We’re now officially halfway through the Paris BIA program! It feels strange knowing that there’s only about two months left of my time in Paris; the last few weeks have felt long, but at the same time they’ve also flown by. I’ve been able to do so many different things and yet there are still lots more things I hope to do before I depart. While this midpoint serves as a great time to look back and try to plan out activities for the two months, it also means that we have midterm exams.
Since our language intensive was held the week before our content courses began, French midterms occurred the week before regular midterms did, which meant one less midterm to study for! All of my courses were having actual exams, but some other students had projects and papers to write. Having to take a real test was a little different for me since back at my home university my midterms are typically big papers because of my major. Lately, as I’ve been having to put in some more time on schoolwork, I’ve been really missing the library study spaces I’m used to back on campus, so a friend and I made a point to find a great study location and spend some time there.
At the center, the staff posted a list of study spots throughout Paris including coffeeshops and libraries. We settled on going to a place called Nuage Café. Nuage offers unlimited drinks and snacks for as long as you’re there—you just pay by the hour. We spent around two hours there, and I appreciated the opportunity to try a cappuccino for the first time without feeling guilty about not liking it. Ultimately, coffee’s a bit too bitter for my taste so I switched over to hot chocolate for the rest of the time. The snack bar was also really great, I got to eat a bunch of great sweets while I worked on some readings and putting together my study guides.
The cafe was really close by to Notre Dame, so after studying for a while, we decided to take a little break. Practically right around the corner from where we were was the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. It was a place my friend had been wanting to visit and, while I’d already been, I was more than happy to go again. After browsing a little bit, we headed off for dinner with some other students.
Despite it being midterms, there’s still some time to have a bit of fun. One of the things I’ve been wanting to do since I arrived in Paris is to take a baking class, so a friend and I decided we’d take a few hours off from our study sessions to go and make some macarons. A lot of places in Paris offer classes in English, so we had no trouble finding a place that was geared toward Americans.
During quarantine, I baked a lot of new things, and macarons were one of the things I had tried my hand at, so I had a bit of experience with macarons before. Despite having made them before, the macarons we made in Paris used a different meringue for their shells than I made before which meant I was in some new territory. By chance, my friend and I were the only two who signed up for the class, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Our teacher was a great help, and we learned a lot! It was up to us what color the macarons were (we picked pink), and we also prepared a chocolate ganache for our filing. The previous day’s class had made a flavored ganache that we were allowed to use as well, so our macarons were filled with both chocolate and chocolate raspberry ganaches. We ended up making around thirty macarons, so each one of us got to take fifteen or so back with us.
Getting to make macarons was a nice break from getting prepared for exams. For the most part, our professors knew we had exams and eased up on the workload in the days leading up to our exams, my French teacher even hosted a cheese tasting for us as a nice alternative to our usual routine. Throughout the rest of the week, I did the rest of my studying either at the tables in the center on my breaks or back in my apartment—a couple times I even reviewed my Quizlet while I was on the metro.
Gearing up for a long period of exams can be tough, but we were able to break it up by doing some fun activities in Paris. The next week is spring break though, which will be a lot of fun. In addition to going on my first trip out of France, my family will be visiting at the end of the week which will be a great break from the usual routines here in Paris.
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<p>Bonjour! My name is Julianna Caskie (she/her) and I am from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I’m a junior at Lehigh University studying political science with minors in both architecture studio as well as women, gender, and sexuality studies (strange combo, I know). In my free time I love to read, travel, dance, and compete in Mock Trial tournaments with my team. I can’t wait to share my journey in Paris with you!</p>