Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Don't I have a beautiful voice? Its all I've got."

Oh the last few days have been quite the whirlwind. I'm not quite sure where to start, so I'll pick up where I left off, but keep it as brief as possible, I know the details are dull to others so bear with me.

Yesterday we got up for another day of orientation. Bethany, one of my roommates, and I walked to campus together, unfortunately getting slightly lost, but still mostly on time. During a long break I sat and talked to a few of the guys on our trip (there aren't many) and was surprised to find out that they're definitive "frat guys". Entertaining, at best. I had lunch with a bunch of really great girls who live at Cite Universitaire, a residence hall across the city, at this great corner cafe. After a dull housing session, we all returned home. Later in the evening Bethany & I visited Cite to hang out with the girls that live there. We just hung out and talked but it was cool to see the residence hall they live in (the outside is gorgeous) and see another side of town.

Today was the last day of orientation. CEA bought us all sandwiches from a bakery which we took to the National Archives courtyard across the street to eat. The National Archives buildings are so pretty, I feel so lucky that I could have lunch there every day if I wished!

After some good conversation with a girl in the program who goes to WSU (Go Cougs!) we all boarded a tour bus to see the city. Our bus driver was hilarious, making fun of herself, her accent and pointing out all her favorite spots. Of course, I'll have to go back and really see everything, but it was great to finally see the sights after having been here a few days without a glimpse of the major monuments. We saw Notre Dame, the Seine River, Napolean's tomb, Champs-Elysees, the Eiffel Tower, the Sorbonne and University of Paris, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Montparnasse, and probably a dozen other things I cannot remember. I snapped a few shots from the windows (most of which are on Facebook) but cannot wait to go back to take more!

After being here for a few days without really seeing the definitive Parisian landmarks, it finally hit me today where I am and what I get to experience for the next four months. Being thrown into a place so big like this, its hard to really get the big picture of what is going on until its literally shoved in my face. Driving through the city today, seeing the major monuments, that is when it finally hit me. Someone took the wheel (literally) and said, "Here. This is where you are. Do you get it now? Good." I am so grateful and blessed to be here, I really couldn't ask for more!

On a less cultural, but equally historic note, I had my first legal drink tonight! My final roommate, Sami, moved in for good today now that her family has left and we were ready to go do something. We weren't sure what was around so we stumbled into a small restaurant/bar and each grabbed a drink while talking and getting to know one another. I think we'll get along really well, and the mojito was delish!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Here comes the rain...

Today, it rained.

After waking up at 6 am, due to my good friend Jetlag, I got ready to head to our first day of orientation. My roommates and I decided to walk to campus, only 30 minutes away from our apartment. It was sunny this morning, and not too cold, and I think this will probably be how I get to campus for class most days: the walk is beautiful, its a good bit of exercise, and as long as the weather is nice it is a lot less trouble than the crowded Metro.

Our first day of orientation consisted of about an hour and a half of lecture, introducing the staff, and telling us some more general info about the program. Then we split up into 2 groups (there are about 65 of us total) and my group headed to lunch at Nectarine, a small restaurant at Place des Vosges. The lunch was pre-ordered (and prepaid!) for us by our directors: a delicious cheese & vegetable quiche and a salad. I meant to take photos of Place des Vosges, but as I pulled out my camera I realized I left my memory card in my computer. It is located in the Marais District, and is a planned square made up of a park about the size of a city block in the center, bordered by a road, and then lined by one long connecting building around the edge, with one street exiting. The architecture is beautiful, the pinkish-red brick standing out against the sea of white and grey throughout the city. Being winter, the trees were bare and the fountain was turned off, but if you click here, you can see the square in full bloom.

After lunch we began our tour, which was accompanied by rain. It was cut short but we managed to briefly see l'Hôtel de Sully, the surprisingly large BHV department store (we all desperately needed new pillows), l'Hôtel de Ville, and rue des Rosiers, the street central to a large Jewish community in Paris, notable because it is one of the only places where nearly all the businesses are open on Sunday (as opposed to the Christian traditions of businesses being closed Sundays throughout Europe). I will have to return to all of these places in the future to take photos, of course.

I did, however, buy my metro pass today! One of my roommates and I used the metro to get back to the apartment rather than walk through the rain, and it was successful. It really is so easy to navigate. The pass seems pricey but when loaded for a week or a month you get unlimited rides. I'll definitely take advantage of that one weekends to scope out the city.

My very parisienne dinner: une baguette avec brie & saucisson sec

Night view from my apartment

Monday, January 23, 2012

Je suis à Paris!

I finally made it to Paris! Sunday afternoon I boarded a 7-hour flight to Iceland, then took a 3-hour flight to Paris where I was picked up by CEA staff members with fabulous French accents.

The drive into Paris from the Charles de Gaulle Airport was wonderful. Driving on the freeway and into the outskirts of Paris, I still felt like I was in America; nothing looked Parisian! I even saw a hotel called "Pullman Hotel". What is so amazing about this city is with one right-hand turn the modern buildings give way to the classic Parisian style so quickly.

Here are some pictures of my adorable little apartment:

View from my bedroom

Living room


Friday, January 13, 2012

its almost here!

This week I received my housing assignment and classes. I will be living in an apartment in the 11th arrondissement with 3 other girls who are in my program. I've looked at the place on Google maps & found a few pictures of some of the interiors of the apartments, and needless to say, I can't wait! As far as classes, I got into all of the aforementioned courses I had signed up for. During orientation we will find out our final French language placement.

All that is left to do now is pack! I leave on Sunday, January 22nd, flying through Iceland on my way to Paris. I'll be in Paris at noon on the 23rd, leaving plenty of time to meet my roommates, get food and other amenities and rest up for orientation which starts immediately the next morning. During orientation we'll learn about our courses, tour the city, and find out what our excursions for the semester are. I'll be very busy when I get there, but I am prepared and will continue to keep everyone updated while I am gone.

A sidenote to anyone wanting to follow this blog, if you do not have a blogspot account with which to follow me check the 'Follow by Email' gadget on the right sidebar. You'll get an email update whenever I update!