Grand Tour of the Louvre (yes, more Louvre!)
My Wednesdays are free and so I wanted to make the most of the day. But before I could go and enjoy all the things that the city had to offer, I needed to get some chores out of the way. When we first arrived in Paris, APA took us to Bouygues Télécom where we got SIM cards and 2GBs of data for 30 euros. However, because I so heavily depend on google maps to take me to where I need to be, my 2GBs of data quickly ran out. To insure that I would not be stranded in some random Parisien street with my awful sense of direction, I decided to go to Lycamobile and buy another SIM card that offered a package of 12GB for only 17 euros. After I got my data, I felt much more comfortable visiting places that weren’t on my metro line (which was pretty much everywhere).
Another student from FMS, Ailis, who happens to have the exact same schedule as me, agreed to accompany me to the Louvre in the afternoon. We arrived at around 1 and did not leave until 6 when we were absolutely famished from all the walking. As I mentioned in my last blog, our group took a nighttime tour of the Louvre with a guide hired by APA, but it was very brief. If anything, the tour reinforced the idea that I had to eventually go back and spend more time in the exhibits. The guide showed us the highlights, but there was so much more to discover. Ailis and I managed to cover most of the museum. We started with an exhibit on French paintings on the top floor, then made our way through the Egyptian and Greek sections, then to the Renaissance paintings. We walked through Napoleon’s collection of marble statues, found the new Department of Islamic Art, and finished the day off with an exhibit on the history of the Louvre itself. It was a great opportunity to learn not just about art history, but also tidbits of world history. It was also great to be able to relate what we observed in the Louvre to what we are learning in our classes, particularly the Intro to France class, where we were briefed on the history of France.
All of us have a free schedule on Friday, so we decided that Thursday would be a perfect time to host a movie night. Since I live with a young couple who own a large screen TV, we came to the conclusion that I should host the event. We ended up watching Booksmart on Netflix while enjoying a bottle of wine. It was a perfect way to start the weekend, and also a great way to bond with others on the program. We have all started to develop strong relationships with each other, which has made this program so much better than it already is. I have learned a lot from my peers and we have had amazing discussions on a myriad of subjects in both French and Enlgish. I look forward to many other nights with the girls!
For the following evening on Friday, APA bought us tickets to see a concert at Sainte Chapelle of Vivald’s Four Seasons. It was a great experience, and very different from the contemporary dance performance. The lead violinist was very energetic, and inserted humor and personality into the music. Sitting in the cathedral surrounded by not only beautiful music but also the best of what gothic architecture has to offer. It was as if I was submerged in a sea of talent that also happened to be the pinnacle of human artistry. I am always grateful for the events hosted by APA, and am excited for more upcoming events!
Academics and English
It is the third week of the program and our classes are picking up speed and our workload is increasing. Because there is less stress here than back home at my university, I find it more enjoyable to conduct research and write papers. I have more time to learn more about subjects that interest me, which has helped my motivation levels remain high.
One important thing I have to note however, is that I’ve been having a lot of trouble with English recently. Anytime I struggle to find a French word, the person I’m addressing usually reassures me by telling me that I can express myself in English, and they would understand. However when I try to revert to English, my mind just stops working. When my hand reaches into the word bank in my head, it comes up empty, as it can find neither French nor English words to convey my thoughts. These moments are always embarrassing, but I’m hoping that it simply signifies that my brain is in the process of making a full transition from English to French.
Going to my aunts house
This weekend, instead of staying in Paris, I had the chance to visit Bougival. One of my aunts had reached out to me and invited me to stay with her Saturday night. At my aunt’s house, I got a little taste of Senegal. She made a huge meal (very seasoned, unlike a lot of French food) and entertained her other guests in a mix of Wolof and French. It felt great to be in that environment, it was something new and refreshing, but also made me more anxious to get to the end of the program, when all of us will be in Senegal.
Where has the time gone?
Thinking back on my three weeks in Paris, I surprisingly have not done as much exploring as I thought I would have by now. I have only visited a couple of museums and parks. Everytime someone asks what I do after class, I blank out. It feels like I am always on the move, talking to people and going places, but in reality I have little to show for what I’ve done outside of class. I think a lot of time is “lost” sitting in crêperies or cafes taking in our experiences. The three-country plan is definitely advantageous for our understanding of the francophone world, but one drawback is that everyone in the program is always looking forward, rushing through the present, and worried about the past. “I can’t believe we are leaving soon!” is something that everyone has said since week one. The anticipation creates a tension between seizing every moment and breezing through France with our imaginations fixated on Morocco and Senegal. I seem to always carry with me a lingering uneasiness. I now walk to the bus stop without staring intensely at google maps, I know several ways to get home from school, and am more familiar with the metro lines. However, my newfound confidence is diminished by the fact that I know that this is all temporary. In two weeks we start all over again, which is both amazing and scary.
I guess I just have to stop worrying about everything and just enjoy every moment.