Le pain, rapidement!

France is the most-visited country in the world. We have these impressions of its jaunty parapluie-lined beaches, the castle-lined hilltops and its status as a gastronomic Mecca, overflowing with wine. But what does it mean to be French? It isn’t all about sitting at cafés, reading Le Monde, smoking cigarettes and baffling the Americans with a diet…

Lofty over the Loire

“The… how do you say… sensation? It is ok?” Sebastien asked us in his charming French accent as we cruised lightly over the Loire Valley in his four-seater airplane. We nodded enthusiastically – yes, all good! In the split second that followed the horizon fell away to somewhere behind my back, the clouds shot up in…

Study abroad: what’s the gain?

Yesterday the White House hosted an event for travel bloggers, and on the agenda was a push to get more American students to study abroad. As I see it, there are two reasons American students are not studying abroad in larger numbers. These are: Financial reasons (exorbitant cost of American university tuition to begin with and a…

Sweden vs. The World: Travel Insurance

If you have every paid for travel insurance and you are not from Sweden, you might want to stop reading now. Or start packing your bags for a residence-earning stay in Scandinavia. Wyatt Cenac’s segment ‘Stockholm Syndrom‘ for the Daily Show hardly grazed the skin of the reality of living in this socialist nightmare: “She smells…

The rules of mistletoe

Under a sprig of mistletoe, a man must kiss the nearest lady only on the cheek. Once the kissing is done, a berry must be removed from the mistletoe. When all of the berries are gone, the mistletoe has lost its kiss-compelling powers! Who knew there were rules to the mistletoe game? This changes everything. Well,…

Gainful employment is overrated

I’m gainfully employed. I might have my ‘termination of contract’ letter sitting in my inbox, but let’s ignore that. I’m gainfully employed and it is stressing me out. Big time. I have a head cold, which I think is due to the fact that I’m American and my body failed to realise that I wasn’t…

Perdu in Fontainebleau

Last Thursday we had a Chevillon-residents outing to the Jazz au Theatre festival in Fontainebleau. We got all gussied up, swung by the theatre to grab tickets, went out for some charming French food (er, wandered around town and finally settled on mediocre pizza since it was the only place open at 6.30 pm –…

In photos: 72 hours in Paris

On Thursday it happened: I melded into my kitchen table, cross-eye’d and atrophying from my lack of activity. I could no longer see the forest for the tree (ferns). Luckily the next day it was off to Paris for a weekend getaway with the girls from work! Most of the girls had never been to Paris before, though…

Dinner with Carl Larsson

Last week I moved to a tiny village in France to focus on drinking wine, eating baguettes and – oh yeah – writing. But I didn’t move to just smalltownville-anywhere in France, I have taken up residence in an artist colony in Grez-sur-Loing, which was once home to Carl Larsson (Midwinter Sacrifice; many paintings depicting life in the…

A scientist in an artist colony

People are LOOKING at me. Like real, actual eye contact!  Many – most even – are greeting me!  Where am I?! Apparently not in Scandinavia anymore, where eye-contact and any verbal communication between strangers is reserved only for people who are crazy, drunk or foreign. Here are some impressions of the first twenty four hours in…

Write it up. Or just write it down.

Last weekend I got into the nitty-gritty of packing up my apartment. I dove headfirst into two of the most daunting crevices of my two-bedroom flat: the bathroom shelves and those two boxes labelled ‘important papers.’ A riveting game of keep or toss? After the warm up round of THREE HOURS going through boxes of half…

Snakes, no, CATS! on a plane

Today was the worst day I’ll have leading up to my departure. I hope, anyway. At a moment’s notice I found someone to porter Wally the cat over to Canada, where he will stay with friends for the indefinite future. Since I don’t have a partner here in Sweden, no kids and no immediate family, Wally…