First meeting and meeting my host family…

Posted on August 30, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Today was an especially busy day. Looking back at it, I’m not really sure how it all fit into one day. Champagne and I got up around 7h30 to get ready and pack up our hotel room, as we were moving in with our host families today. In the midst of getting ready, I’m pretty sure I blew out my hair straightener, even though I was using a converter. 😦 I don’t know what I will do if I don’t have a straightener all year long.

Anyways, we were finally ready to check out around 8h45, which was when we were supposed to be meeting people for breakfast. So we got checked out and left our bags in storage. Then we headed up to a delicious “American Breakfast,” which turned out to be a giant buffet that included traditional French pastries, scrabbled eggs and bacon, pancakes, rice soup (I think this was for the large Japanese population present), museli, and like 6 different kinds of cheese. Everything was pretty delicious. I’m now especially fond of chocolate museli and plain yogurt.

We finally left the hotel to go to “the Hall,” which is what I’m calling my program’s center in Paris with everyone but two girls who were running late, around 9h45. We got there and had a super busy day of filling out forms for our Carte de Sejour (residency card), our Carte Imagine-R (Metro/bus card) and our Carte de BNP Paribas (bank card). Our director is a bit intimidating as he corrects every little error one makes in French, but the associate directrice seems really kind. On the plus side, we had a delicious lunch of quiche, grapes, cookies and mirabelles, which are like little yellow plums.

The Hall, by the way is absolutely gorgeous. It’s on this tiny side street in the 6eme (6th) Arrondissement (see below), but is full of so much green space, you wouldn’t believe it. Several other programs share the space, but we have our own library and class room and have access to a bunch of study spaces which is pretty sweet (or schwete, as the French prounouce it).

After all of the forms (I was the last appointment with the bank), Champagne and I wandered back to our hotel. On the way we bought flowers for our host moms, who by the way, live in the same apartment on different floors of the same building. We hung around the hotel lobby with everyone until 18h, when our host families started to arrive.

My family was actually the first to arrive, which was pretty exciting. My host mom, who I’m calling Madame here until further notice, and her thirteen-year-old, Anna, met me at the hotel. Madame seems really nice and Anna is adorable. Her best friend, Fiona, is the daughter of Champagne’s host family, so their families are good friends.

We drove to their apartment in the 13eme (13th) Arrondissement. First off, I supose I should explain the system of arrondissement. Paris is organized into 16 official neighborhoods, called arrondissements, which each have pretty unique personalities. In my observations, the lower numbered arrondissements are more towards the center of the city. The 13eme is fairly new, but seems pretty cool. The apartment building is totally not what I expected, but totally awesome. It’s super modern, but also super stylish and has a giant garden with a playground in the center of it. My room has an awesome view, but since it’s the middle of the night, I don’t really have any pictures for you.

We’re across the street from the BnP, the Bibliotechque nationale de Paris, which is one of the three great libraries of the world, along with the Library of Congress and the British Library. On the other side of the building is the Seine, the large river that runs through Paris, which has a huge park on the other side of it.

The apartment is adorably decorated. Lots of super modern bright Ikea stuff mixed with antiques. My room is small, but cozy and I already feel at home here, maybe because every wall surface is covered with books, including Lord of the Rigns in French, which I am kind of dying to read.

For a little more about my host family, Anna, my host sister, and I bonded over a mutual love of horses. She’s constantly nagging her mom to buy her a pony she has her eye on named Romeo, which is totally something I would have done at her age. Madame works at a university nearby and Monseiur, who I haven’t met yet, since he is away on business, is an architect. They each have children around my age from previous marriages, one of whom is an ethnologist and the other is an engineer. They also have an adorable cat named Verguille, which means Comma.

The rest of the day was filled with unpacking, a delicious dinner of veal ratatouille, sautéed vegetables and potatoes, and learning stuff around the house. I feel like I can’t take it all in quick enough.

Oh well, I better get off to bed. We’re touring the neighborhood tomorrow and Champagne and I want make a run to the Monoprix, which is their equivalent of Target.

Goodbye until tomorrow or Adieu à demain!

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