Saturday, February 17, 2007

I know, I know, I'm a horrible person for not posting for so long. In my defense, classes started in earnest just after my last post, so I actually have, you know, homework and reading and stuff for FOUR ENTIRE CLASSES (oh, the horror) that does eventually have to get done. What have I been doing with myself for the past two weeks, you ask? I have been:

-Making friends in my Paris-III classes. I've met a German girl, Verena, and a French girl, Mathilde, which leads to very interesting conversations, especially when Verena doesn't know the French word, but I know it in English, so I say that, and then she understands. We eat lunch together after class, and I'm going to a concert with Verena on Monday night.

-Eating a ridiculous amount of carbs, because they're just... available. All the time.

-Going food shopping. Some of you may know that this is a favorite pastime of mine in foreign countries, and I can tell myself that I can buy everything that strikes my fancy, since 1) it's much cheaper than buying lunch every day and 2) calories don't exist in foreign countries. It's a scientific fact. Sometime, I promise to take a picture of the yogurt section, because it is astonishing in its scope and variety. In what other country, I ask you, can you obtain melon-passionfruit yogurt?

-Speaking lots and lots and lots of French, which leads to often comic mistakes when I try to speak English again. For instance, I was typing a word that I have spelled successfully in English many times before, and could not for the life of me figure out why it kept getting underlined in red. When I right-clicked to see the spelling suggestions, I realized that "superieur" was, in fact, the French spelling, which hadn't looked wrong to me. I also can never remember whether "independent" or "independant" is right, since one's English and the other is French, I think in that order.

-Taking pictures at Fontainebleau! I hope this link works; I'm still figuring out how I want to do stuff on Flickr. Please do use this link, which will get you to the Fontainebleau set, which is in the correct order.

So, a brief note about Fontainebleau: we went as a big group and took a tour with our art history professor, which was interesting, but having 30 people trooping through wasn't really great for actually looking at things. So after a delicious lunch, with profiteroles for dessert (heaven on earth), my fellow students Josh and Kelly and I went back to the castle, along with the director of the program, Monique. We walked through the grounds a bit, then Josh and Kelly and I wandered through the castle again, taking pictures and enjoying not being with a herd of bored college students. When we emerged from the golden splendor that is Fontainebleau, we met up with Monique again, who took us out for coffee. I got chocolat viennois, which is just hot chocolate with whipped cream, but it makes me happy every single time I order it, which cannot be said for everything. Then we caught the bus back to the train station, and the train back to Paris.

The whole afternoon was spent speaking French, since we were with Monique, but Josh and Kelly and I speak French among ourselves even when not being watched, so it wasn't out of the ordinary. On the train, we were discussing French and US politics, and I noticed an elderly woman looking at us, as if she'd noticed our accents. When she got off the train, she came over to us and said in French, "I just wanted to let you know how lovely it is to hear Americans speaking French among yourselves. I have a few children in the US, and my grandchildren are Franco-American, so it's nice to hear it going the other way too. Really, though, it was lovely to hear you speak French." And that, my friends, made my day. I've been experiencing fewer and fewer snubs lately, anyway, but things like that make all the snobby French waiters in the world completely insignificant. People do appreciate it when you make an effort to speak their language, and when they take the time to tell you that, it's even better.

So after Fontainebleau, it being Josh's birthday, we went to a little restaurant called Au Limonaire. As we were walking to the restaurant, which is in a little alleyway, things started to look a bit familiar, and lo and behold, right across from the restaurant is the hotel where my family and I stayed when we were in Paris four years ago! The thing is, I remember the restaurant, because there were always music and loud people in the street outside it when I was trying to sleep. Being on the other end of that situation was really fun, but I hope the people in the hotel weren't trying to sleep... It's a great restaurant, because the food is good and cheap, and at 10:00 there is live music.

Ooh, one final note: I live right across from a relatively famous concert hall called Salle Pleyel. Literally, right across from it. Guess who's going to be there on Sunday? STING. STING WILL BE WITHIN APPROXIMATELY 30 FEET OF MY APARTMENT ON SUNDAY. I may have to wait outside and try to catch a glimpse of him, because, you know, that's not sketchy at all. In other news, Pink Martini will be playing there in March, but one of my friends already tried to get tickets and they were long gone, which makes me very sad.

Joyeuse St-Valentin (a few days late, but it's the thought that counts) à tout le monde!