Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elli Legerski - Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France

Elli is a junior majoring in Film Studies and French at the University of Utah. She is currently on a fall semester ISEP Exchange program at Université de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France.
Spending a Thanksgiving away from home this year had the potential to be heartbreaking. Luckily, I found my home away from home in Paris this year at the amazing Joe Allen restaurant. A group of my American friends, in addition to our wonderful/hilarious Scottish friend, Sarah, all found our Parisian paradise online a few weeks ago. We were hesitant to reserve our spots at a restaurant that claimed to duplicate a traditional Thanksgiving feast, but we figured we had nothing to lose—how could a festive evening in Paris go to waste?
As soon as we arrived in the restaurant, it was like a giant hug. All the staff spoke English, there were American flags on every inch of wall space, autumn leaves were strewn about the dining area’s floors, and American football on the televisions illuminated the sports bar. It was so wonderfully decorated; I almost forgot that I was in France!
Our meal was insanely delicious. Corn chowder, turkey, stuffing, roasted butternut squash, mashed potatoes, apple cranberry crumble and vanilla ice cream, pumpkin pie…everything we homesick Americans could have hoped for. It was perfect! Just to put the icing on the cake, the entire city of Paris is all dolled up and decorated for Christmas, which makes the city even more magical and beautiful. The Champs-Elysees (like the Sunset Boulevard of Paris) has lights strung on every branch of every tree, making the avenue look like a twinkling winter wonderland. Vendors have set up their booths of food, toys, and specialty items along the boulevard as well, to make Christmas shopping easy. Did you know the French call cotton candy Barbe a Papa – which literally translates to “Dad’s beard”? I love it! Galleries Lafayette, Paris’ largest department store, has the most elaborate store window displays you’ve ever seen: each window has teddy bears, dolls, and pairs of shoes dancing to choreographed routines.
It is crazy to think my time here in France is coming to such an abrupt ending. Three weeks from today, I will be headed home. I am torn between wanting to stay in Europe forever and wanting so badly to see my family and friends just in time for Christmas. It is hard to describe the feeling; it’s like a tug-of-war.  I have made such incredible memories here and have met awesome people, but nothing compares to the people I know and love back at home. I am so grateful to have had this experience. Every moment glitters, especially during the holiday season.

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