Tag Archives: ife


Post number 100! Whoohoo!

100 posts in 6 months, I’m pretty impressed with myself since all my childhood journals had the same entry, “Maybe this time I’ll actually keep writing….”

Keeping the blog going has been easier than I thought it would. Partly because I’m so happy here and I know I’ll forget things if I don’t write them down, it’s just how my brain works. And partly because I know my mom (Salut mommy!) and some other relatives read the blog, and I love being able to keep in touch with them, even if it’s in our funky 21st century way. Whether any future study abroaders have looked at the blog (another reason I thought of starting it), I have no clue, but you never know.

This week has been insane, and it’s not slowing down. Monday I had mon stage in the morning, where we continued to clean and clean for the inauguration, and carry lots of supplies all over the building, almost ran out of space. After that I had my class at IFE where we learned about Greece and the EU during a presentation and I believe the institutions… I’ve discovered I’ve had enough of the EU and need to find some way to keep myself interested in this class, we’ll see how that goes.

Tuesday went by fast. In the morning we cleaned all the paint stains of the floor in the exposition. After that we went over the exposition a bit as a group, got dressed in our Keith Haring gear, and got to work. I spent my night surveilling the artwork (Ne touchez pas s’il vous plait, c’est les vrais oeuvres, tres fragile, merci) and cleaning wine glasses, I believe we went through 40 sum odd bottles. All in all, opening night was a great success and I was exhausted by the time I got home.

Today, I woke up and headed up north to the Prefecture de la Police to renew my visa, which thanks to slowpoke bureaucracy and forms is expired (btws, legal to stay in france with an expired visa for 2 months). I got there a half hour early, went though security, and got my number. Everything moved pretty fast, the lady was nice, everything was well until, dun dun dun, I didn’t have my numero d’agreement! What is that? No clue! And whatever it is, IFE doesn’t have it. So, I get to go back on friday and give them a very pretty letter from IFE explaining that we don’t have said numero but here is all the information you could possibly need. I was just a tad bit frustrated after going up north, missing work for the morning, and not getting what I needed, so I grabbed some MacDo and headed to the museum. There I got to observe one of the visits while guarding the artwork, a new task now that there’s real art work at stake. It was interesting to watch since we really are in the process of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Keeping the kids from touching the work was a whole other story. They understand that paintings are not to be touched, that’s easy basic knowledge. However, there’s a kids size yellow race car which just calls to them. You can see it in their eyes, every kid who passes wants to touch it, heck I want to, it’s freaking cool. It’s really tricky to figure out which kid will just be tempted and which kid will actually act on it. I’m hoping we put up some actual barriers, because it sucks to keep a kid at a distance and have to act like the security guard with everybody who comes in. After work, I attempted to do some shopping because during the beautiful 18 degree C weather we had today, I realize that jeans and a pea-coat aren’t going to be comfortable for long on the metro. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any luck, but hopefully more skirts will be out before the real heat waves. Tonight, one of our Goucher friends came for a visit, so Zipeng cooked us all a big dinner. It was nice to catch up, and just not eat cantine food.

Post 100, fini, je doit dormir. But I’ll leave you with a very important video for learning French.

or alternatively, because I am a vrai connecticutian


Oh Keith.

Today was pretty normal. I spent the morning bumming around preparing to paint, while waiting for the paint to show up, and then finally being able to paint. Afternoon was spent finishing painting the bathroom and trying to make a computer work. Nothing too crazy for me, but the actual workers had plenty to do. Now that we have all the artwork, they were busy installing and figuring out where to put everything. The exhibit really looks amazing, I can’t wait to see it all done on Monday.

After work, I wandered around a bit wasting time before my meeting. I went to the fnac to try to buy a new metro book, but discovered that as soon as a book wins a prize or is generally considered good, its price jumps from 7 euros to 17 euros, way to much for a little paperback. So, instead I wrote down some good books to search for at the library, the good ol cheap student way. After that I discovered a store by chatelet called Christina which appears very cheap for good clothing, but I didn’t have any money so I didn’t critique too much.

After that I met up with my tutor for my final paper to discuss my topic. By the end of my program I have to write a 30 page research paper, about something in relation to my stage. It was a good meeting, because I realized that all my ideas revolve around the same idea. My tutor seemed to think I’ll be able to easily find a specific topic to write about, but wants me to explore the topic further, all sides of it, and then decide what interests me the most. All I know is I want to tie in the Museum and Keith Haring, because they are both such an important part of my life right now. I’ll let you know what the topic is when I figure out what I’m going to right about specifically, but for now I want to keep it to myself. I’m really happy with my tutor because he seems generally knowledgeable and interested in what I’m doing. He’s also just really nice. 🙂 (My meeting was actually at the cafĂ© where this photo was taken. Small world affect meets internet, I wasn’t even searching for it and I found the picture.)

Once I finished, I realized there must be a bus stop nearby and decided to find it since I didn’t feel like cramming into the metro on a friday night. Which turned out to be a wonderful choice, because as I walked back towards the louvre, I managed to find the beginning of my bus line, hence an empty bus! It also just felt great figuring out how to get to the louvre without looking at a map and succeeding, and paris looked very pretty tonight, life just felt good. 🙂

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. 🙂

Oh mon dieu

Just finished my last dissertation, so it’s safe to say the first part of IFE is officially over. After five weeks of waking up early, doing presentations, and writing papers, I am more than ready to start actually working at my stage. (10am Monday morning, sooooo excited!) Although, I am a little triste to leave some of the amazing teachers. For example, while in Travaux pratique I had the most homework and presentations, I also had a professor who works for Le Monde and seems to have the uncanny ability to memorize the encyclopedia with everything he knows. Besides learning so much we also just had a lot of laughs about culture differences and life. J’ai eu de la chance.

Also, after five months of being at IFE a lot, I’ll now only be there once a week or so and at the end of the day. I’ve gotten use to the quartier and explored quite a bit, so I’ll miss my lunches in the park, promenades on the promenade plantĂ©e, and explorations to hidden markets and random thrift stores. But, I’ll find a new favorite boulangerie near my stage, and as long as they sell moelleux and pain suisse the world will be ok. 🙂

One day, I’ll sit down and really describe all the amazing things I’ve learned and the places I’ve been these past weeks, but for now I’m going to spend my time figuring out my VISA, getting ready for my stage, and eating lots of kebab.

Bonne journée!

Stuck in Paris

These first couple weeks have been interesting to say the least. I’m incredibly happy to be back in school, I didn’t realize how much I missed learning and really hearing French everyday. This week we switched teachers and started learning the most sociological and economic side to France.  The Prof is good and knows what he’s talking about, but it’s a tricky subject to stay awake for. Luckily there’s a new prof for next week, because while it’s important to learn about this side of France, there’s only so much I can take.

I am very happy to say that I am officially all better from being sick and even managed to eat a pizzwich and a kebab. Hooray! One thing that I learned from that very annoying week is that while being sick at college is a pain, being sick in another country is even worse. I couldn’t have any normal comfort foods, like toast or saltines, and had to find substitutes in bread and apple sauce. Anytime I needed something, I had to go out myself and get it. Meaning I still walked all the way to IFE on one of my worse days because I needed to pick up my homework. Next time I get sick here, I’m going to the doctor the first day instead of trying to wait it out like I do in the U.S.

Yesterday I got full out home sick for the first time since coming here. I think all the news about the snow back home, the crazy power outages going on at Goucher, and talking with my friends from back home just made me realize that major things are happening and I’m missing them completely. Also, I really miss the security of a good friend group. Not to say I don’t love my friends here, but it takes a lot of work to be completely confident in a friend group and I haven’t gotten there yet. Luckily this morning managed to pop me right out of my home sickness. I woke up, went outside, and discovered a completely sterotypical parisien day. Slightly cold, slightly wet, and no sun to be seen. Which should have bugged the heck out of me, but that’s the weather that’s been my home for a while now and it just felt so right that I started smiling and actually enjoyed my walk to IFE. I’ll admit that as the day went on I got a little home sick again, but I doubt that will ever completely go away because I’m not going to stop missing my friends or stop wishing I was with them, but that’s the way it should be. I also realized en promenant aujourd’hui that I’m kinda bored in Paris. With the new program of IFE I suddenly have more free time, but I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. Also, my Visa is expired right now meaning I can’t leave France until my appointment to get it renewed in March, so I’m feeling a little claustrophobic in Paris. I was planning on going to Avignon for a long weekend, but the trains seem really expensive right now, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Basically, I’m in one of those funky transition phases where I still love Paris but need to find my new routine for this semester before I can be really comfortable again.

This post turned out a little more sombre than I anticipated, but I’m just in a bit of a funk. This weekend I’m going to go see MammaMia! on Saturday and then spend a day at Fontainebleau on Sunday, so I’ll be sure to be in a better mood after a weekend of singing and exploring. 🙂

Hope everyone back in the states is surviving the snow and the power outages. I think everyone who can needs to go sledding for me since I can’t, I’ll eat a baguette over here and it’ll be an equal trade. 🙂

Bonne soirée!

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 (MusĂ©e 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.

Don’t let the rain come down

I’m very glad that today is a national holiday, because not only did I finally get to sleep in, but now I get to write about my wonderful week. 🙂

Monday, I got to sit in on the wonderful restoration class at my stage, where we learned about “Oil painting technique from the 15th to the 18th centuries”. It’s possibly my favorite class because I always learn something new, and how many people really get to learn about art restoration? It’s also the only class where I generally take over 4 pages of notes, who wants to forget all the cool information and the fun facts like “If you wanted to buy one of Ruebens paintings, you could either pay an arm and a leg for a Ruebens by Ruebens, or pay less for a painting done by Ruebens and one of his students signed by Ruebens, or pay less for a painting done by a student, in the style of Ruebens”. The amazingness of Monday started during the “tea break” in the middle of class, when I got to talk to one of the students. All we talked about was how I was silly to doodle on my notes and where I’m from, but I actually got to practice my french! Then, after class I was asked by another student my opinion on “What’s happening to Obama right now”. I had to show that I’m a typical American and haven’t really paid attention and don’t really have an opinion, but it was really cool to finally be asked about that, because it’s a common question that most of the GPPers hear. Then I bought a nice cheap lunch of a supermarket sandwich with Nutella snack packs, and ate with the students. I had to leave before I was really finished, so I headed downstairs and got to eat with the actual restorers. I finally had a lunch where not only did I get to listen to French, but I got to participate a little in the conversation. After mon stage, I headed to my grammar class where we learned about common phrases using “en”. Then I had class with Marie at IFE where we learned about “Les Consonnes”, when to pronounce certain letters at the ends of words, and, finally, after 8 years of French, when to pronounce the “s” at the end of “plus”. I still don’t completely understand it, but I can finally stop making the common mistake of saying the “s” in “ne…plus”. We managed to have dinner at the foyer, and then Eliza and I worked on our exposĂ©s until late at night, when we went to a get together for one of our friend’s birthdays, and then headed to bed.


I woke up early so that I could put the finishing touches on my exposĂ©, make sure it was in French and all that. Then I headed over to Belleville for class with Thierry. The idea was to walk around Belleville, learning the history of the area while looking at where it all actually took place. However, the rain just refused to stop, so we ended up spending class by sitting in a cafĂ© and taking notes, walking around, finding another cafĂ©, walking around, and then finding another cafĂ©. It was a little ridiculous, except I got some free hot chocolate and pastries because of it, thank you Thierry! In the end I had to do my exposĂ© in a cafĂ©, which was a little awkward, but it would have probably been more awkward sitting in a park like I think Thierry had originally planned. In the end, I got a good grade but Thierry said I would have done much better if I had organized it the French way. Which, is to have an intro and conclusion, and before each section list out what you’re going to say. Basically, be extremely repetitive. We finished early because of the rain, so I headed to the foyer to do everything I didn’t have time to do while working on my exposĂ© and just relax before class. In grammar class, we learned about the futur tense and how to conjugate it. I was suppose to have a make up class for Thierry in the evening, but he canceled it, so I headed home to get ready for the big night of….. Rabi’s birthday!

Rabi was our first friend in France, during Ramadan he fed us dinner, we’ve had parties up in his room, he’s just awesome so we knew we had to do something for his birthday. At first, we just figured we’d bake him brownies or something like that, but eventually it evolved to playing some sort of practical joke on him. We decided that since we always make such a big deal about his awesome afro, we’d all surprise him by wearing afro wigs ourselves. So, after dinner we made the brownies (very hard because not only did we have to switch the measurements, but we couldn’t find any brown sugar at the supermarket) (also, fyi the french do not differentiate between cookies, brownies, and cakes), and got everybody together. He was suppose to come around 11:00, so around then we all put on our wigs and hung around the common room playing games (we taught everyone how to play BS) and taking incredibly silly photos.  By twelve, we were all debating the best way to get him back to the foyer before it got to late when, guess who wandered in, Rabi! He was completely shocked and had no clue what was going on at first. We sung happy and just hung out and it was awesome. Basically, extreme birthday success! Joyeux Anniversaire encore Bert!


Went to my stage expecting to just work on translating the website all morning, only to discover that it was a special class on the  “materials of retouching”. So, I got to sit in on a class taught by the director, talk to some people, and eat lunch with everybody, where I learned important things like how Nutella is actually from Italy. Go Italians! Afterwords I headed to grammar class where I learned when to use the Futur Proche and when to use the Futur Simple, tricky business but it makes more sense now. Then I headed home expecting to just take a nap, eat dinner, and fall asleep early. Instead, I ended up going to a play (a futuristic adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, very strange, even to the Frenchies) and eating dinner with the group. It’s funny, back in the U.S., I really don’t care about meals. I tend to eat alone and then actually go do something, the meal is just a necessary waste of time before the event. Here, the meal is the event, it’s where I socialize with people and really get to know everyone. Maybe it’s just because the food’s better lol.


I got to sleep in this morning because…. National Holiday! So, after finally catching up on my sleep a bit, I headed to see a film with some friends. We were going to see Buried with Ryan Renolyds, but we ended up getting there to late, so we saw “L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie” with Romain Duris as the star actor of course! It was a…. strange.. movie. It took a while to actually reach the plot, and then anytime anything happened, they’d basically just flip over the story to make it work. (Spoiler alert) Like, ok he accidentally killed a guy, so he’s going to fake his own death and take the other guys identity, and his life turns out great, until he has to meet someone who knew the guy before, so he fakes his death again and heads to Venezuela, but the ship is attacked! So he gets thrown off the boat with proof of the attack, gives the proof to someone else who becomes famous and walks off into the distance! Basically, the film was very french and very heavy, I walked away with a weird feeling that I’ve only just gotten rid of by watching big bang theory with Zipeng. As awesome as Romain Duris is, I would not recommend that film. We had a very diverse group movie taste wise, and none of us really had anything to say about it.

So, that was my super-awesome week! Which I guess technically isn’t over yet, but since I’m only going to my stage tomorrow morning and don’t have class, I’m saying the weekend has started.

I may have seen a really weird film and play, but this week was still incredible because I simultaneously had the awesome feeling of finishing my exposé and the incredible feeling of hanging out with friends. Success, I am ready for this weekend. 🙂

Hope everyone had a happy Veterans day! Bonne soirée!