Salut, mes amis! My name is Liv Burns, and I’m a junior at George Washington University studying journalism and french. I’ve been lucky enough to receive the opportunity to blog for APA during my semester in Paris!
I hope you enjoy a recount of my first few days in Paris.
JEUDI (5 JANVIER)
It’s no sooner that I arrive in Paris (after a 16 hour plane delay – not kidding!) that I’m already faced with my first ‘Taken’ situation, half-asleep and jetlagged after arriving around 3h30. All jokes aside, solicitors at 4am in CDG are pretty effective – which isn’t super hard when you’re tired and confused. Thank goodness I had read the rules regarding official taxis and noticed that my taxi had a) no light on the top and b) no handle on the inside of the door. It felt fishy to begin with, and I’m glad I used my gut to get out of the situation, though it was the first time I had ever used the French imperative seriously. “Passe le lait, s’il te plaît” is very different from “ouvrez la porte maintenant, monsieur.”
I ended up arriving at the hotel in a non-sketchy taxi at around 5h00.
Our first morning in Paris, I got my SIM card for my phone (20€ per month for unlimited data, incredible that we don’t have that in the States) and we met a friend for a café. Frankly, I have no idea where I was and how we got there, but the chocolat chaud that I had was great and you can’t beat good company.
We then had our first meeting in the APA office about general information, and questions about security and the like. I was – and am – impressed by the proficiency of our team (notre equipe) and how many different things they take into consideration. Après un peu de temps, we went with Astrid (who is in her early 20s and speaks fabulous English in addition to French) to see the Quarter de la Butte Aux Cailles for a little vin before dinner with everyone at a brasserie called Le Circus.
It was there that I tried my first egg baked in mushroom cream. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a little bit apprehensive of mushrooms and eggs in general, but it was amazing; Sophie, a member of the APA-team, explained that the French will sometimes refer to the bread that sops up the sauce from a meal “le piège” – a trap. I also found the “baby” – it was, in reality, an Ice Age figurine – and donned a crown for the rest of the day.
After, a few of us went to a place called Chez Francis with a view of the Eiffel Tower, racing to get home before the metro closed at the prompt hour of midnight.
VENDREDI (6 JANVIER)
We were up and at-em for a fun visit to the Marais with a tour named Benjamin. Benjamin was très très parisien, throwing in jokes at the expense of us Americans. (It’s actually quite amusing to see the level of proficiency for everyone – those who are most prficient caught his jokes and laughed. Everyone else seemed a little bemused.)
We started at the Saint-Chapelle and Notre Dame. I was really wishing that I had brushed up on my architectural vocabulary – kind of hard to guess what “flying buttresses” is in an other language. Luckily enough, proficiency in the French language isn’t required to take bad selfies.
We then had a few more hours of class – mostly about how to assimilate well with our French families – and then visited Jardin du Luxembourg, which was closed. Apparently with security issues, they shut down the entire park for the evening.
After a short ride on the bus, we met our host families at a hotel close to the hotel where we had stayed for two nights. My host mom is named Solène, and she lives in the 6th Arrondissement right next to Saint-Sulpice.
Solène is married to Thierry. Solène is a nurse, and Thierry is a bookseller, and they have three children; Benoît is 17 and he lives at home, so they have two empty rooms. Thierry is eccentric and interested in American culture and life; he loves to cook and is quite good at it. My room opens up right onto the church, and I can do my homework while gazing at the façade of Saint-Sulpice. The church bells toll throughout the day.
Favorite meal: quiche with mushrooms and ham at home
Une image: my host mom waits to see if anyone else is outside before she flings the tablecloth outside the windows to shake the out breadcrumbs from last night’s dinner.