Last Week in Paris!
October 9, 2019
A True Versailles experience
Looking back on it, this week was sort of a wreck, and I think it started with the weekend. APA planned a tour of Versailles for us on Saturday. We were supposed to meet at 1:30 to begin the tour. From my homestay, Versailles is about 45 minutes away, and I left the house around 12:50, knowing that I was going to be a little late (I am well aware that tardiness is one of my main character flaws). However, right after I got to the bus stop and saw that the next bus was not coming for another 10 minutes, I decided to change routes, which was a huge mistake. My original plan was to take the RER, but I decided to try my luck with the N train, since I could get to the N train faster, and therefore arrive at Versailles at a more reasonable time. The catch was that when I got to the train station, I could not for the life of me find any N train. There seemed to be no signs that indicated that the N trains even operated out of the station. I wandered around the station aimlessly, and could not even find someone who works at the station to guide me towards the right direction. I eventually gave up and stuck to my original plan, but by the time I got to Versailles, I was already an hour late and the tour was wrapping up. Since I did not have my ticket, I could not enter the palace, and spent 30 minutes just walking around the outside of the palace. I like to think that it was a historically accurate experience, since I was barred from entry. The one part of Versaille that I did get to visit with the rest of the group was the Hameau de la Reine. It was a very pleasant visit and very different, I assume, from the opulence of the palace.
I think an inevitable part of study abroad experiences is that at some point you just want to scream in the void out of frustration over the most trivial things. In Dakar, I was getting irrationally mad at the fact that there were always fries IN my burgers. Now in Paris, it is the fact that I always get lost, and it takes forever for me to get anywhere. Yes, I can definitely work on my time management skills, but being able to get where I need to be is also something that I miss about home. I miss the feeling of belonging and familiarity.
This brings me to my second point, which is that I am terrified of Paris at night, a reality that is surprising even to me. All my life I’ve grown up in big cities, but something about Paris at night is more scary than romantic. I tried going out with the people in my group on several occasions, but it was only this weekend where we were successful. We ended up heading home in the early hours in the morning, when the metros were closed (which was expected). However, to my (unpleasant) surprise, the night buses had all stopped running too. I was able to take an Uber home, but the unreliability of transit at night really worries me.
Our first experience in a Parisian club was great though. We had to wait in line for about an hour, but the night was really fun. The theme of the night was 90s and 2000s throwbacks mixed with reggaeton, and we danced the night away.
I’ve been keeping this a secret for some time now, but I think people are starting to notice–I still can’t get a hang of French numbers! I can somehow understand my professors talk about immigration reform and political processes in France, but whenever I hear French numbers, I immediately go into a panic. Phone numbers are the worst. My biggest nightmare is someone telling me their phone number, then me double checking with them to make sure I got the right number, only to have them shake their heads and say “No, that’s not at all what I said”. Seeing as how this scenario is very specific, I must admit that it has happened multiple times, and yes it is very embarrassing. I don’t know what it is about French numbers, but I really hope I can get a strong grasp of them by the end of the program ….if not, it will be kind of pathetic. Wish me luck.
I have learned a harsh truth: finals week is the same no matter where you are in the world. Even though I am in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, having great experiences, finals week is still rough. It is more tough knowing that this is the last week we have in Paris, and there is still so much more to see! But there is one weekend left, so I am still excited for the adventures ahead. However, before the adventures are many all-nighters.
Until next week!