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The Winds of Change – Part 2

Posted by jujuintexas on April 22, 2010

Hey Guys!

Well, nothing better than a whole evening of homeworking to get a little pressure off by writing some stuff going over my head.

Here we are, the 22nd of April 2010 in Austin, Texas. I was looking at the date and suddenly came aware : WHAT? Has it been 3 months and a half that I’m here ALREADY?

Yes, so is the truth. Days are flying by, minutes just evaporating, wiping out everything, except from great memories. And boy, do I have a lot from here!

I can still remember this Thursday, 6th of January when I first set foot at Austin’s Airport. Unlike what my traveler’s soul could tell people, I was really frightened. It is the first experience on my very own for such a long amount of time, in a totally different country.

As weeks passed, Austin has become my second home. The lifestyle is truly amazing, the weather terrific, life is cheap, and classes are interesting and fun. But the reason why it has become such a memorable experience is the friends I have made here.

May they be Europeans, Americans, Mexicans, and whatever else, they mostly helped me getting used to the culture, enjoying time here, and not feel too much the burden of missing the loved ones back home. Of course, you still have one of those days where you miss your family so much that you feel depressed. But the good thing about this town is that you will NEVER be alone. There’s always something going on, somewhere to party, and someone to share experiences with.

7 weeks away from my return back in France, I can’t help but thinking that at some point in life, we all need to accept the change. One of the classes I’m enrolled in, “Consulting and Change Management”, has been an astonishing asset through the course of this semester. I have learnt a lot about others and myself, about our ability to change and the apparent reluctance we might have.

My conclusion on the topic is that any change, whatever it is, has some good into it. You might be fearful, threatened, incredibly scared about having to change your habits, adapt to a new environment, get out of the comfortable life you’ve built yourself, and go out and grab an adventure. I feel like this trip cannot embody more perfectly this statement. Seeking this exchange program was in itself the beginning of the journey. And the same way you cry as a little kid when your parents leave you at school for the first time in your life, but don’t want to leave once you’re used to it, this is pretty much how I feel.

I plan on living these few remaining weeks at their fullest, get every grasp of life and breath of fresh air possible. I want to make this change worth of being told for the years to come.

The first (I would say TREMENDOUS) step to this feeling of change was a dramatic haircut I decided to have. Judge for yourself :

Diego, Me, Jake and Truls out in the Texas Country

I think this is the ultimate proof that I AM NOT RELUCTANT TO CHANGE! haha.

This is getting late, and I want to save some stuff for my next post. Y’all have a good night…



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The Winds of Change

Posted by jujuintexas on April 11, 2010

Hello Hello Everyone!

Well, what is there to say? It’s been almost 2 months (Whaaat?) that I haven’t post any entry to this blog, so bear with me if I can’t shorten all I have to say in a readable post… For the fiercest and most adventurous of you, you are welcome to follow this thread until the very last word!

Let’s start with Spring Break. And OH, what a time I had with my dear friends Truls and Jorrit. The three of us embarked on a journey that will remain at least memorable, if not unforgettable. On a beautiful, sunny morning in Austin, we flew over to San Francisco, where the sun had just decided to take a break and where huge thunderstorms were taking place.

At that very moment, you can imagine our faces (We left Texas’ weather for THIS?). But for the next three days, we were blessed with great weather, temperature, and astonishing experiences. Among them, being caught on tape for the next Axe Commercial (those who want to hear the story will have to inquire!haha), eating our first True American breakfast in the States, Parading for Saint Patrick’s Day, Seeing the Golden Gate and Alcatraz, eat the most fantastic burger of all times… There are so many things I want to say that I can barely all lay them down here. But if there’s one word to sum up all that went on there, it would be OUTSTANDING. It truly was.

Showing our manliness at Pier 39

The next step of our trip was “Fabulous” Las Vegas. And yes, we decided to book a room at the Bellagio! We entered the famous hotel with a gasp of wonder, and excitement. It was as beautiful as we expected it to be. So amazing that we almost wanted to contemplate the room and never touch the perfect set-up that was waiting for us. Followed 2 nights that were magical! On the first, we pulled an all-nighter and went from casino to casino, where the atmosphere of gambling took on us. Of course, as most people in Vegas, Jorrit and me lost what we bet, but we certainly had fun, and that’s the most important. Second night? The Show “Jersey Boys” (brilliant, by the way) and “Lavo”, the famous Palazio nightclub. This was a night to remember.

Did I mention M&M’s world? Truls and I were drawn like little kids to these huge pipes that displayed our favorite candy. No need to say that my jeans were tighter when I came back…haha.

Don't pretend you don't want to taste it!

The incredible trip doesn’t stop here though : I came back to Austin for a day, but flew back to New York to meet my lovely girlfriend. We had a blast in the big Apple. It’s insane how you can feel the city’s heart beating. Like a ticking clock, the streets “will make you feel brand new”, like the song tells it! As we say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here it is!

NYC Love!

After this, Helena joined me for 2 fantastic weeks in Austin. Gym, tanning, working, studying, partying… We had a pretty busy schedule and before we knew it, she already had to leave back to France. But she repumped my batteries and I gave me a dose of love I can sustain on for the next couple months I’m staying here!

Ever since she left, a lot of studying and working out – again. Richard, a canadian friend of mine, came to visit me yesterday night, and we had an AMAZING night. All of our international group met downtown to what was probably one of the greatest nights in Austin so far! Simply loved it.

I’m getting tired and this post is getting too long : The only thing I want to conclude on, is the title of this article : You will know why in the next episode… with evidence! haha.

See you very soon

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Living the American Life

Posted by jujuintexas on January 29, 2010

Hello Everyone!

I feel like this blog hasn’t emphasized enough on the differences that one would find between France and the U.S. I think it’s interesting to point them out as they come along just to be aware how culture defines rationality. What you would think improbable in your country can be widely accepted here, and it’s very fun to notice!

For Instance, the student’s routine here is extremely different than the one we would have in Paris.

American Students!

In France, your campus is so small that you probably know all the buildings that constitute it VS. in Austin, the campus is so huge that there is a good chance you will never see more than 2-3 of them.

In Paris, your university has approximately 50 or so computers available if you need to do research at the library. VS.Here , there are hundreds, if not thousands of computer available.

In Paris, going downtown with your classmates often means that you’re going to pay at least 20 to 30 euros to go to a club, or simply have a drink in a bar VS. in Austin, almost every bar has no cover charge and drinks are ridiculously cheap.

French Students!

In Paris, it takes you a lifetime to find accomodation for your stay, and tons of paperwork VS. in Austin, it took me 3 days total to find a spot, and I could move in the very day I signed the lease.

I could list dozens and dozens of things that are much easier, better, faster here. However, and this is my french side that’s talking, I can find some black dots in the fine American picture :

– The Wireless Network SUCKS (Thank you T-Mobile for not covering my own house!)

– The DSL DOUBLESUCKS (It almost never works and when it works, it’s slow as heck)

– People are serious when it comes to health (“Sure, you wanna taste my drink? Get another straw please”), it’s almost insane (I’ve just read an article saying that 5 americans a year are admitted into French hospitals during their vacations in France because of food poisoining with Roquefort (Blue Cheese), haha!)

– A lot of people don’t know what the verb “To Walk” means. (Hey! The car is the extension of men!)

– They always find something new to add to their food. Example : Hey! I’ll get this Chocolate Chip, Cinammon filled and chocolate covered donut… Oh, it comes with Whipped Cream and it’s Drizzled with Hot Fudge? Oh, Can I get some M&M’s on it? AND I’LL GET A DIET COKE, PLEASE.

By the way, I think this is the perfect time to introduce one of the pictures which always makes me laugh a lot :

Bigger Portions!

This picture was taken at the Exchange Orientation Meeting on the very next day I arrived to Austin.

Anyway, I must say that I’ve survived the cultural gap (probably because I had expected what was coming) but the part I need to work on still is human relations. America in general is so big about TIME! It’s common to bump into a very good friend while going to campus and not even stop to greet him or talk even 30 seconds. It’s like “dude, really? I mean, I have a class in 15 minutes, let’s see each other another time, even for cheap talking”.

I won’t even talk about relationships and dating… The way people behave here is so AWKWARD! In France, we usually don’t have the kind of distinction between “dating” and “being your girlfriend/boyfriend”. Some more investigation will probably lighten me up on this matter!

To conclude this post, I realize that in fact, no matter how well you cope with a dramatic lifestyle change, or how well you adapt to different habits and customs, you always try to connect back to your roots or try to make sense of situations with your inner, national perception of things. This is where my Cross-Cultural Management skill needs to be improved, and I look forward to it in classes!

See you in a while!

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A True Frenchman cannot survive without good bread

Posted by jujuintexas on January 26, 2010

Does it need to be clearer?

If anything in the world is hard for a Frenchman abroad, it’s certainly coping with the different food habits that people from foreign cultures have.

Needless to say that for the cheese and bread amateur that I am, America is not treating me well so far. Pasteurized Cheese? Processed Bread? HAVE THEY LOST THEIR MINDS?

For the cheese, yes I do have alternatives, even if they are really costly. A camembert can cost up to 7$, doesn’t quite taste the same as our good old back in France, but still, that’s better than the fluffy, tasteless cheddar or swiss cheese that they have here.

For the bread, unless you have a car, it’s quite an adventure to get some. Wholefoods is about 20 minutes away by Bus from my apartment, and I don’t see myself go bread shopping for an hour!

So I simply decided to get it done here, at my place. I love to make baguettes. There is no such feeling as making your own, as you taste the fruit of your own expertise (which is the lowest ever in bakery skills still). So between two readings, I modeled the dough and let it raised, until I baked these little babies. 1st trial with American Flour and Yeast led to something like this :


It may look good to some people, and they tasted quite good! However, the aesthetic is definitely not what it’s supposed to be, and I’m sure my French friends can testify!

So I decided to show Luke, my fellow Australian gourmet how we do them. Made a second try yesterday and it looked definitely better :


These ones, fresh out of the ovens, delighted the palates of Jorrit, Luke and myself. I’m now so obsessed with making bread that I am undertaking making a dozen and freeze them to enjoy them anytime!

On this night, we went to eat at the Trio’s House some burritos. It was so good! Chipotle is tasteless compared to what Truls, Reuben and Jorrit achieved! haha.

Fresh and Homemade!

Cooking Adventures are going well in the U.S! I’ll upload some of Luke’s pictures too, mouth-watering!

PS : This is also a message to my mother to let her know that I EAT ENOUGH! haha

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How To Become A True Texan

Posted by jujuintexas on January 22, 2010

Hello everyone!

It’s been a little while since my last post, but I got an excuse : I had absolutely no internet connection at all! 1 week of pain and 2 hours on the phone with AT&T later, I finally enjoy the convenience of reaching the world at my place. (Fingers Crossed!)

It has been a very dramatically enjoyable, exciting and delightful 2 weeks that I’ve just been through. To be quite honest, I was expecting the cultural shock any moment and for now, It hasn’t shown up yet. On the contrary, I got accustomed pretty fast, thanks to the incredible people I’ve been meeting all around campus.

Let’s talk about the Welcome BBQ and Midnight Rodeo Night that took place last thursday. Imagine about 100 international students gathered around fresh, smoked meet, daring to share their personal cultures with everyone. I must admit that from the outside, it looked a little overwhelming. You can be as outgoing as you want, it’s just not that easy to socialize when you hardly know anyone!

However, the night took off rapidly and the crowd was so loud that we had to shout to talk with one another. Here’s a little pic of my favorite Australian, Dutch, Indian and Norwegian Friends :

Luke, Juju, Truls, Jorrit And Aakash

We were then driven by Dana to the midnight rodeo, a place where you’re supposed to experience the perfect texan night out! And boy, what a night! Probably one of the funniest so far. With a huge dancefloor in the middle, locals were dancing on country songs that you would just not imagine! We certainly got to learn some nice two-step and… well, there was some R&B so we just unleashed our smurfing spirits to rock the place!

Texan Extravaganza

It was a very fun night out and we all came back home with great memories. One of the funniest was probably the beverages : If you wanted a Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre for the aficionados), it was 1$. But to get a Diet Coke (which I got), it was 2$! Paying more for something less… That reminds me of a great Gad Elmaleh Sketch!

I wanna keep this post short enough so that it’s readable for you guys. I have lots of stuff to write on so get prepared for the next post, probably tomorrow!

See you then, – Juju

PS : Pablo, I missed you there! You would have loved this… haha

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Live from Austin, Texas!

Posted by jujuintexas on January 11, 2010

Hey Everyone,

For those who don’t know me, you can learn more about me in the “about” section of the blog.

Well, let’s say I’m very excited to start writing my fantastic to-be journey in Uncle Sam’s in this blog. I hope that you will learn more about this gorgeous, often criticized state which is Texas through the eyes of a foreigner. And believe me, the eyes of a French man are very critical when it comes to the American society.

Good thing to start off, the eyes. The national anthem of Texas is called “The eyes of Texas”. It’s a short, 1 min long song which is very moving when a whole crowd sing it along. Skeptical? Take a brief look :

Although it’s not my first time in Austin (I’ve been there for a short week-end in August ’09), what struck and keeps striking me the most is the allegiance of the people to the longhorn. It literally is the mascot of the state! And it looks like this :

At the university I’m enrolled in (Called UT), Burnt Orange and White are the official colors. It’s amazing to see how many people feel proud about it and are dressed from head to toe in these colors.

Besides all these culture differences (which I will talk about as I discover them), there is one thing that sucks about student’s life, and that’s ACCOMODATION! Gosh, it just is a pain. And with a temperature below 0° celsius, no car nor gloves, it can rapidly become hell. However, I was blessed to find an amazing deal and live nearby campus (about 4 blocks away from it). It’s large and comfortable, and I shall enjoy living into it.

Oh, before I finish this post as it’s become way too long for a first post, I just want to relate a few things about the people I’ve met so far. On the international students orientation day, I had the pleasure of meeting boys and girls from all around the world (Brazil, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia…) and we’re all getting along great. I think the best part about being by ourselves in a country we barely know, is the ties we create with friends.

And this is just the beginning! See you tomorrow with more exciting news!

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