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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Dublin, the boy in Paris, Christmas at home, 21st Birthday, and Chinese New Years, oh my!

Posted on May 20, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

So the post a day didn’t exactly happen, because of finals and a nasty cold that I can’t quite quit, but I’m pushing through to try and document as much as possible of what happened during my long absence, before getting to the good stuff of my amazing spring break trip of awesome (pictures are already up on my flickr if you are curious and want a sneak peek.) Anyways, I’ve decided that the best ways to get you all caught up is via a short picture diary of the major events of December 2008 to January 2009.

First stop, Dublin: December 5th to December 7th

Travel Companions: Jamie and Alix

Where we stayed: Charles Stuart Guesthouse in a huge triple room. Very friendly people plus tasty traditional Irish breakfast every morning.

Favorite thing eaten: Sausages and Grand Marnier hot chocolate at the Temble Bar Food Market.

What we did: Saw Malahide Castle, went on the Guinness Factory Tour, walked around St. Stephen’s Green, and window shopped on Grafton Street.

Favorite memory: Going to a club where Jamie and I went to grab drinks and turned around to ask Alix what she wanted only to find her making out with the HOTTEST guy I’ve ever seen. Like epically hot. So sad I don’t have a picture.

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A belated Happy Mother’s Day…

Posted on May 15, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

With 16 days left in France, I believe I am at what would be considered the final countdown stage of my year here. And in this final countdown mentality, in addition to driving myself a bit mad trying to get in all of my favorite Paris things as well as study for finals, I feel oddly compelled to make sure I document every little thing so that I don’t forget, even though I’m already starting to. Thus I bring you the week of a post a day until I finally catch up to where I am now, and where I’m about to be.

I had originally intended to post about my mom’s trip to Paris in February on Mother’s Day, but I unfortunately have been without a computer for the last two weeks, which, no, wasn’t stressful at all, thanks for asking. Advice to anyone living abroad used to the wonderful, wonderful, live-saving, worship-deserving US Mac store people, don’t ever try to get your  computer fixed abroad and expect the same level of service. It doesn’t exist, and that makes me very sad.

Anyways, back to the momma’s trip to Paris. She officially came in as my big 21st birthday present, because I decided there was just no way I could live in Paris for a year without her coming to visit me. The first night, a Monday, we stayed in Hotel Residence Henri IV in the 5th, which I would highly recommend. Very nice rooms and in a wonderful location for not so very much. We pretty much just hung around in that area, since my mom was so jetlagged. The next morning, we moved into my wonderful host family’s apartment, as my host sister was out of town for the week on a school trip and my host mom decided to take advantage of the free time and spend the week in Barcelona.

After getting settled in, we picked up Champagne, whose host family was also gone for the week, and headed off to the Musée d’Orsay, which continues to be my favorite museum in Paris, if not the world. My mom was equally impressed. After grabbing a quick lunch at the amazing museum restaurantm we went over to Notre Dame, which was as neat as always.

On Wendsday, we decided to follow (against my attempts to fit in and at least not look like a total tourist) Rick Steves *shudder* walk around Montmartre, which I actually hadn’t made it up to yet. I think Sacre Coeur may be one of my favorite places in Paris, but the area in general was a bit too touristy for my taste. It was weird to be in Paris, but hear more English than French.

I really enjoyed walking around the neighborhood and imagining what it must have been like in the days of the impressionists, back before it became a mass producing tourist mecca. Also seeing where Van Gogh lived was pretty cool.

Thursday was Champagne’s 21st birthday, so we decided to make it into a giant joint birthday extravaganza. After picking up pastries at Ladurée the day before, we headed over to my favorite little lunch place a block away from my house and got several tasty sandwiches. A bottle of champagne from Champagne’s voice teacher completed our picnic and we headed out to Versailles for a day filled with pastries and champagne. And here’s the birthday girl!:

It was more dark and rainy than our previous bright and glorious experience, but pretty darn cool nonetheless. I mean, how many people celebrate their 21st birthday with a view like this?

Although we missed out on the fountains because of the time of year, we did indulge in something Champagne and I hadn’t the first time around: RENTING GOLF CARTS!!! Or more properly, just one, to take ourselves down to Petit and Grand Trianon, the smaller private royal residences nearby. They were both much more liveable than the behemoth that is Versaills, so that was pretty cool. That evening we had dinner at the AMAZING Le Restaurant in St. Germain, where we all shared a 4 course tasting menu of scallops, some sort of asparagus soup, a white fish and several wonderful small desserts. SO GOOD!

Thursday, I decided to get myself some mom-time, so we headed over to the Louvre and pitifully attempted to see EVERYTHING! We made it to everything I wanted to see, but unfortunately spent a bit too much time wandering around the Louvre and didn’t make it to le Musée de l’Orangerie in Jardin des Tuileries. We did however have a nice walk around the gardens, and I got to take some pretty cool pictures of the Champs-Elysées.

After a very long day, we took a bus down the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe and then headed home for some delivery food Indian (I would sell my soul for some nan au fromage right about now). Mom’s last day was spent wandering around the Marais, going to Beaubourg, and then heading off to see the Eiffel Tower. All in all a wonderful trip…

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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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Posts in progress…

Posted on March 17, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Red Panda

I promise promise promise that several posts are in the works. I’ve even started writing a draft about food in Paris, as well as several about recent visits from the boy and my mom. Until then, I thought you would appreciate some cute animal pictures, which are further proof that S’s back up career should be wildlife photographer.

Baby Leopard

(Both are animals we saw in the Jardin des Plantes menagerie. Anyone know what they both are? Come on out and comment people!)

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Still Alive!

Posted on February 25, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

I figured I should check in so that you all know I’m still alive and haven’t totally forgotten about my website. Clearly my New Year’s Resolution to blog once a week has fallen through (ugh has it really been a month). I’ve also been crappy about writing in my journal. I have however lost some weight thanks to getting back together with SparkPeople, so that’s good. I wish I could give you some amazing excuse about why I haven’t gotten my shit together and finished either of the 3 drafts I’ve been working on, like how I’d been traveling like crazy or had sooo much work, but I don’t. I’ve been pretty much at home and, though internship applications have consumed a large portion of my free time, I really haven’t had that much school work. In fact, my university is on strike.

That’s right, Americans, almost all of the professors and, more recently, many of the students are on strike. The reasons are somewhat complicated having to do with the privatization of the university system (which is currently all public) and the position of professor/researchers and their intellectual freedom. My friend Abby wrote a really great post on the exact details of it on her blog here and here. Basically, universities are going to become way more expensive and way more competitive, and professors are going to have little intellectual freedom and only be forced to teach when they can’t quite write enough papers in a year. So the French are doing what we would do if we were all of a sudden told that university would be 10 times more expensive, comparatively crazy difficult to get into (currently you just have to pass your end of high school exam to be admitted to any public university), and full of crappy teachers teaching just because they weren’t good enough to research. Oh wait, that’s how it is already in the US.

Or rather, the French are doing what we would do if we were French. Which means, instead of threatening massive class action lawsuits, they’re going on grève (again see Abby’s post for intense sociological analysis of the history of grèves and their importance in France. I’m tired and going to bed. My mom’s in town and we’ve got another fully crazy day of sightseeing tomorrow, which means hopefully you will get a great interesting post about Paris landmarks on Sunday after she leaves. Or, you know, in three months when I finally get the energy to write it.

P.S. That horrid picture was taken by my lovely boy when he last visited me. He’s coming again in just over a week, so there should be more pictures of me on this site in coming weeks.

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Only three months too late…

Posted on January 20, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

So, I know, I was bad and didn’t post last week. You must think I’m pretty shitty at resolutions. I have however been writing in my journal, despite being dead tired thanks to finals madness. So I’m working on the whole blogging thing. And so, in honor of the wonderful inauguration that is going on this afternoon, I’ve decided to finally tell you the story of election night in Paris.

It started out well planned enough. Some friends and I had RSVP-ed to a party at Porte Maillot, since my mom told me way too late that she was willing to buy my tickets to the Embassy bash (not that I’m bitter or anything, but what ever). So Champagne and I head over to Porte Maillot (which is way the fuck away from where I live) to meet up with Alix, Jamie and several other Smithies.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Until around 2 am when the organizers of the party asked that everyone (all 1000 of us) get in line in alphabetical order and people started getting mad.

So, being the smart girls that we are, we left. After several night bus misadventures (always check the direction your bus is going in), including running into another group of American girls on the bus and copious amounts of pre-gaming, we found our way to a Canadian bar that was going to be open until 5 am.

So we drank.

And we danced.

And we celebrated as results came in, state by state.

Until, at 5 am, we finally got the results.

The bar went wild and I have some great videos I’m going to post later, but I’m in class right now, so I can’t pick which ones I want. After that, we hung around the bar until they literally kicked us out and we ran around trying to find a place with CNN so that we could watch Obama’s acceptance speech.

Finally, I decided to head to a talk Sciences Po was hosting to watch the speech, while Champagne and the rest went home. We were even on the French news! I also have some videos from that I’m planning on posting at a later date.


From there, the night kind of wound down into morning. I saw Obama’s amazing acceptance speech at Sciences Po, got coffee at a café around the corner, met up with Champagne (who had been accidentally locked out of her house) and pretty much hung out until it was time to meet up with my presentation group for my class on women and politics. I gave my presentation at around 10 am, got home at 1:00 and was asleep by 1:05. All in all, it was a pretty wonderful night and one that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life.

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Bonjour Monsieur President…

Posted on November 5, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

I have a whole long post to do about my crazy, crazy election night in Paris, but I just wanted to show you this:

Historic, wonderful, amazing. I have regained faith in my country, that I thought might be lost forever.

I now have been up all night and still have 4 hours to go until I can sleep.

See you on the flipside, US!

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So what have I been up to…

Posted on November 4, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Apparently my attempt at updating a post once a week has turned into something more like once a month, as was pointed out to me by my dear friend S (not the same S that is the Boy, another S). There are several reasons for this, the first being that I have been a bit sick with a two bouts of bronchitis in a month. Something stupid is going on with my lungs and it is really starting to piss me off. I’ve also been crazy busy alternately being crazy with school and crashing into intellectual idiocy watching America’s Next Top Model in an attempt to recover. (PS – The way they play French music every time Marjorie comes on and Tyra tries to speak French to her is totally wack. Way to stereotype, ANTM.)

Well first off, I went to the Loire Valley from September 27th to the 28th. We left Paris at 7:45 and got to Château de Chenonceau at 10:45. I actually liked Chenonceau the best of all the châteaux we visited for several reasons. First of all, Chenonceau was inhabited by Henry II, who very interestingly kept his wife, Catherine de Medici, and his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, in the same (not very big) palace, essetially practicing institutional polygamy. He even snuck a D into his monogram (see below).

The H is for Henri II, the C for Catherine des Medicis, his wife, and the D is for deuxième (the second), but is really for Diane des Poitiers, his mistress.

Chenonceau is also really interesting, because, though you can’t see it in the pictures, it is essentially a bridge over a river (Google image it, for serious). During World War II, Chenonceau marked the line between occupied territory and the resistance and the owners of the château

After Chenonceau, we drove to Clos Lucé, the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, which was smaller but really cool. I would have much rather lived there than in one of the huge châteaux. I unfortunately have no pictures, but it was gorgeous. Alix and I walked through the garden, which was especially gorgeous. After Clos Lucé and a bit of exploring of the nearby town, Amboise, we all went to Château de Chaumont, which apparently has gorgeous gardens, but the group of gals I was with decided that instead of visiting them, we wanted to collapse in the comfy cushioned carriages outside and have some major girl bonding, which was so much fun and way better than weird experimental gardens.

After Chaumont, we headed over to a wine tasting. The Loire Valley is not one of the major wine producing regions in France, but it apparently can produce some good wine. Unfortunately the wine we had was not spectactular, but this was made up for the tasty fois gras and chevre with wine jelly they were serving with it. The evening of deliciousness (or as a friend called it “Smith trying to make us all into fat alcoholics) continued with dinner, where we had four amazing kinds of fondue. My favorites were a Camembert fondue with apples to dip into it and a chevre fondue with honey and thyme. We spent most of the evening entertaining, François, the nine-year-old son of our amazing associate director. We had a private room below the restaurant and basically decided to throw a party. It was amazingly fun and will probably go down as one of my favorite memories of France, all of us trading tastes of whichever fondue was in front of us, drinking wonderful wine, and playing several rousing games of concentration with François, as well as ultimate rock-paper-scissors among ourselves. Really, really amazing. I love Smithies.

All of this was followed by a round of Irish Car Bombs at a Irish pub we passed walking home, where Alix made friends with the sketchiest guy on the planet who was a American bike tour guide who had lived in 16 countries in 16 years and got hit on by his French lesbian friend. The next morning we got up (and got a quite tasty hotel breakfast) and drove to Château de Blois, which is basically four very different buildings built connected together. All of the following pictures come from the same square, just different sides:

So that was Château de Blois. There’s some cool interior pics on Flickr if you’re interested. In the afternoon, we went to Château Chambord, where I went on a hour and a half bike ride around the gorgeous grounds (and saw horses, I miss horses!). It was a blast, but I’m pretty sure that’s how my cold turned into bronchitis the first time around.  On the way home, we watched (but I mostly slept through) this really good movie about a French man studying abroad in Spain that I’m going to make everyone back home see, called L’Auberge espagnole. Here’s some pics from Chambord:

October 4 was Nuit Blanche, as I mentioned in a previous post. Here’s some cool pictures from Champagne and I’s adventures at Montparnasse:

I was in Normandy from October 24th to 25th with my wonderful program (which is full of lovely ladies). It was pretty fun but involved lots of driving. Normandy is all country and ocean and rain, very much like England. Saturday we left Paris at around 8 and didn’t get to Normandy until 11:30. We saw a movie about the D-Day beach landings (which happened in Normandy) and then went to Arromanches, a little sea side village.

After Arromanches, we drove to the American cemetery which is near Omaha Beach.  It was sad, but neat. It’s modeled after Arlington Cemetery and looks pretty much the same, as you can see. I was especially touched by the graves marked “known but to God.”

After that we drove some more (we drove something like 7 hours during the day) and got to Bayeux, where we saw the Bayeux tapestry, which dates from the 1070s. It was pretty amazing, but I have no pictures, cause none were allowed, for obvious reasons. We had a mediocre dinner at our hotel, after which a couple of us went out the one open bar we could find in the tiny town we were staying in and had a rather rousing game of “never have I ever.”

Sunday was way more fun. We went to Mont-St-Michel, which is actually kind of hard to describe, but is basically an peninsula that is sometimes an island with a giant 1000 year old abbey built on top.

We had a wicked long tour (2 hours!). There are tons of pictures on my Flickr if you’re interested in seeing more. I especially enjoyed the walk up (except for a mild asmtha attack and no inhaler with me), because you could really get a sense of what a medieval village must have been like. After the tour, a group of us went out for crêpes and cidre for lunch, which were delicious. Champagne and I split 2 gallettes (whole wheat savory crêpes), one with chicken, cheese and potatoes and one with tomatoes, mushrooms, ham, cheese and crème fraîche, and two crêpes, one with raspberry coulis and some sort of tasty marzipan inside and one with apples, caramel and almonds. Delicious lunch and totally worth blowing my food budget a bit.

After Mont-St-Michel, we started the drive back to Paris. We stopped in a little touristy town on the ocean called Honfleur, which was amazingly adorable. Some people went to a museum, but Alix, Jaime, Rachel and I decided to shop for caramel and cider to take home. I ended up with one sparkling dry cider, one sweet cider and one pear cider, and some apple caramel jelly for my host family. At Honfleur, because Smith is awesome and because we had some leftover money, our directors took us out for more crepes and cider. I finally got some hot cider (it was raining like mad and hot spiced cider tasted like the best thing I’d ever had) and had a delicious cider jelly/creme fraiche crepe. So tasty! On the way back, we settled in to watch Le Poupée Rousse, the sequel to the Auberge Espagnol, and drove the 3 hours back to Paris. All in all a pretty good trip.

This last weekend (October 31 to November 2) was spent having a series of indulgent events and then recovering. My wonderful darling, Jamie, had the benefit of being toute seule (all alone) this weekend and thus threw us Smithies a dinner party, filled with delicious food (which she talks about on her blog if you’re interested). We had a wonderful time, consumed copious amounts of champagne and “ghoul-aid” punch that C and I made complete with marachino cherry stuffed lycee “eyeballs” and proceeded to have a Disney sing-a-long (I Can Show You the World, anyone?). It was a hit to say the least.

(Alix and Rachel serenading each other – This is what happens when you put a bunch of ex-theater kids ina  room together.)

(Me and fellow lovely Tylerite Abby)

I spent most of Saturday chillaxing and enjoying being inside on a very cold rainy day. On Sunday, C and I went to Cimitière du Montparnasse to see the flowers set out for Toussaint. We even saw the grave of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre, as well as several other very cool tombstones.

After walking around in Montparnasse a bit, we met up with our friend Alix to go to the Salon du Chocolat, which is about as awesome as it sounds. It’s basically a huge exhibition of chocolate. There was much tasting, and we definitely got our 12 Euros worth of delicious.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’m planning on pulling a nuit blanche (all nighter – literally, white night) tomorrow night and staying up all night to watch the election results come in. There’s a party (with O-Bagels!!!!) being thrown by the American Dems in Paris, which I’m pretty psyched about. It goes from midnight to 6 am. Then I’m off to a party at Sciences Po from 6 am to 9 am. Then I meet with a class group to practice a presentation we have on the role of women in the 2008 elections at 10 am. I’m done with class at 12:15, and I’m gonna come home and crash, since I don’t have class until 2 pm on Thursday. Sounds like a plan, huh?

Oh, and another bit of exciting news, the boy is coming to Paris from December 11th to December 17th. This means you Austin people get less of him at Christmas, but honestly, I matter more than you, so :P. (Except for his family if they’re reading this…). I am super psyched and promise many a good story to come.

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This crazy city I came to love…

Posted on October 10, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Somehow in the last couple of days, I have fallen madly in love with this crazy city I live in. I was actually kind of mopey about being here and being settled and being a little meh about everything earlier this week, but something happened and all of that changed. I think that this is largely related to my starting to take the bus instead of the metro, which for me really makes all the difference in my attitude toward the city. I love sitting in my adorable little seat, watching Paris go by, getting a sense of the placement of things, rather than just being crammed into a cattle car and having absolutely no idea where I am.

But the bus is not the only thing I love about Paris. I love that there are so many art exhibitions and films and plays that I could not possibly manage to attend everything that looks interesting to me, even if I had a limitless bank account. I love the omniprescence of bakeries and the daily necessity of a fresh baguette. I love that little gardens are everywhere and that apartment buildings are rarely more than five stories tall (though mine is nine). I love finding new little treasures, like the diner I saw today on my way to class from my dance class that was serving apricot strawberry pancakes and Texas chili (um, definitely visiting there when I get homesick). I love that everyone and everything has style, from the people on the metro to the reusable sacs you can buy at nearly every store. I love discovering new foods, like fresh figs (omg, heaven!) and this pastry that has a different name everywhere I go but is essentially filled with chocolate chips and custard. I love my adorable host mom, who brought me dinner in my room, because I had collapsed after dance class and C had come down and we were giggling like mad watching Michelle Obama on the Daily Show last night while talking to the boy. I love delicious 3 euro wine. I love how amazingly international Sciences Po is. I mean, in my dance class alone, I met someone from Canada, someone from Australia, two people from China, one from Spain, and one from Poland in the five minute water break in the middle of class. I love the passionate liberalism in France, where the right wing resembles the Democratic party in the US and the left wing is socialists. I love that there dogs are welcome practically everywhere and can be seen sitting on their owners’ laps in front of most cafés in Paris. It’s just such a wonderfully cool place to be, so international and yet so very attached to its own culture. Paris is a beautiful thing. Come visit me if you don’t believe it.

And now, just to give you an idea of the crazy that is day to day life in Paris, I have two short stories.

The first is one of those the entire world passes through Paris stories. Saturday night was Nuit Blanche, which is basically a bunch of art installations all over Paris that go all night long. I could write a really long post about the adventure that was the night, where I ended up seeing only one installation (though it was a pretty cool one), but instead I will leave you with a short vignette. I was in Gare de Lyon attempting (and eventually failing) to see some sort of “spectacle de Bollywood” (it doesn’t really translate into English) with a group of fellow Smithies. We may have been previously partaking of champagne (straight from the bottle – classy right?). Anyways we decided to stop in the bathroom before making our way out of the train station to try and find the spectacle and lo and behold ran into a couple of guys (adorable, obviously gay guys at that) from the building we share with about 15 other American universities. So, we started talking to them and one of them turned out to be from SMU. So, we started playing the “do you know so-and-so game?” and I mentioned my high school. For those of you who do not know this about me (and I’m sure you are few and far between), I was a giant Latin nerd in high school. Vice president of the Latin club, coached certamen (google it if you don’t know what it is), went to NJCL conventions every summer, card carrying (literally, National Latin Honor Society, bitches) nerd. So my new friend asks me do you know this Latin teacher … and names one of my high school Latin teachers. And thus commences girly screaming and hugs outside of a Paris train station bathroom. It turns out that my Latin teacher taught at his middle school (incidentally of the same name – go Episcopals!) when he was in middle school AND that my Latin teacher’s little brother is his twin brother’s best friend. Crazy, crazy small world we live in.

The second story is less exciting and more about the bizarre things that happen in everyday life here. I was on a bus this afternoon on my way home from a very long day when a bicyclist swerved in front of our bus. Like so close that I thought he might have been hit. Now in the majority of the world, the cyclist would look a bit contrite or maybe at most throw a finger at the bus driver and go on his way. But no, this is Paris. The cyclist (previously so intent on his destination that he swerved in front of a BUS) starts cursing at the bus driver, who was quite nice to me and stopped the bus again for me when she saw me running to catch the bus, who curses back in some of the foulest French I’ve ever heard. And then he starts to follow the bus. So he and the bus driver are screaming swears at each other for about half a block and the entire bus is looking around in either shock (them) or amusement (me). And then he turns and bikes off. The bus driver returns to being a very nice woman who is kind enough to give directions and to let people know when to get off if they’ve asked her directions. And that was my ride home.

Oh, Paris, how I love you.

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