I was able to help a tourist! There was a poor couple from australia that didn’t speak french and needed help finding Notre Dame. I walked them about 1000 meters to a bridge where they could see Notre Dame and walk toward it. It feels great to be able to give directions!
The supermarket was a nightmare. The vegetables and fruits come from different locations (France, South Africa, etc) and I don’t know the names of most fruits/vegetables. You have to weigh the item and type in what it is and where its from to get the price for that piece. It was a nightmare. You also have to pay for shopping bags, which it wasn’t much but I wasn’t expecting it. The bags are poor quality and were tearing as I walked home.
The french educational system seems afraid of modern technology. They don’t list when classes are offered so I have to go to each of the secretaries and ask when the class is offered. This is difficult because I have classes at 4 different universities and each university has multiple locations! Science classes start this week, but the others don’t start for another week or two. I went to the biochemistry secretary with a friend who is also from America and wanted to take the same class as me. The secretary didn’t know of the EDUCO program and didn’t understand/believe that we were actual students enrolled in the university and it was a mess. We looked up the secretaries phone number and gave it to our program director to call. By the end of the day I got an email from the program director saying I was in the class and had to go back to get the times for the class. We returned the next day and got sent from desk to desk to desk. It was a Friday afternoon and we could tell the secretaries wanted to get their weekend on the way. Eventually we get a printout of the course schedule and… it’s ridiculous. The class starts tomorrow at 2:45-4:45, but then the next week its on friday at 8:30-10:30. The class meets on a different day each week at a different time!!! French students ONLY take classes for their major. SO everyone studying biochemistry takes the same 5 classes from the biochemistry department and they are arranged so they never overlap. However, for us, we’re taking classes from multiple departments, so I’m going to have to be super careful to make sure I don’t overlap with this class.
After visiting the university, we saw a café/bar near the university called Indiana. They had pictures of american indians all over as decorations. We were too shy to tell them that Indiana had nothing to do with indians. Nevertheless I found it hilarious. It was after 5pm so all the drinks were half off and I ordered my first alcoholic drink.
On Saturday I met with some of my American friends. We went for a walk over the whole city. We started by walking next to the Luxemburg gardens. Then we walked to Notre Dame, followed by the Shakespeare and Company book store. This was a true jewel, it’s an English bookstore/library that was started by a friend of Hemmingway, and a famous place where tons of famous authors used to hang out. It reminded me of Midnight in Paris. Rumor has it that traveling students can work there for a few days in exchange for a place to sleep. There’s an upstairs room with chess, a piano, type writter, beds, and places to sit. I found it very relaxing!
Then we continued on walking down under the roads by the Seine which was delightful and only sometimes smelly. We made our way over to the louvre. We’re waiting until we can get in free. Students can get in free Fridays after 6pm and the first sunday of every month. Also, our EDUCO cards (ID Cards) say that we are all art history students so we can get into museums cheaper! I also heard Versailles is cheaper with a student visa of at least 3 months so I hope to check that out sometime.
We walked to a cute little café and got some beverages. It was very hot! I ordered Orangina and was surprised. It was less carbonated and less sweet than in America. My poor friend ordered the equivalent of lemonade. What she got was some fresh squeezed lemon juice and some sugar packets. IT WAS SO BITTER. The idea was kind of a make it your own. She had to mix it with water and add the sugar. It never quite got sweet enough for my tasting. It also was a lot of work and pretty expensive. I think I’ll avoid ordering that.
We walked down the Champs-Élysées to l’arc de triomphe. We walked underground and back up right underneath it. The line was pretty long, but as residents of EU we might be able to go up on top for free! We figured sometime later on (and not on a weekend) would be better. We finished by walking to the Eiffel tower. It was beautiful as always.
After that I met a friend from my dance team who was visiting Paris (he’s doing an internship this semester at the UN in Geneva!) We went to a delightful crêperie! Whew this is long, I’ll end here for now!