Preparing to live in a city that remains—for so many people, spanning so many periods—a paradigm of glamour, culture, exploration, and belonging is, most days, incredibly daunting. There’s just something about Paris: a world capital that was both a haven for the intellectual bohemian set of the 1920s and a beacon of couture, the city somehow seems to revel in dichotomies, while transcending them. Like most good (read: cliché) wanna-be ex-pats, I’ve spent many hours devouring the literature, films, philosophy, and language of the French. Yet, try as I might, I will never be able to fully remove my Americanness in favor of a haute couture French identity, even after spending two semesters en France. And I don’t want to! So, right now, I’m still sitting at home in pre-departure limbo, counting down the days until I leave (10.5!), while all of my friends are back at school, already preparing for midterms. In the meantime, I’m turning to the words and wisdom of fellow expatriates as a sort-of cheat sheet on how to reconcile my love for “home” and my eagerness to arrive in the city of lights and love.
Posts from the ‘France’ Category
Although I’ve made it back to the States, I’m still thinking about Paris (and how much I miss it already). As I’m just now starting to unpack my bags, I keep finding bits of bric-a-brac and other small keepsakes of my time abroad. So, as hindsight is twenty-twenty, I’ve composed a list of places that my friends and I have loved and frequented.
I had that chance to speak with with my Cinema professor, Irène Savarit-Ghebreyal, and ask her about Paris. Irène was born in NYC to French parents and moved back to Paris at a young age. She has now been living in Paris for 40 years. Living in the 9th arrondissement, she is now married to an Egyptian man, her life consisting of 3 different cultures. I asked for her opinions on Paris and France. Here are her responses to my questions, which I’ve translated from French.
Living and studying in Paris isn’t always as perfect as it sounds. Being a 4-month student and being a week-long tourist are different worlds. We have such horrible #parisproblems here, like: The pastries are too good and bakeries are everywhere. There’s too many people on the Champs-Elysées. What museum should I visit: Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, or Centre Pompidou? The Paris National Opera only has concerts/operas every other week. Sometimes I have to wait 5 minutes instead of 3 minutes for the métro. My once-a-week class actually has homework for next week.
So as I’m getting used to being a student at the Sorbonne in Paris, I’m also getting used to the French style of teaching. To me, it’s generally quite different from how professors teach in the States, but there are still commonalities. For me, it’s been difficult to adjust to their specific style, but alas. Here are some things that I’ve recognized as “the French teaching style:”
I remember the first time I went to a state fair. (Dream sequence music as I sigh nostalgically…) ‘Twas only a few summers ago. My family and I had just moved to Nebraska from Washington D.C. Wanting to get the real “Mid-West” experience, my parents decided that our summer vacation would be to Iowa for the state fair. Turns out, state fairs suck. It was hot and humid, which contributed to the not-so-pleasant smell of bovine fecal matter. My mom kept insisting we see some cow made of butter, I got sick after a bite of a deep-fried Twinkie, and I ran out of money before I could ride the camel.
I am not an untraveled person- I’ve been to Greece, Austria, Germany, Puerto Rico, Canada, Sweden, and even France one other time before. All those trips do not, however, eliminate the culture “surprise” (not quite “shock”, per se) I got my first 2 weeks in Paris. Here is a condensed list of the things I had forgotten or never knew about France:
Since this is my first blog post as a featured blogger for ISA, I think it’s important that you get a closer insight as to who I am. One thing you should know off the bat: I’m a total dog person. To the point of obsession. We’re talking Facebook profiles for my dogs. I don’t apologize.
I don’t know where 101 Dalmatians was set, but if wasn’t Paris, it should’ve been. I’ve only seen 1 Dalmatian thus far, but in the week I’ve been here, I’m certain I’ve seen at least 100 other dogs. On the street, in the métro, even in some posh shops, Parisians don’t seem to have any restrictions on where dogs are allowed to roam.