The Most Intense First Week in Paris

This past week has been the most intense week! My program has done so much that I feel like I’ve been here for months. It’s taken the whole week though to truly start to get the hang of the Parisian lifestyle. Though we were told we never will fully get it, and I guess that makes sense, you could never forget the place you come from…it’s drilled into you. Well, I must say that my favorite part of my trip would have to be apartment and my roommates. We have one of the largest apartments in the program since I’m living with four other girls. Being in college, and in Paris, I find it perfect. The apartment is very quaint. It feels so much like a home, with the Parisian touch. Many of the other students have apartments that are being redone to look more modern. I personally don’t like that, because the traditional style of the different regions makes France the place it is. It’s also a little surprising, since the French are very adamant about not losing their culture identity. Above you can see our living room. The apartment came fully furnished. And we recently met the owner, who speaks English, lived in California as a child, and now currently works in Vietnam. He didn’t tell us what he does, but I feel like he’s a photographer. On the walls opposite the couch there are tons of books, which literally covered the wall. Around the house you can also tell that many of the appliances, shelving, and lighting come from IKEA. One of my favorite parts of the apartment is the WV (water closet). It really is just a toilet in a closet! The tub and sink are then in another room. In class my professors tried to explain this, because it’s so different from the US, but it was hard to imagine. But here it is! Also if you look close, you can see the flusher on top of the toilet. You pull it up to flush. Plus the toilet paper is pink!! Yes…pink! And I’m not sure why. But let me just tell you, having this crazy WV makes it pretty enjoyable to go to the bathroom. Oh and you can’t help but admire France! In our kitchen we have a garbage shoot! You have to make sure you put things in a bag, and then push it down and it goes straight to the dumpster. They are very crazy about recycling! I’m all about that so it got me excited! We have to physically take our bottles down there and place them in a different dumpster. It’s so worth it! You can also tell that they try to save on water, because the toilet has very little in it. And speaking of water, there are no water fountains in buildings. Europeans drink bottled water like crazy! It can get pretty expensive so if you’re a poor college student, like me, you buy a few bottles and fill them with the tap water. (And it recycles!) But if you forgot to fill up your bottle at home, you could always fill it using one of these. These are the French water fountains found on the street. They were a gift from an Englishman named Sir Richard Wallace who admired France. In 1870, there was the war and as a result, all of France’s aqueducts were destroyed. Sir Wallace, having inherited money, decided to build these in order to bring water back to Paris. They truly define Paris, bring functionality and art together. Holding it up are the four muses. Only the French would make even their water fountains into a work of art. And Paris truly has artwork everywhere you look, old and new. The beauty and commitment to art is intoxicating! And of course, what is France without its food!! I have found myself eating any chance I get, and I’m satisfied every time. Their food defines delicious! One of the most important aspects of it is that it’s as fresh as fresh can be. My roommates and I have to buy food every two days because if it’s not eaten it goes bad. It makes me a little sick to think about how American food is pumped with preservatives to keep it fresh as long as we can. The apples don’t even have that wax cover on them, and they smell like the perfect apples. The Fruit, in general, is sold daily, and there are fruit stands everywhere you go; I pass five of them when I walk to the metro. Twice a week they have the open-air markets, where all sorts of foods and things are sold; mostly fruit, cheese, meat and seafood, but occasionally there are clothes and trinkets. All of these sands are local vendors that you could live next to and most of them make or grow the food themselves. It’s set up on the street and they told us that if we go later in the day, that we get better deals because they can’t save it; it will go bad. Therefore, they lower the prices to try and get rid of it. I’m actually hoping to go to ours today. I’m running out of food. This picture is of my Croque-Monsieur. It was my first meal in France and is a traditional dish of France. Basically, they are a ham and cheese sandwich with more cheese on top, served with a small salad. It was delicious! They also have Croque- Madames, which are the same except it has an egg on top instead of cheese. Also if you order water they will ask which brand (Evian or Perrier) you want, or if you want mineral water. There are so many types of ways to order water. So we figured out that you have to ask for a Carafe du l’eau, which is filter water that comes in a glass container that looks like those old milk jars. It’s free and very refreshing! And of Course, The Eiffel Tower!!! I went up inside of it just yesterday, and was at AWE!!! You could see on forever! My favorite part though was at night. No one had ever told me that the Eiffel Tower Sparkled at night!!! So when I first saw it I was mesmerized!! Thousands of these blubs turn off and on, making the tower sparkle! The Tower takes on a new personality at night, a more sophisticated one. There are three levels to it. On the first level, they have the restaurant, which is known for being VERY, VERY expensive, as well as, a clique stop to purpose. It smells divine! They also have a bar and dance floor and a small cinema. On the second floor, they have a viewing spot. I asked my program leader, Cristelle, if anyone has jumped off and she freaked out and said no. Then I explained that in America we have people who jump off monuments. When I got up there though, I realized people can’t jump off because they have a giant fence keeping you from doing so. So I think it’s good to hear no one has killed themselves from the Eiffel Tower, though many movies have been filmed here! On the Third floor, or the tippy top, you have one of the best views! You can see for miles! Yet it is very small at the top and very cramped with people. They have an elevator that takes you up all the way, though there is stairs. We even saw them selling Champaign, but it was so expensive; 10 Euros which would be about 13$. And it’s not a in the glass…so we pasted. The experience was breath taking! All though, I was disappointed slightly because the image in my head, of my experience, wasn’t exactly the same as the one I had. I didn’t take into account all the people. There are TONS of people! And all sorts of people! It almost took away from the experience having so many people around. And you were constantly having to watch for pickpockets, they are all over the tourist spots. When we went from the second floor to the first we took the stairs. It was a lot, but not too bad. I mean my feet have now grown accustom to all the walking. My feet nearly fell off my first three days, but it’s gotten better. My favorite part of the tower was that I felt so close to the moon! I felt like I could have touched it! The Tower is definitely monumental!!

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