Coucou! (a casual way of saying hey!) Time is really flying by; I can’t believe I’ve been here for almost a month! I have officially survived the first two weeks of classes. I am taking a French grammar class (sounds boring, but the teacher is HILARIOUS, so it’s actually my favorite class!), a French conversation class, Muslim Presence in Europe, Paris Collage (a history of Paris as seen through architecture – it meets for 3 hours once a week, including field trips to sites!), and a seminar on French education – a 3 hour lecture in French, but I’m excited to teach English to little French kids! Classes meet either once or twice a week, which is so different from the quarter system at UW. I also don’t have class on Fridays so I can travel a lot! The homework is pretty minimal so far, and I usually have a week to complete it. Compared to UW, I barely feel like I go to school! It’s wonderful to have so much free time to wander.
Last Friday I met my friends at Les Jardins Luxembourg to walk around, and we ended up walking to Les Invalides where Napoleon is buried, and then to the Eiffel Tour where we made an impromptu picnic. I’m never bored here because it’s so easy to visit a museum or just walk around and explore. So far I’ve been to Le Louvre twice (it’s so huge, I could go once a week and always see something new. Last time I saw Napoleon’s apartments – so lavish), Le Musee d’Art Moderne, Le Musee d’Orsay, Notre Dame twice, and a ton others. I can’t get enough! Today my friend and I finished class around 3:30 pm, so we decided to head to Le Centre Pompidou to check it out. When we exited the Metro at Hotel de Ville, we found a huge outdoor ice skating rink in front! Naturally we decided to do that instead – it was only 5 Euro to rent skates, and entry was free! It was so much fun and so beautiful; Hotel de Ville is a very cool building, and we could see Notre Dame nearby with the sunset behind it. So fun!
Today I picked up a newspaper called “A Nous Paris”, or “In Our Paris.” It is full of events going on in the city, from films to concerts to markets. I discovered an annual film festival here called Festival International du Film d’Environnement that takes place this week. They will be screening documentaries and other films about the environment, all in French. And it’s free! (In this city where everything is so expensive, I’m always on the hunt for free events.) I can’t wait to combine my life in Paris with my academic interests. It’s cool to compare their approach to the environment to that of the US; people primarily recycle glass, especially in public places, and there definitely isn’t any compost system! And the stereotype is true – everyone smokes cigarettes here. It’s banned in all indoor public places, like restaurants, but most have outdoor areas with little space heaters for smokers. The sidewalks are littered with cigarette butts, too.
I also went to try volunteering to teach high school kids English at a nearby after-school club, called Club Barbes. I was excited to get involved and try teaching, but no one was very motivated at the club. I helped one boy with his English homework, then sat there with my friend for two hours. I was disappointed, but I found an opportunity to teach little kids English – and get paid! Even just a few extra Euros a week would be a great help, and I think it would be such a cool experience! People here are also dying to speak English, which is hard when I’m dying to speak French! Usually my conversations end up in both languages, which is such a workout for my brain! Every time I tell a French person I’m from Chicago, their initial response is, “Chicago! The windy city! Michael Jordan!” It’s pretty funny to hear what people think of it. Last night my friends and I found a bar that was streaming the Super Bowl, so we stayed up to watch the game. Kickoff was at 12:30am! Needless to say I was a bit tired for class today, but it was definitely worth it!
A bientôt! (See you later!)