Tag Archives: sorbonne

Bye bye St Michel, I hope I never see you again :-)

That is perhaps the most negative title I have written, and karma will probably come and hit me one day by making me live above Gilbert Jeune or something like that. 🙂

Today was my last day involving my Sorbonne class. Thankfully, my oral exam wasn’t that difficult. Since September, we had read 10 texts in class, of those ten we had to chose eight to possibly talk about during our exam. Then, come exam time, you randomly select one of those texts along with a question to answer. My text was part of Les Memoires d’un jeune fille rangée par Simone de Beauvoir. So, I had read part of the texte aloud, summarize the texte and then answer a simple question about the sentiments evoqued by the author. I presented this to my professor and another, who was really nice, so it ended up feeling more like a conversation than a test. So, to any future students of the Sorbonne french as a second language classes, don’t worry, all the people at the Sorbonne are incredibly nice because they’re use to silly foreigners and all our mistakes. Even during exam time my professor was there for me, I mean yes she did have to grade my performance but she didn’t do it in a judging way if you get what I mean. So, Sorbonne exams finished, and now I can worry about other things!

Throughout this semester, my least favorite part of the day was taking the metro from my stage to my class, therefore having to pass through the chatelet metro station, take the line 4, and walk through St. Michel. Ask anybody in Paris and they will tell you that those are three of the busiest places around. After getting fed up with the grimy metro and fake deaf and mute kids bugging me everyday at St. Michel (no lie, they walk away singing anytime somebody actually signs their fake form), I started taking the bus to class. Note for future GPPers, Line 87 and 86 go straight from Bastille to Rue des Ecoles aka right next to St. Michel. For some bizarre reason it took me three months to figure that out, so today as I was leaving my test I realized that for the first time I went to and left class by bus without even seeing St. Michel. Silly me taking three months to figure it out, but at least I did eventually.

Fun fact from my stage: cotton is a horrible material for canvases, it moves and reacts to humidity and all sorts of bad stuff. Meanwhile, polyester is the perfect canvas and reacts to practically nothing except heat and accidents. Oh, the magic of science.

Louvring it

I’ve been horrible at updating my blog this week. So, I’ll try to remember everything that went on since my last update.

Wednesday I went to my internship (which in French is called un stage, so if I slip that’s why). The director was there so she actually gave me stuff to do. We cleaned out the classroom because classes will be starting this week and they needed somewhere for the professors to put their things. So I cleaned out cabinets and ran up and down the stairs with bags of garbage. She started adding paintings, photos, and drawings to the pile so I asked her if she really wanted to throw out the paintings, because they were beautiful. She said yes, but if I wanted to take some I could. So, I wound up with 2 paintings, 2 drawings, some watercolors, and a bunch of random photos. I put them up in my room and it finally feels like home, which is funny because I don’t exactly have oil paintings in my room at home. Guess it’s just the parisienne influence. After the massive clean out I took the subway, with all the paintings, to my class. Surprisingly nobody looked at me funny for carrying a pile of paintings in the subway. Maybe they made me look more artsy and parisienne :-P.  We continued to work on vowels in my phonetics class and the subjonctif in my grammaire class. Once classes were finished I headed to the foyer to eat dinner before going out for a play. During dinner I talked to one of my Frenchie friends about smoking. He said he had his first cigarette at 12, smoked occasionally at 13, and actually started smoking for real at 15. And he knows people who started at 8. It’s crazy. Anyway, that night I went to see the play “A deux lits du delit” with Lauren and Erin, friends from my Sorbonne class. It turned out to cost only 4 euros, although we could only see half the stage since we were in the cheap seats. It was a very funny play about 2 men who go to a hotel to meet their mistresses, who turn out to be the other man’s wife. I didn’t get all the jokes, but I understood the majority of it. We’re going to try and make Wednesday night play night, because it’s easy to get cheap tickets as young students in Paris.

Thursday I spent my internship scanning papers into the computer. Also, I got to help make some sort of resin for “fixing the paintings.” No clue what I actually did but it was cool. I left mon stage a little early since, guess what, another strike! Go France! This time it didn’t really affect my time in the metro at all, it was mostly on the outskirts of paris and RER lines. But, since I walk to the Bastille metro I got to see some of the manifestation, which basically consisted of a bunch of giant balloons which some name on it I didn’t recognize, and a bunch of people trying to hand out fliers or sell me stuff. So, I got to class fine and honestly can’t remember exactly what we learned Thursday. We might have started talking about questions and cinema in my Grammaire class. Thursday night we couldn’t eat at the foyer restaurant because of the strike, so one of the foyer boys was kind enough to cook for Eliza and me. We had something which involved putting slices of bread with ham, mozzarella cheese, chevre (i think) and tomatoes on it in the oven. It was really really good and filling. Then I just hung out with the foyer guys and did my homework.

Friday I spent the time at mon stage starting to translate the website. The girl before me did most of the work, but there’s still a lot to finish, and it’s tricky because there’s all the complicated art terms. It’s fun though because I really have to think about what I’m doing.  Then I headed to my class, again no problem with the strike even though it was still going on. In my phonetics class we continued with vowels, which are really tough for me. You have to think about where you put your tongue, when open your mouth, and where your lips should be. And it can change three times in one word, but you can’t talk all sing songy like we do in the US. In my grammaire class we continued to work on questions and discussed films. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be going to see one of the films we talked about for class. After class I went to a cafe to catch up with the GPPers and Jessica, and then rushed back to the foyer only to discover that the restaurant was closed because of the strike, so we ate kebabs instead. Then I rushed to the Louvre to meet up with Lauren and Erin because on Friday nights the Louvre is free to almost everyone, unless your old and not european. It was cool to just wander around with no worries even if it was only for half an hour.

Saturday, I woke up and headed to Cyberphone to buy some more minutes. The more people I meet the faster I use up my minutes. But at the same time I don’t want to not send texts because it’s really cool and important to text in French. Then I headed to the foyer brunch. I got there late so I didn’t really eat to much. But, apparently the French eat pancakes with caramel. It wasn’t bad but it just didn’t feel right. I had planned on going shopping and seeing a movie, but my friend bailed on me. So, I ended up playing pingpong most of the day and then going out dancing with the crew. We went out to a bar, which was nice because it meant an earlier night since the bar closed early.  I love dancing, but the bar was a little too crowded, so I honestly had a better time just walking back to the foyer afterword. We missed the metro, so it was a 40 minute walk or something like that. It’s nice just to talk to people and relax.


My friend bailed on my again for the movies. So, thankfully Eliza was incredibly nice and went with me. We saw “Des Hommes et Des Dieux” which is about 7 monks who stayed in Algeria during the war. It was good but it was really heavy and deep. I think seeing it once was enough.

Today, because this post took about 4 days to finish, I started my stage by sitting in on part of the first class. Basically all the students introduced themselves, the heads of the atelier introduced themselves, and they said all the rules of l’atelier. After that the directrice showed me a painting that still had paper stuck to it from the packaging they put on it for transport. It was stuck to the border, and she had me make a solution to help take it off, and then use it on the painting and  peal the paper off. I’m not sure if that made any sense, but I was working on an actual painting, moving it around and everything and it was awesome.

Then I headed to my phonetics class and worked on open vowels, not fun. I love my phonetics class, but it makes me really mad that we didn’t do any exercises like this in High School or College. It feels like I didn’t really start learning French until now, and now I’m really behind. It’s not actually true, it’s just frustrating.

In my grammar class we worked on how to make phrases comparing things. Like, compared to his brother, paul is short. Which was kind of boring until we used it to have a very very animated conversation about whether TV is good or not. It was the first time we actually stayed in class to long, so hopefully we’ll do activities like that more often.

Then I headed to class with Marie at IFE. She started teaching us phonetics, which was good and confusing because she teaches it a little different than my prof at the Sorbonne. We had some fun doing French tongue twisters and just trying to pronounce these crazy French vowels.

For dinner at the foyer I ate tater tots and carrots because the meat did not look good today. It might be a bad habit to start skipping the meat, but I’d rather stick with my ham or chicken sandwiches at lunch and skip mystery fish for dinner.  I sat with the normal crew, and we had a heated discussion about films which was awesome. And then we got on the topic of pronunciation. I love when people correct my French because I want to speak well, but I’m so frustrated about all the different U forms. I wish I could magically wake up with the ability to say Cours correctly.

Now I’m exhausted for some reason. I think I’m just going to go to bed even though it’s only 10:20.

Bonne nuit!  Sorry if this post was written randomly or poorly, it took a couple days to finish.


9/9/2010 6:51 PM

I’ve been really bad about updates. Partly because I had a bad day and wanted to reflect before I posted anything, and partly because yesterday was pretty good and I just felt like going to bed instead of updating.

So, here’s the going ons.

Tuesday: Got my results for the Sorbonne course. I’m still not completely clear about my feelings on the results. I’m in the intermediate level, all the other people in my group are advanced. I’ve been in average courses all my life, so it’s not the level that bugs me so much as for once I wanted to be challenged. Also, I’ve been doing well at Goucher, like the other people in my group. I shouldn’t have gotten an A in a 300 level French class if I’m in an intermediate level. So, I’m annoyed that I apparently didn’t do well on the test, and I’m annoyed about the whole system of French learning.

But now that I’m in the class I like the people. (Also, my friends in the advanced class say that it’s really easy too, so maybe the whole Sorbonne system is easy) And I really like the phonetics class. I’m finally learning how to speak French!

Tuesday was also my first French strike. Very important moment in my life. J

The metro was insane. It worked but there were a lot less trains, so each train was completely packed, there was a line just to get into the waiting area for the train. Then once you got there, there was only room for one person to squeeze onto each car. It was very crazy and stressful, but everybody was nice about it.

Wednesday: Had class with Marie in the morning. I was excited because it was on French food, and we went to one of the oldest markets in Paris. But, most of the stalls weren’t really open, and the class wasn’t that interesting. But it’s good to know where the market is. Then we hurried to our first phonetics class, which consists of “repeat after me” and “so what would you do in this case.” Which I really like because I can finally focus on how I’m speaking French and the reasons behind it. Then we ran to our Grammar class, we only have half an hour between classes and we have to take the metro to get there. I like that we’re learning grammar that I never learned properly, but since it’s all technically review it can be annoying. However, I like my classmates and my prof (Anne-Sophie), so it’s all good.

I also met another American through my class, Lauren, so we’ve been hanging out a bit and it’s really nice to branch out beyond Goucher and the Foyer.

Wednesday night was really fun, I got to relax with friends and have lots of good food and tea (if you’re reading this THANK YOU BERT!). I think the end of the day, hanging out at the foyer, is one of my favorite parts of the day. It’s the only time I can really relax and not worry about that fact that my French is nowhere near perfect. Like, last night, we ended up doing some Karate just for the heck of it. So, it wasn’t “Jen trying to socialize in French” it was just a bunch of friends having a good time, which is something I really miss.

Thursday: Had class with Marie at IFE, where we discussed French politics, which is not more interesting in another language. I don’t think I’ll ever like politics, no matter what language it’s in. Then we ran to buy lunch, ran to the metro, got to class on time, and learned about when to use liaisons in French (such as saying un autre amie as u-nau-tra-mi, or something like that). Then got back on the metro to my grammar class, where I learned how to make phrases starting with Ce qui, Ce que, Ce don’t, et Ce a quoi. This was all review except for Ce a quoi. Then I tried to find a notebook and binder so I can start organizing all the papers I’ve gotten. Turns out notebooks and binders in France are very different. Instead of just being lines a lot of the notebooks are like graph paper, and the size of the paper is different. And then they have binders like at home, but most of them don’t have pockets or are made out of different materials. I know it’s just paper, but I wish I had brought more 5 star notebooks. Also, pens are more expensive, or at least the good ones that I like are. You can still buy a pack of really cheap ones. I bought some supplies since I know I just need to get use to the French way, I also found a cheap copy of Frankenstein in French :-D, so now I finally have something to read besides tamora peirce and Fanfiction.

Then I headed home, had dinner with Eliza and my British neighbor, and now I’m here “doing my homework.”

So, I’ll try to be better at updating, especially since we have a special excursion this weekend, but until then.

Bonne Soiree!

Alors, on danse!

So,  these posts are a bit blah so I’m just putting them together. There’s less to write partially because I was tired and partially because everything’s starting to feel normal. I’ll try to get back in to the extreme blogging groove again soon. But this weekend, I’m enjoying being a bum.

9/4/2010 2:21 AM

Alors, on danse!

Today was just full of things of do, and I loved it, but now I’m just kind of exhausted.

Started out by going to IFE to study and use the internet. Had class with Marie where we learned about French music. Ate a quick lunch, went to the Sorbonne to take our placement tests. Went back to the foyer. At dinner at the foyer restaurant for the first time. Everyone says its bad, but its really pretty good so far. It’s just not great for French food. Eliza and I ate dinner with this English guy from the foyer. Its cool to compare countries and all that. Then we met up with Jessica for a bateau-mouche ride sur la seine. Then walked around like crazy. Then came back to the foyer and had tea with the boys and just hung out. It’s nice to start reacing the point where I can just relax and hang out.

There were a lot of details that I was going to write, but I’m way too tired.

Bonne nuit.

9/5/2010 2:56 AM

Woke up around 1 today, stayed in bed for a while. Ate lunch with Eliza and Pengpeng, who is an excellent cook. Acted in a short film for Yoen from the foyer, my line was “All clear, let’s go”, tres important. Played pingpong and just hung out with some of the foyer kids. Spent the evening with Jessica and the GPPers dancing. Good fun relaxing day.

But I would walk 500 miles, And I would walk 500 more

Yesterday was the first day that I was too tired to right for my blog before going to bed.

I started the day early so that I could buy my Navigo pass before all the activities started. The Navigo is basically a metro card that you pay for either monthly or weekly and during that time you have unlimited Metro and Bus rides. So now, if I want to go somewhere or I’m tired and don’t feel like walking, I can just use my Navigo and don’t have to worry about how much money I’m spending.

I got to our meeting place early, so I walked around the area a bit and then met up with Jessica and chatted with her in a café. Once the rest of the group met up with us, we found our tour guide Sebastian and started walking around the area. (Around the Metro stop Jacques Bonsergent in the 10th Arr.) He taught us a bit of the history of the area, how it’s changed throughout the years, showed us the Canal, and brought us to on of the best bakeries in Paris. We basically walked from 10am-1pm.

Then we took the metro to go meet Jerome at the Louvre. We grabbed some sandwiches from a very touristy café, where I got a very strange look for paying all in change. But when there are 2 Euro coins, it’s hard not to end up paying with mostly change.

Jerome taught us the history of the Louvre and how it’s changed throughout the years. It basically started as a teeny tiny little castle on the edge of Paris. It was built to protect the city from invaders traveling along the Seine. I forget the exact order, but basically each King would add something to the Louvre until it was a humongous enclosed castle. The reason it’s not enclosed any more today is because during the revolution, they burned part of it and it was next rebuilt. Little note for Brian: you know how we saw the foundation for the Louvre but couldn’t quite figure out how that worked. Well it turns out it’s the fondation for the 1st Louvre, the one built to be a fortress. Also, one of the reasons the Louvre has so many levels and is so big, is that Francois Mitterrand decided that Paris needed more cultural and artistic spaces. So, he started a project that doubled the size of the Louvre. Hence the enclosed courtyards and lower levels.

After the Louvre we learned how the fancy Metro entrances were actually very Modern when they were built, and nobody really liked them. They actually started removing them, and then the public got use to them and stopped caring so much.

Then we headed to the Palais Royal and learned that the courtyard was actually a parking lot until somebody realized that there was great architectural work being hidden because few people went into the parking lot. So, they changed it into an artistic space with this piece of modern art that’s a bunch of columns. At first they look a little weird, but Jerome explained that they’re meant to work with the older columns on the building. Since the art is throughout the courtyard, it draws your eye to the building behind it.

So, yesterday we ended up walking for a total of 6 hours. Paris is keeping me in much better shape than Connecticut ever did. 🙂

After saying goodbye to Jerome, we dragged ourselves to Christina ans Sophia’s foyer to study French Grammar for the Sorbonne test today. We went over lots of conjugations but ended up giggling for most of it since we were so tired.

Then there was a little get together at the foyer. I met a couple people, but felt bad because I couldn’t really meet anybody since I was so exhausted. So, I called it a night and went to bed.

It’s been an amazing week but I’m very glad it’s Friday and I get to sleep in as late as I want tomorrow.

Bon Week-end mes amies! Et merci for the comments!!

Café, written august 28th

8/28/2010 2:33 AM

Today was very very long, so I probably won’t describe much, I just want to note what I did.

I woke up, went to IFE early so that we could use the internet there. Went to class, learned about the history of Paris, how certain quartiers are changing, how there’s not an intellectual quartier anymore, and the qualities and defaults of parisiens. It was a cool class because my prof made sure to ask questions that would get us talking and had us read things aloud and then go over them piece by piece. I thought I would have trouble staying awake, but with only four people in class and an interesting class it was pretty easy.

Then Christina, Sophia, et moi went to an algerienne restaurant for some couscous, at a very good price. We stopped by their foyer and I got to see just how very spoiled I am. Then we headed towards the Eiffel tower to explore a bit before our next activity, found out the activity had changed so we just switched the metro to the other direction. Walked around the Notre Dame area, saw le Sorbonne, some touristy spots that are nice because they’re open late, walked along the river. Then we decided it was far too cold so we stopped for some chocolate chaud and ended up talking for atleast two hours, so that it was ten pm before we realized we were starving and needed some dinner. Bought falafas, walked some more, headed home.

Eliza and I played cards with the other students again, although this time they also taught us some games.

And then we realized it was 2 am and the common area was closing, so now I’m in bed and very very tired.

A plus tard.