Outside of the random lyrics and quotes, I know I haven’t been too great about blogging lately. We all stayed in tonight to prepare for our early-morning start towards the Loire Valley, and mutually decided to catch up on emails and blogs. I guess that means me, too 🙂
I’ve been in Paris for a week, and I can honestly say that I feel settled here. I’m comfortable with the metro, I have a growing grasp of the language…and mostly, I wake up every morning feeling simultaneously at home and excited to see new things. I live here, and that fact is finally starting to sink in.
Outside of all of the touchy-feely stuff, though, here’s a rundown on what I’ve been doing:
Monday we had our first day of class, the first of many two-hour-and-fifteen-minute sessions we’d have with Dr. Herod. Our class is short, discussion based, and only four days a week…there’s really nothing else that needs to be said. I think the professors are just as excited to play in Paris as we are 🙂
After lunch, a bunch of us girls decided to make our way to BHV, the Parisian equivalent of walmart, to pick up the essentials (hairdyers, makeup, really expensive shoes…) and then metro-ed our way back. We had our big “welcome dinner” that night, at a cafe down the road, where we all happily split bottles of wine and joked over the stellar food. Full of wine and duck confit, I probably slept about 10 hours that night.
Tuesday marked the beginning of the Hair Dryer Saga. Long story short, after about 10 seconds of use, the hairdryer that Hilary and I purchased made a loud “CRACK” and became approximately 43290 degrees while no longer blowing out air. It was broken. Another long story short, we agreed to meet up Tuesday afternoon to return it (with madison and nick, who speak fluent french) after they’d returned some train tickets. Due to the black hole which decided to spring up in the lobby of BHV, we couldn’t find each other. We’ve decided we were probably standing back-to-back and circling each other the whole time. Weird. I tried to return the hairdryer, but to no avail. Frustrated and tired, I made my way home, Chelsea, Katie and I went out for pizza for dinner, and I passed out.
Wednesday (yesterday) was spent taking care of the logistical things I neglected to do in my 12-hour preparation marathon (like get my prescription filled so I don’t become severely anemic and die). I did laundry, spent approximately 10 hours total on skype (between Jeannie – an old family friend who lives here in Paris, my parents, phil, the doctor’s office, my landlord…etc) trying to get things sorted out, napped, cleaned, and tried to sort my life out. I’d left in such a whirlwind that I was still trying to fix a number of things that should have been done before I left, and it was exhausting and frustrating. I felt like I had those things hanging over my head nonstop, so I couldn’t enjoy myself as much as I wanted. I was constantly worried about getting in touch with my parents (who were leaving to go on a 3-week cruise through Italy) and getting things done before they left. Today was the final day of errands and stress, and I’ve never felt such a big sigh of relief.
Last night was spent metro-ing and climbing up to Sacre Coeur, on Montmarte – the highest spot in Paris. It’s a huge, utterly beautiful cathedral that looks over all of Paris. The views of the eiffel tower, Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame and even our home were well worth the 500 stairs and the long metro ride. Oh, and the ham and cheese (and later, some nutella) crepes helped too! We took pictures, laughed, chatted, oohed and aahed over the view, were accosted by men selling beer, accidentally got nutella all over our faces, and reveled at the fact that this incredible city is really our home.
This brings us to Thursday, today. After class and lunch, I met Jeannie in Paris. She and my dad went to high school together (she was actually his date to junior prom!) and she lives about 30 minutes outside of the city. She’d agreed, sweetly, to help me take care of some things that would require more than my limited knowledge of french – namely, exchanging my broken hairdryer and getting a french SIM card for my phone. The hairdryer came first, and I was shocked when the BHV associate, apologizing profusely, explained that she had actually run out of the 15 euro hairdryers I’d purchased, and would instead have to give me a higher priced one at the same price I’d originally paid. By higher priced, she meant “60 euro more”. Um…yes please! I was shocked by my good luck, although I’d like to think it was the karmic gods smiling down upon me after my 2 previous trips (halfway across paris) for this one silly hairdryer. I hope straight bangs in the morning will be worth it.
Anyway, so we got that exchanged and finally set me up with a french phone number, no problem. After a meander through Paris discussing France, language, and the beauty of long distance relationships, I made my way back to St. John’s. Exhausted from a long week and dreading an early wake-up tomorrow, we all decided to just grab food from the boulangerie for dinner and have a massive picnic in the TV room. Other groups joined ours, and we ended up with nearly 20 people packed into the room, laughing over containers of chinese food and eclairs. It was such a poetic, sweet ending to our first week…and in some ways, a real bonding moment for us all.
I’m now sitting in front of the open window looking out onto the church and courtyard, my feet propped up on our balcony of sorts, watching the Parisian sun set and eating the most delicious chocolate ôpera. It’s been a whirlwind of a week, but maybe that’s just a flash forward to my life as a student of the world. I’ve gone through a lot of emotions over the past week – due mostly, I think, to my incomplete “pre Paris to-do list” and therefore my inability to really relax when I got here. But now, everything’s done. A box of dresses and very important medicine is on its way here (currently on a fedex plane over the ocean), I have sheets on my bed (a saga deserving of a blog all its own!), I have a hairdryer and a phone and a lovely sunset to tie it all together. Things are good now, even better than they’ve been before. And even if all this combined with my shockingly fast grasp of the language isn’t quite enough to make me smile nonstop, I have a eurostar ticket in my desk…on a train bound for london leaving (less than!) a week from today. In exactly seven days, I’ll be in the first few minutes of a long trip around the London Eye with a man I’ve missed for quite, quite awhile.
Oh! And just as exciting (and even sooner), the whole group leaves tomorrow to go to the Loire Valley for the weekend! We’ll spend the night in a chateau, do a wine tasting (in what is considered to be the best winemaking area in France), sunbathe, tour castles, walk, talk, and get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris for two beautiful days. Most importantly, though, I won’t be taking my computer with me. Period. Before I left, I told Heather that if I was allowed to go to Paris, I’d never look at a computer or a phone the whole time I was there – since I’d spent essentially the entire previous week on one or the other, trying to sort things out. My prediction was frighteningly inaccurate, though, as I’ve spent so much time on email and skype trying to sort out the things that I just couldn’t fit into the half-day I was allowed to pack and completely prepare. Now that all of those things are done, though, I’ll be happy to see my little acer sitting on the desk as we leave to board the bus for the Loire. It’s such a freeing feeling, being devoid of technology, and I’m looking forward to it in so many ways.
The Loire tomorrow, London in a week, Barcelona the week after that, and a beautiful Parisian spring week ahead…I swear, sometimes I think I live in a fairytale.