Turns out, I’m really awful at this blog thing. Or at least updating regularly. I really have been trying to do so since Wednesday, but things came up, then there was a malfunction and my video didn’t upload (to be fair, it was 33 minutes so I’m sure none of you would’ve watched anyway…), and I just haven’t felt like typing a ton of information out. So now I’m going to start. At 1am. Awesome. Let’s do thissss.
Sunday, the 19th, Rosalind and I met up to go to the Wazemmes Market, which was mainly overwhelming, a sort of mini-Braderie. Lots of food for sale at stands, but I really don’t know food prices well enough to decide if it’s a good deal, and the amount of people shouting really intimidated me, donc je n’ai acheté rien. After Wazemmes wandering, we meandered down a pretty long street, stopping in a cheese shop and a chocolaterie where Rosalind bought this hefty meringue dipped in chocolate. Took a nice little break sitting at the fountain in Place de la République. We were early for the tour of l’Église Saint-Maurice, and instead discovered that the Chambre de Commerce was open to the public. We went inside. Good decision.
We went on a guided tour. Poor decision. The tour guide was short, mumbled, and was pretty reminiscent of Wormtail from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Our tour group was well over 50 people. I barely caught a few audible words of French, and instead made sure I turned and looked in the same direction as the rest of the group when there was some movement.. Eventually, Rosalind and I split off from the group and decided to take some pictures on our own. Second good decision. Please enjoy these photos:
(Hey, here I am!)
(I really liked the sun on the building. :) Place Charles de Gaulle.)
(NikeLille. Barca? I don't understand why Barcelona in Lille...)
Having had success with self-touring/photojournaling in the Chambre de Commerce, we decided to do the same around l’Église Saint-Maurice, at least until the guided tour was meant to start. Walking slowly up the paths and getting so close to the woodwork and oil paintings at a leisurely, appreciative pace, occasionally making comments to one another, and basically staring wide-eyed at everything in the building from as many angles as we could find before sitting in teeny wooden chairs and basking in the calm of the church, whispering (as quietly as possible) about art and religion and family. Best decision. No more words on the matter, just beauty (and occasionally the back of Rosalind - which is also beautiful, if you know what I’m sayinnnnnn’ ;) )
Monday, birthday day! Woke up, met other DEFI (the intensive –but now extensive- French course for international students) students downstairs at 9:30, as per usual! Not per usual, Cindy mentioned that she’d been creepin’ pretty heavily on my facebook profile and discovered my music tastes were quite up to par. In fact, she very happily noted that I listed Interpol as a musical interest and invited me to come along to the Interpol concert at l’Aéronef (http://www.aeronef-spectacles.com/ ) on Tuesday evening with her and a friend of hers who is studying in Paris. DEFI class wasn’t too bad overall, and I managed to do well on my first written assignment. Valeria, an Italian girl in my class who is hilariously funny and loud kept trying to sing me “Happy Birthday” on our way to the Centre de Ressources en Langues (Language Resource Center) on campus. On my break between classes, I returned home, grabbed some lunch, searched for Interpol tickets online (none available, sadly) and then mentally prepared to go to my first ever Farsi class, and my first class for Arabic in France.
Farsi? Pretty damn cool. I mean, so, we’re only halfway through the alphabet, but it was still pretty cool. They basically took the Arabic alphabet and made some adjustments and streamlined some varied sounds and then added some own new letters for new sounds. Super interesting. Arabic? Absolutely terrifying. Sarah is taking the class as well, though she has a full year of Arabic study more than I do and just spent 8 weeks in Jordan this summer. We walked in, sat down, and the professor asked us to read through a short story aloud, each and every single one of us. Hello, feelings of inadequacy. It was insanely difficult, especially as Sarah and I read first and second, respectively. The following four readers were most likely heritage speakers and blew through the text wonderfully, making me feel even worse. Some of the other classmates were about the same level as I, struggling to pronounce words, taking big pauses, and making hesitant sounds. Somehow, though the reading of the text took up about 85% of our 2 hour class time, the teacher turned to the subject of the Algerian school system, then Israel/Palestine/Zionism/Judaism/Abraham having two wives/all kinds of things. In French. Yeah, because my classes are taught in French, and sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. Two boys in our class went off and discussed, in very, very quick French, I might add, some of those subjects. Sarah and I couldn’t keep up, oh well. After class, I told the professor I’d never actually learned the case endings and I’d only had one year of Arabic at Iowa, but he said he’d have handouts on grammar and things, not to worry.
So yeah, right, that was done by 8pm, and Sarah and I headed over to Place Rihour, the designated meeting place for my birthday extravaganzaaaaaaa! Not really an extravaganza, to be honest. Stephanie, a girl from Germany, ever so sweetly brought me a little box of chocolates and a pretty flower postcard and Georgie, Laura, and Katie made me a rather artistic card with my name misspelled. (Oh, Georgie..) Upon reaching the baked potato restaurant, we saw it was closed. Heartbreak. Instead, we went to Hippopotamus and had a good time anyway.
Tuesday morning, I had my first Histoire de la Langue Française class, which wasn’t bad at all. The girl next to me was an Erasmus student, and, upon my telling her I came from the US, immediately switched into English, telling me how happy she would be to talk to me in English. “Non, noooonn. Je dois parler français..” “Oh, but I can speak French or English, as long as I don’t speak Italian!” “Oui, d’accord, mais moi.. Je ne veux paaaas parler anglais!” “But I can speak English!” “Mais je suis venue en France pour parler français!” She really didn’t get it, I swear, that’s probably a word-for-word replay of my conversation with her…
Translation classes? Complete debacle. En bref, the professor of the French-English translation course was not pleased that 15 anglophone Erasmus/ISEP students showed up to her already full class and proceeded to tell us that we should probably find a different section of the class and get out of hers and that we would all fail the English-French translation course if we tried to take it, so we might as well just drop altogether. Pleasant and welcoming, n’est-ce pas? Right, well, I’m still taking the two translation courses, my credits should be okay as long as I do pass in the French-English course, and I really don’t want to go on and on about all the confusion/difficulty.
I came home, at the time upset about the confusion/difficulty I was experiencing, and left a message for Cindy saying I was sorry, but I didn’t think I would come to the Interpol concert. Cindy did not receive my message. She showed up at my door at 6:45, wondering why I hadn’t met her in the lobby at 6:30 like we planned! I felt guilty for abandoning her to go alone (her friend from Paris in fact couldn’t make it, and so I was going to buy her ticket and go with Cindy instead), having a crap day, and instead decided I’d go to the concert and try and forget about my dissatisfaction. On the metro, we ran into our friend Gaz (Gareth) from England. When we got off the metro, a lady stopped me and Cindy to ask if we were English. Turns out, she was wanting an English speaking nanny for her young son. She gave me her business card and some information. (I replied to her via email today, hopefully I’ll hear back from her soon and she’ll want me to do it?!) Anyway, the Interpol concert was great, after the hour and a half of standing in a crowded room of sweaty, smoking or drinking people talking about American and German stereotypes, trying to do a British accent and speaking some strange mixed version of French and English with Cindy. Very mixed crowd – I was stuck behind a tall, older man with gray hair. Really great though, am very glad I went.
Wednesday morning brought with it my Diachronie de l’anglais course. Read: History of the English language. SO great. I loved it. My primary professor is very amiable and funny, and the secondary professor seems really nice as well. I stayed quiet for about half of the class before we were discussing the Old English word “cwaeth” and what it may have turned into for Modern English. After a bit of silence from the class, I finally offered up my own sentiments: “I think it resembles the words ‘quoth’ and ‘quote’.” Basically saying, “Hello, I am American and I speak English.” Everyone turned and stared at me for a good 12 seconds before the professors nodded in agreement. I spoke with Professor Lemmens after class and we ended up talking about my being Pennsylvanian but going to Iowa. Mais quelle coïncidence! He spent a year in Dubuque, Iowa for high school? What is it with this place? Brian from York, Raashnie from East Stroudsburg, those girls from Juniata, and now my professor spent a year in Iowa? Ridiculous coincidences, if you ask me…
I went on a quick shopping trip to buy some fruits, made some tuna with tomatoes and an apple for lunch, soup and baguette for dinner.
Spent the rest of the day in my room, chatting with people online and relaxing after the busy first few days of the week.
Thursday, I continued to relax in my room until Christine mentioned taco night at the lovely little house of Georgie, Katie, and Laura. The three English girls have been nothing but generous and welcoming to us, having us over for tea or lunch or dinner, just to chat. So sweet. They’re wonderful people. Anyway, the idea was to go cook them a meal for being so great. Jeremiah had grand schemes for making delicious little cakes, and so Lauren, Sarah, and Christine spent forever (read: 45 minutes) inside Auchan getting food and alcohol for the taco night while Jeremiah and I stayed outside on a bench and chatted. Though Thursday was the day of strikes in France (more revolt against changing the age for retirement), we had no problems using the metro and getting into the Marbrerie suburb to their house. We spent hours there, cooking, talking, laughing, drinking, listening to music, viewing photos of cute boys with big noses (ahem), eating, washing dishes, and having a great time overall. Brian and I talked in the kitchen for a while about band and PMEA. Had I made region band my junior year, we most likely would have met there. I’m telling you, these coincidences are seriously weirding me out. We also talked about shoo-fly pie and Hershey Park. It’s nice to be reminded of home when you’re so far away, to know that someone understands and can feel the same way about certain things as you do. Very comforting. After some of us who had been drinking a bit more than others (ahemmmmm, you know who you are) had calmed down enough, we came back home to Triolo unscathed, despite some verbal harassment from some men at a metro stop.
I overslept today. By a lot. Until like 2pm. For some reason, I decided to stay up until almost 4am? I don’t know what I was thinking. Missed an apparently pointless meeting, and received two birthday cards: one from my parents, one from a long-time friend online. They both made me feel special and happy. I really did spend the rest of my day in my room, organizing my school things, working on assignments, studying, sitting some more, eating, listening to music, singing as loudly as I dare without knowing the acoustic limitations of my little room.
Tomorrow, by which I mean Saturday despite it being 2am here, there are vague initiatives to go out to a bar or two and drink and/or dance? I’m not sure if I’m feeling it or if I want to spend the metro tickets/money on alcohol, but we’ll see how things go. Sunday will be Rosalind’s BIG BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST! Woo! Then I’ve plans to cook a pasta dinner with Cindy, Anna (another German girl I met in the kitchen), and Anna’s friend. Good stuff. Hopefully, I’ll update a little more frequently with smaller posts. I know it’s a pain to read this much, really, because it’s a pain to type this much. I really want to be dedicated with details and stories, for my own personal enjoyment later on, so it’s worth it, I believe.
In parting, I’d like to leave a song again. Maybe I’ll make it a regular thing. Come back for my next update to see if that’s the case.