Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Intruder Alert.

So I walked into my kitchen juuust in time to scare a very long tail into scurrying out of my cereal and down the wall behind my microwave/dryer.

Ironically, the word for mouse and smile are very similar in French, souris and sourire....only I'm not smiling at the moment.

Oh, and I'm not sure if that was a mouse...its tail was a little too long to rule 'rat' out of the possibilities....greeeat.

Reasons this sucks:

Number 1: When I moved the microwave to try to get at him I came across an abundance of mouse poo...which means he's been here a while. (P.s. I cleaned it up, which makes me THE best tenant ever.)

Number 2: I'm not sure if Veronique is going to know what to do, are there exterminators in France I'm hoping?

Number 3: This is a very small apartment, that thing could be under my covers.

Number 4: My mother and I had a gruesomely traumatizing experience with a mouse and a shovel (use your imagination) and I'm rather gun shy about trying to kill it.

Number 5: I couldn't kill him if I wanted to because I don't know where he is.

Number 6: I have absolutely NO compassion for the lil guy in Mouse Hunt anymore.....and that's a really good movie.

Number 7: Buying mouse traps involves buying nice, expensive cheese to place in them...Rach did the courtesy of informing me he's French.

I wish I could end this saying "I vanquished the mouse," but to no avail..
I'll keep you posted.

Video of the Day:

You're welcome.

Video killed the radio star, in case you hadn't heard.

So here's me at the Eiffel Tower! Awkwardly sideways, but kind of fun [who knew the image doesn't turn?] And there's a good message ;]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Speaking of learning new languages..

These two are a couple of my favorites, and I love what they say on the topic.

A difficult question..

So I got a facebook message from Mary DeHaan today asking what I love the most about Paris, and it struck me that I really hadn't had to put it down in words here was my answer:

[and thanks, Mrs. D, for giving me good reason to sit down and think about it!]

"It really is the language, as much as I gripe haha. Just the feeling of being more cultured than most people get the opportunity to be; it's the mundane things like getting around, ordering food, asking for directions, and hanging out with french kids all in a different language that have become the hardest thing I've ever had to do and yet so completely satisfying! I find myself thinking, 'wow Sarah, you're having a conversation in French, and you understand pretty much everything that's going on...and you've only been here three weeks.'

THAT'S what I love the most ;] "

I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with French; what I do know is that I feel really passionately about knowing more than one language and have always felt that it's a big stain on America's reputation that we don't start language classes at a younger age. Every European I've spoken with here started learning English in grammar school, and every time it's made me so jealous. I understand that giving up direct translation and beginning to think/dream/eat in another language is a daunting process, and I often don't try as hard as I should. But the rumors are certainly true: if one is immersed in another language for long enough, one starts to pick up language quirks without realizing it, like listening to a new song on repeat through headphones and being able to sing along the next time you here it in a restaurant. Sure it's more than that, but I've still had reliable sources tell me French music and film are some of the best learning tools. I looked into possibly double majoring in French today, although I'm pretty sure I wouldn't graduate on time. We'll see, something to pray about I the mean time I've got some Frenchies to help me with what you don't learn at University: slaaang.


[New music obsession with a similar mood]

Monday, September 28, 2009

A crêpe here, an anarchist there...

So it's now technically Tuesday morning, and once again the weekend has gotten my blogger's goat...but not to worry. It's 1:00 a.m., I've got a few past tense exercises I feel like procrastinating, what better time to catch up??

This past weekend was slightly depressing at times, I have to admit. But there's definitely some good that came from it. I had a fairly uneventful week aside from a beautiful little promenade around the Pantheon and Luxembourg Gardens with Mary Margaret and Katia. We took awkward pictures in front of the huge Pantheon, the millions of mopeds parked next to it, and the scrum-diddly-umptious chocolate-banana crêpe they helped me find on the way to the Gardens. Ohh man that was the best thing I've tasted in a very, very long time. Sheeze louise, AND it came complete with cute middle-aged crêpe-maker man who gave us a free lesson on how the word "dime" originated (I didn't know how to say it in French, so he went on to explain that it's a Greek word for tythe...makes sense right?). I was thus quite satisfied with my first crêpe experience.


Holy Moped.

êpe maker-slash-history teacher.

Holy Crêpe.

Best first bite of my life.

I now have some beautiful pictures of the Luxembourg Palace and its gardens, despite it being slightly overcast. Actually made for luminescent cloud cover..regardez.

Friday was a much lonelier day. Most of my friends went on a day trip to Giverny, Monet's home, and since I'm signed up for two different excursions I couldn't go. Plus, I'd been invited to Stockholm for the weekend to visit my bro-in law Philip but failed to buy tickets far enough in advance, so they ended up being too expensive for the amount of time I would have been there. However, I'm going on record saying that this has been my biggest regret of my trip yet...should have just gone ahead and spent the 100 € when I had the chance. Ahh well. I'll get to travel plenty while I'm here (just booked fairly cheap flights to Oslo and Prague!! Barcelona's up next).

Therefore, I decided to be somewhat productive during the Friday morning hours and go sit through a couple mandatory film outings for my film classes. Unfortunately I was the only one who showed (proving that everyone else had plans but me..) and the film of the day was a medical documentary called MSF: Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) =très depressing. I managed to get through the 2.75 hours of gory disease, natural disaster, and war refugee camp coverage without a) falling asleep and/or b) vomiting. Mind you, this was all in French. I've gotta big heart for those kinds of situations and was actually somewhat thankful I'd been better informed. But needless to say I was feeling rather emo after that and decided to spend the rest of my day at the Eiffel Tower (I know, poooor Sarah). I let my ipod run on random all the way there and enjoyed this happy little number as I was approaching la Tour once made me feel much lighter.

I took a million mypace-style pictures of myself as well as another awkward video attempting to get the thing in the background. I'll put it up eventually, they take forever to upload, and I was only minorly successful during taping. I debated walking up the stairs, but even that costs money. Besides, I decided waiting in the massive lines with friends would be more enjoyable anyways. So I opted for making friends with the randoms I asked to take my picture along with taking a much needed nap on the Champ de Mars lawns. Let's just say never before had I been so happy to lay at my leisure with a French play and a banana rather than be starving and homeless in 70s-era Somalia.

So often life is more beautiful in the ways it doesn't work out.


My day.

Later on that night I met up with Mary Margaret at her homestay and hung out on her adorable back porch for the better portion of the evening. Eventually we decided to head out to explore her local area and came across a late 20s/thirty-something neighborhood pub that was celebrating somebody's birthday, 80s à la mode (you can't walk past a Parisian bar blasting Thriller and not be tempted to check it out.) We made friends with an older couple who had a cute lil pooch whom the husband plunged into my arms at one point (made for a cute photo) and even got some free cake. Good deal. OH! and a broken French conversation with some passers-by informed us that this year's techno parade was regulated in comparison to years past.......shhyeaahh and monkeys might fly out of my butt!

Saturday we followed a drumming group (some anti-landmining, 'munitions-handicap' fundraiser that involved live percussion, a mountain of shoes, and silly costumes...don't ask) to a park near the Bastille that was entirely surrounded by fancy-shmancy apartment buildings.

Awesome drummers.

Awkward mound of potential foot fungus.

We lazed about amongst a mass of crowds and ironically ran into some of Mary Margaret's friends from college. I have no idea how that happens in such a large city. Oh and speaking of irony, SIDENOTE: it turns out one of the boys in the picture from Frog and Princess is good friends with my friend Claire's 'host-brother' Massimo, the one I went to see in concert. Tristan noticed we were mutual friends with Mass on facebook and left me a comment in English that read "the world is little." hah. It sure is.

Anyhoo, since we'd wandered Mary Margaret's neighborhood the night before, we decided to do the same in mine. We ended up at a quaint dancing pub with more American music (only this time it was early 90s Eminem, not Michael Jackson...I don't think you can get away from mediocre radio-pop in Europe nowadays). The only questionable aspects of the night were the overpriced mojitos and the dude who verbally accosted me after taking a picture of us girls. We'd been chatting nonchalantly about how everyone in France hates Sarkozy so I jokingly said "à Sarkozy!" instead of "fromage" before the camera flashed.....unfortunately the random guy holding Mary Margaret's camera was an anarchist, and it was all we could do to get back inside before he had us trapped in an hour long rant about how much he hates French capitalism. Whoops.

All in all it turned out to be an excellent weekend, lots of quality bonding time for M.M. and me ;] I definitely took it easy on Sunday; mainly just struggled to write facebook comments in French and found that it's very frustrating when the English translation for a French word is something that I've never even heard of:

I.e. Déclinaison-->Declension:

1. Grammar.
a. the inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives for categories such as case and number.
b. the whole set of inflected forms of such a word, or the recital thereof in a fixed order.
c. a class of such words having similar sets of inflected forms: the Latin second declension.

Who knew.

Ok, I'm signing off. I hope my handy-dandy definition of the day was a good enough stopping point.

"Sarah's World, Sarah's World, party tiiime, excellent!! Wee-ew wee-ew weeeeeeeww."

[It's gotten too late.]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

19 days of Paris.

So because I want to see 500 Days of Summer sO bad (or rather, 500 Jours Ensemble as the French ads put it), and because my iTunes Paypal account is frozen thus delaying the purchase of its soundtrack (they thought my international debit card access was fraudulent, ugh), here's another song that's included, which I absolutely love..

for more than one reason.

c'était tard dans la nuit, continu.

So we watched this in my Cinema et Société class today, Le Voyage dans la Lune de Georges Méliès, of the first fiction films of its time and certainly the longest. I'm obsessed with the imagery, maybe you'll recognize..

Silly yet so creepy.
I'm going to love this course.

Tonight I had another "Whoah, j'suis en Paris" moment: met up with my friends for just 20 minutes on the Opera House steps at the Bastille. Walked up out of the metro listening to "One Headlight" (Wallflowers seemed fitting for some reason) and found my friends at the very top. Smiling, I ran up amongst hordes of French kids to watch the monument and its tiny human minions. Classic.

c'était tard dans la nuit,

si seulement nous aurions eu plus de temps.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rock On, Rock On.

So after a slightly stressful day, I'm finally well-nourished enough to sit down with a glass of decent red wine (Lalande de Pomerol...Véronique's choice) and pick up where I left off last night. But before I do, not-so-quick anecdote: let me just say that living in Rockford the four months before I came here made for an excellent summer but totally retarded my city-living capabilities. I had just found out that two of my classes are basically the exact same thing (same professor, same film critiques, but apparently different homework? UIC better still accept credit for both courses..don't worry Mom and Dad, I'll send out some e-mails), when I poorly decided to stop and buy "just eggs, Sarah" in my school's neighborhood. Alas, I should've used precaution in how much time I alotted myself in the store because I ended up with four heavy grocery bags needing to be lugged 45 minutes home to my apartment. Now, in Chicago I'd like to say I've grown out of doing this, but who knows. I'm obsessed with groceries and bad with dimension. Aside from this, [and totally sweating by this point] I had to awkwardly stop at the Phone House and put more minutes on my French phone which resulted in a number of confusing automated-French directions. The phone guy was helpful, but found it appropriate to give me a French lesson on using the 'vous' form of 'you' rather than 'tu' because vous is more respectful...bahhh. He said it nice enough I guess, but I still tend to feel condescended when something like that happens. I suppose they really are just trying to help.

My train ride home was even more awkward due to grocery overload, but this song kept me sane (and has been doing so for the past couple weeks).

So thanks for all the Owl City, boy..maybe I'll buy you a diamond in return [or at least some creme.]

P.S. This video was the corniest one I could find it, love the song.

Soo back to my very relaxed state, it's time to embellish on the events of Saturday September 19th, 2009. I woke up to a text from Mary Margaret at 2:30 p.m. (it was a very late Friday night, when in Rome) that said, "I'm at the techno parade, this is CRAZY!!!" I had totally forgotten that this was going on, so I was mid-lipstick application out the door faster than you can say "grab your glowsticks." The mile-long train of floats had passed her by the time I got to Denfert-Rochereau so we were sweating bullets thinking we'd missed it. We eventually stopped to ask a policeman where it had gone after we'd realized we were on the wrong street (never thought knowing "defilé" as the French word for parade would ever come in handy). Around 14:00 (stupid military time..) the ground started to shake and we could hear a precarious thumping in the near distance so we knew we'd found it!! Amidst a Paris avenue of empty beer cans, broken glass, stoners climbing up light posts, streamers, technicolor wigs, shirtless bros dancing on bus stops, confetti, cans of glitter spray, neon, adidas sport pants, dreads, and ripped up glossy night club flyers we found ourselves to be the only 100% sober attendees, jumping along to the Black Eyed Peas with THOUSANDS of techno junkies. Pretty wild.

"What is going on??"


Ridic.'re never too old for the techno parade (note: adidas pants)

Notre Dame, I think.

The Bastille..I reeeally wanted to get up there.

The video doesn't even completely do it justice what with its terrible quality, and t
wo hours later we ended at the Bastille incapable of processing what we'd just experienced. Ha. But it's very appropriate that this song was playing when we first arrived because it really did end up being a good night. I went straight from the parade to meet up with my friend Claire whose host brother's band Burning Box was playing at a local venue nearby. I was so excited because I hadn't been to a metal-core, screamo show since my Killer Apathy-slash-The Day Death Stood Still bandslam highschool days. Claire's faux-bro Massimo and all his friends are super sweet, totally patient when it comes to our Frenglish, and they ended up being an AWESOME set. Claire and I danced like school girls to what I'd previously described as the French interpretation of Rage Against the Machine at a French concert venue, complete with French disco ball and French friends (only all of their lyrics were in English, go figure).



Burning Box.


Disco Ball.

More new friends.

All in all, I'd say 19/09/2009 was the best day I've spent here thus far.
P.P.S. Fun French Fact: Apparently the day comes before the month when number dating in France, FYI :-P

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The City of...Playing Catch Up.

So these fun-tastic, three and a half day weekends are going to make for difficulty in the consistent blog updating department, but I'll do my best. Isn't that excellent news though? I'd originally been under the impression that I would have field studies every other Friday for my history of Paris course, but apparently they're every other Thursday now. This will be the very first semester of my college occupation with free Fridays! eeeep!! More travel and more days to sleep in equals a more pleasant Sarah Larson.

Fortunately (and I daresay slightly irresponsibly), last week's jaunts were not limited to my three day weekend, which brings me back to the eve of the Eiffel encounter. After a number of photo-ops were dangerously attempted in the middle of the street (hey, it was the only way to fit in 10 people as well as the Seine, so no judging) all of us followed Swiss Simon (pronounced See-mo) to a ridiculously overpriced discotheque he knew about called The Social Club: 15 e cover charge...I was slightly less than pleased. However, I think there was a minimally famous d.j. jacking up the price, and his set ended up being really fun so the crowd offered an excellent dancing scene (plus this place had glow in the dark ice cubes...need I say more.) All in all, I think the $23 American dollars were worth it, though I don't plan on going back any time soon.

The turnabout.

In the street..totally blurry.

New friends.

The following Monday, a few of us girls wanted to see the Luxembourg Gardens, which I unfortunately did not have my camera with to document, but it was a splendid journée wandering around the lush foliage nonetheless. My friends Mary Margaret, Heather, and I leisurely sat and talked about home, college, previous experiences abroad, and IES staff member Bertrand who every girl wants to hook up with (whom i think is slightly obnoxious, but I guess that's the Parisian way) all over dixie cups of espresso (there were two coffee stands and let's just say the cheaper one was by no means cheap, despite the paper demitasse). Anyhoo it was good bonding time, and I can't wait to go back for more photo-ops, weather permitting.

My next afternoon was certainly no less full seeing as I spontaneously joined a guided tour au quartier Montmartre. Thankfully Pierre, the IES staff member who slapped my integrity when I lost the group at Musée D'Orsay, wasn't our leader on this excursion; however, Charles (pronounced Sharle) was neither happy nor go-lucky when he found out our tour guide was going to be a half an hour late. I was thankful because it gave us time to stop and take pictures of Sacré Coeur, something we didn't end up having a whole lot of time to do throughout the day...the tour was go, go, go--five minutes here, ONE picture there. But I was glad I went because I learned a lot about the area that I would've never known otherwise. Our cute 'n savvy, late fifties femme guide provided us with quirky anecdotal evidence proving Montmartre was the it-place during the late 19th century. We saw Le Moulin de la Galette and La Maison Rose (both popular artists' hangouts), Pablo Picasso's 'garçonnière' Le Bateau Lavoir (dorm-style housing for young men), famous French singer Dalida's home (she and her three lovers all committed suicide....??) as well as Saint Pierre de Montmartre cathedral and the market Amelie worked at in the movie! It was also great watching all the sketch-artists at work...mark my words, a portrait of mon visage will be done before I leave this place ;] My favorite part, however, was a sculpture done by Jean Marais based on Marcel Ayme's legend of a man who could pass through walls. Story goes he got stuck once while running from his lover's husband and is forever trapped in Montmartre. Come winter time, a love-jaded passerby may even see him cry.......

Sacré Coeur..I'm very proud of this photo.

A couple nights later I went out to a pub called 'Le Frog et Princesse' conveniently situated on rue de Princesse with some friends from the Montmartre excursion. There were lots of people from my program there, but I spent most of the night speaking Frenglish with a couple local boys who bombarded me with "You're an American?!?!?! eh, EH Celio!!--Elle est Americaine!!!!" (they claimed they were 20 but I doubt they were any more than 17 hahaa). They were fun though, mostly because they treated my friends and me like we were freaking celebrities. I was proud of my broken French by the end of the night and couldn't believe how good their English was either.

Left to right: Ben, Celio, Tristan

My free Friday afternoon was spent on a day-date with Mary Margaret who'd invited me to the Louvre. I got there before her and promptly bought myself some Starbucks (I've been doing pretty well staying away from American chains, only cracked this time and one other when Subway just looked too good to pass). Whichever way I chose to exit the Palais Royale de Louvre metro stop was the best way because I found myself on an extremely Euro looking escalator that brought me up to ground level inside the pyramid. I realized too late where I was and decided to go back down the escalator to take pictures coming up from where I'd been (I know, I know-laaaame tourist move), but I'm glad I did because you could see out all directions at the surrounding palace.

Mary Margaret got there a few minutes later and ran into minor security issues when the guard told her she had to leave her 'knife' at the entrance ( was a wine But boy-oh-boy am I glad that my first Louvre experience was with her. Don't get me wrong, we can appreciate us some awesome art, and she knows a lot of interesting factoids from previous art history courses...but let's be honest folks: it all starts to look slightly the same after a while, and it's much more enjoyable to be with someone who doesn't take it all so seriously. Throughout the course of the day we got pictures of one Venus de Milo, one Mona Lisa, seven Napoléon III apartments, two mullets (one fashion, one fug), one 16th century midget, and one code of Hammurabi, which we're preeeetty sure we've cracked. After four hours of seeing maybe 1/37th of the Louvre, we were pleased, parched, and pooped, totally ready for some café food which we ended up eating on the Louvre lawns...very successful day indeed.

Later on that night we met up with some of her friends who were in town for the weekend from studying abroad in England and Italy. It was fun listening to their interaction, and it made me miss my friends very, VERY much (only a couple more months Mom, Dad, Erika, Rach, and Ash!!). We went to a small pub near the Bastille with some IES kids and later ended up at one of my favorite bars here yet...le Furieux, upon suggestion of my friend Claire's 'host brother' Massimo. He's our age, and I was excited to meet him because Claire had invited me to his band Burning Box's rock concert (think Rage Against the Machine, French style). Wow, what an experience that was...let's just say that needs a blog unto itself ;]

Oh, and so does the 2009 Paris techno parade Mary Margaret and I went to yesterday....ha HA. [There's some video so get excited friends.]

Weeeellll for now I'm to bed because my Theatre of Paris class is way earlier than I'd expected. First week of real classes, wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

and I'd like to thank...

So where did I leave off...ahh yes, the grandiose eiffel tower. I do believe I was listening to the song below when I first got off the train at Bir-Hakeim. This was the only mediocre shot I could get at the time, seeing as it was 9:30 p.m., but I was hoping to somewhat capture my first viewing. I met up with my friends Lauren, Mary Margaret, and Katia who were excited to see me despite my half-hour tardiness. [Skype date with Rach ran long due to much needed bouts of "OMG this, and OMG that"...surprise surprise.] We'd intended to worm our way through the crowds to find a grocery store that might still be selling cheap wine and dinner, but upon entering the main square we were immediately engrossed with the tower's luminescence...I really haven't ever seen architecture so gorgeous. I'm glad I can look back on my first encounter and be able to say it was nocturnal. That thing is AMAZING in the dark. Instead of navigating our way through the masses, we ended up a part of them assembly-line style, and it was mere minutes until we were at its base chirping with amusement. [I didn't even make it to the entrance of the park without having to stop and take pictures, hence all the trees that border my photos..made for an artistic gesture I suppose, see below.] By this point it was 10 p.m. and we still hadn't eaten dinner, so we decided to [alas] make our way back toward the train station to find that silly grocery store. We were interrupted by Monsieur Eiffel's 5 minute light show "every hour on the hour" which basically consisted of flashing lights that covered his monument base to point [shades of a giant, magical, metal Christmas tree]. I felt like I was in Disneyworld, only fewer small children and no obnoxious Cinderella parade--way less Epcot and wayyy more..."Dude, I cannot believe I'm in Paris." It certainly was beautiful, talk about the city of LIGHTS...

Later that night after having met up with my friend Katia's acquaintances in the Latin quarter [a number of other study abroad students, one Norwegian, one Bosnian, and one Swiss, all speaking perfect English mind you...très jalouse, je veux être bilangue] we made our way back to the Eiffel Tower for more grocery items/photos on the bridge over the seine [I forget the bridge's name].
I really don't mean to sound so corny, but this was the scene: all 10 of us gathered in a turnabout on the seine to gaze longingly at that handsome monument, a few smoking cigarettes, a few drinking wine out of the bottle, a few laughing, dancing, or frolicking around....and this was the best part of the evening--not since I was 12 years old leaning horizontally into the raging wind on the deck of our family's ship tour of Norway's fjords had I felt so international, soo free, so privileged.

I really am exceptionally grateful first of course to God for this awesome opportunity and how He's already blessed me greatly here...and also to everyone else who helped me along the way: financially, emotionally, and spiritually supportive. [This is me on my soapbox, just for a minute.] I don't even know if I've taken the time to say to my parents, my grandma, my sisters and their significant others, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my best friends both in Rockford and Chicago, and any random person I've told about this trip who's been SO excited for me that I am sososoSOO happy I have you in my life and that you're cool with me doing this...that you're genuinely happy for me and where God might be leading me in all of this..

so thank you..from the bottom of my heart.

Love you all and will write very soon about the rest of that evening, Véronique, Luxembourg Gardens, and Montmartre/Sacré Coeur...[sheesh, it's already hard to keep up! ..I'm not complaining ;]

à bientôt.

Monday, September 14, 2009

because I'm still procrastinating..

a very good-looking little bird gave me this song..and i'm obsessed.

Acclimation...i.e. Trial and Error.

So tonight's dinner was pumpkin soup, toast, a hard boiled egg, and prunes [??], and I realized that all this healthy eating-slash-walking-slash-running to the train will do me a world of good after a summer-long stint of laziness, $5 Fat Tires, and Susie Mom's offer to buy me whichever snacks I please--for free [don't think me ungrateful Mom, just relieved that I'm too poor to stock up the same way here].

I'm fortunately getting used to the food, time difference, new friends, homework, early mornings, correct form of asking questions, and correct form of promptly ignoring them when asked of I swear that regardless of how natural my friends and I become in our Parsisian environment we're still going to have "I'M AN AMERICAN" radar beaming from our foreheads. Therefore, the local creepsters' curiosity of where we're from and where we plan on going comes at us from all angles. Don't get me wrong, I've dealt with some interesting people and situations in Chicago, but never have I experienced, oh let's say, a bum flicking a burning cigarette all over me. I was sitting outside the Saint Michel metro stop on a park bench waiting for some friends [plenty of people around and a genial looking elderly couple sitting next to me] when drunkie mc'drunkard comes sauntering up to me yelling Heaven knows what at my headphone-covered ears. Apparently he was interested in my boots because he kept putting his foot up on the bench, which resulted in pained looks from the woman sitting next to me. I finally somewhat acknowledged him, shaking my head to whatever it was that he'd been rambling on about for a minute and a half, which must've pissed him off right flicks a cigarette IN my face. I don't think I was angry, scared, or offended...just stunned hah. The lady sitting next to me SHOT up faster than you can say "merd, my clothes are burning" to go find the cops who'd been circling the square. Long story short, my friends showed up to find me struggling to explain an otherwise strange situation to the Paris French. They detained him while we went to find what ended up being the best food I'd had yet in Paris, so not all hope for an enjoyable evening was lost. hahaa.

The next day I made my first museum visit to D'Orsay, home of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, and countless others that I have yet to see. It's huge, and our guide took his sweet time explaining some dude Whistler's paintings when I would've rather sat with legs Indian crossed in front of Starry Night for an hour. I did learn a lot though and felt rather sophisticated in the process. My favorite turned out to be a rather haunting Monet called "Un Coin D'Appartemente."

We didn't have enough time for the Van Gogh room, and the guide didn't even touch on Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (who instantly intrigued me à cause de Moulin Rouge) so I guiltily stopped to take photos of his huge murals on my own. The catch: the only rule we had at the beginning of the day was to stay with the group so that our IES leader didn't have to worry about us getting our earphones back to museum security at the end of the tour. Weeellll, as I stop to take pictures of Toulouse-Lautrec's can-can dancers, I accidentally lose the group. Oops. And my IES leader gave me the equivalent of a verbal spanking for having to wait 10 minutes for me to show up. Hah. Ohh Pierre. Come to find out he's leaving IES in a few days anyways so I tried not to let it bother me, and wrote off our "stay with the group" rule as something I hadn't been expected to do since junior year of highschool. I'm a rebel, what can I say. All in all the day was intellectually stimulating AND I made new friends, so Pierre's worry-wartedness slid off like oil [painting, that is.....I'm SO punny ;]

Well boys and filles, there's much MUCH more I need to talk about [i.e. my first visit to the Eiffel Tower, new international friends, and simple household amenities that I am très grateful to have, seeing as I've found many others are regretfully without] not to mention more about the graceful Véronique, whom I am growing to love; however, I've procrastinated my homework long enough. Bon soir~

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Beginnings.

So I promised myself that I would blog after a week of being here, and it's now Friday-slash-Saturday morning so the time has come. I'm in Paris. The French are wonderful, interesting, rude, earnest, forthcoming, stylish, stand-offish, and timeless. From the architecture to the food, the language to the cafés, everything is pretty much as I expected. I was warned about some aspects and prepped for others, but it's taken a lot of getting used to, don't get me wrong. I would like to say that I've comfortably adapted to all of my surroundings these past six days, but that would be wishful thinking FOR SURE. I got here last Sunday around 11:30 a.m. and I'm still jet-lagged. However, I am proud to say that I was resourceful enough to take a train to my homestay my first day thus saving 40 euro and since then have successfully taken the metro a number of times (only having to turn around and go in the opposite direction twice :] ). My 'house-mom' Véronique is an extremely sweet, 58 year old women with two boys who are Julian 29 and Simon 26 (pronounced Simone). The eldest, recently married, lives with his wife in NYC, and Simon has his own place in Paris. She's asked me a ton about myself which is good practice for my French but apparently is enamored with her sons because we talk about them a lot. I met Simon the other day, a sweetly typical French boy complete with slicked-back, jet-black hair, fedora, and trendy clothes most likely from Longchamp. But his brother works for Nike in the states so I'm pretty sure they're the only shoes he wears. I was inadvertently invited (cough BY HIS MOTHER cough) to an after party for the magazine he works for, Jalouse. It's the day before my birthday, and The Virgins are the 'band of honor' joke. I was slightly pleased, to say the least. But anyways, back to Vé 5'2" she's all personality with big, brown curly hair, glasses, and European looking shawls that she 'casually' wears around the apartment which is ever so French. Everything is antique; the cracked mirrors, the original wood-paneled floors, the library of French literature/theatre, the chaise, the paintings, the silver, the piano you know she got from her great-grandmother, and the red walls....everywhere. I've enjoyed the time I've gotten to spend her, be it brief....mostly dinners and the conversation we shared over wine with Simon at my first café outing in the Marais quartier. However, she's already managed to laughingly poke fun at my "terrible French speaking" as well as give 'suggestions' that come across more like orders. But despite my slightly hurt feelings, I was warned by IES staff (i.e. the program I'm studying with....acronym meaning Insitute for the International Education of Students) that the French are so often critical and oblivious that we can't possibly take it personally. Therefore, I decided her critique of my French speaking was God's way of giving me a heads-up; maybe I'm not as good as I thought I was, but hey...I've got four months to apprendre le francais...donc, il faut que je commence etudier TOUT de SUITE. (translation: I've got four months to learn, I'd better start studying RIGHT AWAY.) ;] All benefits of the doubt aside, I just came off of four months of summer without speaking, hearing, or reading French, and I think I've done pretty well thus far. I've already met some beautiful girls through my program that shared my first night out in Paris (: dinner and drinks near the Champs Elysees) as well as my first visit to a museum (the Musee D'Orsay...ended somewhat badly, but I'll get to that later. Funny story.) All in all, I'm half-way through orientation with good acquaintances, eaten excellent French food, wandered Paris on a Friday night, taken pictures on the metro with Playradioplay, Third Eye Blind, South, or Owl City blaring through my headphones, and only had one moderately threatening encounter with a bum who flicked his cigarette on me, ending in a British lady's complaint to the cops (..another funny story). Ahh, the experiences of a study abroad student. More details to come, but for now it's 2:45 a.m. my time, and my bed looks rather cozy. I love you all, my dearest loved ones! Pray for me, think of me, and send me snail-mail! (It seems like the proper, historically Paris way of communicating.) But hey, e-mails/facebook messages will do ;]