So now Deanna and I are all settled in, and we have our own little separate wing of the house, with 3 bedrooms – their niece Marie has the room off the top left of the stairs and off the top right there are 2 bedrooms, you go through one to get to the other. Deanna has the one further back and I have the closer one. We have both completely unpacked, and I have frames and an excess of things – as is my style. Deanna, ever the minimalist, has clothes neatly put away She got an iPad too to take the place of her huge, very heavy, and barely functioning computer.
The parents seem so nice! The mom is trained as a physician and the dad works at the Louvre, also he is a religious studies, he said “like the Pope” haha. They speak very good English, but the dad said after two weeks – “no more”. Booooo! I must learn quickly haha. I will, no worries. I already understand almost everything as long as they say it slowly enough, but soon we will be talking about more complicated things and I will be lagging, but I’m prepared to work to catch up. He said he will make sure I learn at least 5 new words a day. “10 is too much, you won’t be able to hold. 5 is just right.”
We still haven’t figured out the phone, we cannot locate a store that sells mobiho sim cards but we will find one sooner or later. For now email and iMessage is fine
Our two schools are less than a block away from each other, so I have classes in the BIA Program and in the French Studies program so it should be interesting.
The 14th arrondissement is such a nice area – there’s even a garden in front and back – a real luxury in Paris. This family has been hosting for 15 years, so they are used to having people around!
They have a 19yo daughter (missed her name) who greeted us when we got back from dinner while she was on her way out to dinner with friends, and we met the niece briefly (she lives right across from us) but she’s hard at work studying for med school exams so we didn’t keep her for long. We haven’t met the son yet, apparently he’s early 20s.
Our rooms have been painted by the mom, mine looks like a scene out of Egypt and Deanna’s looks like a scene out of Hawaii! Our bathroom is shared between Marie Deanna and I and its right outside my room up 4 crickety steps.
We have early waking times for our orientation, and we have to be downstairs ready to go at 8:15 for a quick breakfast and then the mom – so cute and protective, is going to go with us on the metro and drop us off on our way to school.
Wednesday January 23rd – 5:00pm
Monday night, I did not head off to bed. Minutes after, at 8pm, I heard a bell clang. Long and loud, and obviously intended for the the stairs leading to the rooms including myself, Deanna, and the niece – Marie. I opened Deanna’s door which she had just closed in order to pass out, and I burst out laughing, imagining her facial expression at the noise and it’s beckoning call. We were both tired, she was exhausted, and we had already eaten dinner. She just said “I’m pretending I didn’t hear that.” And fell asleep before I closed her door again. I quickly changed out of PJs as Marie climbed the stairs to explain that the bell was calling me to dinner. I explained that I had already eaten, but she said just come sit and talk! So I did. Before sitting, we pray and it goes something like: “thank you for our bread, and please provide bread for those who have none.” The first course was soupe tomate, and the second was pasta with veal. We ended the meal with a cheese plate and oranges. I *am* open to trying new things, and I haven’t ever had veal before, nor some of the cheeses that I tried, but citrus is not yet on the possibility list. We were joined by the son (Augustane? Je pense) and his first words to me accompanied by a finger point to my shirt: “Is that a sorority?” “Yes.” “Good for you.” Haha he works with America so he goes to work a little later and ends a little later because of the time difference. It’s very common in Europe for young adults to continue to live with their parents but they have very much their own separate lives. I tried to help tidy up but it is mostly just scraping off the food into the trash before sticking everything in the dishwasher. I like this practice, because washing a dish before putting it in the dishwasher is very much like the interesting practice of cleaning your room before the cleaners come. I then went straight to bed, further exhausted by the French dinner conversation (my choice – I need the practice).
Tuesday morning I meant to wake up at 630 but turned off my alarm – I can be very dexterous when something is impeding my sleep. Deanna woke me up at 7:55 and we needed to be downstairs at 8:15, I got ready super fast so we could go learn about the breakfast routine. They buy fresh bread every day (bien sûr) and they have a very cool bread cutter – I am not allowed to use (a rule I set myself) and then they store it in a little garage looking contraption. The toaster is so cool, I will have to take a picture, the part that gets red hot is open to the air so it’s not something to do five seconds after you wake up. She showed us where everything is so we can make our own breakfast every morning whether she is there or not. This morning I had toast with butter and apple juice.
Maman Chone brought Deanna and I to our respective metro stops, and then she went on to work. Deanna and I had orientation at different places. The BIA (Business/ International Affairs) Center (where 4 of my classes are) and the French Studies Center (where my French class is and all of Deanna’s classes are) are less than a block away from each other. The BIA orientation is at another place off the Pernety stop, while the Centers are off the Gaite stop. The closest stop to our house is Exelmans, so we usually change lines twice, from 9 to (Miche Ange Auteil) 10 to (Duroc) 13. After I went out the correct exit at Pernety, at once my destination was clear and less than 100m away. I saw another disappearing inside the doorway and I thought what a lucky club I was about to enter. I got a little name tag and a folder of documents, and I began meeting the people around me. Some really interesting and sweet people! We basically got information overload about pickpockets, security, cell phones, supermarkets, and traveling around Paris. We had a lunch break and I was in a group with two people I had just been talking to, so our savory then sweet crepes were met with good conversation. I had a ham crepe (first time to have ham in 5/6 years) and then a Nutella crepe. We had even more info and then we split into groups to go to different locations, either to go to the metro for the extended pass, or to the mobile store, or to walk to the BIA center. I accidentally followed the wrong group and went to the mobile store instead of the tour of the center. The store was right across the street from my parents hotel, so when they told us to disperse and find the items we were looking for, I went across the street to the hotel. They were skyping with my sister when I walked in, and we quickly wrapped up. They had gotten me a pillow and some snacks (yay) and we agreed to meet when they came to the house for dinner. I got home by myself on the metro without getting lost – score. But opening the outside green gate took, no exaggeration, 15 minutes to open. The house door took only 2 minutes. I am not known for my skills my keys even in America, and I just heard in the lecture I’m currently listening to: “Intercultural Dependence” – “A key is a key and a lock is a lock, right? Non.” Good to know I’m not alone on struggle bus: clè (key). Then I just researched tons of things to do in Paris, until 750, when I went downstairs to help mettre le table. Deanna finally came in, delayed by her late orientation and socializing with peeps in her program. Instant regret – duh, why didn’t I do that? Ugh none of the people I had connected with came to the mobile store and I was one of two or three who didn’t actually intend to go to the mobile store. Oh well, live and learn. My parents arrived soon after with my pillow, alarm clock, snacks, and flowers for the family. The dinner table was full with the mom, dad, their friend from the Alpes, Deanna, Marie, Lorain, and then myself and my parents. Then we had dinner – a delicious Poulet Provencial soup dish with polenta, and an apple for dessert. I also delved into some NOM sweet French snacks my parents brought.
I had, of course, enjoyed my time in France so far, but I had hoped for more French or Parisian specific activities. I was itching to go out and do something, anything, and Deanna was game. We live in the 16th arrondissement, so we looked online and decided to do the most Paris thing possible. As we descended the stairs to the entrance, a woman stopped us and asked us what we were looking for. She talked at us for 15 minutes, explaining how she was from the area and wanted nothing more than to show us the area and the “Paris vrai”. She ran back up to her shop and wrote down her number for us. This demographic, older French women, hold a particular ability and privilege to be forward, eccentric, and full of energy and advice. It’s mostly amusing, but here it was a hindrance that we wrote off as part of l’aventure. Our midnight metro ride burst above group over the river and into full view: la tour Eiffel. We walked towards it, so excited to stand close to the symbol and epitome of Paris and France. We stood in awe, took a few pictures, and rushed back to catch the last metro home. A short but exciting trip and worth it, my itch to do something Parisian temporarily satisfied.
After we returned home and the son returned at the same time to save us from the disaster of the clé. I took showers in the hotel and last night was my first shower at the home. The nozzle is not suspended above your head, instead you just hold it and move as needed. There’s also a little space heater you pull so when you get out, it’s not cold. It’s very nice. I fell asleep very quickly after saying Bonne soire to Deanna.
The morning was drying my hair with my mini dryer and then my travel straightener, both so tiny and cute, I don’t think it will get annoying but I will like my full size when I return to the states. Breakfast was emergen-C and lemonade and toast with Nutella, and Deanna and I went to our different metro stops. I was a little late to fill out some special forms for the consulate. Now we are in the first half of the information sessions, and lunch will be soon!
Lunch was great, I ended up going with four other girls to a Mediterranean place the IES people recommended, and they all got sandwiches and I got just a chicken plate. It was nom! Such awesome people, I really liked them all, especially Anna and Alicia! We bonded over Panhellenic love, Anna being a Tri Delt and Alicia being a… Drumroll…. Gamma Phi!!! So excited to finally meet another Gamma Phi randomly in the world! We had lunch and then went back for a bit: they told us how to meet French people and where to get tickets and see events. Then we had a break because there was a cell phone salesman and then an apartment orientation, so we had an hour break until we had to be back until the Home Stay Orientation, which I’m at now.
Guys. It’s getting good
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Callie Summers, and I am a 20 year old junior studying Marketing and English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Taking photos, writing, discovering new music are all among my favorite activities, right next to spending the majority of my time with my amazing Gamma Phi sisters and friends. I have an affinity for Thai food, candy, and Shirley Temples, but I cannot wait to try different foods from Paris and the surrounding areas. Full of wanderlust, my goal is to travel the world and live abroad doing what I love. I would love to share my experiences in Paris with you! Check out my blog and feel free to leave comments or contact me!</span></p>