to smile or not to smile

I had forgotten to give my host family a gift the first day and a half, so I gave it to them yesterday morning.  They were very grateful for the gesture.  Hopefully they enjoy it too 🙂  I get breakfast every morning, but I have to make it myself.  I never know exactly what to do. I tried cereal the first day, but the milk has a SUPER HIGH fat content and tastes like butter in my cereal.  I might buy some nonfat milk (if it exists in Paris) in the future.  I tried a piece of bread yesterday with a banana.  That was alright.  I”m not sure what I’ll try this morning.

My host family keeps asking for my schedule, but I don’t have it yet and won’t have it for a while.  I am doing orientation events for the next two weeks, and I’m in the process of deciding what classes I want and then when and where they are.  I’m actually going to be taking classes taught from three different universities, so it’s pretty complicated.

Yesterday the French class focused the first half on relative pronouns.  I was surprised, Cornell teaches relative pronouns very well.  I was able to do well on that portion of the class AND I finally understand the proper usage of “duquel” well enough so I can use it properly.  I have a presentation today so I hope it goes well!  It’s on a poem (the English translation is pretty bad, but it was the only one I could find quickly).

This morning I’m going to the biochimie (pronounced bio-shimmy) department to talk about taking a biochemistry course.  It will be a métro ride with two transfers all by myself and I’m not super fluent in public transportation so let’s hope I don’t get lost.  I’m meeting another girl from the program there to talk to the department secretary.

Yesterday I tried one of the student cafeterias (Restaurant Universitaire) that I spoke about before.  It was the equivalent of 4 dollars for a small plate, a big plate, a dessert, bread and water.  I ended up getting a quarter of a honeydew melon, a personal pizza (pretty big too!), chocolate mousse, bread, and water.  Unfortunately I hadn’t seen the salad bar until it was too late.  I’ll probably go the salad bar next time.  Nonetheless the food was comparable to Cornell and super cheap!

After class I went to an ice cream shop with a few friends and then we walked to the EDUCO center to see what it looks like and ask some questions to the program team.  We chose the most exciting way to walk and got a great view of Notre Dame along the way.  The photos are from this walk.

(if you click on the photos they get bigger)


I was surprised in my class for two reasons.  First of all, the French have no problem embarrassing students infront of the whole class.  That rarely if ever happens in America.  Also grades aren’t private here.  They announce everything publicly, as if humiliating the students will make them try harder.  However the French have a way of separating the public self and the private self so their public self might get phased by it, but their private self will remain content.  Also, in class the Prof was explaining a grammatical concept and no one in the class understood.  I raised my hand and said I was confused and didn’t understand,  and 2-3 other students said me too (all in french of course) and she just kept going.  She didn’t seem to want to stop and explain so the class understood.  She never checked to see if we understood.  I was surprised.

Also, the French people don’t smile on the streets.  We were told to put on a French Face on the streets, a sort of scowl that exemplifies that you don’t care what others think of you.  If you smile on the streets (especially as a young woman to men), it gives the wrong impression.  Smiles are for with your friends and family only.

One thought on “to smile or not to smile

  1. Great post! You are learning so much…so cool! I think it is so interesting how different cultures operate and function. Promise me one thing, while walking around with your French face on, carry your smile in your heart.


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