I was not so pleasantly surprised to find myself on the other side of the security wall with no stamp in my passport, no customs, no English and worst of all, no Julie. :( I tried and tried to figure out how to get a pay phone to work, but it wouldn’t take my Euros and I was not coming in contact with any of the many English speakers I had heard so much about. Not to say it’s okay for me to be an ignorant American walking around a foreign country expecting everyone else to fit my needs, however, I was not operating well without those things as I had expected. :-/ While I was attempting to use the payphone I caught a glimpse of a cute little family that matched the photos I had seen in my emails. It was the Pocock’s. Praise the Lord. I was on the brink of tears... well, not really, but probably would have been had I been given another hour or so! We sat down and had tea and my first croissant! It was phenomenal! :) I got a bit loopy from the jet-lag. I was thinking I’d be sleeping when I got there... not the case. Haha.

Julie took me all around Geneva in hopes of familiarizing me... I don’t think it worked, but it exposed me to the sunshine and fresh air and kept me moving: all things recommended for jet-lag recovery. She took me to my apartment so I might drop off my luggage. We also went to their house so I could get to know the kids and herself a bit. I was able to take a shower and the most glorious nap that afternoon. After my nap the kids and Julie took me to the library to get my very own French library card!!! So exciting! :) For dinner they took me to Chavannes - a mall semi-nearby with a park outside one of their restaurants. It was delicious. I had lamb and pears, black lentils... I tried a little thing labeled ‘miso’ but I’m pretty sure it was chicken stock- not exactly delightful. Chloe surprised me after dinner and picked out strawberry ice cream. I can’t hardly turn down already purchased ice cream from nearly strangers! It was fabulous, heavy on the strawberries and light on the cream and other stuff. Yum.
That was just the first... probably 36 hours of this adventure... I'll try to trickle in some more details of what’s going on in my upcoming blogs... it’s been really great! I MUST learn French! MUST!!

...and just to let you know... this doesn't even cover a fraction!! I'll try to update things... it's all very exciting!!

1 comment:

  1. before i went to florida i read a book called Seizing Your Diving Moment. if you haven't read it, you should. actually...i don't know that you need to because you're doing just that.
    God has put this opportunity before you and you're joyfully following and making the most of it. and it's amazing to see someone else seize that moment. that's the kind of thing that i'm waiting for. it's frustrating sometimes just not knowing what i should be doing. but i love how you've acted on His calling. keep listening! love you