Friday, May 13, 2011

Found this

Yes, I already posted today.
Yes, I am just connecting to another website on studying abroad.

But I just read this and wanted to put it up, because on most of the points, I totally relate, and for any of you thinking of studying abroad, I would probably warn you about some of these too. Especially #s 2, 6, 7, and 10.

À Bientôt!

Guilty Blog Post

Hey there blog readers. I realize that I haven’t posted anything in a long time, and I’m here to apologize for that. Sort of.
In my past posts, I have always blogged when something interesting has happened or when there is something on my mind I’d like to share. Neither of these have really happened much recently, so I haven’t blogged.
Then I realized that the longer I waited to blog, the guiltier I felt for putting it off. So this is mostly to ease the guilt.

Let’s see, I finished my first exam yesterday, and I have my second (and last) next week. Classes are over, and final papers are all turned in. I’ve been working on finishing my Division II over email. I’ll start packing sometime this weekend (though really there is not much to do). Most exciting thing I’m looking forward to is that my friends from school back in the U.S. are coming to visit next week (which admittedly is REALLY exciting). Other than that, I’m not doing much. Literally, I woke up, showered, got dressed, watched some T.V. on youtube, and eventually ventured outside to the grocery store for a couple items; I thought to myself, “Look at me! I’m SUCCESSFUL! I left the apartment!”

I know what you would say. “You are in PARIS! Go do something FUN and AMAZING.” The small issues here being: a) anything more fun than going to the park costs money I do not have, though there are some museums I could get in free to, but that leads us to the next problem --> b) If I don’t have to do anything, I get lazy.

No doubt I will go outside this weekend and enjoy the sunshine at some point. I also have my last Frisbee practice on Monday and the team is having a BBQ on Tuesday. I’m not a COMPLETE shut-in. But for now, I think it would be best to suit myself to what I want to do while I have the free time, and today, that’s watching more videos on youtube.

More adventures to come now that I have kick-started myself to blogging again.

À Bientôt!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oh this is too perfect

I think to myself on Saturdays such as these when I sleep past 2 in the afternoon, how can I make up for sleeping the day away? Of course I ought to spend some time in the sun, but also do some homework. I managed this rather well on Wednesday by going to le Jardin du Luxembourg and reading a book for class, so I decided to repeat this action today.
It was another gorgeous sunny day, like it has been all week. The flowers and trees smelled amazing, and the copious subjects available for people-watching made it hard to concentrate. I got through maybe ten pages when a boom in the distance startled me.
What the heck was that?
Looking up towards the sky in the booming direction, I saw that the dark clouds were rolling in, and there was a subsequent “Boom.”
Oh jeez. Thunder in Paris.
Not wasting any time, I packed up my things and walked briskly towards the exit. The rain began not a minute later, and all around the other park visitors’ shrieks and scampering crescendo-ed in an almost humorous way and everyone ducked for cover. Not I.

iPod on and the sun still shining, I all but danced my way down the path and out to the street, the rain pounding and lightening up every few moments, trying to decide whether it should be a passing summer rain or to grow into a full-on thunderstorm.
This is one of my perfect weathers.

At last, a break in the static heat of the sun, a release, when ruining your shoes doesn’t matter, there’s a song in your heart, and at last, an open smile on your face.

Everyone else under the overhangs on the sidewalk didn’t know what they were missing.

À Bientôt!

Friday, April 22, 2011

To have a Happy Easter, you have to break a few eggs

This being my 20th post and following the events of this afternoon, I feel the time is now right to write about the Monoprix.
(Queue the epic choir)

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Yes, the Monoprix.

Since the beginning of my séjour here, this glowing red neon M has been where I pay homage to all things grocery. The one that I go to is just one street away, the height of convenience. True, the produce was a bit pricey and by February I was more inclined to seek it elsewhere in open markets, but for the most part, I had a great fondness for this place. It was much like a Target in the U.S. in some ways, with a section for clothes, home goods, and food-stuffs, though the grocery section is a bit more fleshed out. I have known for a long while now that Monoprix is one of the most expensive supermarket chains in the city, particularly where I live, but the distance was so convenient and I watched the prices carefully, so I thought I was doing alright.

Then came Lidl.

I had heard of this place a few times amongst friends, that the food-stuffs were less expensive. At last today I decided to suck it up about riding the metro for groceries and checked out the one closest to me (and it wasn’t very close).

I found a miracle. Lidl most resembles the food section of an Ocean State Job Lot, and I was LOVING IT.
Nearly everything I bought today I got for half of what I pay at the Monoprix (in most cases that cuts the price by around ,50 centimes, but still, half off!), but, get this, the SAME BRAND of spaghetti sauce that I get at Monoprix for 2,25€ a jar was ,85€ at Lidl.
Happy Dance Loading: |-----------     |

I also picked up what looked like an insane deal on a ten pack of beer. It wasn’t until after I made it all the way home that I saw the alcohol content: <1%
It basically tastes like ginger ale. Oh well, there were other cheap actual beers there as well, I can always go back at some point.

It is actually a good thing in a way that I hadn’t discovered Lidl before now, for a few reasons:
1)   I knew all along that Monoprix was pricey, but I planned accordingly and learned to look out for the most inexpensive ways to eat.
2)   Lidl is not a complete supermarket like Monoprix, and houses a large amount of chocolate, cookies, and very cheap wine. This would have been temping beyond measure had I known. (However, I will of course be returning in a few weeks after classes are over. Mwa. Mwahaha. MWAHAHAHA!!!)

Unfortunately upon my return I also discovered that two of the ten eggs I had bought had broken and dripped all over the bag, which gratefully only also had the not-beer in it. Oh well.

Joyeuse Pâques tout le monde!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blending in – or standing out?

Remember how I said I was starting to feel like a resident? Clearly it shows. 

What is the inherent problem with a non-native young woman dressing like a Parisienne?

Tourists will think she is a Parisienne. They will ask her for directions. Often. And most of the time, she won’t know where these places are either. And having been taken by surprise at being called out in the street, “Madame! Excusez-moi, Madame!” most likely, she will not respond in her most fluent of French, but rather disjointed and vague directions/apologies. How humiliating.

This normally happens to me once every few weeks since I arrived here, but today it happened an astounding three times in around five minutes. There has been a huge influx of tourists in the past couple of weeks. At least the third was asking where a street was that was by coincidence my street. I can figure out that much!

À Bientôt!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Home or Away

Classes are really wrapping up; I have two and a half weeks left, then exams. I try to focus, but the weather is beautiful out, and sometimes I daydream of home…

I found myself thinking of soft-serve ice cream, Dad’s homemade pizza, driving through downtown, lilacs, green grass and mountains. I look forward to spending days at the lake with my siblings, organic vegetables, and running around the house with my dog. I am very excited to return home.

At the same time, I look around myself and realize how much I will leave behind. The off-white stone buildings, ivy on the church, street lights, the night-lit ponts, open cafés and brasseries, des boulangeries et des patisseries, the French flag waving against the blue sky…

Being surrounded by a new culture is fascinating, and there are days when I feel so much a part of it. Greeting friends with bisous, taking the métro, shopping at the Sunday market, and feeling much more like a resident when comparing myself to the tourists while strolling along the quais and around the Louvre.

However, this experience is only adding a new chapter to who I am. I feel that I will always view the world differently after having lived abroad, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity. I will no doubt feel a change when I return to the U.S., having experienced something different. But I am altogether American, and no matter how accustomed to Paris I have become, I wholly feel that that the states is where I feel most at home. Maybe someday I will expatriate to Europe in retirement, but I feel that is a long way away.

In the meantime, I will finish my classes, start packing in a few weeks for my return, and soak up as much sun as I can. It is with great joy that at times I remember, at home or away, it is the same sun.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What The Fox?

This time I put off writing because I have actually been busy! Not just with work, I actually go outside in the sun and socialize now!

Most recent adventure: Ultimate Frisbee Tournament in Compiègne

My first Ultimate tournament in France! I was so excited. I have been consistently attending practices once a week, learning the different strategies and terms. It is not the same as being back at school playing with my own beloved team, Red Scare, but it has been interesting. Sciences Po’s team is called What The Fox. Some nights half of the players who show up are English-speaking exchange students like myself, other nights it’s mostly the French students. This tournament had a bit of both: Saturday had a good mix of the two, and Sunday it was just the French-speaking students and myself. While in general I think my overall comprehension and verbal expression in French has improved since I started, it was still difficult for me to follow along in the conversations half of the time, and I mostly just listened. Full immersion can be very interesting, but overwhelming at times too. They did all speak English to some degree, and were very willing to translate for me if I really didn’t understand, which was considerate of them. It helped me to feel a bit more included, but at the same time it’s awkward being the odd one out.

We played four games on Saturday, and three on Sunday. We lost them all, though the final one was a close loss of 7/10. The team had good spirit though, so we had a nice time. While I missed the varied cheers and spirit games that I love in the U.S., there was a difference I liked:
After each game, the two teams would form one huddle, alternating players from each team, and give a rundown of how each side thought the game went, commented on what could have gone better, what worked well, and wished the other team luck for their other games. We do this as well, but mostly as separate teams and we may shout out a corny cheer to the other team to say “good game.” Some teams here not only high fived after the games, but also kissed cheeks. I am in France after all.
We did play one round of “Ninja” with our opponents from the first game, but I so missed playing “Wah.”
We had gotten to the tournament by train, and then a bus. Those who had gone back to Paris on Saturday night instead of staying over were able to get back by car, but what the four of us overnighters hadn’t realized was that the bus to the train station didn’t operate on Sundays. Before I could really take this in, one of my friends looked to the road and stuck out his thumb.
Are you serious?
Before I could really start panicking about the possibility of the four of us hitchhiking, we did manage to get a ride to the train station, about ten minutes away.
I got back, sore and sunburned within an inch of my life (I hadn’t had the chance to buy sunscreen before leaving, and no one else had brought it on the first day either), around 6:30PM last night. Now I have bought some aloe, and I hope the stinging stops soon.
Overall it was a good experience, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to keep doing what I love most while abroad. When I get back though, I may have to retrain myself to say, “Stalling one, two, three, …” instead of, “Comptez un, deux, trois, …” and from saying things from the side lines like, “dommage,” “bien joué,” and “force coup-droit!”
À Bientôt!