Salut! Rest assured, I have arrived in Paris sans probleme and I've decided that I love Paris more than I even thought I did.
My flight over went smoothly enough, I chatted with a Canadian man who resembled a Degrassi character and I slept most of the way. The only issue I had with regards to my arrival was carting around my massive case! I still have calluses on my palms from heaving and pulling and coaxing that stupid huge red thing into submission. Mais alors! It is done now (with the help of a tramp at the RER station, admittedly...) and here I am!
My host parents are wonderful! When I arrived on Sunday they ate their usual Sunday meal of roast chicken and potatoes, but Catherine my host mother took the time to make fish for me separately, because she knows I don't eat meat. Last Tuesday night she made ratatouille for my housemate and me, completing the meal with a cheese course and dessert. Pilou, the family's cat, is adorable, but very shy. Little by little though, I am making progress. He even let me pet his back yesterday, and I'm just about certain that I heard him purr. I will get in his good graces, I'm determined!!
|Pilou is gray, just like my cats!|
Orientation was a long week, but the staff are so wonderfully helpful and friendly that their efforts to make us feel comfortable and at home were truly succesful. My favorite part of the week, it has to be said, was Wednesday afternoon. The staff treated us to a dégustation de la gastronomie française, a little taste of French gastronomy. We traveled among four rooms, where a staff member in each room allowed us to taste a wine, cheese, meat, and dessert from one of four regions of France. The food was delicious (I can only assume the meat was as delicious as the cheese), and it was nice to taste decent wine that we can't quite afford! We were encouraged to visit the cheese shop, the bakery, the butcher, etc. rather than stopping by the supermarket, and promised that in many cases it's valuable to pay a bit more and enjoy the better quality products. We'll see if I can swing that, but at the very least I am itching to go to a market next week and buy some veggies and cheese!
|The Aquitane region, whose offerings included |
a delicious Bordeaux we would never be able to afford...
|Sampling the cuisine of the Franche-Compte region, near the Swiss border|
After the dégustation, we headed towards the Champ du Mars to see a puppet show beneath the Eiffel Tower. It was adorable, to see how excited the French kids got over the show. Though I did well with understanding the show itself, I was embarrassed to find I often didn't know what the kids were responding. It's difficult, this language thing. It's just so strange to admit that as a twenty year old college student, I'm not always able to understand what four- and five-year olds are saying here in France. Instead of getting depressed, though, it just fills me with greater resolve to improve! Watch this video, if you like, and see if you can tell what they're saying!
Spectacle de Guignol! from Niamh Cloughley on Vimeo.
|I know it's toursity and cliche, but isn't|
it just so beautiful?
|A poor étudiante's humble meal|
|Notre Dame at night. |
Can you see why we love to bask in its glory?
|Riding my bike along the Right Bank, towards Place de la Concorde|
|A cute cafe that does a two Euro coffee and croissant deal|
|Lunch just around the corner from the BU Center.|
I'm looking forward to classes next week, though I am a bit nervous as I've heard from all sides that the work load is heavy and the courses are difficult enough. I have class until the 23rd of October, and then I begin a full-time internship on November 2nd. I'm not sure yet what my internship is, I am supposed to be contacted about an interview somewhere at some point this week. In some ways, I'm jealous of friends who are studying abroad without much studying... But I guess it's better this way, since I won't struggle too much come January to get back into the flow of things at Villanova.
My bed is calling to me now, I want to rest while I can so that I'm in top shape for class on Monday! Congratulations if you have made it to here... This was long and probably a bit rambly. I will improve at writing, I promise! I will leave you with this video of the ensemble I came across the other day. I hope it brightens your day as much as it brightened mine!
A bientot, chers amis xo