Les Marchés de Noël, Toulouse, France

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My clearest memories of high school French class are not of writing verb conjugation after verb conjugation on the black board. Instead, they are of the annual Christmas carol day when we would take a break from memorizing the textbook and listen to French Christmas carols. Of these, the clearest in my memories is << La Légende de Saint Nicolas >> (“The Legend of Saint Nicholas.”) This was not the tale of Jolly Old Saint Nick, mind you, but a morbid story that started innocently enough with three young children in a field. Soon, darkness falls, and they seek shelter in the home of a butcher who, as these things always go, is evil and who chops them up and puts them into a tub to brine. Read More »

Düsseldorf, Germany

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It was 1 a.m., and we were standing outside in the cold with blankets wrapped around us. An hour earlier, after a nice, long, Jacuzzi tub bath, I had just finished the Divergent Series on my Kindle when I smelled smoke. While I had been soaking and reading the Frenchman had decided to turn the separate shower area of our room into his own private hammam. With his nose and eyes filled with steam, he denied smelling or seeing any smoke. After a few more sniffs, I opened the hallway door to look outside, and was swallowed in a grey haze. Read More »