Week 7

WORD OF THE DAY: Quotidien- daily

I know it’s cheesy to say, but I can’t believe we’re already on week 7. I’ve been traveling for so long now that my life abroad has reached about the same level of normalcy that I had at home, but I still try everyday to take a moment to appreciate how fortunate I am that this has been my life for the past 7 months and counting. Not every day is jam-packed with adventure; today I ventured outside my apartment once to go across the street to a bakery for my new favorite desert: raspberry macaroons.

But yesterday, I had the opportunity to be an audience member on Quotidien! It’s the French Daily Show, (literally, since you know now that quotidien is the french word for daily)

We were on french tv!

The french host of the daily show is super short in real life, and he wears sneakers with his suit! I think it’s because he does his whole show from behind a desk, so he doesn’t need to wear formal shoes. I would try to find pictures; you can actually see Sadiq very well in most of the close ups of the guests, but it’s a pretty new episode, so I’ll just have to tell you what it was like.

We waited in a room for about an hour before someone who I think was a producer led us into the main room where the show tapes. It’s a circular room with the bleachers that we sat on circling Yann Barthès, the host’s desk. There were several, pre-taped clips that we were expected to be silent for (Barthès even gestured at us to shut up during one of them because we all laughed). The three guests for the day were Greta Thunberg, the 16 year-old, Swedish girl who is now the global face of the movement to stop Climate Change, Stephan Eicher, a Swiss singer, and Tony Estanguet, the commissioner for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

It was tiring to sit cramped on the bleachers for long periods of time, but this was such a cool experience. At the beginning of the semester when we got our calendars, I knew that this would be something that I really wanted to do, and I’m so glad that I got to do it.

My friends and I are spending the day in Rouen tomorrow. It’s a medieval-looking town in Normandy where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by the British after ending the Hundred Years War. I’m excited to see the Cathedral and to get a new fridge magnet for my collection. I’d show you my collection, but I left all the ones I got in Italy behind in Washington DC when I went home for the holidays.

So there you have it; another week is done. I know I don’t speak often of my classes, but I want to stress that I am learning a lot in them, even if they can sometimes be quite frustrating. I, along with everyone else, tends to get quite hungry during class because the majority of us have back to back classes through lunch time.But I’m trying really hard not to complain about that; we are, after all, here to study French; all of the travelling and exploring Paris is a happy bonus. I will try and show you more pictures of Paris next week. It is more difficult than you would expect to visit the big tourist attractions during the day on the weekend, as France is nearing the end of its 15th (I believe) week of Yellow Vest protests over fuel prices. That’s an entirely different can of worms to open, that I think I’ll try and talk about more next week. In the meantime, I’m ready to spend a day exploring the cute little town of Rouen.

À bientôt,

Elizabeth

Week 4/5

WORD OF THE DAY: grignoter-to snack

First of all, I apologize for not uploading a blog last week; I usually upload over the weekend but I got sick in Barcelona and went to bed early when I got back to Paris on Sunday.

I could talk about many things today. I could talk about how my classes are going, my recent weekend trip to Barcelona, or what’s going on in Paris. Instead, I’d like to talk about the future, that is, when I eventually go home and start my final year at Skidmore.

As much work as I have here in Paris, I still don’t really feel like I’m in school. Junior year has been my working gap-year; a year to finish some requirements for my major and minor, but mainly a year to travel and broaden my horizons. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences in the past six or so months of travel, and many horrible ones as well. However cheesy it may sound, I still wouldn’t have done most of them any other way.

I still dearly miss Skidmore though. It feels weird and uncomfortable to say it, but at this point, I’m starting to struggle to remember a lot of things about my school. I don’t remember what it’s like to trudge through snow banks in well-below freezing temperatures, only to reach your class and need to shed all your layers as quickly as possible because the change in temperature from outside to inside is so drastic it’s making your skin sting. I don’t remember planning your meals around when your friends are free and, if they’re not, searching for one of the high tables by the windows of D-hall because you don’t want anyone to see you eating alone.

I can’t remember what Broadway Street looks like. I can’t remember the last time I went into Saratoga, nor can I remember what I did when I was there. I think I’m even starting to forget some of my friends’ voices.

What do I remember? I remember waking up for work in complete darkness at 6am in the middle of winter, and listening to country music on my phone as I drag myself to the pool for my 7am shift, clutching my cinnamon pop tart and a thermos filled to the brim with Death Wish coffee. I remember the rising sun illuminating the mountains of snow in brilliant shades of pink just for me, the only one awake.

I remember the hair-raising panic of waiting for Saratoga Taxi to decide it feels like taking me to the barn for my riding lesson, and complaining loudly with sympathetic riders who suffered through the same before they had cars on campus. I remember the damp smell of hay and horse-hair, and the gentle clopping sound of hooves and horse snorts. I remember the anxiety of waiting to canter, and the exhilaration that comes with actually cantering. I remember sweet Sophie, the horse, and how excited and impatient she’d get once I showed her the apple I’d brought her after our rides.

I remember singing in VCE with my friends. I remember long nights of rehearsals, and the thrill of singing a beautiful piece of music. I remember sore feet from standing up for three hour-long concerts, and I remember watching ourselves on the livestream once the concert was over. I remember the excitement of learning a new piece, and the satisfaction I’d get when Katie, the choir director, would give us a piece that I knew already. I remember how much I miss singing.

I remember my friends. I may not remember what some of them sound like, but I remember their cats, their knitting, their music, their art, their horses, and their sports. I remember just how much I miss them.

I remember the important things; they’re the reasons I so dearly look forward to returning to Skidmore, a wiser and more well-rounded person, and making some new memories.

À bientôt,

Elizabeth

 

Week 3

WORD OF THE DAY:

chuchoter- to whisper

After a long week jammed full of classes and a two-day trip to Brussels, it’s nice to be back in my bed here in Paris.

If I had only one word to describe my first full week of classes, I’d say this week was overwhelming. Getting used to taking five academic classes for the first time since high school, I did my best to plow through several hours worth of classes this week because I knew what awaited me at the end of it: a weekend trip to Brussels with my new friends.

The new classes aren’t half bad, really. I quite like my teachers, and we went on two really fun field trips this week. The first was to Notre Dame with my Histories and Legends of Paris class. We toured the cathedral and learned about the religious significance behind the scene of Judgement Day on the front of the Cathedral, and behind the stained-glass windows within the cathedral itself.

Notre Dame

 

My second field trip of the week happened on Thursday, when my History of Photography class visited La Bibliothèque Nationale de la France to see an art exhibition of the famous photographer Nadar. I don’t know the first thing about photography, but I have a friend who’s Art Major concentration is Photography. I’m excited to learn more about it.

Portrait of Gerard de Nerval, a well-known French poet. I had to analyse his poem, “El Desdichado” for my French Literature class at Skidmore.

My first week of classes was hard work, but it was all worth it in the end when we spent the weekend in Brussels. This Friday, I, along with ten of my new friends, boarded buses from Paris heading for Brussels, Belgium. If you want to travel over the weekends while abroad, it’s important to take into account how far away your destination is, and how much each option of travel will cost you. Our original plan had been to take a two hour train from Paris to Brussels, but since Brussels is so close to Paris, we opted to take a much cheaper bus into Belgium. The bus was a four-hour ride, but it was worth it because we saved around 80 euros each. Brussels is an adorable city, and a worthwhile visit for anyone studying abroad in Paris because it’s so close. We visited a few art museums and a church, but the crowning attraction for us was definitely the food! One might not think at first glance that Belgium is well-known for it’s food, but just think of all the food that is Belgian: Belgian chocolate, Belgian waffles, Belgian fries, and I think my new favorite, Belgian fried mussels. Needless to say, we ate well this weekend.

La Grande Place
Le Marché
Belgian Waffles are officially the best waffles
Mannekin Pis. I promise I didn’t include this picture just for laughs; this little statue of a boy peeing is actually a national landmark in Belgium. It’s far less impressive in real life than you might imagine.
Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Gudule de Bruxelles. I love visiting Cathedrals; they remind me of my Cathedral at home in Washington DC.

I may still be overwhelmed by the end of this week, but I think that’s ok; this is an overwhelming experience. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t do my best to enjoy every minute of it. Next week I’ll show you what we’ve been learning in my new classes and hopefully also some pictures from what promises to be a great weekend in Barcelona with an old friend.

À bientôt,

Elizabeth

P.S: I’ve decided next week to do this challenge they offer here at IES called Le Défi. I have to speak only French all week. Wish me luck!