Here's a little look at the parade that I talked about in the last post. The video is a little long and very very sloooow. For non french-speaking people it may not be very interesting. But it's cool to see some images I guess. At 4:01 you can see me! And the zombie on the left who acts as a host for the video, well that is my host dad. What a guy.



So, here we are again.

It's a tuesday afternoon. The sun is shining as it has been since about mid-march. We're in draught here in Bretagne, and my host dad is worried about his potatoes.
The days of school are numbered. We finish class officially on the tenth, but everyone passes their insanely huge exams through the beginning of july. I'm starting to wonder where the time suddenly ran off to. I thought I just started the school year here... And now it's almost over? I am trying to not get nostalgic and freaked out. I'm trying not to stress about time and the imposing, inevitable change that is looming. Two months is still a lot.

I have more and more exciting things to talk about.

So I went to Italy, over Easter break. I spent five days in Milan with my friend Tomasso who is Italian and came to Minneapolis with AFS last year. It was great to see him and to see another country in Europe. We spent the days biking around the center of Milan, seeing neighborhoods and parks and monuments. And eating ridiculous quantities of ice cream. We also went on a day trip to Lake Como, which is an hour north of Milan, right next to Switzerland. It is nestled between rolling green mountains and the shores are lined with red-roofed villas (one of them belongs to George Clooney). It was a great little vacation, I hope to go back someday.

Otherwise, since being back at school after this vacation, my school days have consisted of lots of field trips. I'm in a theater workshop at my high school, with about 11 other students and a really excellent teacher. Basically every week (and often several times a week) we go on outings to see plays, or we got to workshops or conferences with other high schools. It's been a lot of fun, and I feel grateful to have the opportunity to see all these things.

With this theater workshop, we put up a show at our high school about a week ago. It was a really weird, funny, little show that we put together as a group through improvisations and discussions, but that our teacher really wrote and organized and directed. We made a little makeshift theater out of the gym and performed for students and teachers and parents. It was a great time.

With this same group, I will be going to the theater festival of Avignon in July, which is some pretty cool news. Avignon has a pretty big reputationas far as theater festivals go, in France as well as in Europe. The region of Bretagne is paying to send three high school workshops to the festival for five days in July, all expenses paid. We'll be staying right in the middle of all of it, and will spend five straight days of seeing shows, doing workshops, going to conferences, and just seeing Avignon. It is kind of sort of MY DREAM. And I am so excited.

Otherwise, my summer vacation will be filled with a big old French litterature exam and moments spent with my dear friends and host family.

This week we have a four-day weekend and my host family is taking me to the north of France, the region where my hos parents come from. We'll visit the city of Lille, go into Belgium for a day, and go to an accordion festival! As my mom says, "it just doesn't get any better than that."

Oh, and another thing.
This weekend here in Redon they had the third annual Taknaw Parade. It's a big parade which bears an uncanny resemblance to the May Day Parade and Festival in Minneapolis, and just so happens to be completely organized by my host dad. His company mobilizes people from all around Redon to put together projects (floats, costumes, music, etc.) for the parade; they have been working on it since November. It happened this sunday. The weather was perfect and the streets were packed. It was awesome. I was in the parade, I danced and marched and acted ridiculous with a group of teenagers accompanied by a drumline. However, I did the parade barefoot with some other people in my group, and the pavement was so hot that it literally burned the skin on my feet and I finished with gigantic blistery burns all over that bursted and bled. Mmmmhmm. It hurt, but I still danced and finished the parade. IT DIDN'T STOP ME. But right now I'm having a whole lot of trouble walking. And I feel stupid. At a certain point during the parade someone in my group went to find a parade official since my feet were bleeding all over the place, and it just so happened to be my host dad's best friend who arrived. Later, my host dad told me that they had had one injured person during the parade but otherwise everything went well. I very humbly hung my head and told him that it was me, the person who got hurt.

We had a good laugh.

So basically, that's what's new over here.
I'm sorry my blog posts turn out to be long and unorganized series of anecdotes. But, I mean, I guess that's what happens when you just have so much to tell and you don't know how to tell it and you don't have the time to really tell it properly.

The world is looking as wonderful as always, time is incomprehensible, and Vinora is just living it up here in France.

So there you go.

à plus,


What...? I have a... blog?

Hello, my public.

First of all, I owe you all a huge apology for the three (four) months that have passed since my last post. It is out of control, I know. I don’t have much of an excuse except for that, well, evidently I’ve been busy. Doing what, I don’t know. Lots of French things I guess. Also I actually temporarily forgot that I had a blog, then awhile ago I remembered, and ever since then I can never find the time to write a blog post, seeing as I can hardly find the time to keep in a reasonable amount of contact with family and friends back in the old U.S. of A.
But here I am, I’m back, I am alive, oh so alive. And I am hear to tell you all about my *incredibly* interesting life.

It is springtime in Brittany, full throttle. There are blossoms on the trees, the skies are blue, the daylight stays until well after dinner, the air is warm, the wind is warm (which feels so nice after four months of wet, cold wind that blows right through you). The French countryside is sublime in these conditions, needless to say. The sun shines through the grass in the evenings in this way that is just indescribable. There is a park right next to my high school, and as soon as we have a period of study hall that is where we are. Several of my friends have birthdays in March and April, so lots of picnics have been had. And they usually end in food fights.

In other news, besides luxuriating in the nice weather, I’ve been doing some pretty interesting things:
-I went to the Alps with my host family and some family friends back in the beginning of March. We stayed in a beautiful little chalet in the Valley of Chamonix, which is at the base of the Mont Blanc for those of you who have heard of it (I think it’s kind of famous). We had the most beautiful week there. The days were spent downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, or sitting on the balcony of the chalet staring at the Alps. At night we played board games and ate insanely delicious food- the family friends that we went with are farmers, they raise cows for beef, and they supplied all of the meat for the week- delicious grassfed beef, patés, etc. The weather was perfect, if not a little too warm, which made skiing conditions kind of rough. I had downhill skied once in my life before this trip, and the hills of Minnesota and the Alps are not the same thing... The first couple days were rough, afterwards I sort of got the hang of it, but still fell a whole lot.
Overall, the time I spent in the Alps was one of the most beautiful vacations I have ever been on, and the greatest part was looking around and realizing I was in the ALPS (and that realization was usually followed by bursting out into any given song from The Sound Of Music).

-The week before the Alps, way back at the end of February, I went to Rennes (the nearest city), for three days to go to a film festival with the film class at my school. It was a great experience, basically three days spent wandering around the city and seeing tons of films. Sometimes I slept during parts of the movies, I will be honest, simply because I was exhausted and days filled with reading French subtitles (the movies were all in Spanish) sometimes make you feel like taking a break and dozing off in the cinema. In any case, it was a great chance to discover lots of movies and filmmakers, and also familiarize myself with Rennes.

-The week BEFORE the week when we went to Rennes, way back in the middle of February, I did an international week with my exchange program, AFS, at a high school in St. Brieuc, a city on the northern Brittany coast. In France there are a ton of professional high schools, which are like all of the art high schools that we have in the U.S., only for actual professions (because being an artist is not a job, everyone knows that...), like industrial jobs, etc. So we spent a week at a professional high school for students who want to go into commerce: advertising, salesmanship, etc. A teacher at the school wanted to host some foreign students for an international week, she heard about AFS and called them up to ask to borrow some students. So all of the ten students who are in Brittany for the year-long program went. We stayed in dorms at the school and went to classes and hung out with students and did activities and presentations for sharing our cultures. We also visited St. Brieuc and the ocean and also another professional high school for people learning to be fisherman (which really made me think seriously about going into the fishing industry, it was so interesting). The other foreign students were really great and interesting and we all became really close. There were two Chinese boys, two Brazilian girls, an Equadorian girl, a Latvian girl, a Thai girl, an Argentinian girl, and another American boy (who just happens to be from Minnetonka, of all places). I loved making friends with such an international group of people, they all spoke really good English and it was great sharing our different experiences in France, talking to people who are in the middle of the same experience as me. My favorite thing was seeing how much we all have in common even though we all come from such completely different backgrounds. I learned a lot about all of their different countries, and I love knowing that now I have connections with people all over the world.

So these three things were the principle reasons why blogging fell by the wayside. And then I let another month pass before I really started worrying about catching up. And then it took a good two weeks to actually get caught up....

But I actually have more to share! Infinitely more to share.

I am going to split that into a second blog post, though, because this one is already long enough to discourage a lot of people from reading.

So for all of you out there who are reading this, please know that I’m not dead despite what it may seem, and I am living the most incredible year of my life here in France. In Bretagne. Seven months have passed, seven and a half really, which of course is incomprehensible. It is hard for me to express what I am experiencing, I think one of the reasons why I got so terrible at blogging is that I didn’t know how to share everything. This is a thing that scares me, the fact that there is no one back in Minneapolis who is seeing, living, knowing, what I am doing this year. Maybe that is why I take so many photos, I’m frantically trying to make you guys SEE it. Maybe that’s why I don’t write as many emails or letters as I should; I don’t know how.

In any case...

Voilà. Consider yourselves a bit more informed on this whole “Nora Epp To France Project.”

Another blog post, part two, is in the works!

A bientôt,

Vinora Nora Vee-vee Vino-no Vinny EPP



Hello, internet.
So it's time for a blog post. It's been awhile. I've sort of been waiting for inspiration to come for me for an interesting blog subject. I had a few ideas, but most of them were uninteresting. So I'm just gonna see where this blog post takes me:
First order of business: some very very exciting news. I think I'm just about fluent in French. I feel dumb saying that, because of course I am constantly still making mistakes all over the place, but here is how I see it: there are many, many levels to being fluent. The highest being that of a native speaker. The lowest being... well, me probably. I understand most everything that comes my way, I can hold up a conversation, I can be slightly charming and interesting (I recently started being able to make jokes!!! Which feels AWESOME. Not so awesome, probably, for the people around me...), and the biggest reason I believe I am nearing the point of fluency is this: FRENCH HAS STOPPED BEING HARD. I'm not sure when it happened, maybe like a few weeks ago? I only really noticed it a few days ago. Suddenly... well I can't really describe it. There was a definite change. Suddenly French feels comfortable. It no longer feels awkward coming out of my mouth. I'm sure I still sound awkward, but I don't notice it.

It feels incredible. And with this shift has come a whole new level of comfort. Suddenly I feel so completely integrated. Not just adjusted or comfortable, integrated. Like I belong here. What a beautiful feeling! I am four months in, meaning I have six months ahead of me to spend in this place. YahooooooooOOOOOoooooo!!!

So anyways, I feel like some of the sentiments expressed above are the same old things I always write about.
Here is some newsy stuff:
1. I went to Paris! All on my own, at the beginning of winter break. I spent three days wandering the city in the snow on my own, seeing neighborhoods, seeing famous things, taking the métro all over the place, spending more money than I rally should have, getting lost and not caring, seeing various friends who were in town. Et cetera. Paris was magical in its pre-christmas state.
2. Christmas happened. Only it was called Noël. Without snow and without my family and their traditions it didn't really feel like Christmas, more like some really good family meals and time spent by our huge fireplace. With presents. It was a calm, quiet christmas. Very sweet. I have a hard time saying how Christmas differs in France, because I don't think my host family is incredibly traditional in terms of the holidays. But I found christmas to be in general a bit calmer, less commercial and in-your-face. But very present, nonetheless. Voilà.
3. I have recently decided to pass the high school exams at the end of the year. In France, students take really big tests at the end of the last two years of high school, so I'll be taking French (as in litterature), Math, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry exams in June. My class will pass their other exams next year. It should be a pretty interesting experience, preparing for/taking these tests. I'm sort of just doing it because all of my friends here will be doing it anyway, and also because I figured, Why not give it a shot if my results do not matter whatsoever? Also I mostly find it very classy to be able to say that I have my French Bacculaureat (that is the name of the exam. Except they call it the "Bac.")

As for more current news, I don't have much. We're back at school, life is good. I'm loving French, loving France, loving the French.

My host mom is making something that smells very rich and creamy and hearty and delicious. So I should probably go.

A plus tard,