Tag Archives: paris

Oh la poste, tu es trop rigolo

In basically every book I have ever read about French culture, there is always a reference to horrible experiences at the post office. So, here I am to offer the funny side to it.

Today, I had to run an errand for my stage by going to the post office, sending out some letters and picking up a lot of stamps. So, I got in line, and prepared myself for numerous line cuts and obnoxious employers, as I’ve been warned about by many books. As I’m waiting, a man comes over, and tells me I need to use the machine instead. So, I explain to him that I’m not just here to by two stamps, I’m here to buy a bucket full and send some complicated letters. To which he says, well, your paying with a credit card, right? So it’s ok. But, I’m not paying with a fancy carte bleu, just plan old cash, so he agrees that I was right in the first place and lets me get back in line.

I thought that was the end of it, until, he starts talking to his colleague about me, and they pull out a calculator to find out just how many books of stamps I need, and how long that would really take if I just used the machine. After a bit, they realize that, yes, the machine would still take longer than a real live human being. But, apparently I’m too complicated for the poor lady at the desk, so, another lady heads in the back just to get my obnoxiously large order of stamps. When she comes out, she brings me over to another man, who opens up a booth just to take care of my stuff.  He turns out to be a very nice guy, even asked questions about the museum and how much it would cost for his daughter. He even doesn’t mind when I have to pay part in cash and part by credit card.

So, instead of having a stressful time à la poste, I got special treatment and to laugh at the…. for lack of a better word, dorks (in the best cutest silliest form of the word) that work there.

Voila, mon histoire pour le jour.

Update on my life: Pretty much everyone has left on vacation, so it’s pretty tranquille for me. Lots of watching TV with the cool kids who stayed in the foyer with me. Memoire is stressful, visits are getting better and better, and ya, that’s life.

Bonne soirée tout le monde!

p.s. Forget if I’ve said this, but I’m just so happy, I’m taking French, Spanish, and Arabic next semester! Finally! It’s gonna be awesome!!!!

And then there was Glee

Yesterday, I spent most of my day at the Salon du Livre (Book). It’s essentially a huge book fair, with authors signing books and discussions. We spent a couple hours wandering around, just looking at how many options there were. The great thing was, there were very few big book companies, it was almost all small publishers organized by region. They also had editors from all over the world, which I took full advantage of for discovering which Swedish writers I should read. I didn’t buy anything because unlike in the US, a book is not priced based on it’s size, but on it’s popularity. So, all the little paperbacks I wanted were around 20 euros, no can do. At the end I listened to a discussion on Translation and Translators. It was interesting to see how important this industry is in France and how much debate is involved.

After that I headed to St. Michel to meet an American friend who was visiting for spring break. (Here’s her blog from when she was here a year ago). We got couscous and then split up because half the group had to wake up early, and half the group wanted to go out for a drink. It ended up being me and four boys heading to an Irish bar, which sounds awkward but it wasn’t, I just felt like I was back in Southington with Brian and his friends. And it was actually pretty interesting to listen to a Frenchie, Chinois, and Lebanese discuss hitting on girls, which is apparently a lot more classy over here.

When I got home that night, I gave in to my new addiction, Glee. It’s a horrible horrible habit to watch american shows while I should be enjoying France or at least watching something in French. But, I’ve reached the point where I just feel like I live here, it’s no longer PARIS, just, Paris. It’s still amazing, I love it, but I need to get the spark back so I keep going to museums every weekend and don’t spend all my time watching Glee. If only it wasn’t so good…

Folle!

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

Mes pauvres pieds

In Paris, there’s no choice but to walk everywhere: you’ve got to walk to get food, walk to class, walk to work, walk to say hi to a friend, there’s no other way. So, when you’ve been running around town all week, walking to the metro and then work and then standing all day at work, you’re feet aren’t exactly the happiest they’ve ever been. And going dancing last night probably wasn’t the best idea after all that. My feet are officially at the point where no shoe makes them happy, they want to lie in bed for a weekend, maybe more, with fuzzy socks and Advil. Unfortunately, I’m in a bit of a pickle because I still have to eat and do my homework, which includes walking, and if I want to buy new comfy shoes and make my feet happy, that implies lots and lots of walking. So, if anybody knows some magical foot remedies, please let me know, until then, excuse my limping.

On another note, yesterday was good. At mon stage, we just prepared for the workshops that are happening this weekend, lots of cutting and counting. Then we had a meeting about the workshops and the new exhibition. It was really cool to see everything that’s going on, but also showed me that even though I’m there just as long as the others, I still don’t completely know what’s going on. Not sure if it’s the language barrier or just me missing things though.

After work, I ran over to Oberkampf to hand in my birth certificate to get it translated. The company was kind enough to let me in even though it was way past office hours. So far I have a feeling I’m going to want to give them a huge recommendation by the end of all this. I waited until the last-minute to get this done, but they’ve been nothing but helpful so far.

Last night, we decided to go all out, do our makeup, dress up, the whole nine yards. So, facebookers, keep your eye out for some pretty awesome photos soon. We went to an Irish Bar at Bastille, which was free and has great music, I ended up paying only 2 euros for the vestiaire.

Sorry if my writing is getting worse, whenever I’m tired I can see my tiny bit of writing ability go right out the window. But anyway, bonne journée!

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!

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.

Students Guide to Theatre in Paris

One of my favorite advantages of Paris is the number of theaters and the -26 years reduced prices. In Paris there’s a theater around every corner, and, except for the big shows, you can almost always get a ticket for 10 euros or less.

With that in mind, Eliza and I headed to a local theater called La Loge to see the play “Première”. It was a one man show, except for a prop man, where basically the entire plot was that the show couldn’t start because they had forgotten the keys to the stage. However, this one little fact spread off into the most random scenes. Which, you’d think would be distracting, but suddenly I’d be completely immersed in the new scene without having any clue how I got there. It worked very well and was very entertaining.

Because it was a very rainy Wednesday night, there ended up being only three other people in the theatre, who were friends with the actor. So, for ten euros we got our own private show in a local theater right down the street. Not too shabby…

For those theater lovers out there, you’re most important tool in Paris is the Pariscope, a 40 centime guide found at any newspaper stand. A new one comes out every Wednesday, same day that all new shows and movies come out in France. It is the most up to date listing of all shows in Paris, their times, and prices. It also lists descriptions of new shows and all the same information for movies.

Another great way to find out about new shows is to look at the little advertisements in libraries, foyers and the such.

By using the “less than 26 years old” discount, I’ve never paid more than 10 euros for a play. I’ve even paid only 4 euros once, although I could only see half the stage, but it was still an amazing experience.

So, my advice is to find the cheapest play, that grabs your attention for some reason, any reason, and check it out. The plays I’ve seen have never been great famous works, but they were still entertaining. Plays are a great way to explore Paris, try new things, and of course pratiquer le français. 😉