Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mon stage magnifique

Today at mon stage we started dismantling the old exhibit so that we can put up the new Keith Haring exhibit. I’ve been meaning to take pictures of the museum this whole time, but never did. Luckily, one of the other stagiaires is magical, and posted before and after pictures on facebook. So, I’m gonna do a big no no and post some of those pictures here, but all photo credit goes to Gina, if you need her actual info because you loovvvee the pictures just send my a message I don’t want to steal just wanna show. So now that all the not stealing just showing is over with, enjoy.

Whenever a group entered the museum, they would take a hat and a tie. That way they would look like René Magritte and Dali wouldn’t realize there were strangers in his house.

What you see when you enter the museum.


In the back, kids can dress up like the scary monster from the painting “L’Ange du Foyer”

Did you know that Dali put honey in his moustache every morning to make it stick up?

Everything packed up

And taking it all down.

Chez Dali

Bare walls.

Just in time for the new Exhibit of Keith Haring!

There’s more pictures, showing us taking down the exhibit, but internet’s slow and I need to sleep, so I’ll have to put them up tomorrow.

Update: All the pictures are up. Enjoy. 🙂

Legal note: Once again, not my pictures, just sharing, also, not my museum, as much as I wish it were. All admiration.



This morning, I slept in as late as I could and then headed to my stage. I ended up helping with 3 ateliers. They were big groups but all very calm and well-behaved, so I didn’t have to do all that much. It was still nice to come in on the weekend and talk with the kids and meet the weekend staff.

Tonight we went salsa dancing at La Pena by St. Michel. The place was nice but far too small for the amount of people so we headed home early. I had fun though, and am too tired to write more than this tiny little post. Time to try to get my twelve hours sleep before another crazy week. 🙂

Presque le weekend

Today I did a little bit of everything, watched a visit, helped with busy work, translations, watched ateliers, and helped prepare supplies for next week. I didn’t spend as much time forcing myself to interact with the kids, but I still tried to do little things like asking them if they had fun while helping them wash their hands and stuff. Which was nice because I had less awkward moments and the kids still opened up.

I was a little thrown off during one of the last ateliers. I was helping with the clean up at the end when a little girl comes up to give me a thank you bisous. I was completely shocked, I’ve never bisoused a kid before and I’ve never thought of a bisous as anything other than hello or goodbye. It was the cutest thing in the world, but the poor girl had to wait a few seconds for me to register what was going on. So, update on bisouses: Bisouses can be used in place of thank you hugs for kids, it’s still awkward when people bisous you and in the process give you a new layer of foundation, and I’m finally getting used to initiating the bisous, sometimes.

After work I headed out to meet some friends for dinner in Belleville. It ended up being me, an Italian, and a Chinese; so it was really interesting to compare our countries and try to explain health insurance. We had all the differences covered on that subject, in Italy there’s no need because everyone’s covers and in China no ones covered and it’s just barely starting to exist.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading back to my stage because they asked for a hand since there’s going to be trop de monde au musée. It’ll give me a little bit of pocket-money, but I mostly agreed just for another chance to hear French all day and interact. Hopefully I won’t be too exhausted next week though. Luckily nothing’s open on Sunday so I can sleep in all day long and not feel like I’m missing anything.

Oh Jeudi

Today was exhausting, but not because I did all that much. I finally figured out when I need to leave for my stage, which means unless my hours change I can wake up later. Today was the first day I didn’t observe any visits, but instead helped with workshops, the parent workshop, translations, and busywork such as putting labels on the invitations for the opening.

The parent workshop was really interesting because I got to practice my French with real “adults” who see my experience from a much more mature angle. They we’re making little pastries, and luckily I got to eat whatever they didn’t use. I think I’ll try to help out with this workshop more often.

The busywork was actually interesting because I got to see the invitations for the new exhibit and I got to see everyone who’s invited. There’s a lot of invites who surely won’t come, but they’re sent out anyway just because. It felt fun putting Carla Bruni’s address on the envelope, and discovering that Nickelodeon has at least two offices in France.

After work I went to Centre Pompidou to see the Mondrian exhibit with some of the other interns. It was really cool to see how his work progressed throughout the years, but everyone agreed that two hours of basic colors and lines is a lot. But it gave us plenty of time to talk about N’importe quoi.

After that I took the metro home, stopped at my favorite Kebab place, and flopped into bed. Good night everyone.

Halfway there

I’m slowly but surely getting used to how work, well, works in France. But there are moments where I see how easy it is to slip back into the American mindset. This morning started like any other, except that instead of helping out or observing, I translated texts that are going to be put in the new exhibition and the activity books. As I sat in front of the computer, typing up the texts and wordreferencing any words I didn’t know, I immediately felt like there was a deadline hanging over me.  I got completely focused on my work, staring at the screen for two hours straight. Even when I finished the first part, instead of taking an early lunch I kept moving through. I finished both texts and was only a little bit late for lunch, but I felt horrible afterwords. Staring at the computer had given me a headache, not moving made me jittery, and I hadn’t spoken French all morning so it felt like I had just walked in. I completely understand why the French take so many breaks and why they were so confused that I’d finished translating so quickly.

I made sure to take a long lunch though, I wanted to be sure I felt normal again before dealing with the kids. While sipping my tea, I ended up sitting in on a meeting. It turns out my teachers were right, the French really do use their breaks for business, they just hide it in conversation. For instance, everyone was just eating lunch and they were talking about the next  couple weeks and before you know it there’s a meeting about stagiaires working the weekend (something I’m hoping to avoid). It was really interesting to watch the different interactions and all the little details that go into running the museum. Like how many people need to be there during the weekend, who has the key, who’s going to close up, who’s trained to do what. It’s a lot of details to wrap your head around, and these people did it during lunch break, no grand documents just their coffees.

After lunch I headed downstairs to watch a visite. It was the calmest group I’ve ever seen, they all listened and took their time completing the activites. I really didn’t have to do anything besides point them in the right direction and tidy up after they left. After that I helped with an art workshop where the kids made their own version of this painting:

Salvador Dali

It wasn’t my favorite activity because there were a lot of rules: you had to make the background the same way, the cloud had to be on top and the flower had to fit in between the cloud and the earth. But it was still fun to watch the kids.

After that I took a long tea break. I didn’t do it on purpose, I was just sitting talking with the stagiaires in between workshops. But then, somebody offered me a tea, and I thought “I’m in France, I’m gonna drink some tea!” Before I knew it the next workshop had started, but instead of rushing outside I realized “There’s two people out there, and two other stagiaires with me, and nobody is freaking out, enjoy your tea.” So, for the first time I took a break, I enjoyed my time, and I had a good conversation with my fellow stagiaires. We actually got talking about the internet, and I put in my two cents about how I check about 10 sites every day, half of which I check twice. This shocked the Frenchies! Turns out most of them didn’t have internet until the end of high school, and they check mail and facebook rarely now, seeing internet instead as another form of research. It really put the U.S. in perspective and showed me just how much I need to learn how to translate “Americans are attention whores.” I think I’ll wait a bit to tell them about my blog….

When the time was right, the tea drunk, and the conversation finished, we all wandered to our perspective activities and everything was wonderful. I ended up helping the cutest little boy with his art work. When you’re only three feet tall it’s hard to reach the other side of your painting and when you’re too young to know if you’re right or left-handed it’s hard to use scissors, but his painting came out wonderful anyway. Then I helped the little ‘uns wash their hands, which always leads to the most interesting conversations. One girl offered me her silly band after showing me all of hers and discovering that I only have two. Another little girl asked if I was German. To which I responded, “No, guess again.” A little boy piped in “Portuguese?” “Nooo, which country speaks English?” “England” “True, but what other country, it’s really big” “Russia!” Which doesn’t quite speak English, but they got the U.S. on the next try. It made my day to see a little girl not thrown off by my accent, just curious, and then have a fun conversation about it. Sometimes it works out to be l’americaine.

After work, I was invited to join the other stagiaires to go for a drink. It was really nice to just talk with the group and be able to really get to know people. It feels really good to know that I was able to follow the conversation, and anything I missed was either funky French tv show references or drowned out by the band practicing at the table next to us. After a while one of my favorite stagiaires turned the conversation towards the U.S. We talked about whether New York City is a different culture than the rest of the US, whether Americans really are obese, I taught them that Wendy’s is the best fast food in the world, and then she asked about 9/11. I was kinda surprised because no body here has asked me about it before, and all the questions before were pretty typical. But after telling them my experience, how it basically was a day of complete confusion for me, it turns out they had very similar experiences. Many of them were picked up early from their various activities (being 3pm here when it happened they were out of school as we were starting it), and knew what was going on just as much as we did. It was interesting to see how what I’ve always thought of as ‘our day’, the day when the US was hit and not somebody else, really had an international impact.

One of the reasons I’m so happy with my stage is because of how welcoming the stagiaires are. Throughout the night they always made sure to include me in the conversation, even if it was just to see if I’d heard of a certain TV show or if I understood the story. Even on the train ride home, they kept the conversation going, sincerely interested in where I live and how I like the museum, which likewise gives me the opportunity to see where their coming from. It turns out a couple of the stagiaires finished their required stages and just kept going because they like it so much.

Well, it’s time for me to turn in so I can wake up and see what tomorrow brings. 🙂 Hopefully I get some more cute kid stories to share. Bonne nuit!

Deuxieme jour

In general, I’d say my deuxieme jour du stage was a success. The morning was tiring because I was tired and I just couldn’t get French to come out well, which made people hesitant, which made things more tiring. But, my chinese leftovers at lunch woke me up and the afternoon was much more eventful.  (Also, everyone completely understood why I was tired and were still incredibly nice, score for the stagiaires!)

First, I was able to help with some translations. The new exhibition which will be built next week is based on an American artist, Keith Haring, and for the first time in the museum’s history there will be real original artwork in the exhibition. So, the museum is borrowing artwork from the U.S. Therefore every aspect involving the art work, from the loan agreements to the transportation, has to be translated into English, sent to the US and then translated back into French. The workers have a very good level of English, but I was still able to help out by making sure it sounded natural and making it more polite since translations tend to be very direct. It was amazing to see all the work involved, I only had to translate two emails and I still got lost between everything involved and all the communication necessary. I would love to pick the directors brain about all the work involved, a possible subject for my mémoire (final paper) too. (Sidenote: When I start leading tours it’s going to be a little tricky because I’ll have to decide between slightly confusing everyone by saying Keith Haring, or sounding French and saying Keissaring)

I also helped out with ateliers (art workshops) again. I started with the youngest group I’ve seen so far, the youngest being 2 and a half. A couple of them had trouble sitting still or leaving their moms, but it’s amazing to see what even young kids can do if you give them the chance. And they’re always so proud! Later I helped with the “big kid” ateliers, where we decorated the Mona Lisa in the style of Marcel Duchamp and the surrealists. It was really cool because the kids basically had free rein to decorate three Mona Lisas however they wanted, cut them up, color them, add little jewels or flowers.

I feel very comfortable at mon stage, but it’s still a little tricky, bien sur puisque c’est que le deuxieme jour. The language doesn’t pose any problem of comprehension, except when little kids start inventing stories. However, sometimes there are parents who talk extremely fast or people who talk really quiet, and it’s hard to explain to them that I don’t have trouble with the language but with how they talk. Also, sometimes I just don’t know how to respond to the kids questions, but luckily kids are smart and don’t notice too much. It also takes time to learn the vocab needed for naturally telling a kid not to do that, or the french form to compliment a very pretty painting. Even animal sounds, during a tour today there was a picture of Dali with his chicken, and the guide asked “what animal is this? it makes a sound like ‘cloc cloc cloc’ ” And I realized, all my little kid tricks have to be translated, dogs may not bark here, it just wouldn’t work with that French ‘r’.

I should be asleep now, but I got caught up talking to friends. Once again I find myself juggling between work and social time. And other simple things, like the fact that I now have to shop either Saturday with the rest of Paris, or after work with half of Paris. Waiting in line to buy socks today was not fun… But I’ll figure it all out, bonne soirée tout le monde!

First day of Stage: Success!

I know I’ve typed that title in 3 different online networks now, but it’s the best way to sum up the day and I’m exhausted.

My stage really was great though. I probably shouldn’t write this post, or get to excited, because it’s impossible to tell how things are gonna go by the first day. However, it’s such a complete difference from my last stage, and so much more interactive, that I can’t help but jump up and down. I was introduced to everybody and got a tour of the building, two very simple things that were forgotten and completely through me off at my last stage. Also, everybody was incredibly nice, which is not generally required in France but will make my life ten times better if it stays that way. I spent my day observing and helping with the busy work, which is exactly what I should be doing as a stagiaire! Weirdly enough I’m happy I spent a chuck of my time cleaning crayons and cutting out little houses, because if that’s what they need done then I want to help. I hate sitting in the corner when there’s work to be done. Also, it was during these quotidienne jobs that I got talking with people. Today, I had an actual discussion about Obama in America and Sarko in France, and all in French! Being comfortable around so many kids will take some getting use to, I’m amazed at how the other stagiaires know exactly what to say with any situation, from the crying kid to the shy one. But I still had fun helping the kids with the activities, I have a feeling I’ll have a bunch of “kids say the darnest things” stories by the end of this year. It is really funny to watch the kids faces when I ask them to repeat what they said. “Whaaa? you not French? this has never happened before in my 4 years on earth! What is going on?”

I am having some trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I’m going to be waking up every morning, spending my whole day in one place. I haven’t done that since high school, and I haven’t stayed with one group all day since elementary school. Every since then I’ve been running around on the hour, whatever shall I do without some form of bells telling me where to go?

Off to bed to wake up and do the same exact thing, foreign concept. 🙂