My legs are sore, my mind is tired, and I might have eaten a few too many baguettes.
After two weeks in Paris, which have passed entirely too quickly and so very slowly at the same time, I have managed to see a lot of the city and learn about French language and culture in an immersive environment.
Before arriving in Paris, I didn't realise how exhausting it can be to simply be surrounded by a foreign language. Wherever I am, my mind is constantly working to sort the conversations being had around me to determine the language and the meaning of the words.
I ensure you that your brain will never work as hard as it does in a three hour Monday morning French lecture about France's economical and social standing. Luckily, the French believe in having a coffee break halfway through class, so the second half is a little more upbeat.
I have also started the process of planning weekend trips around Europe, which requires more planning and number-crunching than I initially believed. With a limited number of free weekends and an even more limited account balance, it's been difficult to pick and choose where I wanted to go, especially since I haven't seen Europe outside of France.
It is surprisingly inexpensive to get around Europe, as compared to traveling in the U.S., so I am eager to start my adventures, starting next weekend with a trip to Normandy and the D-Day Beaches.
Before arriving in Paris, I had this idea that the city wouldn't pose as many cultural differences as many people said it would, but I was wrong.
Aside from the language, I have had to adjust to relying solely on public transportation and my own two feet, while my nose is pressed up against the small map on my phone. The mad rush through the metro to make a connection was initially nerve-racking, but now it's a fun race.
As classes began yesterday morning, I have also initiated the process of changing my style of learning.
This semester, I am taking a wide array of classes, including professional communication, tourism, gastronomy, fashion and cinema, all of which are instructed in exclusively French.
Though I've taken French classes for several years, my instructors have always been willing to go off on an English sidebar to explain a difficult idea, and not having that opportunity in Paris can be slightly terrifying.
It is also interesting to adjust to my new campus after spending three years on the large Iowa State campus. The Institut Catholique de Paris spans throughout several beautiful, old buildings in the Latin Quarter, connected by a small courtyard where students can be found speaking in rapid-fire French and smoking cigarettes.
As the first signs of spring begin to appear around the city, I am anxious for the sun to finally come out and for the flowers to bloom.
Salut à tous!
After a seemingly endless flight across the Atlantic, I finally arrived in Paris yesterday morning.
Confident that my French skills would at least allow me to make it through the airport "sans erreur," I was eager to get off the plane and through customs.
...I got lost before I even left my terminal.
After finally arriving at my homestay around noon, after nearly 24 hours of traveling, I was anxious to settle in.
My host family lives in the 12e arrondissement of Paris, on the right bank (ou rive droite) of the Seine. They speak very little English, which makes for some difficulty in communication, but they have been very forgiving; asking about my family, pets, major and hometown.
Today was the first day of program orientation for ISA students. The 22 of us were greeted with fresh coffee and literal piles of pain au chocolat and croissants, followed with lectures on safety, tourism and "la vie française" and a walking tour of the Latin Quarter, which included famous landmarks like Notre Dame and the Shakespeare and Co. book store.
My roommate, Corri, and I took the afternoon to explore Paris and to find local SIM cards that would allow us to use our phones as we wandered around. For ten euros we were able to purchase cars from Free Mobile, a French phone company, and use our own phones right away, which is nice.
We also had the chance to explore the city's vast metro system, which is complex, but very efficient.
It still seems strange to think of myself as living in Paris, where just my neighborhood is 17 times larger than my hometown, but between the cheese and baguettes, I think I will settle in nicely.
P.S. Since I'm now living in the city and bringing my camera with me, keep an eye on my 'photos' page, as I'm sure it will be updated more frequently with short blurbs about my adventures.