Category Archives: Michigan

Back to North America Soon… But Probably Not Forever

By   May 28, 2015

It doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly 4 years since I left France for Australia, but it has. And now it’s time to say goodbye to Australia, unfortunately. My student visa expires soon and I haven’t been able to find a permanent job (most likely because I do not yet have my PhD “in hand” as almost every job listing specifies). Even though Australia now has a Post-Study Work Visa for recent graduates, I am not eligible since I started my program before November 2011 and there is no alternative option for me. I am slightly bitter about how unfair immigration laws really are and being forced to leave a place I love, but I will continue to apply for jobs in Australia with the hope of returning someday. I am also looking for jobs in North America and Europe, so if you hear of any French or applied linguistics lecturer positions, please let me know.

I’ll be back in Michigan and Virginia for a short time in June to see family, and then I’m off to Europe for a few weeks for the New Zealand Studies Association conference and my annual trip with Michelle. We’ll be exploring Eastern Europe and Iceland, and then I’ll be heading to France and Benelux to visit friends and family. When I return to the US in August, I’ll be able to work full-time on the website since I won’t have a job so expect more authentic language videos and realia to be uploaded then.

If anyone in the Adelaide area needs furniture or household items, I’m selling almost everything I own on Gumtree and Ebay. (I’ll be adding my desktop computer and car soon.) I’ll also be donating some things, such as books and kitchen items, to Salvos if you like free stuff.

I leave Australia June 14, but don’t worry, Charlie is definitely coming to the US with me. He actually arrives before I do! Jetpets will be taking care of him along the way, and he even gets to spend the night in both Sydney and Los Angeles on his way to Detroit.

My handsome little man

My handsome little man, and soon to be world traveler!

Christmas Wonderland in Michigan’s Little Bavaria

By   December 19, 2010

Every time I come back to Michigan, whether it’s in December or not, I have to go to Frankenmuth and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.

Originally settled by Lutheran immigrants from Franconia, Frankenmuth today is nicknamed Little Bavaria and is probably Michigan’s most popular tourist attraction. The city itself is rather small (2.8 square miles with 4,600 people) but the architecture is undoubtedly Bavarian and they even have their own Oktoberfest each year, which is sanctioned by the city of Munich. The biggest attraction is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world.

Located only 15 minutes from my childhood home, Frankenmuth began my love affair with all things German and started the association Germany = Christmas in my mind. I went to Bronner’s on Friday for some holiday cheer that I had been missing in France.

The best part of Bronner’s is of course the Christmas around the World section, full of ornaments from other countries.

You can find ornaments saying Merry Christmas in over 100 languages.

And ornaments in the shape of famous buildings and cultural objects, such as the Eiffel Tower and bottles of wine for France.

Even the trashcans are multilingual.

And outside of the store stands the Silent Night Memorial Chapel, a replica of the original chapel in Oberndorf, Austria where Stille Nacht was written. The signs along the sidewalk are translations of Stille Nacht/Silent Night into several languages.

Now I’m ready for Christmas!

Home for the Holidays

By   December 14, 2010

My Christmas secret is out! I came back to Michigan yesterday as a surprise for my parents and will be home for the next two weeks. I had been planning this for months and even though all of my friends knew, everyone was able to keep the secret and my mom was indeed surprised.

I absolutely love Christmas in Michigan and I hadn’t been here in December since 2007. I was a bit worried about my flights because of the big snowstorm that came through the Midwest this past weekend, but everything worked out fine and I will have a white Christmas for the first time in years! Well done, mother nature. Well done.

I was excited like a little kid when I arrived in Detroit last night. The Christmas lights, the snow, even the football fans at the airport (thank you Vikings for proving that a team besides the Lions can lose at Ford Field!) made me feel right at home. It was bitterly cold (a balmy 6 F / -14 C this morning) and the roads were still covered in ice & snow, but it felt good to be home where most of my friends and family are.

I will be playing in the snow with the dog, visiting friends in Flint, experiencing Bavarian Christmas in Frankenmuth, and just enjoying my time at home so I won’t be online as much until I’m back in France for New Year’s.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Germany = Christmas

By   December 17, 2009

I’m officially on Christmas vacation, except for a few things to grade and absences to count up for my labs. Now I can finally start answering all the e-mails that have been sitting in my Inbox forever. I really want to work on my French tutorials and add a listening section, but Christmas always put me in a “German” mood so I’m concentrating on Deutsch right now. Maybe it’s because Germany actually knows how to do Christmas, unlike France, or perhaps it’s because of Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, that I always associate Germany with Christmas. Plus Christmas trees and markets first originated in Germany and the oldest Christmas carol, Silent Night (Stille Nacht), was originally written in German in Austria.  Even after years of going to Bronner’s in Michigan, I never knew that the chapel outside the store was a replica of the Silent Night Memorial Chapel in Oberndorf, Austria where Stille Nacht was sung for the first time in 1819.

Bronner’s always put me in a good mood, not only because it is year-round Christmas, but also because of its multilingual decorations and signs. Stille Nacht has been translated into 300 languages and all of the versions appear on plaques around the Chapel.  They sell Christmas bulbs with Merry Christmas written on them in 100 languages.  Even the trashcans in the parking lot are multilingual!

Inside Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth, MI

And their website has a Christmas Wonderland section where people from all over the US and Canada submit pictures of their houses decorated with Christmas lights. They also show the address so you can actually go to the house and see the lights in person (if you live in North America…)

I.D. se prononce Heidi

By   October 4, 2009

I somehow came across the French School of Detroit’s site when I was reading France-Amérique and I thought their page on American vocabulary was so cute. The students’ parents are not always fluent in English, so they explained a few American words that the parents will probably encounter.


Concrètement, il s’agit des repas pour vos enfants le midi. Ils sont à fournir aux enfants de maternelle et aux autres si vous ne souhaitez pas qu’ils mangent dans les cafétérias américaines. Vous pourrez trouver des petits thermos (food containers) ou même des sacs isothermes dans les magasins du type Target, Meijer, KMart…


Les premiers temps vous montrerez votre passeport et puis une fois le permis du Michigan en poche, il deviendra l’incontournable ID ( se prononce Heidi…)

Station service:

Quand vous irez la première fois prendre de l’essence, peut-être serez-vous surpris par le terme “lift nozzle” : cela signifie prendre le pistolet .

“Débit or crédit”

A la caisse, vous avez le choix de payer à :

débit / ATM: carte bancaire à prélèvement immédiat, même pour des petites sommes.
crédit: carte bancaire différente permettant un prélèvement différé que vous paierez à réception du relevé


Vous avez la possibilité lors de vos paiements en caisse de demander de l’argent liquide, avec votre carte de débit. (il y a des frais avec la carte de crédit !)

I love the se prononce Heidi part. Isn’t that adorable?

I miss lunchboxes…

On the Road to Virginia and D.C.

By   July 28, 2009

We are leaving very early tomorrow morning for Virginia, for my sister’s wedding this weekend. It will probably take us about 12 hours to drive there, which I am really excited about. I just hope they actually have summer-like weather down there. There are a lot of Civil War monuments/museums in the area so that should be interesting, and then we’re stopping in D.C. on the way home.

I have to say I’m getting a little sick of America already and want to be back in France. That’s mostly because I miss David like crazy though, and I’m tired of hearing people complain about EVERYTHING. I know the economy is bad, but is complaining really going to change anything? It could just be Michiganders since we have the worst economy in the country, but somehow I think all Americans complain just as much.

I know, I know. I complain a lot about France on my blog. I admit I’m a huge complainer. But Americans really don’t have much to complain about (except for the health care thing…) because everyday life in the US is still amazing and easy and inexpensive and efficient and convenient in spite of the recession. Americans earn so much money and pay so few taxes compared to the rest of the world. Nowhere else can you have a large house and yard with several cars, TVs, computers, and cell phones and you can actually buy things that you can’t really afford because of credit cards. Everything is amazing, and yet no one is happy. You should be grateful that you have the choice to do what you want in life because the government doesn’t control it for you.

That being said, I still don’t want to live in the US again. Not until there are major changes, which unfortunately I don’t truly believe will ever happen. There are tons of things I could complain about regarding the US (see “I don’t miss” in the right column), but I won’t go on and on about them. Those are simply the reasons why I am glad to not be living in the US and I suppose this trip has reminded me of all of them. Sure, I am always jealous of the high salaries and 24 hour stores and variety of foods available and constantly frustrated with the French government’s insistence that I have no say in how I get to live my life. But for now, France is the better option and mostly because of the health care.

I miss my socialist country that takes care of all the people regardless of how much or how little money they earn. I like the idea that no matter what happens in life – illness, accident, unemployment – I will be taken care of by the government and I won’t be financially ruined. I am scared to death that something bad will happen to my friends and family who don’t have health insurance in the US. So I hate the French government for controlling my life, but I also love it for always taking care of me, even though I’m just a “temporary resident.”

I’m hoping seeing another part of the US will rid me of some of this negativity. Hopefully the South isn’t as sad as the Midwest. (For the non-Americans, Virginia really is considered part of the south even though it’s not really in the south. Just ask any Virginian.) I still love my country even if I don’t want to live here, but perhaps it’s just Michigan that gets me down. I certainly have been seeing too many abandoned houses around here and downtown Flint always manages to depress me. So Virginia and D.C. please cheer me up.

And you all know that I’ll be complaining about France as soon as I get back there in August and saying that I wish I could be in the US again. Gotta love being an expat who can’t stop living between two cultures. In the end, I do think France barely wins out. Until I visit Canada again.

Does Michigan not have summer anymore?

By   July 25, 2009

I am freezing here. I don’t think it’s gotten above 80 degrees once this past week. And it’s been raining almost everyday.

Where is summer??? I was looking forward to boating on the lakes and lying in the hammock. I even bought two new swimsuits that I obviously cannot use right now. I miss real Michigan summers with heat waves in the 90s and awesome thunderstorms at night.

At least Chambéry has plenty of days in the 90s, but we don’t have a boat or a bazillion lakes all over the place there. I love the heat, but it’s more of a nuisance when I can’t go swimming and I’m stuck in a tiny apartment all day.

I am home.

By   July 22, 2009

After a rough weekend – delayed flight, massive headache, throwing up – I’m starting to get over the jetlag and adjust to life in the US again. I’ve eaten too many donuts, which may or may not have played a part in the puking this weekend, bought a ton of cheap stuff at Walmart (I know, I’m sorry), went to the dentist, got my hair cut, fixed computers and ordered dad a new one that I will get to play with soon. Luckily my bridesmaid dress and shoes fit almost perfectly, so I think I’m ready for the wedding even though we don’t leave for Virginia until the 29th.

Here are just 3 of the many, many reasons why I’m glad to be home:

Doggies! Brandy and Shadow are not allowed in the kitchen while we’re eating and it makes them sad.

So good and yet so bad.

BIG back yard.

It feels good to not be rushed or ruled by someone else’s schedule. I can go shopping and get something to eat 24 hours a day. Everything is open during lunch. People don’t care if I don’t eat at exactly noon and if I want to eat dinner by 5:30pm. I’m not forced to waste 2 hours sitting around during meals. The buildings and roads are so big. There are wide open spaces full of green grass and there is absolutely no noise at night (NO scooters!!!) I feel much more relaxed here, but that’s mostly because I’m out in the country and not in a city.

Of course, I do miss France a little (and David a lot!). Paying $169 for that dentist appointment because I don’t have insurance in the US sure makes me appreciate French healthcare. And it’s also the little things like having shutters on the windows to completely block out the light and tax already being included in the prices in stores that makes me wish there was a country that had just the best of both cultures and none of the bad.

I can’t really decide which I like more, the US or France. I’m sure I could come up with a million reasons for and against each country, but I suppose it will always be skewed since I’ve lived in the US longer than France and it’s what I know best. But I hated the US before I moved to France and thought I would never want to move back. Now I’m not so sure. Then again, it could just be the nostalgia and homesickness that blinds me to the reasons why I wanted to leave in the first place. A three week visit is not the same as actually living and working here again.

Those reasons will have to come later because I’m going outside to play in the yard with Brandy!

Homesick again

By   June 27, 2009

Today is my brother’s wedding reception in Michigan. I went to the wedding in April in the Dominican Republic, and since I’m already going home in July for my sister’s wedding, I couldn’t really afford to go home for this reception too. Now I’m realizing that I probably should have just gone home for 6 weeks because I am extremely homesick. We set up the webcams so I can talk to my family and watch the reception, and it’s making me happy and sad at the same time. They seem so close to me, but I know they are so far away.

I am going home on July 18 though, and will stay until August 7. My sister’s wedding is August 1st in Virginia and I am a bridesmaid. Unfortunately, David cannot come with me because he doesn’t have any vacation this summer. We’ll see about next summer though. I really miss Michigan in the summertime and I want him to see why it’s so great.

Only 3 more weeks…

I heart Michigan

Istanbul in one word: AMAZING

By   June 12, 2009

Istanbul was the most beautiful, interesting, amazing place I have ever been. I loved the mixture of old and new and east and west. It is very European in some ways, and not so European in other ways. Trying to figure out Turkish was slightly exhausting as it’s not an Indo-European language, but now I am really intrigued about the history of the culture and language. And that is exactly why I feel the need to travel so much.

I will post pictures soon, but I really need to lie down because after a tram, a subway, two planes, and a train, I feel like throwing up again…

So my traveling is almost over for the summer. I am happy to be home and getting settled in the new apartment, though of course I am also really happy that I was able to travel so much these past few weeks and see wonderful friends that I miss.

My next trip is back to the US in July for my sister’s wedding. My first summer in Michigan in 3 years!