Wednesday, January 18, 2017

French Doors are Confusing

Oh la la! What a crazy few full days it has been! Orientation has been go go go nonstop which is a great and exhausting way to get adjusted to the city. I knocked out pretty much right after dinner and slept until my alarm at 8 am. Got dressed and did the things I needed to do before breakfast where Host Mom told me she would teach me how to use the coffee maker. I had some cereal for breakfast along with my piping hot coffee (note : make coffee first before anything because it will burn your tongue when you try to gulp it down before leaving). Then it was off to orientation! Turn out it was a bit of a struggle just leaving the appartement. French doors continue to confuse me and I had to even ask my host mom how to open the door to leave. 5 floors later and I found myself at another door which was an even bigger struggle. At the last door to the outside world, after hunting I found a button to open it.

I decided to walk to orientation because 1) it was a pretty nice day 2) it was a nice way to kind of see the neighborhood 3) I have never taken le Métro before and was nervous. So I set out with my downloaded map and made it to the IES Center after a nice 20-minute walk.

la Tour Montparnasse on my walk to the center!

I'm really lucky my housing is so close! Then I came to .... another door. I tried a bunch of times to put the key code in but the door would never open after it buzzed. There ended up being a whole group of IES students standing as I tried (and failed) to open it. Orientation was an all-day affair with lots of meeting where we learned about safety, mass transportation, and fears. We got an hour lunch break so a few of us found a boulangerie and got sandwiches!

Then we had more meetings after lunch and then had a little break so a group of us went to get our Navigo passes for the metro. We came back and relaxed for a little (I had my pain au chocolat from the boulangerie at lunch) and then opened out bank accounts. Then it was off for a little adventure to the 8th arrondissement to get French SIM cards for our phones. We made it there and back and were even a little early for our Skidmore Welcome Dinner.

Dinner was at a cous cous restaurant and was delicious with vegetables and meat on top of soft cous-cous! Biggest perk of the evening was the glass of wine with dinner ... It was nice to have a nice meal after our long day of running around Paris. I took the metro back with some friends and walked home (after being confused by the doors to leave the station yet again. Paris is nice and quiet at night, quite the change from the busy hustle and bustle of the day. I managed to get both sets of keys to work pretty easily and then said hi to my host parents and gave them a quick summary of my day.

ex-cous cous the pun, but dinner was amazing!

The next morning I had to wake up and be at the center 30 minutes earlier, so I decided to take the metro (even though it would only save me 7 minutes). I decided to start the coffee before I ate my cereal so it would have time to cool and got all of the parts figured out. Everything was going well until it started to boil over. While it was cooling and I was pouring my cereal, my older host sister asked if I had made enough for just myself. Now this was pretty early in the morning, and she was talking pretty quickly but I didn't understand a word she said except for café (coffee). So I stood there looking like a deer caught in the headlights as she repeated herself in English. Not more than 10 minutes later, after an awkward breakfast in silence (I was very jealous of her baguette), I struggled to open the door to leave the house - so she opened it for me. I then booked it down to the Metro stop (I always forget how long walking down 5 flights of stairs is) and took the very crowded train to the center.

the IES center door ...  my old enemy

We had some more hours of orientation, including a picture, and then got free time for lunch. A group of us when to a crêpe place where they had a deal of one savory and one sweet crêpe and a drink (I had a glass of hard cider) for 10,10€. My savory crêpe was goat cheese with tomato, little ham bits and some lettuce with dressing on the top. The sweet crêpe was chocolate (of course!).

holy crêpe!

We had a meeting at the center about Host Families (famille d'acceuil) which would have been helpful before we spent 2 days at their homes. Now I am a little stressed about asking my host mom all these important questions about laundry and what days we should eat dinner together. After the meeting I went to Franprix which is a supermarket and got some shampoo and conditioner and body wash. Now I am sitting in my room writing this and figuring out how to ask if I can help with dinner or with clean up ...


FWotD - une porte (n) - a door. J'ai un peu de la difficulté à ouvrir les portes en France. I have a little difficulty opening doors in France.

French Phrase - Non, merci! (said forcefully) What you are supposed to say if asked to sign a petition (it's probably a scam!) or are getting hit on at a bar. It has been my favorite phrase of orientation and I use it ironically with friends all too often!

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