Wine Visits and Tastings:
This past week at school in Purpan we went on a lot of visits to different wine operations and vineyards. This was also the first week that I began really studying and getting into the history and chemistry behind the French Wine. In class we covered everything from the history of how wine was first made back in the 14th century to the niddy griddy details with the differences of each wine and the grapes used to make them. We also learned about the processes of making red, white, rose, and iced wine. It was certainly alot to take in; in just one week but I only have one more week left at the campus to learn everything I need to know for my internship next month. When we actually visited the different wineries and vineyards we got to see everything from their shops full of all different kinds of wine ranging in price from 5 euros to over 45 euros a bottle, to their distillery tanks, to the fields full of hundreds of hectors of grapes. Here in France the land size in measures in hectors where about 1 hector is equivalent to 2.5 acres of land. The second wine operation we visited had a total of 4,000 hectors of grapes that fed into it’s winery. Now let me repeat that in US terms, that’s 10,000 acres of grapes going into 1 single plant to be processed into wine. That is crazy! And to think that they say French only have small operations.
During the wine tasting I stood beside one of the Programming Assistants (PA’s), Anais, who showed me how to properly taste and access wine. We first looked into the color and fat content of the wine, then the smell, and finally the pallet. After about 20 wines later, I guess you could say I’m officially a wine conosor.
Now lately I haven’t really shared much about everyday life in France, mainly just my adventures and travels. I’m become very close with several girls here on the trip, and oddly enough three of them are from Purdue which will make keeping in touch after we get back to the states alot easier then I was expecting. The people from Mizzou, Kansas State, and Colorado Universities are all really laid back, fun people to be around and take on this new adventure here in France with. As I had stated earlier in a previous blog post I am living with Darcie, a girl from Purdue, and three other guys from Mizzou, Mexico, and Lebanon. To be honest and didn’t think I would be the mom on the trip but it has turned out to be that way when you have two girls living with 3 college aged guys. Darcie and I jokingly refer to our flat as the “Frat House of Toulouse” considering how disgusting the guys leave the apartment most days. Mom you’ll be proud, I’ve done more dishes and cleaning this month then I probably ever had at home! I guess no matter how far you travel in college, the frat life is sure to follow.
I’ve started getting used to living at the residence more now and it’s seeming more like a home then just a place where I sleep, which kind of sucks since I’m moving back out in 1 week and starting all over again. But oddly enough there have been a few things that remind me of home. One that always comes to mind is how French make a husk sound deep in the back of their throats when pronoucing certain words, the first time my French teacher taught us this it instantly made me think of my dad haulking up a big lougy! As disgusting as that is, I found it to be conforting being over 1,000 miles away from home and still “hearing” my dad. Another thing that reminds me of home and the people their is the agriculture here in France. A farm is a farm, whether is a dairy sheep operation or crop farm some little thing never fails to remind me of Indiana. Then there are the fresh produce markets, that are so much like the one my family, grandparents, aunt, and cousins go to back home in South Bend. You can see that look in the farmer’s eyes and feel their sense of pride when talking about their produce, it’s one of those things that a language barrier can break through.
I know where I will be interning at this next month here in France! I’m a little excited, okay I’m very excited if you can’t tell. Next weekend I will be parting ways with several of my new friends and taking a train to Queyzac, France to move in with the Uittewaal family (I still don’t know how to say their name). I will be living and working with the family on their winery which is less than 1 hour from Bordeaux, a world renound city for wine making. (Mom I may have to send home a case of wine from Bordeaux) The town is right off of the Atlantic ocean on the west side of France. I will be aout 2-3 hours from Toulouse which is where I am currently living. The best part is that my friend, Darcie, got placed in an internship just a 1 hour car ride from my host family. Even if I get homesick and scared out of my mind because no one speaks English, I can rest assured knowing she isn’t that far away. Speaking of communication, I am praying hard that someone in the family can speak English fluently. Many of you don’t know this but I studied 4 years of spanish throughout high school and college and I’m far from being bilingual so you can only imagine my stuggle of trying to learn French in 3 weeks! Praying hard that I won’t have to be mute for the next month, this isn’t an over exhaguration either.
As I am writing this post I am currently on a train heading east towards Beziers for a weekend on the beach, but getting here was no easy ride. Our trip started off as expected by riding the bus and metro to the train station. After at the train station we couldn’t get the kiosks to work to print our tickets, so we got in line at the ticket office, took a number and waited. It was 10 minutes before our train was set to depart and we still hadn’t been called up, and their were 6 of us needing to print our tickets off. I quietly said a little prayer that we would all make it on the train, and walked up with Morgan to print our tickets.. Just to find out that Morgan booked our tickets for the wrong train, so we had to buy a new set of tickets and run down the hall to find our terminal and get on the train. And we got on the train just in time to get delayed for an hour before we even left the station.
Our weekend away has come to a close. We spent two days relaxing on the beach in Valras-Plage, and eating some delicous food on their main stip. It was a great weekend away with my new close friends. We made it to the train station to buy our tickets for the trip back to Toulouse, one pointer for anyone traveling to Europe, make sure your credit card has a chip in it! I had to rely on my friend Lindsey to pay for my train ticket back to Toulouse because the ticket machines wouldn’t except my card since it didn’t have a chip. Morgan and I are going to have to make sure we have every ticket paid for before our week of travel by ourselves.
Today was Father’s Day back home in the states. I had a two hour break to wait for my train that would take me back to Toulouse so I pulled out my phone and gave my old man a ring. As many of you know my dad and I are the except same, but with completely different views on life so we get in arguements all the time. But after hearing his voice after being away for a month without any contact I started crying a bit, I don’t know if he could hear it in my voice but I sure missed him. Something about being away from everything you know makes you get a little emotional here and there. I can say that as much as I’m loving my time in France, that week before I go back to school when I’m at home will be throughly enjoyed. I can’t wait to share my internship experiences with you all in just one short week when I move to Queyzac, France!