Putting the “study” in study abroad…

Kickin' it at le bibliothèque @ Centre Pompidou

Why the lag in blog posts? I’ve actually had a good amount of work these past few weeks. Yuck. I decided to finally set foot in a library last Saturday. (Yes, I had gone the whole semester without going to a library.)

To enter any Parisian library, you have to wait in a long line. WAIT IN LINE? I am an impatient Américaine. Waiting in line for an hour or more just to sit at a desk is simply not my style. If anyone figures out why the French do this, please let me know. Google search is failing me.

Nevertheless, I schleped my books and computer through the metro, arriving at the Centre Pompidou at 11 sharp, when the public library opens. Of course, there was already a line snaking around the building… but I was surprised to find it only took me 20 mins to get through the door.

I plopped myself down at an open seat and tried to channel some productive vibes. Too bad the French people around me were busy making out (French PDA, jeesh). All in all, there’s some pretty good people watching at the library.

Creepin' on studious French people

If library architecture is your jam, here’s a link from the NYT: http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/travel/05journeys.html?pagewanted=all

More posts coming soon! I have a lot to update on!

-A

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Long time, no blog

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while! Busy, busy! But don’t worry! Still alive and kicking, as evidenced by picture above.

Some quick recaps:

First weekend in March: Four Hamilton students visited Paris for the weekend! Cara and I served as ‘tour guides’, taking Katie, Bekah, Rachel, and Mike all around the city. Nobody has visited me yet, and it was pretty cool to be cosidered the ‘local’ (even though I still don’t know where I’m going most of the time! Our group was consulting a map near the Arc de Triomphe at one point and a sassy French girl yelled to us from her car “Hey! Where did you buy that map?” haha… I’d make fun of us, too.)

On our agenda: the Louvre, Eiffle Tower, eating delicious crepes we found for 2 euro, walking past the Opéra, walking down the Champs-Élysees, seeing the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Co., drinking wine, eating cheese, baguettes, and apples, going out on rue Mouffetard, drinking coffee in the Deux Moulins (café from the movie Amélie), seeing Monmartre, the Sacré-Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, buying berets (here’s looking at you Bekah..! She pulled it off, too.) Phew!

My favorite memory of the weekend had to be going super close to the Eiffel Tower. It was actually my first time getting up close and personal with the famous monument even though I’ve been living here for 6ish weeks. Our group arrived just before sunset, as the sky was darkening. I’m just putting it out there- the Eiffel Tower is just OK in the daylight. Sure, it’s super tall and romantic-looking with some straight and rigid, some swirling bits of metal majestically coming together in that unique and renouned “A”. BUT at night. Let me tell you. That thing sparkles and shines like a smiling beacon of light over all of Paris. I’m not even a sucker for girly, glittery, or shiny things, but I was smitten when, at the top of the hour, the tower began flashing. It wasn’t a “hey! look at me while I gouge out your eyes with my erratic beams of light” type of flash. More of a “I am gracefully shinning down on you with fabulous white sophisticated rays of beauty.” When it started blinking, all the tourists around us made this hushed “oooooh” sound. Everyone turned towards the tower and watched, mesmerized. Here’s a picture of the Eif-tow at night:

Last week’s highs and lows:

Low: Going to the Office of Immigration to get a physical exam. This is mandatory for my long stay visa (issued from the Boston consulate, those lucky dogs from NYC didn’t have to do it!) I arrive a little before 9 AM and walk through all these sickly-looking people waiting outside. Sketch. I check in and am told to wait. Wait wait wait wait. Over an hour. French bureaucracy, you kill me. Finally, I advance to a new room and am told to wait some more. I get weighed and measured by cute old ladies who are all about redheads and thought I was ‘très jolie’. They were cute! Next I had to go into a little room and get half-naked so I could have an X-Ray. Real weird. Went to another doctor and answered medical questions in French (very hard) and FINALLY advanced to the final part. More waiting. Had to go OUT of the office to buy stamps to complete my application (there was a spelling error on the website so every single person had to do this…) FINALLY handed in the full folder of info and walked out the door, a free woman at last at 12:30. Officially cleared to stay in France/Europe until June!

High #1: One of my classes included taking a ride on the Bateaux Mouches, the famous tourboats on the Seine. It felt very toursity, but I liked seeing Paris from the water. Brrr… it was a bit cold, though!

High #2: On Thursday night, I participated in a cuisine workshop chez Rosabelle, a friendly woman who leads these workshops for Americans in her home! On the menu: salade sucrée-salée au saumon fumé, blanquette de veau, and tarte au citron. We started cooking around 9 and did not sit down to eat until 11! The time flew by as we chopped veggies, melted butter, juiced lemons, etc. The food was BEYOND AMAZING. The salad had apples, imitation crab instead of salmon, and a nice vinaigrette, The blanquette de veau was a creamy concoction with veal, onions, carrots served over taglianni pasta. My favorite part was the lemon tarte- delicious shortbread crust and a tangy lemon filling. I forgot how much I love lemon desserts! (hint, hint, family!) I was totally stuffed by the end of the night, but calories well spent.

I’ll update soon on my weekend in Brussels!

-A

A few of my favorite things: dessert and books

Sugarplum café in Paris

These are a few of my favorite thiiiiiings: cute cafés, coffee, black flats (see bottom right of pic), books, and quirky bookshops. Thursday afternoon my friend Becca took me to an “American-style” café named Sugarplum. The decor, somewhat hipster clientele, and tempting desserts reminded me of the café at my college back home. Sweet bakery smell, chalkboard menu, comfy couch you’ll sink into and never want to stand up. Dangerously great offer: bottomless drip-style coffee! A nice big mug you can cradle in your hands, not some dinky expresso mug!

I nommed on a caramel bar (straight up caramel candy on a cookie base, so good) while we paged through the bakery’s photos of decorative cakes they’ve created. Just like “Ace of Cakes” and all those cool cake shows.

That afternoon I also checked out “Shakespeare and Co.”, the English-language bookshop on the Left Bank. Apparently the store was a haven for literary American ex-pats like Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, the whole gang. You can almost feel those literary ghosts hanging around the wooden staircases! There are beds (somewhere, didn’t see them. I think above the shop) where upwards of 40,000 people have lodged throughout the years… woah. This location of the store opened in 1951 (the original location opened in 1919 but was shut down the the Nazis and never reopened). Fun fact: the previous owner first published James Joyce’s Ulysses!

The store itself is SO COOL. Overflowing bookshelves packed with titles. Fiction, poetry, philosophy, science, you name it.  Lots of little nooks and cranies where shoppers pause to read. Also lots of little trinkets like old typewriters and tiny notes left by visitors. Here’s a pic of the storefront:

Weekend update coming soon!

-A

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood


I spy... the Sacre Coeur! Bonus points if you spot the corner of an arabic restaurant sign

I bet Mr. Rogers would be jealous of the neighborhood I be living in! Weather in Paris has been fairly mild recently and I’ve been taking advantage of warm-ish temperatures by walking as much as I can. I could probably fix the US debt if I had a euro for every kilometer I’ve walked in the past week… slight exaggeration.. but still…

Lemme zoom in real quick on this beaut

I love wandering through the streets, observing people and places (and not paying attention to street signs!) When I’m not in a hurry, I’d rather stop and check out all the cool street art that’s around.

At the Louvre

Street art near Sacre Coeur

Pretty neat, eh? If you’re interested, you can read up on the story behind David’s famous painting here. In the street art pic, three football dudes are receiving some gatorade. haha.

Also randomly found this:

Rough translation: 79 jewish children were housed in that building until the bombardment of April 20, 1944- and were then moved to another home, but were then stopped by the Gestapo and deported to Auschwitz where 71 of them were killed.

My mind is blown every time I learn more about the history of the buildings that are a stone’s throw from where I’m living!

Leaving you loyal blog followers with a pic of a merry band of musicians in the metro. A friend and I were about to walk briskly past, but I had to stop him so we could listen to a bit of the Pachebel’s Canon that was playing. I’m not exactly a classical music fan, but I love seeing people perform live! Plus, it was CRAZY to hear this beautiful music in such a dingy, gross place. I loved it! They drew quite a crowd, actually. (Check out the upper left of the pic- people crowded around the overlooking stairway area)

Music to my ears... in the metro?

-A