The Boy Visits Paris, take two…

Posted on May 22, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Yesterday it finally hit me that I’ve only got a week here left, which is shocking and a bit terrifying and sad. My line to people about missing Paris has so far been, yeah it’s gonna be tough and I think I would be a lot more sad if I didn’t have the excitement of moving in with S waiting for me back home. Yesterday though, I was riding home on a bus after wandering through the Jardin du Luxembourg and it really truely hit me that I would be gone soon and this wonderful, amazing, sometimes frustrating experience would be over. I will never again be 21 and living Paris. And that’s something I’ve been mourning a bit, even in the excitement of preparing a new life. This city will always be something special to me. I can’t wait to come back here and explore with my children and show them all my favorite places. But still, I’m sad to be leaving what I have here and now, a life surrounded by wonderful, amazing friends, filled with crazy evenings spent meeting people in metro stations and going in search of a host-family free apartment to get together and party in. So, I’m trying to make this last week or so really count, because, damn, I miss these ladies already.

And now onto the promised recounting of S’s visit to Paris during his spring break in March, because despite the sadness to be leaving, I’m completely and awesomely psyched to be moving in with S and sharing a life with him. And here are some reasons why:

In case you didn’t know, we both LOVE to cook. I’m back at Pearls and Cupcakes in about a week and so much food blogging will be had. Very psyched. The second night he was here, after crashing for a bit, we picked out a recipe for marscapone, spinach, lemon and hazelnut pasta, that was, quite frankly, awesome. What was not so awesome, was S forgetting his credit card in the Boston airport, but we figured out how to transfer money between our accounts and so all was good.


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St. Paddy’s Day, Paris style…

Posted on March 18, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

My oh my, two posts in one day. Whatever are you all going to do? Or more properly, what are y’all gonna do?

As it is the great Irish drinking holiday today, also known as St. Patrick’s Day, C and I decided, after getting out of class at 8, that something had to be done. I got home to find my host brothers, Simon and Josua, as well as two of Simon’s friends in our kitchen preparing to (aka drinking before) head over to my university in Paris, where there was a general meeting for students active their universities’ strikes.

By the way, the strikes have continued and spread. Several days ago, students took over the Sorbonne and barred the doorways. Today, the Sorbonne occupation spread to Sciences Po, the university I took classes at last semester. My older host brother, Simon, is a bit of a hippie and quite active in the grève at his fac. The more I learn about the movement, the more I support their aims. Plus, it’s been pretty fun to be in a country where it is perfectly acceptable to be a socialist and where strikes and protests are a part of everyday life.

Anyways, so C and I hopped on over to our local Monoprix (a supermarket chain that is absolutely partout in France) and joined the many students buying copious amounts of alcohol. We picked up some Bailey’s and some hot chocolate mix and ran back home to make some Bailey’s hot chocolate to throw in a thermos before heading back to the fac to meet up with Simon. Once we got there, we hung out for a bit enjoying some live ska (please come back ska, I miss you so) until the music stopped and crowds started to get a bit rowdy.

We finally found Simon and his friends, just as people were starting to get riled up about the possibility of a march. We hung back a bit, seeing what was going to happen, before deciding to join up with the march, which involved a run that ended up being way longer than I expected, but we managed nonetheless. The manif itself was amazing. C and I walked from our house, near Bibliothéque Mitterrand, down through the Quartier Chinois and Place d’Italie all the way to Cardinal Lemoine. The students originally intended to march all the way to the Assemblée Nationale, but as we were leaving we heard several say that they would instead be stopping at the Sorbonne.

It was a relatively small manif, maybe 200 or 300 students, but it was still amazing to see how politically active French students are in comparison to their American counterparts. While there were a few students who got a bit violent, stealing trashcans and throwing beer bottles at windows, the group was relatively peaceful. All along the way, we saw people hanging out of their apartment windows and shouting along with us, as if recalling the days when they too took to the streets at midnight. My favorite was probably this white-haired man in his late 60s, waiting at a bus stop, just watching everything and smiling. I even took part in the chanting, whenever I managed to understand what was being said. Mostly though, I just sat back and watched and tried to keep an eye on Simon.

There is going to be a grève generale on Thursday, which will be significantly more widespread than this relatively small protest. It will be interesting to compare tonight’s student movement with the workers’ movements going on on Thursday. Seeing the French traditions of grève and manifestation has certainly been an interesting experience. There are times when it seems like everything in society is affected, from the metro to my thirteen year old host sister, who occasionally chants at the dinner table “collégiens en grève,” which basically means “middleschoolers on strike.”

And there you have the omniprescence of the strike and the political protest in France, so common that even the middleschoolers participate, if only for a day off of school.

(Pic comes from a trip to the Guinness factory in Dublin that I visited in December, more about that trip another time.)

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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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