Monthly Archives: January 2011

Two weeks

So, it’s officially been two weeks since my last update and by this time tomorrow I’ll have made it through two weeks of classes. Safe to say, vacation is officially over.

This semester I’m living in the same foyer, but now I’m doing IFE instead of GPP. Which means I have 5 weeks of classes, then a full-time stage at a children’s art museum (Musée en herbe). Class runs from Monday – Friday from 9am until 2:30.

These past two weeks have been insanely busy thanks to amazing new friends that keep me up late talking, old friends who I never get to see enough, and this thing called homework that I haven’t had to deal with for a while. I also finally made it to the Monet exhibit at the Grand Palais. It was incredible! I got to see so many sides of Monet’s work that’s normally hidden in museums half way across the world. Also, they had Monet’s cathedral paintings right next to Lichtenstein’s own version of those paintings. Which made my day to have two of my favorite painters from my two favorite time periods right next to each other.

I also managed to get sick over the weekend. It really shouldn’t have been a shock for me, not sleeping normally doesn’t have good side effects, but it was still annoying to miss a day of school and to deal with being sick in another country.Thankfully I feel better now and Mommy gave me some very good advice from overseas.

The classes here at IFE are pretty darn good. The morning’s tricky because the class starts at 9am and goes until 12:30, but thankfully I like the prof and what we’re learning so it’s a little easier to stay awake. Although, last week I did have to actually drink coffee, drink, not taste and spit out, but drink. I hadn’t slept that much the night before and I actually started falling asleep in class. I only slightly gagged while drinking it, slightly. How do people drink that stuff straight?

My afternoon class basically consists of people doing projects and then the professor going off about whatever the subject was about. It can get a little redundant but it’s really cool to see just how much the professor knows. Also, I’m actually learning stuff from the projects, so it’s probably better than just sitting in class listening to a teacher.

It’s weird to compare this semester to last. Last semester I was in a really small group, on my own alot, and only hung out with 1 or 2 Americans. This half, I believe we have 26 or so kids total in IFE. Being in a small group last half is really helping me now since I was forced to ask questions with our tiny little class last half, and I was forced to not care how my French sounded. I’m really glad I did GPP first though because now instead of going through the transition to all French classes, I can just enjoy the class. And I already know French class etiquette so I’m not squirming in my seat because I can’t eat in class. much. It is quite an adjustment to be with people so often throughout the day. Last half I was alone walking to my stage, in the metro, and just in between class and dinner and vague times like that. Now, I’m pretty much only alone when I sleep or when I specifically chose to be. There are 5 other IFEers living in my foyer and 1 GPPer, so there is always somebody to walk with or just somebody around since we’re all on the same schedule. And since I’m hanging out with IFEers so much, I’m spending almost all my time with Americans. It doesn’t help that some of my foyer friends recently got jobs that make them work late or have exams. It’s good because I’ve missed American culture and just… social cues and basic stuff, a lot, but it also means I’ve spoken way to much English, and I miss my Frenchies bien sur.

I know there’s plenty of things I missed by not updating more often the past couple weeks, but I’ll try and be better now that things are more settled. The important things to know are that I’m happy with IFE, I’ve met some great people, and I still have no desire to leave this beautiful city, even now in the cold.

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Pretty boy swag

Today, I realized a whole other aspect of culture shock or whatever you want to call it. Ever since Christmas, when many people left the foyer to head home, I’ve been thinking about what it’s going to be like for me when I head home.

Some changes are pretty obvious. I’m going to miss the city life, my friends, and the language terribly. Americans talk louder and are more open than the French, so that’ll take a bit to get use to after nine months. The food is very different here and, after not eating any fast food and barely any sweets, I think even I may gain wait when my addiction kicks back in. Wendy’s every day, diet coke every morning, and cookies by the hour here I come.

Other changes are subtler. I have no clue how I’m going to view American politics when I get back. Going back to an extremely consumerist and attention addicted society is probably going to be a shock after Europe.

And then, there are little things that I hadn’t thought of until recently, and won’t know about until they happen. For example, today we were talking with one of the new residents who just came from the US. We were introducing the other kids to Soulja Boy and other silly stuff, just to prove how ridiculous American culture is. As we’re explaining how to pronounce “swag” (from the song, Pretty Boy Swag), my friend starts explaining what swag is and how it’s used in every day conversations. Which was complete news to me. I know what the word swag is, but nobody ever really used it to my knowledge. Apparently though, while I was over here chilling in cafés and museum hopping, my fellow Americans went on creating and evolving their slang. This means, when I get home, there’s going to be a whole new language for me to learn. I’m gonna be the nerd who doesn’t know whats going on. Which, isn’t completely new to me, but normally I can at least keep up with slang. 😛

Anyway, the point of the long story was to show that things are constantly moving and evolving throughout the world. While I’m busy learning and having fun over here, so’s everybody on the other side of the pond. It’s easy to forget that, and imagine that when I come home people will be just how I left them. Today just reminded me to always remember that the world never stops turning.

And so, I leave you will one of the silliest songs created as of yet.

Encore, la patinoir!

Just came back from almost two hours of ice skating. It was marvelous, skating with all my foyer friends right outside of hotel de ville. But, man, am I tired now. It took a bit to get going, I’m always nervous on the ice at first, but thankfully there are plenty wonderful ice skaters at the foyer, so I just held on to them! We had quite the mixture with some kids doing crazy jumps and twists, and others on the ice for the first time (who were extremely brave and kept going even after falling). 🙂

Yesterday, I went to BHV for the first time. It’s this huge department store outside Hotel de Ville. We went to get my friend a new phone and ended up just wandering around looking at all the toys (hardly enough Lego products, but I think they were just all sold out) and other funky stuff. My whole time here I hadn’t gone to BHV because it looked like it would be really expensive. While it’s not at all cheap, it’s nowhere near as bad as Printemps or Galleries Lafayette.

Other than that I’ve mostly been bumming around, watching movies and hanging out with friends. Not the best of plans, but I’ve managed to do something interesting almost every day and I will have to wake up at 7:30 every morning once classes start. So, I don’t feel too bad about relaxing now.

Hope all the New Englanders are enjoying the snow that facebook told me you’re having. 🙂 I sure am enjoying the warm weather here.

Bonne nuit!

La Patinoire

Yesterday, I went ice skating with some friends at Hotel de Ville. Every year the city puts up an ice skating rink outside the mayor’s office. It’s not too big, but does the trick for some cheap ice skating, only 5 euros to rent a pair of skates and the rink is free to use. It was a little crowded and the rink wasn’t in the best of condition, but that was partly because it had rained that morning and was too warm for the rink to refreeze properly.

It took me a while to get going, I still haven’t gotten back to being comfortable on the ice, but I had a great time. I wish I had taken advantage of this and gone more often, now that I realize just how weak my ankles are and how much fun it was. Luckily I’ll be back next Tuesday with my foyer.

Here’s a link with the times etc if you want more info.

After ice skating, we bought some bread and cheese and sat outside Centre Pompidou for dinner. It felt wonderful to be outside for so long after such a cold, wet winter. Unfortunately the good weather didn’t last long, forcing us to hide from the rain halfway through our meal. But, that little picnic reminded me of one of my favorite parts of Paris. I never thought the gray skies of Paris would really get to me, but at this time I really miss the sun and I really miss eating outside, just spending time outside besides walking from one place to the other. So, thank you mother nature, for giving us a couple of days of decent weather during this dreary winter. I can’t wait for April to get here.

Les Vacances

Ever since vacation started I haven’t been able to update as regularly as I wanted to. So, here’s some highlights of my winter break.

My family came from Christmas to New Years. We got to explore the Champs Elysée, see the window displays at the Galleries Lafayette, visit the Musée D’Orsey, climb the Arc de Triomphe at night, and bring in the New Year by watching the Eiffel Tower light up at midnight, along with some very nice illegal fireworks displays from around the city.

Eliza and I have tried to take advantage of our winter break by exploring the many museums around Paris. So far we’ve been to the Centre Georges Pompidou, which has an amazing collection on the second level that I never knew about, and Jeu de Paumes, which displays mostly photographs as well as an amazing short film collection.

While it’s amazing to have all this extra time, I’m actually kinda anxious to start my next program. Without a set schedule it’s far to easy to sit around watching Friends, even in Paris. And with no sun coming through my window or heat doing anything worthwhile in my room, it’s even easier to stay in bed until lunch time.

Well, I’m off to figure out today’s plans. Bonne journée everyone!

Bus Tours in Paris

Written about a week ago.

Walking around Paris is not the best of ideas right now, and we did a lot of that today. Since we’ve finally gotten all the travel mishaps fixed and Christmas has come and gone, today we started visiting Paris a bit. We decided to try one of the tour buses that goes around Paris because then it would take us straight to the stops and we could look around and have a nice audio tour. However, we didn’t count on the cold, meaning we stayed inside the buses instead of enjoying the view up top and we shivered quite a bit while waiting for the bus.

We chose the Open Tour buses because they not only do the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc route but a Bastille and Sacre Coeur route as well. It’s a good choice if you have the time to explore Paris and want the audio guide and don’t want to take the metro. Or if it’s nice out and you want to sit up top. But, you have to make sure to get started early because it only runs from 9:30-4:30.

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One good thing about the Open Tour Buses is that it only costs 3 euros to add another day to your pass. Our second day had much better weather and we were able to sit up top and enjoy the view. However, it was a little tricky finding the bus stops.