Posted by: Flannery | February 5, 2011

Move-in and school orientation

Hey everybody! So, Thursday we got to check out of our hotel and officially move into our housing. My roommates and I hands down have the BEST apartment of the entire program! The pics are in the slideshow down below.

That was pretty much the entire day of Thursday! For dinner Brad and I had chicken pasta and green beans, which was really delicious.  I’m so impressed with how delicious even France’s frozen foods are! I can already tell I’m going to have a hard time eating in the States. Anyway, at the end of Thursday evening I made my way back to my apartment on the metro. I was a little worried because I had a fair amount of stops to go (all the way from Porte d’Orleans to Gare de l’Est, for those of you who want to look at a Paris metro map) and it was 10:30 at night. But it turned out completely fine when I got to the metro and all the other people sitting around me were young single females too! So we all made it home safely, and I spent a lovely night with my three roommates in our new Parisian apartment 🙂

Then Friday morning we woke up around 9 and went to the Sorbonne for our placement test, which was a mess, it was so hard and we were all looking around at each other like “DID WE REALLY THINK WE KNEW FRENCH?” Haha but then there was an oral section where we sat down individually with a teacher and just talked for a while, and that went very well. So let’s all cross our fingers that I test into intermediate level!

After that, we rode the metro back to our program center and had about 20 minutes to grab some lunch before we headed in to have the academic portion of our orientation. Five or six of us walked around the corner to a crepe/panini vendor (who knew they had paninis in Paris? Not me. I also am not sure how to say “panini” with a French accent…I’ll get back to you on that lol!) Anyway so we got these amazing crepes for lunch. Mine had ham, egg, and cheese, and even though it wasn’t technically a sweet crepe, I felt like I was eating dessert!! The actual crepe part tasted almost like cake, it was heavenly. And it was also massive! If i had been near my apartment I only would have eaten half of it and then saved the rest, but as it was, I just went ahead and ate the entire thing haha.

So then it was time for our academic orientation, where we learned a little bit about the French school system and how we can expect our relationships with our professors to be–no office hours, for one thing! Then after that we went on a walking tour of the Sorbonne, to see where our classes would be. These pictures are of classroom buildings, La Place de la Sorbonne which is the main building, and then some random pictures that are some sights we saw on the way to class (like Notre Dame and the Shakespeare and Company bookstore)

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After that tour we had a guided tour of the Louvre, which was interesting because our guide gave us a lot of historical background on some of the paintings that otherwise would have had almost zero meaning to me. So that was great! After that was finished I hopped on the metro and met Brad at a restaurant called La Rouge Pomme, where we had some delicious crepes (it was a very crepe-y day haha). And we had a fun moment when the waiter (who was a youngish guy, maybe a few years older than us) switched to English and said “Um, where are you from?” And we said “The States, why?” and he said “Oh! Well my best friend is from England.” He thought we were from the UK!!! So we took that as a good sign, that people don’t automatically go “Well hello fat rude people, you are clearly from America” hahaha. So that was fun, and a very tasty dinner!

And now it’s Saturday afternoon here and I’m getting ready to go to the circus! A toute a l’heure!

~Flan

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Posted by: Flannery | February 3, 2011

My first 2 days in Paris

**Disclaimer! This post is way too long! Feel free to just skip to the pictures if you want 🙂

Hello all you American-type chums! (That’s a little shout-out to my sister Maddie haha) I just finished my second day in Paris and decided it was time for a blog post! So here you go. Let me start out by saying that jet lag is the WORST. For some reason I didn’t realize that a 7 hour time difference is in fact a significant difference. And I also thought that I would be able to get a good night’s sleep on the plane…and I ALSO forgot that when I’m extremely tired, I can do almost nothing except melt into a puddle of tears. So, ignoring all these little pieces of info, I went enthusiastically into my first flight at 2:00 Monday afternoon. I flew to Philadelphia, landed at 5:00 eastern time, and promptly inhaled a piece of pizza and ran to the shuttle bus because my next flight was supposed to board at 5:30. When I got there though, the flight was delayed until 7, so I had time to sit down and actually meet several of the girls on my flight who are also in my study abroad program! So we waited for the flight, which eventually boarded and turned out to be half empty, which was lovely because everyone got to spread out. When it was time to sleep, I got to lie down across a few seats and get about 4 hours of sleep! At the time I thought that would be plenty, but it didn’t last me very long. We landed at 8:00 Paris time (so, 1:00 in the morning to my body clock), wandered through the airport until we found Café Terrasse, and met up with one of our resident directors Melissa. At 11:00 we got on a bus that took us into the city to our hotel in the 1st arrondissement.

I was so happy that the travel portion of the trip was over! I dropped my bags, called Brad, and told him I had officially arrived. He met me about 20 minutes later at the metro stop near my hotel, and we had lunch at a little café near my apartment Café Benjamin. Brad ordered a cheeseburger, and I ordered a ham crepe, which I promptly cried on. By this time it was about 5:00 in the morning to my body clock, and I was an absolute mess. I was strangely afraid of Paris, I felt like I didn’t know a word of French, and I apparently thought that every Parisian who glanced at me thought I was a complete idiot!! But alas, this is the insanity that happens to me when I’m tired. So I was being completely irrational, which Brad told me, and I agreed to, and started to feel a little better. And then we solidified my better feelings by going shopping! We trotted over to H&M and Brad got 2 shirts. Then Brad walked me back to the hotel and headed off to class. I had orientation at 4:00 that evening, so my roommates and I headed down for that after a little while. We got introduced to the API center, got our Navigo cards for the metro, and we got our tickets for the ballet and the circus! We also had some lectures about doctors and metro safety, during which most of us were literally falling asleep because we had been awake for so long! Legit falling asleep too, I’m talking head-lolling-to-the-side-and-then-jerking-back-up asleep, and it was pretty funny. Then after that orientation session was over, we had a welcome dinner at a café called L’Amazonial, which is right by our hotel. Our program paid for the dinner, so we got appetizers, a main dish, and desert, which were absolutely delicious! Then at about 9:00, the dinner was over and we were finally allowed to go to our rooms and sleep, which I did immediately in order to salvage what was left of my mindset.

So I woke up today at 9:00, after having 11 hours of sleep, which was absolute heaven. (The only fly in the ointment is that part of our hotel is under construction, so I sort of woke up at 8:00, but oh well) Then today we had more orientation from 10-12, and then I went with a few people over to a store called Monoprix, which is sort of like a cross between our Walgreens and Target. We explored that a little bit and then at 1:30 went back to our program center for our metro orientation, where we rode the metro for a few stops and practiced making a transfer, so that we wouldn’t get ourselves hopelessly turned around and never find our way out. After that, my roommate Rachel and I went to a café near our hotel for lunch, where we made our first official exchanges in French with the lady behind the counter! She understood us and smiled a lot even though my French was a little shaky at times (how do you say bagel in French? Sesame seed? HONEY MUSTARD?! Who knows.) Anyway, so that lady did a lot to disprove the whole “French people are rude” stereotype—she was very friendly and understanding, which was a huge comfort. Then we ate lunch and decided to shop a little bit. Again I found myself at H&M (I’m sure I’ll branch out at some point haha) and on this trip Rachel and I each bought a dress, and I also got some gloves for 1 euro out of the bargain bin near the cash register! So that was a very successful trip. Then we came back to the hotel, I changed into my new dress, and we headed back to L’Amazonial for our housing orientation, which was fairly short. After that we had a boat tour on the Seine! It was freezing cold but really fun, and I got my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower! It was a little overcast out so it actually looked kind of creepy, but hey, the Eiffel Tower is the Eiffel Tower haha. Then after the boat tour we were free for the evening, so I hopped on the metro and headed down to Brad’s apartment for dinner. I still can’t adjust to being in the same city for school, much less being in PARIS, but I have a feeling I will definitely get used to it!!! We had a very fun night, complete with personal pizzas from Picard Surgelées, which is like a frozen food chain here in France. Picard’s food is much better than our normal American frozen food, it really was quite tasty! Thanks to cousin Stephanie for the tip about that place 🙂 So when it was time to head back to my hotel, Brad rode the metro with me the whole way since we didn’t know if it would be really sketchy after dark. Turns out, it’s not! Just a whole bunch of other normal people also trying to get home lol. So I got home totally fine, and now here we are! I’m sitting on the floor in our little hotel room, with my other three roommates, and we’re all on our computers updating people from home.

SO!! There were my first two days in Paris. Sorry if this was an annoyingly long post (and thank you for those of you who made it all the way to the end haha) but I am just WAY too excited and I want everybody to know exactly what I’ve been doing at every second of every day so that you can all be excited too lol!! Maybe I’ll calm down in the days to come, and these posts will be much more concise…but maybe not!

Again, thanks for reading, and I’ll post again soon!

~Flannery

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Posted by: Brad | January 25, 2011

La Première Semaine

So instead of talking about how my navigation around the city is going (because I get lost every other trip out), I think it would more enjoyable to write about everything that is different from life in the United States.  During orientation the other day we learned about safety in the bad neighborhoods the city. Which was all good and fine, but then we learned about bad buildings in the city, pick pocketing in the city (did you know most of them are little girls next to the turnstiles in the metro?), bad metro stops in the city, program students who have been stabbed, the night bus which is really safe (that’s sarcasm), and FAKE CAB DRIVERS!!! Once we finished the talk on how safe Paris is, the program had a three-course lunch planned for us.  All of us more than welcomed it after a long and morose orientation session on safety. We had asparagus salad, duck, potatoes cooked in the duck fat, and this awesome dessert tray full of fruit and pastries.  Of course wine and bread accompanied everything. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the duck. It was mild and went really well with the red wine they served. I was also surprised by the fact that the restaurant was fairly low key. It was just another café, but it was SO GOOD!!! The first thing that is different about Paris- you can find great French food all over the city at any price! No Whoppers and french fries here. They have duck and seasoned potatoes. haha My other personal favorite difference is the French grocery stores. If you’re not from Paris and want to blend in to the culture… Don’t go grocery shopping. In Paris, they don’t bag your groceries. In fact they don’t even have bags. You have to buy the bag and then put all your purchases in it yourself. Most Parisian women have these rolling canvas bags that they shop with, and most other people just buy these things that look like large sturdy Ziplocs that go around your shoulder, or they carry a backpack. It’s almost impossible to buy in large quantities because you’re taking care of the whole transportation process. I think that most people go to the store every day to get what they need for their meals.  Another thing that is different is the way that men dress. They definitely fit the stereotype.  If you don’t wear a scarf they can instantly tell your American. (for example they just give you a menu in English) So I guess I need to get several more to blend in with them.  My other personal favorite difference is how the French deal with waiting in lines. Let’s face it- we all hate waiting in lines. It is never fun for anybody, but the French take it to a new level. For example, our group was buying metro cards and there were ten of us in line. They obviously knew that we were tourists so they just went up to the window first. Several French people did it! They were always really polite about it, but it is interesting how it’s acceptable to just cut people who aren’t from Paris. According to the program directors to avoid this you just ask them to wait and be firm with your spot in line. And since I’m so confrontational that’s not happening haha… So far it has been an awesome experience and I really love being here in the city. I can’t wait to find all of the smaller attractions and to pick up on more of the culture. I’ll let you know when I find them and figure more of it out!

Thanks for reading!

~Brad

P.S. A brief update on what I have seen so far in Paris. I’ve been to the Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, several restaurants, and a tour of the Jewish area (meaning falafel) I am going to post pictures! More later and until then!

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Posted by: Brad | January 18, 2011

Bienvenue à Paris

Well after almost a year of preparing, planning and packing, I finally made it safely to Paris!!!! I am assuming that all the people who read this blog know me. Therefore, I am going to skip a lengthy introduction and just give you a brief run-through of who I am and my experiences in the two days that I have been here in the city. For those who may not know who I am… My name is Brad. I’m twenty. I go to Wake Forest. Oh, AND I DATE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE FLAN AND WE ARE GOING TO STUDY ABROAD TOGETHER IN PARIS!!!! Flannery and I decided to study abroad together so that we could go to school in the same city just like we did in high school and hopefully learn how to successfully live in another country with a rich culture. (although Flannery arrives in early February, so in the meantime you just have my bad writing skills and poor grammar to enjoy :-D) I left for Paris Sunday afternoon, and I arrived the following morning at Charles de Gaulle. It was a fairly easy flight from Nashville to Charlotte, but the connection from Charlotte and France was quite interesting. You would think a long flight from the US to Europe would attract people with common sense, but apparently that is entirely wrong. Apparently, commence sense regarding cigarette smoking on an airplane is an issue. Some older gentleman missed the memo that smoking on an airplane is not allowed. This man just hopped right in to the bathroom, in the back of cabin, and he lit one up. At the time nobody on the plane thought anything of a guy using the restroom, but when he opened the door a lovely cloud of Black Death filled the cabin. The look on everybody’s face along with the flight attendant’s shock made this entire study abroad experience worthwhile haha. The man just casually went and sat down before being reprimanded by the flight attendant and the captain who made a discreet announcement to the entire plane about how “the ban on smoking is for everybody’s safety.” So, that started the trip off with a good chuckle. Once the plane landed I tried to quickly clear customs and get my bags! No problem there! Once I made it through the baggage claim, I met a representative from my program as well as two people in the same program going to my same apartment building (which has turned out to be fantastic). Once we all got settled in our apartments we had a little orientation of the neighborhood, and we had dinner at this Italian restaurant down the road! Everything was quite good and the chocolate mousse dessert was awesome! After that I was so jet lagged that I went right to bed, and I luckily slept throughout the night. Today was just another orientation day, but I HAD MY FIRST FRENCH CROISSANT!!! It was so buttery, flaky, and delicious. I’m just planning on gaining 100043288493298 pounds because all the food is fantastic. Even the grocery’s frozen meals look good. My plan for tomorrow is to once again be orientated on “how to stay safe” and “being responsible,” but the orientation is in a different building from the one we were in today, which means getting to go on a different part of the metro. I love using the metro because it helps me get a grip on how to navigate the city, and each place we got off at has so many places to explore! I’ll post later on how that whole navigation/exploring process is really going.

Until then!

Brad

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