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Spring 2007

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i can post to my blog again. more recent update: last week i had 2 dissertations due on the same day and 2 exams (4 hours of writing each). phew. glad that's over.

to continue with les vacances de pâques (easter break):

here are some italy photos.

amelia and her cousin sean walking through bologna, which is well known for the porticos that cover all the sidewalks.

the piazza maggiore, central bologna.

this is a church that was meant to be the largest in europe, but then the pope cut funding about halfway through the construction of this window. weird!

two towers of bologna

amelia and i sunning on some stone chairs. see the carvings of food on the table?

giardini in bologna where we spent a nice sunny afternoon.

the famous walk up the hill to san luca has exactly 666 archways.

san luca

view of bologna from the top of the hill. gorgeous!

after we left bologna we took the train to ferrara (and got really jealous of how cheap it is to travel in italy...it cost 3 euro for a half hour train ride!) to see the midd kids.

the duomo in ferrara

the market

best parts of italy: relaxing in gardens that aren't overly organized like the french versions, gelato, getting to speak a teeny bit of italian, gelato, beautiful old architecture, cheap trenitalia tickets, and gelato. delicious.

after that i jetted off to hungary to meet up with my friend dan (who is apparently the first midd student ever to study in budapest...who would have thought?!?) and my neighbor kristen, who was pretty excited about tanning along the danube.

this is the view from castle hill. you can see the parliament building along the danube, and the tail end of margaret island....i definitely wasn't expecting budapest to be as gorgeous as it was!

this is hosok tere, or heroes' square. dan lives right down the street from here.

déak ferenc ter. ter means square, i dont know what the rest of the name means.

st. stephen's basilica. they actually house st stephen's mummified hand in the chapel inside. he was the king who unified hungary.

inside the basilica. it was gorgeous and not nearly as dark as it appears here.

here is a statue of st. stephen. he made one of every ten hungarian villages build a church so that hungary would be a christian kingdom.

this is gellert hill...or gellert mountain as the hungarians call it...hungary's pretty flat. funny story about the statue on top: they call it the freedom monument today, but it was originally built to commemorate a dictator's son who died in a plane crash. oh well, it's a beautiful statue anyway!

castle hill, on the buda side of the danube.

it's illegal to build anything taller than st. stephen's basilica. the parliament is exactly the same height.

probably my favorite hungarian composer, béla bartok! a statue on margaret island.

view from the top of gellert hill on our last night in budapest.

things i learned in hungary: a few hungarian words. kusunum (i think that's how to spell it?) means thank you. boch is what you say when you bump into someone. szia means hello and goodbye. ter and tere is square, ut and utca is street. and a kinaï bufé is a chinese restaurant.

also, paris is NOT, contrary to popular belief, the worst offending city in terms of public displays of affections. the hungarians have it down. everywhere i looked all week i saw couples making out or cuddling. i guess that's why they call budapest the paris of eastern europe!

next to come in emily's blog (which is quickly becoming a travel blog): my return to la rochelle and île de ré!

sidenote: i cannot believe that i'm leaving in 17 days. the US is going to seem so weird after this...
Current Location:
back in paris, again
Current Mood:
calm calm
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Bonjour, hallo, ciao, szia! See what useful things I've picked up travelling around Europe?

First off, my family came to visit me and after i showed them around good old Paris, we rented a car (a Kia with a diesel engine, of all things) and drove up to France's neighbor to the north and mom's former home, Belgium! We started off the trip in the medieval town of Bruges, which is like something out of a storybook.

After our first taste of belgian frites (french fries, which of course are not actually french) and gaufres (belgian waffles! yum!) we drove out, passing through Gent on our way to Brussels. Brussels was a lot of fun, we visited (of course) le grand place, the atomium, mini-europe, and the manneken pis:

grand place


closeup of a butterfly on the mini-europe 1/25th size model of the grand place

the manneken pis.

Justin and the manneken pis. No no, he isn't doing what it looks like ;-)

So began my mini european tour. My family left on Saturday April 7th and I stuck around in Paris for a few days, and me and my neighbor Kristen went to visit Versailles on Monday. We had an adventure with the RATP on our way, because for some reason there was no train service between the stop we got on at and Versailles. So we had to go on a quest for the replacement bus, and nobody seemed to know where to find it. Finally we saw a blank bus and assumed that must be it. Eventually we made it to Versailles, but it took us 3 hours to get there and it should have only been one, at most. Ridiculous. On the way back, anticipating the worst, we took the train to Paris-Montparnasse and were there in 15 minutes, which a very nice and unexpected surprise after the morning's misadventures! Anyway, here are some Versailles pictures:

the hall of mirrors was actually under construction, so my pictures from there are rather disappointing. But i have some good ones from Marie-Antoinette's hamlet. The hamlet made me decide that, when i am queen of my own country, i am going to command the construction of my own little village so i can pretend to be a peasant.

marie-antoinette's humble abode in her little farm village.

here's the farm, complete with exotic birds. ridiculous.

here is the île de l'amour, with the temple d'amour...which the queen also commissioned to be built for her.

So Versailles was overwhelmingly extravagent, of course. Then on Tuesday I did some work and took care of my taxes, which a whole lot of fun of course, and then Wednesday Amelia and I took off for Italia! We flew into Bologna to visit her cousin Sean, who's been studying there since August. He lives in an apartment with 2 italian guys, 2 spanish girls, and a german guy. It reminded me of l'Auberge Espagnole, for those of you who have seen it. It was fun to get to use my italian a little bit.

I'm actually going to post these pictures and finish updating a little later because I have work i should be getting done. But in other news, I have decided no longer to be pre-med, I am instead going to study languages because I have decided that I love traveling and learning foreign languages. Just in case you were curious.

À bientôt!
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
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Sorry I haven't been posting regularly, I've been very distracted by work and activities...but of course now that I should be sitting down and writing a paper, I feel inspired to update my blog!

So this will be a fairly quick entry...since the last one, I took a nice day trip to the Bois de Boulogne and La Défense, which is such a stark contrast to Paris...it's like all the skyscrapers migrated out of the old city and congregated in that area. Here are some pictures of that outing:

la défense viewed from neuilly-sur-seine, which is no longer paris, with my friends kristen and kay in the foreground...we had quite the loooong day of walking...

this is the view from neuilly towards paris. it's called la grande axe, and along it is la grande arche de la défense, l'arc de triomphe (see it under the gorgeous sky?) place de la concorde, and le louvre. sadly you can't see that far along, but it's still really really cool!

modern art and skyscrapers...it looks like a scene out of minority report, or some other futuristic movie...

this is a statue of a germinating seed. with the grande arche in the background. see the reflection of skyscrapers in the seed?

pretty fountain

la grande arche up close

view from the top

eiffel tower, superimposed on montparnasse....don't they look tiny?! they're also actually really far away from each other. weird.

well that's it for pictures. I have more but it takes forever to post them. more to come!

Other than la défense, what have I been up to...I finally went to the musée d'orsay, which I love! I think I'll be going more often now, since we have our cards that let us in without waiting on line or anything...it's awesome. also, we had a fondue night at jessica's maison d'accueil last weekend, which was a lot of fun! we bought a little fondue kit and made it ourselves...and did away with an entire ginormous pot of nutella...it was extremely delicious. then last night we did fondue AGAIN, only this time we went to a restaurant. it was yummy, and they gave us wine in baby bottles! it was also funny because we were with a french friend, olivier, who's amelia's "partenaire linguistique,' and he refused to drink out of the bottle...he asked for a glass. He was also just about the only french person in there. everyone was speaking english! oh tourist trap restaurants...well, it was a lot of fun, and afterwards we went out to a bar near st michel where there was a jazz concert in the cave in the basement. the group was a lot of fun to listen to, and the plush red chairs were really comfortable....all in all, i'd rate that one of my best nights out in paris, even though we were back by 1...I'm not really much of a night owl here because the metro closes and the night buses are NOT FUN to figure out when it's cold and dark.

I have also finally been scared into remembering that I'm in a big city, and that not everything is safe...I had a bit of a problem with a french guy who started out being persistant and ended up being completely insane. I won't go into details, but I'm now glad for the security of the dorm i live in. I'm not in Vermont or Croton anymore!

This morning we went to the Salon International de l'Agriculture, which is this enormous agricultural convention at the parc des expositions. There were lots of farm animals gathered in one of the buildings, where we went first. it was pretty bizarre to see these giant cows, sheep and goats sitting docile next to dairy exhibits, and even worse, meat auctions. We figure they must drug the animals because they are kept inside, among a huge throng of people trying to touch them, and they don't do anything but sit there and stare. it was a little depressing, so we moved on to the food exhibits, where they had booths from all the regions of france and also from guadeloupe, ile de la reunion, martinique, nouvelle caledonie, etc. everything smelled soooo good, but the prices were jacked up to a ridiculous level (5 euro for a sandwich jamon beurre- ham and butter on a baguette, and over 20 euro for any sit-down meal we saw). so i spent my money on a 3 euro vanilla ice cream cone, which was incredible. they really do dairy right here...but it's deadly!

Anyway, I should be getting back to my commentaire composé, on a very difficult book on the Spanish Civil War...Les Grands Cimitières sous la lune de Georges Bernanos...and to reading Électre, de Giraudoux. I'm finding that I've learned a lot more about analyzing litterature here in France than I ever really did in the states. Their preoccupation with the methodologie is what (in my humble opinion) is lacking in the American system. I hope I didn't just make a controversial statement. Oh well. off to work I go!


p.s. next time i will post pictures from the bois de vincennes, and maybe even some from fondue (if i can ever get them to load!)
Current Mood:
bouncy bouncy
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There was music and dancing in the louvre...in the exhibit of the northern schools of painting, where i picked out this one as one of my favorites:

This is the statue room in the louvre (viewed from above)

The Palais Royal- one of my favorite places...note the zebra striped columns, some kind of odd modern art.

My roommate Diana from the fall came to visit...this is us in front of the Panthéon! We had quite the weekend of doing touristy things that I never get around to doing, because I live here.

we didn't go UP the tower, but we sat across from it (in front of chaillot) and sunbathed while taking in this gorgeous view (yes, it was indeed warm enough to sunbathe this past saturday!!)

After the Eiffel Tower, we went to the Sacré Coeur and Montmartre and had a very nice lunch at a cute little restau called La Butte en Vigne.

view of the whole city from montmartre. I stopped taking pictures when we headed down, but we went on an epic walking tour of the 3rd arrondissement (the Marais- the gay and jewish neighborhood), stopped in the Place de la Republique for a breather, continued to the Centre Georges Pompidou (Beaubourg) and were so exhausted by the time we got back to my dorm that we crashed and watched Thank You for Smoking instead of going out to dinner as we'd planned....oh well!

Then on Sunday after I got Dee on the train, Claire from high school showed up and we had lunch in a japanese noodle place not far from the louvre. I introduced her to bubble tea, which you can ONLY get at this expensive place called zenzoo in paris. UNFORTUNATE! i miss bubble tea, but i am unwilling to pay 4,50 all the time. only a few times. i promise.

after dee and claire left I wandered in the Tuilerie Gardens a little...I love the toy boats!

now i'm off to cook some dinner, but a more concrete update it on its way...i swear

Current Mood:
busy busy
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this is what my room looks like! (for you, dad)

this is the seine at night.

jardin de luxembourg on a beautiful sunday after brunch at c.r.o.u.s., where we eat enormous meals for 2.75 euro!

i've come to the conclusion that the weather makes perfect sense in paris. it's always beautiful on the weekends, blue skies and sun, and rainy during the week. tomorrow it apparently might even snow. yikes!

more photos to come!
Current Mood:
happy happy
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and that is paul cézanne's atelier in aix-en-provence.

more photos to come when i have time to do this more. yay!
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So it's been a long time since I last updated!

Last weekend the Middlebury group took the TGV (train grand vitesse=train big speed) down to Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. We shot down through all the snow in the french countryside to Aix, where it wasn't as warm as we'd all hoped. We toured the city a bit and visited Paul Cézanne's workshop. My favorite part of that was the very tall and thin door along one of the walls, especially made for taking his paintings out of the workshop (eg the enormous bathers). They also had a large collection of the objects Cézanne used often in his still life paintings, and rattled off exactly how many paintings some of them were featured in. For me, it was interesting because I had recently been to see a lot of Cézanne's paintings in the Ambroise Vollard exhibit at the Met over break. They didn't have any of the paintings on display, but they told us that many of them had been assembled the past summer for a special exhibition...the centennial Cézanne's death I believe.

After that visit, we walked around Aix, which is a great little town. It's all centered around the Cours Mirabeau, which is nicknamed the Champs-Elysées of Provence. Lots of tiny little cobblestoned roads jet off the Cours in a labyrinthine pattern, which kind of reminded me of Montmartre (just about the least organized old corner of Paris). We went back to our hotel for a gourmet dinner of 3 AMAZING courses.
1. délice de pêcheur, rouille & croûtons- bouillabaisse-like fish soup with toasted pieces of bread and yummy orange sauce (but it's not actually bouillabaisse, the waiter got kind of mad when our teacher suggested it was...). You float the bread (croûtons) with the sauce (rouille) on it in the soup until it's soft to your liking, then eat and enjoy. oh yummy....and just the beginning!
2. rôti de veau farci à la pistache et ses légumes au thym- roasted veal à la pistachio with vegetables and thyme....self-explanatory and mouth-watering!
3. millefeuille maison- if you know what millefeuille is, lucky you! if you don't, it's thin strips of crispy pastry layered with cream...the name litterally means a thousand sheets. i absolutely ADORE french desserts and pastries....too bad i can't live on them or i'd be dead of a heart attack next week...
the whole meal was accompanied by bread and wine "coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence," rosé and blanc. I've fallen in love with vin rosé because I can never choose between red and white wine; it's the perfect combination, and slightly sweeter, which works for me!

The next day we were up at 8...ugh....after eating dinner until 11:30pm, it was very very hard to get up that early. But we went around Aix a little more, saw the Musée Granet (mostly medieval and renaissance paintings), where I realized I like the dutch schools of painting...there was a wall showing this incredible architecture that I fell in love with and tried to take a picture of, but got yelled at...oops.

Next we drove out to the Port de Cassis, where I saw the Mediterranean Sea for the first time ever! It was so blue and gorgeous, and it made me happy to see ocean. We had a nice lunch in an italian restaurant at the port (pasta salad niçoise: my only complaint=olives) and got ice cream (strawberry sorbet), then headed out again, this time to Marseille.

I didn't like Marseille very much. The architecture is all new and cold, because the old city was decimated during the Seconde Guerre Mondiale (World War 2) and the city had to be rebuilt very quickly afterwards. The sea was beautiful, and so were the old ports and monuments, but it lacks the history and organization of Paris, or even Aix. It was cold and windy, but the sky was so blue and gorgeous. Sidenote: it's the weirdest thing. Every weekend I've been here in France, it's been beautiful, sunny blue skies. During the week it's dreary and often rainy and windy. Very strange. This pattern hasn't been broken yet. It's Sunday, it's gorgeous, and yesterday was too. I find this very interesting.

On Sunday we left the hotel to visit Saint-Rémy de Provence, a very small village near where Vincent Van Gogh spent his later days. First we went to the monastery/asylum that Van Gogh checked himself into (after cutting his ear off and realizing he was not well). We saw the paysages (views? dunno how best to translate that one...countryside maybe?) that inspired him in his late years. It was pretty awesome to be in a place like that. You can really see how he was inspired to paint, and where the movement comes from in his paintings (everything is always moving because of the wind- it's pretty much constant)- cypress trees, olive trees, the countryside itself is just incredible.

Our last stop (before returning to the hotel to recover my coat, which i'd forgtten in the closet) was the Baux-de-Provence, the ruins of a very old town in the mountains. I've complained about the wind before, but it was definitely the most intense here. I thought I would blow away. I'm still not quite clear on the details of the history of the village, but i believe it was destroyed during wars during the reign of Louis XIII, because there were rebels against the monarchy and this was one of their holdouts. Anyway, by this time we were very very tired, so Amelia and i decided to buy some candy to wake ourselves up again...mmm, marzipan cherries and cookies....and spent some time looking out over the vallée d'enfer (the valley of hell), which was an amazing view, especially with the clear and beautiful sky.

The tgv ride back was uneventful. I read about 40 pages about the Spanish Civil War, but unfortunately I'm still behind in my reading. That's what I'm off to take care of now....That, cleaning up my room, practicing (I was inspired when I went to see the opéra this week...more on that later), and doing laundry, which I've been avoiding.

À bientôt, will write more when I'm not using it as an ingenious form of procrastination...

Current Mood:
tired tired
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First of all, to all those looking forward to seeing pictures of Paris, I have yet to figure out how to upload pictures onto livejournal. I'm working on it though, I promise!

This week has been one of the longest/slowest of my life. Every day seems to rush and crawl by at the same time; it's surreal. I have to concentrate so hard in my classes because the professors talk pretty much nonstop, and very quickly. I've finally decided that I'll be taking these classes:

at Centre Madeleine:
Français écrit avancé
Histoire: Révolution et Résistance dans la France des XIXème et XXème siècles

at Paris III:
Écrire la Guerre au XXème siècle
Le Bourgeois

I decided not to take the translation class I was interested in because it doesn't cover enough credits and I would end up having 5 classes. That would be doable, but I want to have enough time to experience France and Paris. As it is I have my Wednesdays completely free to do anything I want! Thursdays are really rough, I have 3 classes pretty much one right after the other, from 9:30 am to 6 pm. Ugh. Also, this past Thursday I had a meeting at 6:30 with a family whose kids I'm tutoring in english. From now on it'll be on Tuesdays, which are much more convenient (aka I won't be dying of hunger and fatigue halfway through the lesson). I also went to a volunteer agency to try and find a translation position, so that I'll be able to get some experience in translation even if I'm not in the class. I'm not sure I'm going to do that, though, because it's 3 hours a week for no pay and no credit. I'll have to see if I have enough time with all my work. There's a lot of reading to do, and I've been warned by many people not to leave it to the last minute. Throughout the semester we read only 3 books per class, so it's tempting to just read them more towards the end. I must resist this temptation!

In other news, my cooking skills are improving! I'm making delicious stir frys and having a lot of fun with it. Today for brunch I also made an omelette, which I cooked in sesame oil, with onions and peppers and emmental (swiss-ish cheese that i've fallen in love with). Mmmm, I do love food.

Last night we went out as a group (some middkids and a friend of Amelia's from home) to a couple of bars in the st. michel-odéon area. It was so much fun! Being in Middlebury and Croton is I realize so socially limiting. Even being under 21 in the US puts a damper on things, because you don't even have the option of going into bars and sitting with friends. The whole night was pretty chill, nothing at all crazy, but it was much more fun, at least for me, than lots of nights at midd or in croton. Interesting. I could definitely get used to living in a city, and Paris especially. My only complaint is that the métro closes too early and the night buses are very difficult to navigate! But if you use common sense it's easy to have such a good time out and about in Paris. I'm happy, even though I'm tired :-)

Anyway, I'm off to get a head start on reading, and then cook dinner with my neighbors Kristen and Amelia. Also I have my laundry in the machine currently, and I'm crossing my fingers that I won't ruin any of my clothes....


edit/P.S. I forgot to mention that on Wednesday I went to the musée rodin with Melia! It was really gorgeous, except when we were in the gardin and it started to rain and my umbrella blew out...apparently that happens a lot here. It has been very windy.
Current Mood:
peaceful peaceful
Current Music:
regina spektor
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well tonight marked the end of my first week...we'll call it la semaine de luxe!

i ate a lot, i bought a lot, i spent all my free time roaming paris, and it was wonderful!

tuesday: montmartre. we saw the café from amélie, ate in a very french restaurant, and wandered around the quarter and on the "avenue du sexe."

wedenesday: movies! we saw "mauvaise foi," which was about an arab-jewish couple. very funny at moments, and touching at others, i admit i didn't understand all the jokes because the actors spoke very very fast!

thursday: after class registration, we explored the latin quarter. we ate at a patisserie viennoise and visited the bookstores where all the students shop. later that night we explored the 14th arrondissement a little bit, and i finally got my suitcase from alex!

friday: we met with the language teachers at the centre madeleine and then went to the louvre (which is free for students on friday nights!). after that we went to the champs-elysees, then met up with alex and some friends in a bar in the 11th. oh i love paris la nuit!

today: we went to notre-dame, tried and failed to take the batobus sur la seine, went to the eiffel tower and decided not to go to the top because it was cold and windy, and went shopping instead. then we went ice skating at the hôtel de ville, ate sushi for dinner, and went to a café for dessert. mmmm....je suis callée! (i'm full)

i feel like my french is already getting better, and i really love this city. it's kind of nice that we arrived just before the "soldes," or sale season, because i can buy everything i need to appear french/parisian right away at about half price. now i'm going to start cooking more and no more shopping for me! i'm so exhausted i don't know what to do with myself.

In other news, i'm starting to stress about my classes, which start this monday. i'm afraid of what will be expected of me, and i know it's a completely different system from what i'm used to. i'm also stressed because when i'm not in my room it's hard to get in contact with people at home, and i'm starting to feel a little homesick. boo. mais ça ira.

well as it's 1:30 here, i'm off to bed. i have a busy week coming up (starting classes and meeting with people about possible jobs and volunteer work...more details to come) and only 1 relaxed day to recover from this week.

bonne nuit!
Current Mood:
exhausted exhausted
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The first few days have been a blur. There is so much information to take in; we have to learn all about the métro and navigating a totally new city, and now we need to deal with course registration! That's complicated enough in english! My foyer (dorm) is great so far, we went grocery shopping yesterday for food to cook and made some pasta and a stir fry (consisting only of peppers, we need to find a better supermarket!). yesterday for lunch we went to the creperie across the street from the Centre Madeleine (which is the Middlebury school) and it was DELICIOUS. I also adore french café. Sometimes it comes with a small piece of dark chocolate that you can drop in and let melt, mmmm...

I haven't registered for courses yet, but here are my preliminary ideas:
Most of us are required to take a french language course at the Centre Madeleine, and I'm required to take a History course for the french major. That's 2 classes at the Centre, which is the maximum.
At Paris III, we have to do the rest of our unités (credits). I want to take a class in translation english-french, a literature class called le bourgeois, and a class in compared literature that will tie in with the translation class a little bit. tomorrow at noon I have a meeting with the academic advisor, and she'll help me make the final decision about my classes.

Yesterday before we had the lecutre on academics, we met our "animateurs," who are older students who will help us around a bit and lead some activities. I'm in a group with 3 other students, led by Amélie, who actually studied for a year at Middlebury (my freshman year). She knows where we come from, which is helpful. She planned out an entire week of activities for us! Tonight we are going to Montmartre to see le Café Deux Moulins (from Amélie Poulin!), eat a very french meal, and visit the neighborhood. Tomorrow night we're going to see a movie, and one day we're going ice skating, and of course SHOPPING! the big sales begin tomorrow and last throughout January. I'm excited!

Last night, after we threw together our petit diner, kristen (my neighbor across the hall, who's from amherst) and i went for a walk to get my cell phone from another student from the fall. After that, we weren't ready to go back so we decided to take the métro to notre-dame and walk along the seine all the way to the louvre, where we went to see the pyramides. i took lots of pictures, none of which i've uploaded yet (soon i promise!) and I think now that I did that I can finally believe that I'm actually IN paris! it's kind of overwhelming, but I love it so far.

Right now I'm in the Centre Madeleine, waiting around for our next orientation meeting, and for Alex to call me. I haven't bought minutes for my cell phone yet because I'm cheap (which I guess is a good thing) but that means I can only receive calls. Oh well. I think I'll go down to Monoprix to get some plates or bowls and utensils for my room.

Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful and also tired
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