En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil ; en mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît

My host shared this French proverb with me sometime in mid April when those of us in Paris experienced two or three days of 70+ degree weather. The expression, which communicates the distrust towards the capricious weather in April, warns against changing into a summer wardrobe and packing away your winter clothes. 

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If this is something most Parisians hold to be true, it would explain the lack of weather-appropriate clothing on those very warm days. It’s as if no one except for myself and some other foreigners looked at the weather forecast: while I was dressed in a bright yellow skirt, sandals and a tank top (perfectly appropriate for a 76 degree day anywhere else in the world) I was made to feel like an outcast amongst all the Parisians clad in leather jackets, black turtlenecks, [Ugg] boots, winter coats with fur trim hoods… Paris fashion is synonymous with black on black , but you’d think they’d spring for the chance to feel the sunshine on their forearm after 7 months of winter!

 

A book I read for a class this semester ‘L’Autre Rive’ compares French and American culture. Unlike many other books published before it on the same subject, the author focuses on the more psychological reasoning behind these differences and doesn’t just merely recite his observations but has done research to support his claims. 

 

One of the differences between the American individual and French individu is that the Français is more likely to avoid commitments and abide the terms put worth in a signed contract. From my personal although limited experience I feel like I definitely agree with this. Compared to American and anglophone acquaintances, I have had a harder time establishing a date and time to meet up with French acquaintance. Even if we managed to set a time, I would without fail never receive a confirmation message or they would cancel on me.

 

What does this have to do with wearing weather-inappropriate black leather pants on a hot day you may ask? Well, I have a theory that the reason Parisians love black clothing (and have a hard time giving it up) is because it greatly complements their psychological/behavioral tendencies  For a fashion conscious Parisian who has no idea what she or he is doing that day, when she/he is doing it, where she/he is doing it, who she/he is doing it with, a black ensemble will fit all these requirements! If a night at the cinema and some dancing with a date changes to a picnic on the quai with a friend and a midnight cat funeral, a black outfit will do the trick for any and all of these occasions. 

Fortunately for everyone who recoils at the mere idea of a strong sunshine that is powerful enough to upheave the ominous Parisian clouds, Paris is back to being gray and cold with sporadic rain showers during this first week of May.

 

As for me, I’ll be leaving Paris behind tomorrow and heading down to the south of France where I hope to see some sun and locals who are ‘dressing however they please’.

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A smattering of photos of Paris (one more month left until I leave!)

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Mimes roller blading on the Quai of the Seine

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Statue of Liberty

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Jardin des Plantes

 

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Canal St Martin

 

 

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When clothing stores start taking over boulangeries.

 

 

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Le Jardin du Luxembourg

 

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Greetings from my College Campus

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.

Xx
S