Reims

EDUCO provided a trip for all students to Reims!!! In case you didn’t know, this is the capital of the Champagne region of France!  And all champagne comes from this region… otherwise it’s just “bubbly wine” which can come from anywhere.

We started our day with a tour of Notre Dame de Reims.  This cathedral was similar to the one I saw in Chartres.  Unfortunately this cathedral was bombed during the 20th century and had to be rebuilt.  When the rebuilt it, the made some of the stained glass windows into abstract art!!! I found this super interesting and it definitely made the cathedral unique.  This cathedral is also famous for its “smiling angels” take a look at my photos, these angels are so charming!!

We went to a lovely lunch at a super nice restaurant.  I had a great salad, followed by a main dish which contained lots of fresh veggies and BRUSSEL SPROUTS…. Now I have never in my life tasted Brussel Sprouts so I was a little nervous.  However, I really enjoyed them (granted this was a delightful and really nice restaurant, I’m not sure if I would like them if they were cooked poorly…).

In the afternoon we went to a Champagne cave/museum.  We went down into the cave and learned all about the process of making champagne.  Our tour guide happend to be Spanish so French wasn’t his first language.  Surprisingly, it was more difficult for me to understand him because of a slight accent… I can only imagine what it’s like when other people hear me speak french and french isn’t their native language…  We got to go through their museum and then have a champagne tasting.  I chose to taste the demi-sec so it was a sweeter champagne.  It was the first time I’ve ever actually liked champagne… but this was a very nice place so it was very nice champagne!!

Random Happenings

Pont Mirabeau 

So I’ve now analysed the poem Le Pont Mirabeau twice in two different classes.  Needless to say, I wanted to go see it!  So one day I had a half hour to kill and I took the métro over o the western part of Paris.  Now, I expected it to be just like any other bridge, and for the most part it was… but I did not expect the amazing view!  From the Pont Mirabeau I got a great view of the statue of liberty (yes the French have a matching smaller one, in fact ours came from France) and the Eiffel Tower with lovely fall leaves!  :)

Château D’eau

This is the métro stop for my psych discussion. This location was temporary, as they’re building a new building to move the psych department to.  Anyway, this part of town is way out of my way and truly not my favorite.  It’s not the best part of town and I usually just keep my head down and walk fast to avoid eye contact.  Nonetheless this was my LAST week there, and I saw this lovely sign to embody my opinion of the area: Hate!

Professor’s Timeliness 

Now my psych professor is notoriously late… it’s obnoxious.  He usually is about 20 minutes late, but it’s been as much as 30.  I find this super disrespectful to the class… and he never apologizes or anything… I guess I’m just not used this cultural difference. Anyway yesterday we waited and after 40 minutes we still hadn’t seen the prof.  Then a student stands up in the front of the class and says something along the lines of :  “I think we can all agree he’s obviously not going to come to class today, at 45 minutes past let’s all leave.”  So it’s agreed and after 45 minutes after the start of the class (let me remind you this class is only 1.5 hours long) we all get up and leave.  And then I find out later that he showed up 50 minutes late and still taught class. This type of thing sincerely frustrates me… and it would NEVER happen at Cornell.  Luckily I have a friend in the class who happened to be in the minority 1/4 of the class who stayed in the amphitheater to eat her lunch when the prof arrived.  She offered to send me her notes… which are probably better than any notes I could have taken anyway.

 

French Students  

I’ve always heard the stereotype about French students and how they’re so polite and well behaved… However, from my personal experience I whole-heartedly disagree.  Students at University of Paris can go to university for approximately 1000 euros a year… which is nothing when you compare that to the price of American universities.  So, almost everyone goes to university because, well, it’s something to do…  The students talk in class, and I mean small 20 people class… there’s always mumbling and conversations going on and it’s sincerely difficult for me to comprehend the professor speaking.  Some students even got kicked out of my history class a week ago because they wouldn’t stop talking!!!  It reminds me of high school stereotypes, there’s the teachers pet who sit in the front row and ask too many questions, then the international students trying to read the profs lips to better understand, then all the normal students, and the back rows are just students talking all day.  Furthermore, the professor gave out a mid-term assignment (writing a short paper).  I used the few weeks she gave us and typed up the assignment and got it editted by 3 different tutors… the French students hand wrote it and were finishing it as the professor walked in the day it was due.

 

Dance Music

I laugh at awkward moments duing the dance lessons and the class probably just thinks I’m weird.  The professor makes weird and awkward coments in what English he knows and no one understands (except me), then he picks the most random songs in English.  Yesterday we had sexy Christmas music for one of our jives.  The craziest move we had yesterday was a section of choreography where the female does jive chicken walks.. and the man does Michael Jackson-esque chasse/slide to the side movements that look like Psy from Gangnam style… heh fun stuff :)

Dégustation de vins

On Monday as well, I went Wine tasting as another (partially) subsidized EDUCO event!!  We arrived a lovely woman’s home and she had a huge table set for all 10 of us.  She taught us about the geography of France, and the different climates, and what that means for the wine!

For the first wine, she brought it out hidden in a sleeve.  She then proceeded to pour a small amount a glass for each of us.  We started by analysing the wine by simply looking at it still.  It was a white wine and you can tell how old the wine is based on how dark/opaque/intense the color is.  Then we swirled the wine to see the viscosity.  Next we took “the first nose” and what that means is to take a quick smell to see if there are any huge defects with the wine.  Next we swirled the glass (this is easiest done on the table!!) and smelled as the wine was still moving… this gave a much more intense smell.  We then classified what odors we smelled (for exemple: fruity, floral, spicy, smoky, minerale, animal, etc) .  Then we took a small sip to get a quick first flavor.  Then we learned how to properly taste wine.  You take a reasonable sip, swish it all around your mouth and inhale (this makes a funny noise) a few times.  Then you spit out the wine and see how long the wine lasts and what types of flavors are experienced by which parts of the tongue. We also analyzed these flavors and the length of the flavor.  Then we had to guess what wine it was !!

She then served us a plethora of cheese ! We got to taste so many different types of cheese… I think I ate enough cheese that night for a week!! We then were served 3 more wines and we did a similar tasting technique.  I found this experience incredibly educational since my wine knowledge is practically non-existent!  The only downside (heh) is that I had dance practice directly afterwards and wasn’t as coordinated as I’d like to be :)

Here is a list of the wines I tasted:

  1. Riesling from Alsace
  2. 30% Cabernet-Franc 70%Merlot from Bordeaux
  3. Grenache from Languedoc
  4. Chenin from la Loire

The last two were my favorite.  The 3rd is a Red wine, that is great for pairing with chocolate!  The 4th is a sweet white wine… and I love the juxtaposition of acidity and sweetness!!

Atélier de Chocolat

On Monday I went to an EDUCO sponsored event: a Chocolate Workshop!  We went to the chocolate museum Chocostory.  First we got a sample of a few different types of chocolate.  Then we had a private lesson in how to make chocolates.  It was surprisingly precise and difficult.

We started by pouring some of the heated chocolate onto a stone slab, then we moved the chocolate around in a certain manner.  The lesson was in French and I didn’t quite catch the purpose of this step.  Anyway, after this we returned it to the big vat and mixed it around.

The next step was to get the mold for the chocolates and fill it up.  They had special scrappers (they called them triangles..? ) to make sure everything was filled perfectly and cleaned off.  Of course, there was a special way to clean these as well.  After it was full, we had to shake and tap the mold so the chocolate got sufficiently all over the mold.  And then?? pour it back into the vat.  At this point I’m wondering why we put so much work into these molds just to pour it back… but then I see him put the mold in the freezer and I realize that a thin layer of chocolate stayed in the mold, and that we will now work on the filling.

The filling was a hazelnut filling, and we mixed some chocolate with it to make a nutella-like paste.  Then we put the filling into bags that resembled cake-decorating bags.  We piped the filling into each of the molds, leaving room to close off the chocolates when we were finished.

For the closing off stage, there was a 3000 euro machine that had running chocolate… you would pause the machine, then carefully control the dispersement of chocolate to cover each of the chocolates in the mold.  Once this was done, you leveled it off with a triangle again and put it back in the freezer.  After about 10 minutes they were ready to eat.  You thwack the mold onto the table and they pop out !

I really enjoyed the experience.  At sometimes the language barrier was difficult because my cooking vocabulary isn’t phenomenal.  We each got to take some of the chocolate home.

As I mentioned before this took place in a chocolate museum, so after the workshop, we got to go explore the museum and learn about different types of chocolate, different ways of making chocolates, cocoa beans, etc.  The workshop is only available by reservation for groups, but the museum itself is available to anyone with a cooking demonstration (you don’t get to participate)  and a video explanation (in english) and tasting of chocolate! I highly suggest it for choco-philics who visit Paris!!

Rebelle

Unfortunately this weekend I was feeling a super fatigued.  I worry a little about being a Vegetarian in paris…. many times there isn’t a significant amount of protein in vegetarian options (just cheese) or restaurants just look at me funny when I ask what vegetarian options they have…. This weekend I was super sleepy and had fits of a headache and never-ending hiccups. I made sure to eat lots of eggs and peanut butter, and drink protein-rich soy milk!!

So, for my Paris-Cinéma class, one of our assignments was to go to a local cinéma and write about the history, experience, etc of the cinema.  I chose l’Épée de Bois on famous Rue Mouffetard because it’s the closest one to me.  They offer a selection of movies, most of them are french, but there are a few international ( English, Canadian, and American).  I chose to watch Rebelle…. (better known as Brave in America).  I thought with an animated film I would be able to understand it easier.  What I loved about the experience was the adorable little kids in the theater laughing hysterically!!! It was absolutely adorable.  I somewhat regret choosing this film because while the story line was easy to follow, it was dubbed in French, so the mouth movements of the animated characters didn’t match the sounds they were making… so lip-reading wasn’t an option.  I did however find it to be a nice pixar / disney film!

To be honest, I actually prefer the French title to the American one…. She is truly more of a Rebel and a personification of Brave….

 

For this class we have to give a presentation on the history of the cinema and the experience.  I chose to use Prezi instead of traditional powerpoint because I think it adds a little something extra.  I am still debating if I add photos from the theatre to the presentation, I probably will so the link will change, but for the time being you can check out the presentation here.  Click the little arrows at the bottom to go from frame to frame.  By the way… it’s in French.

What else did I do this weekend?? Well with Travel and EDUCO cultural events in the upcoming weeks I made this a productive weekend:  I managed to write two papers in entirety (and an outline of a third one; subjects are: biography of El-Hadj Omar, analysis of an excerpt of Le Ventre de Paris by Émile Zola, and fim critique of Amélie ) as well as finally finish Freud’s Studies on Hysteria (yeah… I opted to read it in English instead of French…), visit the Louvre (again),  and make French Toast in a Mug in under 3 minutes!!