This is my first post and I’m very much a newbie to blogging, so go easy on me. I’m going to be brave and jump right in and “bare my soul.” I promise that this wont be a journal or anything remotely close to that; I hope that this may be informative, useful, interesting, enlightening, and at the very least, funny.
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So I’ve been here for a month. The feeling that I was expecting didn’t hit me until after a few weeks, but it was a rush. Everything happened so quickly. I got off the plane and was immediately bombarded with more French than I have heard in all my life. This was unchartered territory for me.
First off, my French isn’t that great, so there have been countless times when I have asked for something and I was met with a blank stare or a “Pardon?” I remember asking someone for a phone card at a Tabac (tobacco shop) and I practiced what I was going to say before I asked him. When the time finally came and I executed the question, he responded in English. Sometimes this is a relief, especially when I know that I can’t express certain things in French yet, but there are other times when it feels like a small letdown; I was expecting a response in French!
That’s one of the cool things about Paris. Lot’s of people know and are trying to learn English, so it’s really nice to hear a familiar sound when you need to.This place is absolutely incredible. In the first month I’ve taken pictures of a lot of the big “touristy” attractions such as Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, and the l’Arch de Triomphe. Each of these is, despite all the “touristiness,” an absolute wonder to behold. And of course, who can forget the Eiffel Tower?! Majestic in its height and architecture, the Eiffel Tower looks great during the day and night, with lights illuminating the structure throughout the Parisian night.
Now, since I am a study abroad student, my experience is much different from that of a traveler on vacation. I was brought here by the study abroad organization International Studies Abroad (ISA; I will constantly refer to this organization as “ISA” throughout my posts) and there are many other students partaking in the study abroad experience with me. Most of the other students are girls. No, normally this would not be a problem, but it is now because it’s a little weird to hang out with girls all the time. All the girls formed their cliques faster than I could join any so I find myself hanging out solo sometimes. But I have made a few good friends in the group and I am very satisfied with that. Besides, it’s pretty cool to discover some aspects of a city while you’re alone.
I live in a home-stay, which is fantastic. In fact, it’s the best way to learn French and have fun in a city like Paris. My host family is great. The Martine is the “mom” and she is a wonderful cook. I hang out with her son Xavier a lot. He’s taught me some cool French sayings along with some slang so I feel that I’m getting a unique learning experience. If anyone is going to study abroad in the future, I implore you to choose to stay with a family. Do not sign up for an apartment. You’ll be stuck with other Americans from your program, you will not have the benefit of having someone prepare meals for you, and it costs more to live in an apartment. Plus, since you’d be living only with other people from your program, you won’t speak any French. So if you’re like a lot of the other people here, and are here to have fun more than learn French, then you can go that route. If you’re like me, and you want to create the best conditions in which to learn French, then choose the home-stay. I speak French everyday with Xavier and Martine and I’m learning something new everyday, whether it’s a new word or a new aspect of French culture.
Since this is my first post, I tried not to cram everything in one post. I definitely left some important things out, but I will fill you all in with the subsequent posts. Any thoughts as to what this blog should be called? I’m fielding suggestions. Thanks for reading and feel free to offer any suggestions. That would be a great help!