Navigos and Newlyweds

I had a bit of trouble sleeping last night. For some reason, my door decided to open and five in the morning, so it kept banging on the door frame as the wind blew through the window. I had to get up and shut it, and then I couldn’t get back to sleep. Worse, a mosquito decided to make a meal out of me, so it decided to devour whatever parts of my body weren’t adequately covered by a blanket, which was a lot since I was so hot… I woke up this morning to my right ankle covered in bites, and two decent-sized bites on my forehead… great…

What’s worse is that my host mother doesn’t knock. For some reason, my door wasn’t shut all the way, so maybe this was my fault, but if she’d opened the door all of one second earlier, my bra wouldn’t have been on properly… “Bonjour! Ça va?” “OUIÇAVABEINMERCI.” Thankfully she got the hint and shut the door… Jeepers creepers, woman… Evidently, I’m not as much of a morning person as I thought I was. Once I was properly dressed, I opened the door while I was putting on my makeup, and I heard my host mom sneeze out in the kitchen, so I whisper-yelled “À tes souhaits” out toward her. She started walking back toward the hallway to ask who it was, and half answered herself saying, “Ah, c’est toi, Claire.” and I said “Oui, c’est me.” I speak Frenglish in the morning…

Madame left for work, and Joan, Sheila and I had breakfast together. After that, Joan and I took the metro over to Sweet Briar to head to our orientation meeting at 11. Sheila’s meeting wasn’t going to be until later, so she was planning on heading over with Kyle. Joan was glad she didn’t have to take the metro alone. The fact that she’s living with us for the first few days of class are turning out to be a good thing. She’ll be a metro pro by the time we’re done with her. When we got to the metro, I charged up my Passe Navigo (metro pass, it’s a card with a chip, and it’s much easier than using tickets) and used it for the first time. For the month of September (since we got here part way through), we’ve been instructed to charge our Navigos weekly instead of paying for the month. For October and November, we’ll charge them at the beginning of the month, and be set.

We made it to the Sweet Briar building about 30 minutes before our orientation meeting, so Joan and I hung out for a while. There are methodology classes that all students are supposed to take, and you’re supposed to take one related to classes you’ll be taking in France. There was a literature one in Tours, and there’s a history one and an art history one now. None of these apply to me since I’m a theatre student, but… they said all students have to take one… I talked to Mme. Grée and she said that none of them apply. Before the meeting officially started, we were reminded that we were supposed to be speaking French, and French only when we were in the Sweet Briar building. The meeting helped us understand how we register for classes in person for Paris III. Our schedules still aren’t quite set in stone because most of the departments for Paris III haven’t released their class schedules yet (they’ve released the courses, just not the hours). Mme. Hervier also told us about an opportunity to be an English tutor for primary, middle, or high school students. It’s volunteer work, but the students (and teachers) love you, and if you have to add more fare to your Navigo (past zones 1 & 2), the schools reimburse you. It’s mainly to improve your French and make you happy because you’re working with kids. You do as much as you can/want based on your course schedule. I decided I’d sign up (I said either primary or middle school) for the “stress-relief.” I caught Mme. Grée after the meeting because I saw that Sandra had her course schedule that she’d drafted in Tours, and I didn’t realize we were supposed to pick them up, so I got it from her, and asked if the Sweet Briar courses were set in stone, because I knew the French course I was taking had FOUR different times it could be taken, and that could flex with my courses at Paris III. She said that the times written on my schedule would be the times I would report to class for the first week of class at Sweet Briar, but if they changed because of the hours of my courses at Paris III, then that’s what happens. She’d also told another theatre person (after the meeting) to take the art history methodology class (since it’s the closest thing to it, I have no idea how), so I signed up for that. I talked to Mme. Hervier again about potentially getting a job while I’m here, and she said to talk to Mme. Parnet about putting my name on a list to do some babysitting if it fits in my course schedule. There’s also a chance that one of the teachers I work with from that volunteer program could recommend me for paid private tutoring sessions with certain kids, and I could get paid. Jobs are very difficult for students abroad, but I’ll take what I can get… if I can get anything…

Joan and I went to a restaurant for lunch shortly after that. We found a place that had a salade niçoise for only 9,50 euro, which I thought was a great price. We’ve managed to figure out that the best way to pick a meal is to find a place with something I can eat, and everyone else can figure out what they want. Joan got the meal deal with an entrée and a plat principal. She had an avocado salad, and a duck thigh (her first ever) with fries, and some red wine. They brought it out in a half liter carafe, so she made me have some. We almost finished it. The salad was delicious, and Joan’s pretty sure duck is her new favorite meat.

My salade niçoise

Joan’s canard et frites

We headed back to Sweet Briar to use the computers and look up a nearby bank for Joan to open an account. When we found one that was only one street over, we found out it was closed on Mondays, so Joan will go back tomorrow. She’d like me to go back with her. We walked around the area around the school with Kyle, Sandra, and Sheila a bit, then we met up with Rouge and Suzannah to get our Paris suitcases from Sweet Briar. They had taxis (already paid for) lined up for us to take back to our host families. We got home and unpacked our luggage, which was a lot like second Christmas for me, since I’d forgotten what I’d packed in that suitcase (I hadn’t looked at my packing list all that closely since I’d been in France).

I FINALLY got a chance to Skype my boyfriend, so we Skyped about until it was time for me to have dinner. We had green beans, broiled potatoes with herbs, and what looked like a ground beef patty all on the same plate with a very delicious slice of cheese later on. I couldn’t eat it all! After dinner, we found out that there was a plan to go up a hill to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up around 10 PM tonight, so Sheila and I headed out. Most of our friends bailed, so it was just Sheila, Sandra, myself, and Sandra’s old roommate from Tours, Lillian. We headed up to Sacre Coeur to check out the sky line (and you can take a little tram up to the basilica with a metro ticket or a Navigo scan), and take pictures of the church all lit up. Lillian had been here eight years ago, and she thought you could see the Eiffel Tower from that spot, but someone told us that it was on the other side. We did a little more walking, and found it! We made friends with a lovely couple from Chicago who were on their honeymoon (Rebecca and Chris, if I remember correctly)! We snapped some pictures of the tower and watched it light up all crazy at 11 PM, and we took a picture of the newlyweds so that they’d take a picture of us. This is the reason why I carry business cards! I handed them one so they could keep up with all of us and how we do this semester. Shout out to our newlyweds (since we know you’re creeping ;D), congratulations once more, and we’re all hoping for many more happy years ahead!

Chacun voit midi à sa porte.

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