L’élection américaine

At the start of this renewed blogging effort I definitely didn’t think I’d blog for a week and then stop for 2.5 months, but the transition was (is?) hard, and I didn’t want this to become a daily rehashing of all of my thoughts running in a circle. Because many of the issues (especially the academic ones) took weeks to sort out, they preoccupied me, and they would’ve bogged down any post I tried to write, so I opted not to. Was that the right call? I don’t know, but it’s the call I made so it has to be.

In any event, I’ve got another month left to my first semester and I feel like I haven’t really done anything here. I haven’t really travelled (I took a day trip to Lille and a weekend trip to Marseille, both planned by Smith, but that’s been it), I have barely visited museums (the Louvre twice and the Picasso), and I tend to find myself in the same areas of Paris over and over again (I’m a creature of habit). My “spend as much time as I feel is necessary on work” mentality hasn’t shifted, while many other’s have, and that’s been difficult. Add to that the challenge of studying a science where you’re missing many of the prerequisites and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a lot of homework time.

I don’t want to say much about the election. Every year if I go back and look at anything I’ve written/thought/posted, I question what I was thinking. I know this year will probably be the same; maybe the base of what I’m feeling will be unchanged, but the manner in which I’d phrase it would be vastly different (and future me would argue, superior). Sometimes my positions change drastically. For example, until last Tuesday evening (read: before any results had come out as polls were still open everywhere in the US), I supported the electoral college. We had been talking about it in my science and society class, and someone else was staunchly against it. So when I got home, I watched a few videos that convinced me that I was wrong and that she was right; the system may have been put in place for a reason, but it does not serve its purpose any longer. Little did I know those feelings would certainly be multiplied come morning. Had I rammed on about the importance of the electoral college the night before on this blog, I’d feel pretty stupid coming out and saying “just kidding”, even though I shouldn’t. All that being said, as of today/last week, I am very, very, disappointed in the results of the election, and that’s all I really want to say on the matter.

Song of the Day: Lone Digger by Caravan Palace

Première Semaine

It’s been a full week of me in France now and I almost feel like my French has gotten worse. I cant definitely feel it getting worse throughout the day, which is fascinating. Like I wake up and i can speak but as the day goes on the long words become harder to stay without mixing up the syllables and trying to make compound verbe tenses? Forget about it. I’m sure it’s just me realizing how much more there is to learn (which I already knew) and perhaps becoming more self-conscious about it.

Class at Paris VII are supposed to start on Monday but I haven’t signed up for any and they aren’t listed online and the ones that are normally offered don’t look like they’re going to work for various reasons. All that to say that I’ve been having a multi-day-long “what have I done” moment. Leaving the certainty of Smith’s curriculum and their path to actually get a chemistry degree to go live in a foreign country with a family whom I know nothing about in seems veritably insane right now. I kept thinking I’d make a chem course work this semester but now unless some magic happens (which apparently is what tends to happen, but I like things to just *work*), I might not be able to take any chem courses this semester. Major bummer.

I’ve now met my host parents’ daughter and her husband. We had dinner together the other night and wow was that an experience. Normally I can mostly follow dinner conversation but NOPE not then.

  1. There were 4 adult french people talking over each other.
  2. They were using slang while talking over each other/having multiple conversations at once.
  3. They were talking about a shared history, and were all excited so they spoke faster than normal.
  4. They were talking about a real-estate search and I can’t even follow those conversations in English.

It was quiet an experience.

I of course have some more commentaries on Parisians now that I’ve lived here for all of a week, but those are for another day.

Song of the Day: The Breach by Dustin Tebbutt

Quelques Premières

Today I had a few firsts/milestones that I thought were worth noting.

I was signing some more bank documents (the fun never ends with me) and the lady from the bank gave me a copy. I cracked a joke about how I could read it every night before bed for fun. It was the first sarcasm that I think actually made it across in French.

On our way to lunch I was talking with another Smith student about how I like it to be overcast because it tends to be cooler and you don’t need sunglasses. Some frenchman piped in and we had a little back and forth about how the weather is better without direct sun. It was the first non-forced interaction with an adult French person (aka not me ordering food or my host family or professors).

I came up with my first pun in French today too. It is super bad (aka it is an amazing pun), and I wasn’t able to use it because it came to me in the shower, and it is very situationally dependent, but I’m happy none the less. Basically it’d have to happen when I was eating/holding fruit, and someone would have to say “tu as raison” (basically “yeah, you’re right” or “you have a point”) and I’d need to say “non, j’ai de (insert name of fruit here)” because “raison” sounds very similar l to “raisin”, the word for grape. Is it bad? Horrendous. But man do I love puns.

Song of the Day: Torgny by Zacke

Journée Typiquement Française

Today was literally a movie montage from a bad american movie about Paris. Not because what I did was bad, but because every step of the way I kept asking myself if the stereotypes really could be that real.

I woke up and ate a croissant with jam and drank coffee and juice. My host mother, A, took me to the Latin Quarter to her favorite Sunday market. There weren’t really outdoor vendors so much as the stores set up a bit outside and people know to come. We went to a fromagerie, a boulangerie, a boucherie, a chocolaterie, and in between all of that we stopped to watch an old man play an accordion while wearing a beret and singing. I literally said to A that it was like we were in a movie.

We had a nice picnic in the park with fresh cheese, bread, greek salad and shrimp. We also had macarons because while I had turned down cake after we bought chocolate, when we passed by a macaron shop, I couldn’t say no to them!

After lunch my host mother and I decided to head to l’île de la Cité to see Notre Dame. We got a little side tracked and saw Sainte-Chapelle first because apparently there’s always a line but today there wasn’t. I even got in for free because I had a copy of my student visa on me! Thanks, french taxpayers! We had a quiet dinner at home and now I’m falling asleep at 10:30.

Apparently this blog has already turned into a blow-by-blow, but I felt likeI had to share this most French day with you all. Orientation begins in earnest tomorrow, so it’s like I have first day jitters even though we don’t really have classes yet? It’s really bizarre. I imagine my next post will have some more substance and not so much a “daily journal” feel to it.

Song of the Day: Electric Feel by MGMT

Première Jour D’Orientation

While today was technically the first day of orientation (we all had to go to Reid Hall, and sit in a room and listen to all sorts of stuff), formal class-taking orientation starts Monday. Today was all about signing up for bank accounts, phones, getting metro cards, and the like.

By far the most interesting thing about today is that we met and moved in with our host families. That’s right, I’m currently writing this to you from my home for the next 9 months. So far they seem lovely and kind. I had a little downtime before dinner so I began unpacking and that was my first wtf moment since I’ve gotten here. What have I gotten myself into? I’m living in another country, in some random people’s house, trying to learn a language that doesn’t relate to my field of study, and I’m afraid I’m only doing it because I wanted to visit, not because I wanted to live here. I’m hoping it passes. Otherwise it’s going to be really hard to justify to myself why I gave up a year with the best department at Smith to galavant around Europe.

Song of the Day: Tous Les Mêmes by Stromae

Je suis à Paris!

I’m sure I could blabber on about some sort of realization I had, but it’s way too soon for that, my internal clock is not attuned to that, and I don’t think I have any sort of deep musings to share. So instead, here’s a few things I noticed and a little bit about how my day went.

It was a long day and who wouldn’t’ve expected that?

My flight to Iceland was fine other than some crazy turbulence that woke me up. Once we got to the terminal (we had to take a shuttle from the airline) I had 30 minutes until I was supposed to be boarding my next flight, but I had to go through passport control. Luckily there was basically no one in line so I flew right threw (pun intended) and got to the gate. A Smith student recognized me there and we traveled the rest of the way to Paris together. I was worried about customs in Paris (mostly because of my medication) but all of the douane workers were just hanging around talking to one another and we just walked right past them. I guess if you get through passport control (like I did in Iceland because it’s in the Schengen zone) maybe they don’t care that much about customs (unlike in the US). Either way, no one stopped me or my travel companion and we continued on our way. I ended up asking the information desk just to make sure we weren’t illegally entering the country or something and 1) they understood my french and 2) they answered me and I understood them, so that was a win.

The bus ride was uneventful except that I realized that >½ of the buildings I’ve seen so far actually have those beautiful wrought iron gates outside of their windows. I thought that was an exaggeration from the movies but apparently not. That and the number of smart cars. They’re EVERYWHERE. So many tiny cars. And mopeds/motorcycle. Even some that have little roofs. There are also a ton of roller bladers. I didn’t realize this was a thing. Maybe it isn’t. But Paris is trying to make it a thing.

We got to the hotel and were able to check in right away, which was a super nice surprise. G and I made our way to Reid Hall, Smith’s center in Paris, to check it out so we know where we’re headed tomorrow. After a quick trip to the center, we headed to a boulangerie and got a bite to eat. I got a croissant au chocolat et amande. It was delicious but next time I’d keep it simple and get one or the other, not together.

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While we were sitting there a smart car labeled “MEDECINS” drove by, which I thought was hilarious. It is simultaneously a step up (a doctor) and a step down (a smart car) from an ambulance. On our way back, we saw a guy smoking and drinking a pint of beer before 10 am. Welcome to Europe.

I ended up breaking the cardinal rule of jet lag and took a nap, but I was able to then go to dinner. On our way to find a bite to eat, G, M, and I happened to find a pretty view…

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It was a lovely end to a (hot) first day.

Song of the Day: Paris by Friendly Fires

New Look, Hopefully Better Content

I’m bringing the blog back! For those of you who don’t know, I’m leaving for a year abroad in Paris today and I thought this was as good a time as any to revamp the blog. Those of you who are long-time readers might notice that the almost 500 previous posts are no longer visible, which was done purposefully. A lot of the opinions I shared there I no longer have, and a lot of the things I wrote were pretty mundane (much like I imagine this will end up being, but who knows?), so I decide I’d make them private and start over on a clean slate.

Because of this starting over (but still slight redesign), K suggested I make a joke based on all of the food packages that say things like “New Look, Same Great Taste”, and I readily took the opportunity. I don’t know how often I’ll post– definitely once a week at a minimum because I don’t want to not post at all, but I also do’t want to force myself to write so frequently that you end up getting a blow-by-blow that was all too common during my senior and gap years.

At the moment I’m waiting at my gate in the US to board a flight to Iceland (yeah I’m basically a globetrotter) to board yet another flight to Paris. All told I should be in France in about 12 hours and if that isn’t insane I don’t know what is. I really hate flying so I’m not looking forward to having to ascend and descend twice while simultaneously interrupting my already screwed up timezones, but if I’m going to be jet lagged, might as well do it to the fullest extent!

Song of the Day: Get Right Back by Fitz and the Tantrums