Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Karaoke Katastrophe

Thursday night Cassie (Villanova) and I returned to the wonderful St. Michel's Pub where karaoke is often found. My experience there previously was amazing and I thought I would share it with other friends. Well... This experience wasn't as amazing.
Cassie and I agree upon Bye Bye Bye by group NSYNC. An obvious choice. Unfortunately, (although it was DEFINITELY listed in the book) they did not have Bye Bye Bye by group NSYNC in their system. I regrouped with with Cassie and we made the next obvious choice Shout by group The Isley Brothers. A sure hit. After a few songs, we're up. We grab the mikes, smiles on our faces, hands at the ready, voices tuned. A few measures overture and the song begins "Shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things I can live without. C'mon, I'm talking to you. C'mon." Yes. Shout by group Tears for Fears.
Obvious dismay ensues. We attempt to do our best, but after the refrain I can go on no longer. I say to the DJ "Ce n'est pas le VRAI Shout" (It is not the true Shout) "C'est l'AUTRE Shout" (It's the OTHER Shout). Quickly, fortunately we think, the song changes to the Isley Brothers rendition and we sing our hearts out. We did the best possible, most enthusiastic version of Shout that was ever performed. Unfortunately, Paris is not familiar with Shout by the group Isley Brothers. We got a few laughs, a few stray "Shout!"s from friends and intoxicated on lookers reading the screen, but mostly we received disinterest.
Yes. We were kicked off mid song.
Yes. We left immediately.
Yes. I returned Saturday night with my Villanova friends and strangley my name was never called to sing the song I Want It That Way by group Backstreet Boys.
Cassie and I serenade each other while others go on unphased.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Grand School, Pigeons, and Africa

Here are a few pictures so you can get an idea of the type of place in which I am learning.

The Library. It is vast and very inconveniently placed directly behind the study area. Those are two of my friends posing.

The Computer Lab

Full of 3 Computers

The "Centre"

I get lost in it sometimes.
The Hall of Classrooms (4)
Picture Includes: front door, reception area, and a potted plant.

Getting slightly more used to living in Paris. Getting to know the area better and how to keep myself oriented and what have you. Yesterday my friend got pooped on by a pigeon. Really can't avoid that. I can read a map like it's my job though, which is very helpful, but not for avoiding the pigeons. I haven't done any touristy stuff really, but my friends Steph and Kristen from Villanova are going to visit me next weekend (they're studying abroad in London) and we'll do the Eiffel Tower and les jardins (gardens). I'm excited to see them.
We've finished making plans for our travelling adventures we just need to book the actual flights and such. Our destinations of choice are: Florence, London, Spain/Portugal (Barcelona, Madrid, Salamanca, Porto), and Prague. Excited.
My first week of classes went well! I graduated to French Grammar and Conversation 2! It was exciting for everyone, but mostly just me. I am also taking French Cinema, Muslim Presence in Europe, and 19th Cent. French Painting. I really am interested in all the subjects but I may or may not be getting credit for any of them towards core requirements or my major's requirements. I will get credit for electives?
Still making friends, French and American alike, and really just doin' my best. Nightlife is pretty consistant- dinner (at home-cheese, salad, bread, vegetable; at restau- sandwich...), on to a cafe where we have wine, or sometimes to a pub where we have beer. The Latin Quarter is always hopping and we can always find a good time there even when we least expect it (Ex: We passed a pub and heard NSYNC blaring from the doors, so of course we stopped in. 30 minutes and a pint later we're singing karaoke Africa by group Toto with the 30-somethings who came in after work. Fun.)
Questions? Concerns? Let me know.
You know you love me.
XoXo, Paris Girl

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Classes, Scary Nights, and Cheap Flights

It's been a few lonely days in the homestay. I get homesick sometimes because I'm not constantly surrounded by my friends in a hotel, but we're getting used to it. Classes started Monday (yesterday) so it's good to get distracted by that. Classes seem good. I may or may not have been placed in a too easy level of French grammar. I'm working on changing that. We'll see. I have no class Fridays which is spectacular.
My friend Kealan's host mom is gone for the week so she is in her homestay alone. She was kind of scared so I went over yesterday and we made dinner and had a bottle of wine. We then met some other of our friends by Notre Dame where it's hoppin' at night, with shops and cafes and what not. We walked around, a little reluctant to spend money, and people watched. At about 11:30, we decided to call it a night and went back to the metro. Kealan and I took the same line to one destination where we split and took different lines. While on my second line, I get a text from her saying she's being followed by a man. I call her to make sure she's ok. I tell her to just stay on the phone while she walks home. She gets to her stop and she's still on the phone with me and he's still following her.
All of a sudden, the call ends. I call her back- nothing. Again- nothing. Three more times- nothing. I rush to the metro lady behind the window and ask for the number for le police. She asks me what the problem is and I attempt to explain and she does not want to give me the number for some reason, maybe saying they won't be able to help me? I don't know, didn't understand. So I say- Just give me the number please! Finally I get it and call the police after trying Kealan again with no answer. I attempt to explain the situation to the lady on the phone in French= impossible with my bad French, my worry, and walking quickly home. I become frustrated and obviously cry. Finally they get a translator and he helps me out a little. They don't sound very helpful though.
I hang up with the police and call my friend Ben who we had been hanging out with and say "I LOST KEALAN!" and he calmly informs me that he just talked to her and she was safely in her apartment with the door locked and no man. I finally got a hold of her and the police had talked to her and everything and she was fine. She made a couple of turns and lost the man and apparently we just lost service in the first place and we couldn't reach each other because we were both calling each other. This all transgressed over a time period of about 45 minutes. All in all it was the scariest night of my life and I don't know if I will be staying out past 9 anytime soon.

In better news... We found flights to different countries for as cheap as 10 Euros!! It's crazy! We're trying to plan a trip from Paris to Barcelona to Madrid to Porto (Portugal) to Paris and the total cost of the flights is 74 Euros. Ri.dic.u.lous. But it doesn't really matter because the hostels will get us in the end. We're doing our best though! Any tips? Advice?

Download Skype for free. It's free calls computer to computer and we can webcam chat and even calling phones is really cheap from a computer. Download it now. Don't forget about me. Love you all. Sorry this is long.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mme Valadon et moi

Today I moved into the lovely apartment of Mme Valadon. It is a humble apartment despite the chic district. It is very old Paris with antique-y furniture etc. It's very pleasant and museum like. I have a nice room that's a good size with a desk, boudoir, and 4 drawers. It's the perfect size. There is another American here living as well. Her name is Hannah and she's from San Diego. She's friendly and we went on a walk together to explore a little.
Mme Valadon is an interesting lady. She speaks a little English but uses it sparingly so as to help me learn. She made me lunch today when I arrived after showing me the Saturday morning market. She made a shredded carrot, basil, and vinegar salad. It was followed by a fried piece of chicken with cheese in the middle which may or may not have been taken out of a box. We also had bread and cheese, and fruit for dessert. The only rules of the house are as followed:
1. Do not answer the door.
2. Do not answer the phone.
3. If asked, tell neighbors we live with her and nothing else.
4. No guests.
5. Lock everything when leaving.
Also we are to inform her if we will not be returning to the house or if we will be going somewhere out of town. Understandable. She corrected my note that I left and gave me a plug thing. I like her, but she makes me nurvus. Nurvus.
Don't forget about me. I don't want her to be my real family....

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Homestay and My Last/Best Field Trip

On Tuesday we found out where we will be living for the next few months. Some were lucky, some not so much. I would consider myself lucky. I'm living in the 16th Arrondissement. My teacher says it's the "tres chic" (very chic) part of Paris. Wikipedia says "the 16th arrondissement is commonly thought to be the richest part of Paris, and features some of the most expensive real estate in France". Excited. My host family is a woman with 3 children who no longer live at home. The youngest of which is a 23 year old male who will be going abroad by the time I get there. So it will just be me and the lady. More importantly, I have internet access. Yes. That's right. She has the "weefee" or as we Americans like to call it "wifi". We will have to take taxis to our homes and pay for them ourselves. Ugh. Taxis.
On Wednesday I went on what most might consider the best field trip. Ever. The day was rainy and grim and I was not looking forward to trouncing about the 18eme Arrondissement in Paris. Little did I know what was ahead of me. Our first stop was a Fromagerie (a "cheeserie" if you will). We were educated in french on the different types of cheese: cow, goat, sheep, old, young, etc. We were also given some delicious and some stinky samples. Our teacher purchased a few cheeses and we were on our way again. We then came to a wine shop. We were each poured a sample of wine and instructed how to taste it by the owners. It was at the common drinking hour of 10:30 AM. Our teacher purchased a couple bottles and we were on our way again. Next we came to the Boulangerie (bakery) which sold the "best baguette in Paris 2007" which is served to the President everyday. I bought the most chocolately delicious pastrie I've ever eaten. God sent I believe. My teacher purchased some baguettes and we were on our way to our final desitnation: next door. The chocolaterie. We learned about the macaroons and the petits bon bons. We were allowed to buy some if we wanted and I bought some delish bon bons.
We then returned to the "centre" or our school and we had a feast. We cracked open the wine and the cheese and the bread and had a little party in our classroom. I had a couple cups of wine with my teacher which loosened me up for my 30 minute evaluation with her. It was great. All in all a great educational experience. Paris.
Move in day is tomorrow. I will keep you all posted. Love and miss everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Saga Begins

I have arrived. After a hectic journey and one lost bag, I found myself in Montmarte in the 18eme arrondisment of Paris, France. The open markets, the cafes with outside terraces, the reek of urine... it's beautiful. My peers and I are staying in a small hotel at the bottom of Sacre Coeur. Our favorite thing to do is to spend our nights admiring the beautiful city from the stairs of Sacre Coeur, downing 2.50 Euro bottles of wine. Classy.
Out of the 53 students in my program there are 8 males. At least one fits in quite well with the girls if you know what I mean. It's almost like a French sorority? I love it.
Tomorrow we will be informed of our future homes and maybe even our future families. It's interesting to know that my life for the next few months is unforetold and will basically begin on Saturday. I have no idea where i'm living in this huge city, and my best friends could be all the way across the city from me. It's slightly unsettling.
As of right now, I feel like I'm on vacation, touring Paris with money in my bank account, and a friend always at hand. I believe the beginning of the end comes Saturday. Stay with me.