Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I'm a real french student

Remember the rules for French Students? Today, i officially became one.
I was:
Late for Class
Completed an Assignment in class
Sat next to a friend
Talked loudly
Received a call on my cell phone (on full volume)
Had a conversation
coughed and sneezed loudly.

Isn't everyone proud of me?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Random thoughts, and Monaco

So i thought i posted a blog entry on my day trip to monaco, but i
didn't. But now i can't really remember what i wanted to say.
Highlights: Casino at Monte Carlo, princess grace rose garden, lots of
exotic cars, Le Texan (a tex-mex place in monaco), Train station
Lowlights: Dog Poo (can i not escape it anywhere), Expensive stuff,
Palais Princier (boring!)

And now, random thoughts:

- Athens is great. I hope to spend more time there soon - hopefully with
some Greeks (that's you, Nikos and Sot!)

- I knew that coming abroad would be an opportunity for me to change -
i just didn't know how. I think one unexpected change is that i feel
more connected to my own culture. I think this is because i see that
the West has done a tremendous job of cataloguing and promoting their
history, while advancing commercially (granted, for this to happen
significantly in Athens, it took $12 billion and an international
event, but, you get the idea). I think China and India are maybe pushed
into pursuing commerce as it's own end (like pictures of Krishna on
t-shirts), and along the way, are eroding their own cultural history,
not inferior to the West's in anyway.

- If the Olympic games can change a city as drastically as it has
appeared to change athens, i think it is encumbent on the IOC and the
world community to encourage future games to be held in cities that
need the improvement. Not New York, Paris, or London - but Athens,
anywhere South America, parts of Africa, etc. Even if it means other
countries chipping in. We owe to these areas to provide a model of the
future, of their own. This doesn't mean that the summer games
completely fixed Greece's problems (9 computers for every 100 people
compared to 65/100 in the US, for example), but i think it added a
spring in their step - I saw a greek man finish his cigarette, and
actually look for a place to put it out, rather than just throw it on
the street corner.

- I was reading about Russia ratifying Kyoto, and while initially I
thought the US should have definitely signed the treaty, now, i'm not
so sure. One, I don't know how it's being covered in the US (if at
all), but it seems to me that nobody, at least the businesses involved,
quite understand what the hell is going on. And, the fact that russia is
enough to activate the treaty (based on it's emissions from 1994), is
ridiculous. Because, since the treaty's creation, the russian economy
has basically collapsed, and the country is already producing 30% less
greenhouse gas than they were in 1994. So they've met the threshold for
Kyoto, without any real environmental reform. And now, they get to sell
their emissions credit on an open market, and pocket the money. So
basically, energy companies profit becuase the russian economy is in
the shitter. Doesn't seem to make sense to me. And, while Kyoto was
definitely a first step in environmental reform, it's hard for me to
see where the next step is, and how to make it worthwhile - the US
definitely needs to take the lead on this (where are you, Al Gore?)

Athens Journal, Part three...

On Saturday, on the recommendation of some other people, KD and I headed
out to the Greek island of Aegina, to see what that was like. A great
day. The island is only an hour ferry ride from Athens, but it's a
whole other place. Quaint, and quiet. We rented scooters, and zipped
around the island all day, notably riding along a coast road (think PCH
meets Kanan-Dume), and stopping at the Temple of Aphaia, which was built
in 500 BC (making it the oldest thing i've ever seen), and some say a
model for the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis. We stopped for
lunch at this charming taverna on the ocean, where i had some of the
freshest fish ever (MMMMMM!!!), and then heading back to the ferry (not
before i took a tumble on some slippery gravel - i now understand why
motorcycle riders wear leather pants - road rash is no fun!).
The return trip was also a bear - a malfunctioning toilet and poor
connecting flights conspired to keep yours truly waiting at airports
for over 5 hours. I did however manage to read the weekend editions of
the International Herald Tribune, WSJ Europe, and Financial Times cover
to cover.

Athens Journal, Part two...

the next day, we headed out to see some of the sights. After a marching
up the acropolis and seeing the parthenon (an amazing experience), we
went through the ancient agora and saw some of the places where
democracy first started. I had read in the paper that morning about
elections in Serbia, and the Afghani elections, and I started thinking
about how our own election in a few months will affect the whole world
- and yet they don't get a vote. Crazy. Even more reason for the UN to
reform itself. We then had lunch at in the Plaka, a neighborhood around
the Acropolis, and i remembered why i loved greek food. MMMMMM!!!!!!
Then, KD and I headed off to LYkavitos Hill, which we were told had the
best views of the city (stopping along the way to see the Changing of
the Guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and some other
antiquities) and it did. We hit a bakery on the way back for some
baklava (MMMMMMM!!!!!). After a shower to wash the sweat and grime off
(even though it seems brand new, it's still pretty dirty in Athens and
HOT) we headed out to the Kolonaki neighborhood to have dinner. This
was our lone non-greek meal, as a Pepperdine friend's friend (thanks
Sotiris!) recommended some hip places to check out. And they were
pretty cool. I can't say how much of this has changed since the Olympic
investments, but Athens has a great combination of urban cool and
history. It's unlike anywhere i've ever been. And, i came up with a
novel theory. It turns out that France and Greece are 1-2 in both
"sexual energy" and cheese consumption. I think there's a correlation.
Anyone want to do some research?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Athens Journal, Part one

Here begins a series of posts from my weekend in greece...
Whew! Back from Athens (a great, great city - more on that later) and a
trip where my stupidity, and the mayhem that is the French conspired to
making it one of the most arduous travels i have ever taken (beating the
10 hour trip to munich earlier this month). So here's the part where
i'm stupid - I forgot my passport at my apartment (i had a copy
though). and it's a 50 minute bus trip back to my apartment (should be
25, but the shuttle driver is a maniac) Here's the mayhem of the french.
From Marseille, they'd let me get to Paris, but wouldn't give me a
boarding pass to Athens. Then when i got to paris (missing my
connecting flight), They were going to give me a boarding card for a
later flight, but somehow, they decided they couldn't. So, i got hauled
into french customs police. This was where it got interesting, and my
french got remarkably good. So, after convincing them that i was not a
terrorist, they made me sign an affadavit stating i didn't have
identification, and then let me on the plane. Exhausting.
I arrived in Athens, and was instantly impressed. I know they poured a
lot of money into improving the city for the olympics - but this was
amazing. The highway from the airport to the city was pristine (and i
had the best cabbie in the world - he was going 140kmh the whole way),
and the whole city sparkled at night. I went to this bar, galaxy, which
was on the roof of our hotel, and it had just an amazing view of the
city (and a stiff martini).

Friday, October 15, 2004

Dinner, and Buses

So yesterday i went shopping for the first time in Marseille. Good
times. I bought a lot of black stuff. I don't know why, but black just
looks good here. I purchased a nifty black corduroy jacket - felt good.
I think I'm going euro-trash....
Also, I made dinner last night (like most nights). Spaghetti and
Meatballs. I made the sauce from scratch, and I have to say, I don't
know if it's the non GMO seeds or what, but produce in france is crazy
good. They even grow bananas. Anyway, the food was good.
Today, i have a meeting for my Branding Strategies class - it was
supposed tob e at 10, but other than the Canadian, no one is here, and
it's 11am.
but, on the plus side - there's a girl sitting next to us who is wearing
a sequined black beret, and a faux fur jacket. Hilarity.
Also, did you ever notice how people are so happy when they just catch a
bus. They get on the bus and they're all smiley and happy - and then
they see all the people depressed to be on the bus - and the smile
disappears. It cracks me up.
On my bus ride to school, we pass a US Military cemetary with soldiers
from WWI and WWII. Sometimes, i feel like we're the only americans here
- but then i see this cemetary, and it occurs to me, that there were a
lot of americans here before. Weird.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Class Narrative

So here's the scene:
one group is giving a presentation, that all groups were supposed to
prepare for class (eventually each group will present).
The other groups are engaged in conversation, some people are walking
back and forth across the room, finishing their own presentations, and
there is a HUGE fly buzzing around the room.
One guy walks in, 45 mintues late to class.
The group presenting, just continues, unaware of anything going on
around them - since each member is just reading words off of the
Most informative.
Then, Nick's Group presented. Or should I say, Nick presented. As his
entire group stayed seated and he gave his presentation solo. A
presentation they wrote. So he BS'ed his way through it, occasionally
pleading with group memebers for help, but generally flying through. A
classic line "Old women will die."
Then We presented. Let me preface by saying i was only tangentially
involved in this project, due to my illness of last week. So, we go up
there, and half of us haven't even seen the presentation, and it's only
partially related to the topic at hand. But, it went okay, as we all
sort of stumbled through. Chaps was the best, though - she gave a
virtuoso performance, inlcuding stopping the presentation, then
realizing she stiill had more to cover, and then erupting into
laughter. Great stuff.
All the while, the whole class is chattering and laughing


Top four Kristine Quotes from the past month and a half:

"It all started at the beginning..."
"How am i going to get this stuff home? I guess I'll have to carry it"
"I'm not a kid (in high-pitched, squeaky voice)"

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

latest musings

So the french media are ridiculously biased against GW Bush - it's
amazing. Today's paper even managed to blame bush for Superman dying -
drawing a comparison between him and lex luthor. As for the iraq war -
every time somethign bad happens - there's a mention of bush. If
something good happens (for example the weapons exchange with the
insurgents in Sadr City) they quote or refer exclusively to the UK or
Australia. Ridiculous.
I've also developed a real sympathy for the professors here. French
students are like 5 year old children - if you're not yelling at them,
they're not listening. One of my french friends, Leslie, told me that
it's mostly because most students have to work super hard to get into
these b-schools, so once they'e here, they feel their meal ticket is
stamped, so they don't care what they learn.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Return from the North

So we went up to Paris this weekend where it was COLD. I definitely
prefer the warmer, 70 degree weather of marseille to the 50's and rain
of Paris. but, paris is a singular experience. Everytime i go there, i
see a part of it i didn'tsee before, and experience parisian life all
over again. This time, it was Montparnasse. What an interesting
neighborhood. Of the places i've been in paris (Quartier Latin,
Montmartre, Le Marais, etc) this felt the most real - like people lived
there, and not as toursity as the others. And the catacombs were
definitely cool (pictures soon). The one bummer was the food. Despite
my desire for great food, i was consistently disappointed. Honestly,
the food in Marseille seemed much better - and cheaper! Perhaps my
expectations were too high.
Another note, I spent Saturday working at the World MBA fair in Paris,
representing pepperdine. I've got to say, it was a trippy experience
being on the otherside of the table, when only two years ago, i was
visiting MBA fairs of my own, talking to reps. And now i was one of
them!??! Bizarre.
Anyhow, wednesday starts our fall break, so i'll be going somewhere,
just not sure where yet. Could be italy, could be france, could be
someone's underpants.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


So 30+ hours of sleep later, i finally feel like a real person (I'm a
real boy!) I also managed, using the wonders of Macintosh and iMovie,
to splice together a little videoclip on Oktoberfest, to help y'all
(kristine influence) understand the mayhem. Enjoy.
Nick wants everybody to know that he really wants a gun with a silencer
attached. Badly.
That is all.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I'm Sick

So i'm skipping class, and going to sleep for several hundred hours.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Oktoberfest, part 2

So, as the day has settled, I hope some have found time to look at the
pictures i posted. Unfortunately, they don't seem to do justice to the
madness of the day. I've got a couple of video clips, and i think i'll
posting them soon also. As i was detoxing in my morning class today (i
just started sweating, for no reason, for about 30 straight minutes -
unreal), more of the weekend was revealed.
-as far as driving, the germans have by far the best roads, while
switzerland was obviously the most scenic. (there were things we saw
along the side of the road there that would have undoubtedly been major
tourist attractions in the US, complete with penny-stamping machines.
The french, naturally, had the worst system of roads, closely followed
by the italians
-we met an entire table of pepperdine undergrads (how weird is that?)
and none of them seem to think studying-abroad is too difficult. But,
they were the best looking girls in the beer halls.
-never be the first one to pass out, as your friends will be merciless.
-American beer is truly the worst in the world.
And, for those who need numbers to understand the scope of oktoberfest,
here are some details, courtesy of the Munich Tourist office:
Area: 103 Acres
Visitors: 6.2 Million
Waste: 678 Tons
Indoor seating: 100,000
Beer: 6,229,400 litres (that's a litre per person, if you include the
Sausages: 400,000 links


So four days later, i'm still alive. Spent the weekend in Munich, at
Oktoberfest. It had to be one of the strangest, happiest, craziest
experiences of my life. comprable to Mardi Gras, but existing on a
whole different level - as it was a bunch of drunk europeans just
having a good time - as opposed to a bunch of drunk americans looking
for boobs.
Anyway, here's a quick rundown. We rented a car, drove 10 hours to
munich on thursday, went to the fest on friday and saturday, and then
drove 10 hours back in our Renault-Rent-a-Car on sunday morning.
A couple of notable things:
-We randomly rand into fellow pepperdiners Dave and Jen from Rouen at
the Hofbrau tent.This is next to impossible odds, as there are over a
dozen tents with over 25000 people in each tent.
-The bathrooms stayed extremely clean considering the number of people
using them (although most men just urinate on this big hill, without
regard for who's looking or whats around them.
-There were these crazy italians on saturday who we partied with until
all of them passed out at 4pm.
-It was nice to eat food other than croissant and cheese - although, if
i never eat another bratwurst again, i'd be okay with that.
-We met thse girls on friday night, and all was going well, until we
discovered they were 17. Not good times.
-If you're going to sleep in a car for three nights, make sure the
people you sleep with are flatulence-free. Whoo.
-Don't mess with a german beer maid. When people get in their way, they
have no problem cracking you on the jaw with a stein.
-It's never a bad time to make fun of White Sox fans. (speaking of
which, a moment of silence for the cubs collapse of 2004)
-jumping on tables is always a bad idea.
-The french are the party pansies of europe
-Munich is lovely city. I'd love to see it when i'm sober someday.
More to come...