Category Archives: Michigan

Back to North America Soon… But Probably Not Forever

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

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!

Germany = Christmas

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

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…

Istanbul in one word: AMAZING

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!

I do not miss Michigan (this week).

It’s been rather nice here lately. Mid 60’s and sunny. I even took off my coat and lied down outside on the grass today during my break. I have missed the sun so much!  And the sun doesn’t even set until 8:30pm these days!

In contrast, my parents have like 5 inches of snow on the ground. In April.

I love that even though the most southern point of France is at the same latitude as Detroit, the weather is much less cold and extreme here than it is in Michigan. Thank you Atlantic Ocean for your warm currents. This frileuse appreciates it!

Needless to say, I’m feeling good this week.  I’m sure the weather, spring vacation, and the Dominican Republic all have something to do with it. But I’m also happy for the new English assistants who just received their acceptance e-mails. (Almost a month earlier than last year – way to go embassy!)  It reminds me of when I received my acceptance letter and was so excited all summer long before coming to France.

And my excruciatingly long, 12 hour Tuesdays are finally finished! I had a crappy schedule this semester, but the morning labs have finished already, so no more wasting time and nearly falling asleep between classes. One more day of work before spring vacation, and then afterwards, only three more days of work before I finish on April 27 and have all summer off (until mid-September!)  And it’s paid vacation, of course.