The weather in Paris for the past week has been cold but full of sunshine and has given me false hope that warmer spring weather is just around the corner.(EDIT: As I post this, we just got over a few days of snowy, freezing weather and are now experiencing yet another rise in temperature.. 61 and sunny this Tuesday! ) It will probably be some time before I can leave the house wearing a single or even double layer of clothing but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to profit from the absence of gray skies that has plagued Paris everyday since the beginning of winter. I am almost positive I’ve developed some sort of allergy to my wool scarf.
The seasons have always had a rather measurable affect on my mood. And it’s sad to admit that living in Paris has done little to free me from this this tendency. I can’t even remember a time before this week when I didn’t wake up and bury myself deeper into the covers at the thought of leaving my apartment. I would of course to go to class and go to lunch, but the fact that I’ve watched five seasons of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, 3 seasons of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and 4 seasons of the Real Housewives of New York City since I’ve been back from Christmas vacation speaks for itself.
I definitely felt and still do feel guilty thinking of all those hours I could have been out and exploring but all I can promise myself now is that I spend every agreeable weathered day from now until the end of May walking aimlessly, walking to explore walking to take photos and walking to lunch spots.
My newly discovered favorite is a cafe on Ile St. Louis. It faces the Notre Dame, close enough to the Pont(bridge) St. Louis to enjoy the music of what is the Parisian version of troubadours as they play their accordions or celli, busy with tourists and natives walking about but it still maintains a certain calmness that you can’t find sitting at the terrasse of one of the famous cafes on st Germain.
You’re welcome to stay as long as you want and if you orderes one of the overpriced veverages (a cappuccino will run you 5€70 or $7.40!!) you really should stay there for an hour or two. Before the sunlight reached our tables and tanned our faces we were kept warm by the overhead heaters- a staple of almost all parisian cafes. And if that’s not enough you could always grab one if the fleece blankets offered by the cafe, which is cute concept but just about as appealing as wearing a sweater that 100 strangers have worn before you and has never been washed.
I am glad I decided to delay my summer vacation and work on campus for two extra weeks. Beside the money making aspect, I’m even enjoying my time here.
First, I am appreciative of the fact that I get to work all these odd jobs (catering, waitressing, cleaning) because I feel that I’m adding skills and knowledge to my arsenal. Like:
-the proper way to set a formal dining table.
– As someone who has worked in the business of serving people, I’ve watched how people use their power and wealth or their “social awkwardness” to avoid, be rude to,or belittle those who serve/greet/help them. Whether entering into a store, paying for your coffee, or being served salmon- you should acknowledge the existence of the employee- a little bit of human interaction makes they’re job easier and more enjoyable thus they’ll be more inclined to serve you to the best of their ability.
– and lastly ( and this isn’t a skill but I have to add) I was able to meet the commencement speaker for this year’s graduating class. I learned some details about the actress and can testify that, at least in public :p, she is a lovely person. Her speech was entertaining (maybe bearing too much of a ressemblance to a chapter in Tina Fey’s Bossypants) and spoke about the importance of NOT planning your life. Certainly something I need to learn to let go of doing.
This week has also been exciting in terms of Paris preparations. I found out the address and name of my host family in Paris. If nothing changes, I will be living in the 4th arrondissement, which, to put it into perspective for myself and any New Yorkers, has been likened to the West Village.
So far, I’ve learned that the 4th arr. is one of the oldest- its one of the few areas left that had not been “landscaped” by Napoleon & Haussmann, thus many of the old medieval buildings and tiny, non-grid streets still exist. I’m also very glad that its in the center of Paris- only a 40 minute walk to school (17 minute train ride), a lively neighborhood (not too residential) and I will be living with my good friend.
I have a rendez-vous with my consulate in a few weeks but I’m not all that hopeful that I will succeed- as France welcomes a new president into office, the whole student visa application may change.
Compared to last week, things are going pretty well. So much so that I’m afraid this will all end with me being rejected by the French Consulate. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen to me. My writing career is depending on this trip to Paris. (jokes)
What started off as a high-stress week has ended in a pretty normal level of anxiety, and it only took a few hours to resolve all those bureaucratic issues. Unfortunately for anyone who’s reading this (yes, all two of you!), the resolving of my problems makes for a very lackluster post.
There was a group meeting earlier this week of all of us who are a part of this program and going to Paris. The first time we all met I was filled with anxiety. I kept thinking of “plans of attack” for how I could best get to know everyone in the shortest period of time in order to figure out who I should be aligning myself with and who I should be avoiding. And when I mean there are people to avoid, I don’t mean to imply that I’m analyzing everyone and making a list of the have and have-nots (of coolness). What I really mean is that once we’re out of America and floundering around in Paris (some more than others) there are certain people who will enhance your experience and some who will just rain on you, every.single.day.
And that’s just a fact of life, I’m not really saying something groundbreaking or being catty. It’s all about chemistry; no matter how much you like pizza you just can’t have it at breakfast because it’s just not the right time.. maybe later in the future when you’re at a different place both physically and mentally, but pizza at breakfast is just going to slow you down during the day. You’ll be so thrown off by this unconventional meal that you won’t even remember to enjoy your breakfast-time. (This is a horrible analogy for many reasons, one being that I could eat pizza for any meal and every day of my life.)
It’s too early to predict who will align with who (even if it’s all just for fun- to recall the time when I thought I would never be friends with AmericanGirl#27, when in fact we became best friends). I do wonder however if friendships formed in Paris (and through French communication nevertheless) can cross oceans and survive translations once we all get back to America.
But that’s too far in the future to even think about.