Sorry it took me so long to get this blog up and running. Things got un peu crazy in the days leading up to my departure, and making five months worth of stuff fit into one (albeit, one very large) pink trimmed houndstooth suitcase took precedence over online journal creation. Oh well, c’est la vie. *Departed from Boston Wednesday January 19, 2011. Flew through Montreal and on to Paris, and on the second flight had the whole row to myself. Watched some tv, ate the edible AirCanada meal, worked on an essay. It actually felt pretty short for a 7 hour flight.
Once I arrived in Paris I lugged my too-heavy (yet still underweight) suitcase through the terminal in search of the little train which would take me to Terminal 2 (where I was meeting my group) but not before (unbeknownst to me) the wheel broke and I got blisters on my hands. Le sigh…
Found some other USCs and hung out until Mirek, activities director for Accent, came with the bus and picked us up, and drove into Paris where they dropped us off at the dorm/residence where we stayed for a few days.
Had my own small studio for a few days while we got orientated. The Accent Staff is tres helpful and friendly and surprisingly explained much of the important information in English. They look us out for dinner our second night and we had a lovely time at the Cafe de l’Industrie, 3 courses of deliciousness. After dinner we took the metro to go see the Eiffel Tower for the first time and it was AMAZING! We could see it across the Seine, and then when we got close all of a sudden we turned a corner and it was HUGE and RIGHT THERE and AMAZING!!!
Took lots of pictures then headed over to a party where we met other American students from the American University in Paris. Had a bit of difficulty with the metro but made it back eventually, if later than we would have liked.
Saturday we took a bus tour of the major sights of Paris, then we got lunch in a cafe and headed over to the Galleries Lafayette and Au Printemps, two massive 19th century apartment stores that take up several blocks apiece and are overflowing with designer clothing, fabulous French people, and tourists. Took a much needed nap then had a reverse travelling dinner – drinks, dessert, then real food – in that order, and all at separate restaurants.
Sunday, after walking a good chunk of the city with Amy and Jose, I went pack to the residence where we all met downstairs and they sent us off in taxis to our homestays. I nearly died of nervousness in the car, but I made it into the apartment building itself okay. Panicked with the intercom, and the 13-year-old French boy next to me looked at me like I was crazy (he was right, of course) but then Madame came down and saw me struggling my stuff up the stairs so she helped me with the elevator.
Once inside, I was blown away. The apartment is gorgeous and HUGE! 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 large sitting rooms, a formal dining room, and a large eat-in kitchen. The decor is classic and plush, lots of florals and there are 15-ft. ceilings throughout, my bedroom included. I have my own bathroom and bedroom with a marble fireplace (????) Not only is the apartment itself amazing but the location is beyond anything I would have imagined. I live on Avenue George V with runs perpendicular to the Champs Elysee, the best shopping street in Paris. It even has its own song- “Au soleil, sous la pluie, a midi, ou a minuit, il y a tous que vous voulez au Champs- Elysee.” On George V itself is The Four Seasons, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and the Hotel Prince de Galles (which had paparazzi in front of it when I walked home from the metro today) among other high class places that I can’t afford.
My host family is wonderful! The Madame is unbelievably kind, welcoming, and hospitable. Monsieur is really funny, and likes to figure out what I know (tonight I was quizzed on French cheeses) but he seems tres busy with work. There are three daugters, ages 18, 24, and 27, so I fit right in age-wise. Two live elsewhere in Paris and have fabulous jobs in art and fashion, while the third is finishing up her last year of high school.
I’ve eaten dinner with them the past two nights and today we took our French placement exams and started intensive French lessons. Tomorrow we are touring Le Marais, a neighborhood of Paris, and then I’m meeting Danny for lunch before more intensive French, and then I’m making pancakes for dinner for my host family to give them a reason to use the maple syrup I brought as a gift.
Sorry for the super long post, but I wanted to catch up anyone who’s interested on my first few days. Tout a l’heure!