Buongiorno Ventimiglia!

On Friday (Jan 28), I took the train and headed to Ventimiglia, a small town in Northern Italy. Every Friday morning, there is a market where food, clothes, jewelry are sold. It took about 1h30 by train from Juan-les-pins. The market is really cute. It's settled next to the sea and mountains, so the view is pretty nice. The market sold lots of leather goods, made with Italian leather. I couldn’t help but to notice that so many stands had knock-off Hermes Birkin bags. Out of curiosity, I checked the price ag and I couldn’t believe my eyes: 440 Euros for a knock-off!!  What ?! I mean, compared to the real retail price, it is definitely a bargain. But for a fake one, I don’t think so. Although, it is made with Italian leather. But still…

Leaving Quebec for France wasn't exactly too hard because both places speak French. Even if Ventimiglia was only 1h30 away, when I walked out of the train station, I must say, I was a bit scared. When I arrived in France, I thought I'd feel some kind of shock, but I didn't. Instead, I felt it in Ventimiglia. The feeling of knowing nothing, recognizing nothing and don't know what to do gave me such an adrenaline rush! Luckily, since it was so close to France, most merchants knew some basic French, so I got around just fine. I also picked up a few Italian phrases. It’s such a beautiful language. Listening to locals speak amongst themselves was amazing.
Food wise, the market had a wide variety of cheeses and pasta. Thank goodness I am not doing an exchange in Italy. I would go back to Montreal 50 lbs heavier! Walking back to the train station, I picked up a cannolo (or cannoli in plural) at a café. It was delicious! I am hoping that my mom will come visit me so I can bring her to the market. I know she will like it.

Pasta stand
Notice the male genitalia shaped pasta

Belt stand

Cheese stand
 Cheese stand

Mmm Cannoli

On the same night, Simon (an exchange student from Ryerson University) came over and cooked dinner for Naomi and I. I was very impressed by Simon's skills. He even gave us one of his cooking secrets! We had a great meal and a great time together!

Simon, the Chef
Other than that, it’s been a month since I have left home. I have slowly picked up a routine and getting used to my new French life. Surprisingly, what I miss the most is my family. When I left Montreal, I was so happy because I would finally be free. No parents, no siblings, just me, myself and I.  Being the middle child back at home is not always easy, so I was glad to be away for a while.  However, now I find myself thinking of them all the time. I want them to eat what I ate, see what I saw and share all my discoveries. So many times I sit on my balcony, watching the sunset and I wished my dad was next to me, making dumb comments, trying to make me laugh (which he often fails to do so because I just end up staring at him with the “oh my god, dad…. *roll my eyes*” look). Or, how I miss my sister storming into our room loudly, complaining how the customers she served at work were rude and evil. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am now back on BBM, so my sister and I BBM all the time. To my biggest surprise, the person whom I miss the most is my mother.  It’s weird for me because I was never close to my mom. But during my first weeks in France, I found myself calling her almost every day.  Now, she calls me at random times for random conversations, so I guess she misses me too. I really want her to visit me. I think she might, but nothing is set in stones yet.  Juan-les-pins is so her, she would love it here! It is also one of her dreams to go to Paris, so I really want to take her. 

It’s unfortunate that I had to be in a different continent and in a different time zone to realize how I love my family. However, when I go home in exactly three months, I will be head back with much, much more appreciation for my family members.


Haribo, c’est beau la vie – pour les grands et les petits

January 25 was supposed to be a great day because I have no school. However, it started off on the wrong foot. The night before, my beautiful Michael Kors watch (which I bought this past summer) fell from the nightstand and broke. The glass cover shattered (and so did my heart ). I was very sad.

Since I had no school, I went to the bank to pick up my "Carte Bleu". The blue card is an equivalent of an Interac card, but it's a VISA card. Does that make sense? Anyways, I have been waiting for that card ever since my arrival. That card is crucial when getting a cellphone plan here. For a Blackberry addict, there past weeks felt like going to rehab. No email on the go, no Facebook on the go, so texting, no Blackbery Messenger! I was cut-off from the world! Needless to say, I was very excited to get that damn card so my beloved Blackberry would finally be of use!

I get to the bank, and I receive my beautiful "carte bleu". The lady tells me that I have to withdraw money from the ATM to activate my card. Being the good girl I am, I listened to her. Guess what happens...
The machine ate my card!!! The password that was given to me was not the right one! It wasn't the password for the ATM; it was the password for my online banking account! Great. Broken watch, no blue card, no Blackberry. I was devastated. I really was. The lady at the counter was kind enough to order a new card for me. It should arrive by Friday. It better be there on Friday! Fortunately, I was given a cheque book, so I ended up being able to get my cellphone plan. I was also able to find a store helped me with my watch. My watch will be sent back to MK and they will replace the glass cover. But, it might take up to a month before I see my precious watch again :(  Perhaps I should just a buy a new one when I go to Geneva, Switzerland (haha I wish!)

After getting my phone, my roommate and I walked down President Wilson Boulevard from Place de Gaulle. We visited small boutiques along the way. Since I have been craving dried cranberries, we stopped at a few grocery stores. For some reason, grocery stores don’t sell dried fruits. Absolutely none! They barely carry any nuts! Oh, and did I mention they don’t sell bagels here? I miss my bagel and cream cheese. On the bright side, I found something quite interesting. I found Haribo Schtroumpf gummies! I grew watching Les Schtroumpfs (Smurfs in English) and I was so excited! That bag of candy totally made my day!

Edible Schtroumpfette, Grand Schtroumphf & Schtroumpf a Lunette


The Wall of Fame

My thighs are killing me !
Yesterday afternoon, Pat, Georgia, Fiona and I went for a jog along the beach. We jogged for 35 minutes non-stop and it felt amazing! It was good to hear the waves at the same time. It made it easier for me to concentrate and get into the "zone". After the jog, we walked to a nearby park, where Fiona taught us a few body exercises. This past week has been a bit crazy, so it felt great to exercise.

This past Thursday, we had our first SKEMA party. It was held and a club called L'Anfer. The theme was Wall of Fame. Basically, everyone had a white shirt and a sharpie and we all walked out with funny writings on our shirts. The club was small and smashed glass bottles were everywhere. It was pretty gross. However, I still had a good time dancing the night away.

As the end of January is approaching, I can't believe I have been in France for almost a month. The month of February is going to be hectic. I will be traveling to Geneva, Switzerland, going back to Paris and most likely Belgium and Barcelona. I will be staying in Juan-les-pins for a total of 14 days (my roommate counted)!

I can't wait to start traveling and discover the unknown. Leaving on an exchange is the best decision I have ever made.


A Visit to the World Capital of Perfume

It's the weekend and my days are busier now then when I have school. On January 13, Fiona (with her father), Pat, Georgia, Naomi and I went to the city of Grasse. Grasse is the center of the French perfume industry. It is also considered as the world capital of perfume. So naturally, our trip consisted of a visit at the Musee international de la parfumerie and to Galimard, a perfume maker. At Galimard, I had to chance to create my own perfume, which I name Jazz a Juan. For those who think that all I did was to sit there and add scents together, you are wrong ! It was actually quite an challenge sitting there smelling the essences. The workshop started with a little test to determine your perfume style. Then, based on that you choose your favorites scents ( a perfume can be composed of up to 300 scents. Mine was composed of 15). After the first 5 minutes, your nose is saturated. You can no longer smell any difference. Everything smelled the same! After two hours, I had completed my perfume and was certified as a junior perfume maker. It was quite an experience.
Jasmine the perfume maker


The next day, we went to Nice and shopped like crazy. It's sales time and everything is on sale ! The sales here are not juste a few dollars off here and there. It's 40, 50, 70% off original price! You can buy some really cute stuff at H&M for 3 euros! I went a bit crazy at Galeries Lafayette and bought 5 Longchamp bags. They were so cheap that I had to! How can you say no to a good deal! After shopping, we walked around the city. We walked along the Promenades des Anglais and Vieux Nice. Although the weather was a bit cloudy, it was nonetheless beautiful. Especially the sea water, which was blue, blue, blue.

At Nice

Tonight, we are celebrating Georgia's 21st birthday. We are planning to stay up all night and go to the beach to watch the sunrise in the early morning. It will be an amazing view. I hope so...

* to see the complete albums, click on the following: Grasse & Nice



Today was by far the best day I had a Juan-les-pins. Ever since I have arrived here, the weather has been gray and cloudy. For the first time, it was warm and sunny. My roommate and I took advantage of the great weather and explored the streets around the beach, which is two blocks away from our apartment. The streets were filled with little cafes and boutiques. The shiny reflection of the sun on the sea allowed me to finally feel and realize I am now living on the French Riviera.

After that, Naomi and I met up with Pat and Georgia for dinner. Pat and Georgia are two other JMSB students on exchange at SKEMA with us. We went to a Chinese restaurant and had a really good time. We talked about everything and really enjoyed each other's company. After dinner, we headed back my apartment. On our way home, we picked up a 2 euros bottle of wine. Ever since arriving in France, I have been drinking wine every night. Any one who knows me knows that my alcohol tolerance is crap. Which is why my roommate is making me drink every night to increase my tolerance. All the bottles we have bought so far were all under 5 euros. However, don't let the low prices fool you. The wines are really good! Anyways, we picked up a bottled of rose wine and enjoyed it while planning our trip to Geneva, Switzerland. It will be our first trip outside of France and I can't wait!

Tomorrow, we will be spending our day in the city of Grasse. We will be visiting the Musee International de la Parfumerie as well as a perfume workshop where we are taught how perfumes are created. The best part of tomorrow is at the perfume workshop, where we will be given the opportunity to create our own perfume using our own preferences. It should be fun!

View from front balcony
View from back balcony
Back balcony


Seven Days

It's been a week that I have arrived at Juan-les-pins. After seven days, everything is still quite surreal. This past Friday, Interculture (a student association at SKEMA which aims to help exchange students) hosted a party at the Pub L'Esterel, so exchange students could meet their assigned "buddies". My buddy had an exam the following morning, so she didn't come. I ended up meeting a few other exchange students (from Toronto, Florida, Holland, British Colombia, Sweden) and some local French students. The bar closed stopped serving drinks at 12:20 AM and closed at 1AM (apparently it's their Winter schedule).In fact, all stores close early here and are completely closed on Sundays. I still had fun meeting new friends. Since the bar closed so early, a few of us took the party to the beach. I had a great time ! The temperature wasn't too cold and it was nice to listen to the waves while hanging out and getting to know the other exchange students.

As for today, Carol and Emily (my newly found friends),Naomi and I headed to Nice to do some shopping (Juan-les-pins and Antibes don't have big chains like Zara and H&M). The weather was perfect. Ever since we arrived at Juan-les-pins, it has been raining and cloudy. It was the first time I took out my sunglasses! It felt good to just go out, walk around and spend some time with girls as these past few days have been so hectic with school, settling in and getting used to our new life in France. Among many stores, we went to Zara and Sephora. Both stores were huge compared to the Montreal stores. The Sephora was amazing! Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with Sephora. The store was big, beautiful and smelled so good ! They carry way more products than the St-Bruno mall store. I was in heaven! So, after the stores closed around 8 PM, it was time to go back to Juan-les-pins. I arrived on the train platform and the train's doors closed right in my face! We missed our freaking train and the next one was only in an hour! We had no choice, so we bought a drink and a snack from a vending machine, sat down and ate while waiting for the next train. Fortunately, we were lucky and another train that was stopping at Juan-les-pins arrived 20 minutes later.

We arrived home and took out a frozen pizza as Naomi and I were too lazy to cook a proper dinner. We added some onions, mushrooms and took Courtney's advice by cracking eggs on it. I know it sounds weird, but it was delicious!

Mom, if you see this, don't worry, I have been eating healthy meals. You can see pictures below :) 

Happy exchange students

Girls day out shopping at Nice

Pizza with eggs
Add caption

Pasta Salad


"Oh my god ! Listen to the accent ! "

My first day of class at SKEMA Business School was very special. Everything is different for what I am used to at JMSB. Our professor used the F word during the entire class, mocked at Americans and spoke in ways that teachers in Canada would never dare to speak. However, he is an extremely accomplished person. He was Grasse's mayor for 10 years, started nine companies, designs watches, won an award for his watch design, has a Ph.D in chemistry, was a consultant for many luxury brand companies and is the Director of the Luxury and Fashion Management at SKEMA Business School. He sure made the class entertaining.

I couldn't believe how everything is so easy going in French schools. JMSB students all asked the professor when the project is due. The prof gave us a really confused look and replied : "whenever you want....". It was my turn to be confused. I thought to myself : "what?! there is no deadline??? what the hell?". I guess that's the European way of doing things.

On a funnier note, today I met a local French student. When he found out I was from Montreal and I heard my French, he made fun of my Quebecois accent. It was mean or anything, but it was really shocking to see how intrigued he was about my accent. He asked me to repeat sentences and made his friends come over to listen to me. They thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I thought it was just really funny, and a little bit embarrassing I have to say. Plus, I wasn't even speaking with a hardcore Quebec French. Maybe I should next time just to see how they would react. At least I can communicate with locals. So many exchange students can't even speak or understand French. I found them very brave to be able to come into a complete foreign country and live here for four months. Thumbs up for them :)

Tomorrow will be the second session of Luxury Brand Management. I hope it will be as funny and interesting as today's.


Hypermarché Carrefour

Early in the afternoon, Naomi and I took the bus and went to the hypermarket Carrefour. The ride cost 1€ and I got to see more of Juan-les-pins and Antibes. It was gorgeous! The sea, the shops, the restaurants, everything was so cute. Carrefour was HUGE. There were like 12407 aisles! From furniture to food to make up, they had it all! For some odd reason, there are a gazillion types of yogurt in France. There were two aisles of yogurt. I was super confused! Back home you only have a handful to choose from! Anyways, I digress.

Tomorrow, I will be heading to school for orientation. I am somewhat anxious. I don't know what to expect. I hope everything will be alright. 


New Year's in Paris

New Year in Paris was definitely unforgettable. Julian, Courtney, Sophie, Naomi and I headed to the Eiffel Tower to celebrate. As expected, it was overly crowded. It seemed that the entire Parisian population was standing under the Eiffel Tower. It was funny to see people sell champagne and hot dogs on the street. French hot dogs are not like American hot dogs. The hot dog sausage is in baguette bread and covered with cheese. It's really yummy! Although it was cold and smokey, it was beautiful to see the Eiffel Tower shine in the dark night sky. Getting back to the hotel on the other hand, was a pain in the butt.

As I previously mentioned, the entire city of Paris was at the Eiffel Tower. Imagine the entire city trying to get into a metro station. Correction, imagine the entire city drunk, trying to get into a metro station. It was absolutely horrible. People were pushing from all directions. Because it was so crowded, the police got involved. The metro station was at full capacity so no one was allowed in until it was emptied. Hence, why everyone was pushing. I was so squished that I couldn't breath! Naomi and I waited for more than an hour and half! Eventually, we got close to the entrance, but the pushing got worse. I was afraid to fall and that the crowd would stomp on me. Luckily, a policeman saw how uncomfortable and disgusted I was by of all the disgusting dirty men who surrounded me. I was on the verge of tears when he pulled me out of the crowd! Thank god ! I was saved! We arrived at the hotel safely and went to bed. The next day, we took the TGV in the early afternoon and left Paris for Antibes.

I am now sitting in my beautiful apartment in Juan-les-pins. The town is beautiful and a lot warmer than Paris. I will update about it soon ! Until then, happy new year !