Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brief Catch Up

Sorry I haven't written in so long, I've been so busy and surprisingly I have had beaucoup de devoirs. (and I thought going abroad would give me a break from Michigan academia...)

The good news: I can tell that my French is getting better! My tell tale sign is the fact that I'm no longer getting handed the English menu when I walk into a cafe, which has definitely become an ego booster.

The bad news: My French skills come in waves. When I first arrived I was having trouble even saying the casual hello to Myriel or to anyone for that matter. It was like I had a permanent french stutter. I could see what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it in my head, but when the words left my mouth they were neither French nor English, but were an entirely non-existent language that I like to call merde-speak. But just tonight, Myriel and I had convos ranging from the recent shock of Galliano's drunken anti-semetic rant and his subsequent firing to the racial tensions of the Arabs in France and of the Mexicans in California. Even though sometimes I break into Franglish if I dont know a word, Myriel can understand me and I her, well mostly anyway. However, if I have been speaking a lot of English and not a lot of French which is usually on the weekends when I don't have school or host family dinners, my French skills become merde-speak again, and Myriel is the first one to call me out. Merde.. I hope this does not turn into a vicious cycle

The other bad news : I have yet to do my laundry since I've been here since I accidentally bought fabric softener instead of laundry detergent... I don't blame this on the language barrier though since I probably would be in the same boat if I was in America.

The best news: Not only did Paris Fashion Week start today, but Eden and Amanda, two of my sorority sisters are here for spring break. It has been so great and relaxing spending time with the girls and catching up. Saturday night, we all drank wine at Eden's amazing apt in the 15th, and then we went to this local cafe called Le Dernier Metro to get dinner. We were crammed in between other french diners, and the space was so small, you couldn't help but meet the people around you. To my left were two old men in their 60s or 70s eating dinner and drinking wine (which they later shared with us) and to my right was a french man who's brother ironically lives in Fullerton where my grandparents live. Small world I tell ya.. I bonded with the 60/70 year old men, and told them which boy we each had a crush on in the bar and had a good laugh. One of them  had actually been to Laguna Beach and he told me to go this discoteque called the White Horse. I have never heard of it, nor any discos in Laguna for that matter. Maybe Orange County was a happening place 50 years ago?

But if you're ever in the 15th seriously go to that cafe.  It is great food, great prices, and the waitress is phenomenal. She has actually taken a liking to us because Eden speaks practically fluent french (while I attempt), and we have been there nearly every night since.

By the way I'm so sorry I don't have any pictures, shamefully, I have yet to snap even one photo since I've been here. But that will all change tomorrow, because my class has a site visit to the Palais Royal, which means I will be seeing a lot of areas to shop. I figure my camera will keep my hands occupied from spending any money.

Plus did I mention Fashion Week started today, and that I managed to get my hands on the schedule and location of all the shows, so I will soon be stalking the Le Jardin des Tuileries, le Grand Palais, l'Hotel de Ville etc just to join the other paparazzos trying to snap a glimpse of the fashion elite. But now that I think of it, if I actually saw one of Anna Dello Russo's outfits in the flesh, I might actually die and go to fashion heaven. Anna is my demi god.. or is that sacrilege to say? Regardless J'adore ADR or should I say J'ADR like she says..

Ok Im off to bed

Bonne Soiree!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First Night Out

I was forewarned by a girl from michigan who lived with Myriel last year that she is not the best cook in the world. Welp, I'm pretty sure thats the biggest understatement I've ever heard. We had our first meal together last night, and luckily she didn't screw up the frozen veggies, but the hamburger patty was practically looking into my eyes and mooing at me. Not even my dad, who likes his meat on the rare side, would have touched it; it was practically cold from the lack of cooking. After dinner I actually thought it was more healthy to go out and drink just to kill the mad cow that could be potentially rotting in my stomach.

So Celia, my sorority sister on my program, and I met at the metro stop Hotel de Ville in the Marais to grab drinks. It was a monday night so everything seemed to be closed, except this place with flashing purple lights. It wasn't until we sat down that we noticed practically everyone in the bar was male, and they were perfectly groomed, each equipped with some finely coiffed hair. Little did we know that the Marais was a huge gay area...

After our first drink there we walked around trying to find a place that didn't scream boys only, but we had little luck. Finally we found this small cafe and grabbed a bottle of wine. It ended up being a local hangout and we had the best time and met some very cool people.

Let me just say that Parisians get a terrible wrap for being rude and dismissive, but in my time here, nearly everyone has been incredibly friendly, whether it be helping me with directions, my pronunciations, or where to find soy yogurt in the super market. I've noticed that they love to talk to you, partly out of curiosity, or just out of pure kindness. They like to practice their english, and I like to practice my french so it is a win win for both.

Celia and I ended up getting into a philosophical conversation with some man who looked like the younger french version of Doc Brown. He was very bizarre and kept asking us if we believed in extra terrestrials. Then this woman, Raphaelle came up to our table, and she was so cool. She works at the largest news radio station in France, and lives outside of Paris near Versailles. She wants me and Celia to come to her house and practice our french by practicing english with her two young kids on some days of the weekends. She told us we can drink tea and eat bonbons in her garden, and it sounds like a blast. Hopefully that will actually happen!

Celia and I had stayed at the cafe for over three hours, way past closing, and the waitress told us of a cool place that had "after hours" up the street called Connetable. We went but it seemed sort of dead so we tried to hail a cab that was near a group of young kids our age. This boy started talking to us in french and asked if we wanted the "flower" he was holding which was just a stick of leaves. He ended up lightly hitting it on my forehead and me and celia thought what a piece of merde! (look that word up on your risk) We ran into the Connetable to seek salvage and the bartender took a liking to us and called us a cab. There we talked to this beautiful french woman who told us all the cool local places to go whether for appetizers, for the night, or for after hours. Then the little merde and his friends came into the Connetable and tried to talk to us again. He came in to apologize and said he was only joking and that his english is very bad. Honestly, you know you can speak a language well if you can understand jokes and even say them yourself. Even in the US its very hard to be funny when no one understands what you are saying, just ask my parents..

So we ended up grabbing a table with the four boys and two girls, and sharing a few bottles of wine with them. They study at the Sorbonne and it ended up being a blast. After we left the Connetable, where the 60 year old bartender fell in love with Celia, we walked through the streets with the Parisians trying to find another place to go. It was 3 in the morning and everything was either closed, or wouldn't admit girls since we were in the Marais.

We walked all the way to the 11th district where some of the other kids and I live, which was very convenient since I didn't have to take a cab home which would have been super expensive.

It blows my mind how many amazing people you meet when you are open with people and willing to chat. Paris et Parisians sont tres incroyable!

Monday, February 21, 2011

jusqu'ici ça va (So Far So Good)

Actually, the title of this post should be so far so great but I don't know how to say that in French. Be forewarned, this post is going to be sort of boring and mundane since i just describe where I'm living/going to school etc.

I arrived Saturday morning around 9 am, and was driven in a shuttle van to the 11th arrondissement, where my host mom Myriel lives. Even the van ride was different, it was a shared van, and the driver stopped for gas on the way, without any warning. Finally after about a 30 minute drive from Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, the driver drops me off and points to the building where I will be staying. He doesn't help my with my bags so I have to figure out how to cross a busy intersection with two suitcases and a small carryon on my own.  I somehow manage to climb to the second floor (the first floor in french)  where Myriel greets me, takes one look at my bags, and says "woah." At this point, I'm thinking I brought to much... 

Myriel est tres sympa (nice), shes probly around 50 years old, and is very very beautiful. She only speaks to me in French, and since I am rusty to say the least, communicating has been kind of challenging. When I first met her she had on these insanely cool red and grey printed pants, and she told me they were made by Jean Paul Gaultier. Once she uttered those three words, I knew were were going to get along 

Her apartment is small, one kitchen the size of my bathroom at home, maybe even smaller, one living room, one bathroom, and two bedrooms. To say Myriel is obsessed with Africa is an understatement. There are decorations from africa all over the place, even the toilet seat is leopard print. 

My room is very cute, and its actually decent in size, I have my own desk, a twin size bed and a very very tiny closet. 

After unpacking, I went to meet my Parisienne friend Manon, near the Eiffel Tower. Having no idea how to use the metro, Myriel tried to explain it and even walked with me to the stop since she needed to go to the St. Germaine. The France transportation system is incredible, it is so simple, efficient, and easy to understand. Luckily I live within a block of  two different metro lines. 

Sunday I had my orientation at one of my program directors apartments. There are only ten of us on the program and the directors, Jessica and Katie, are young, fun, and super knowledgeable about not only the history of art, but also the history of Paris. 

I had my first classes today at the Institut Catholique de Paris, a university where french and international students study. My French classes are three hours long starting at 9 am Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. From 1:30 to 4:30 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I have class with either Jessica of Katie. Monday and Tuesday classes are in the Catho, but the Wednesday and Thursday classes are all class visits (to the louvre, le musee d'orsay, versailles, monet's garden etc.), so it should be completely amazing. I will keep you updated on all of that when the time comes. 

So now I'm home, and Myriel and I are going to eat dinner around 8h30. I dont know what I am going to do tonight, I am so exhausted, I barely slept last night even though I tried to go to bed at 10 pm. I must be jet lagged still. 

Sorry for the lame post I promise the next ones will be tres interessant! Also please ignore the grammar/spelling errors, its been a long day

à bientôt,