Classes at La Sorbonne have begun and currently I am sitting in the Hogwarts-like library of my student hostel typing this. I am in here often now because of my schoolwork. I was just getting used to having a free schedule and simply exploring the romantic city of Paris and becoming great friends with everyone in the program. I guess I thought classes were going to put an end to that, so the night before the first day of class I converted back to my 12-year old self, thinking, “I don’t wanna go to school. School is for squares. UGH.” Also, having my first class at 8a.m. did not help. However, my passion for the French language won the battle, and of course I went. These classes were not like any other classes I have every taken. They are so lovely. This adjective, “lovely,” is the best adjective for these classes because they are truly every meaning of the word. The students are from all over the world, the teachers speak a beautiful, song-like, French that just entrances you, and everyone that surrounds you is very encouraging and not intimidating one bit, like I know how some language classes can be.
Every morning, no matter how late I was out the night before, I wake up bright and early with the enthusiasm of a playful puppy. I cannot wait to get to class. The student hostel provides a breakfast of fresh baguettes with jam or butter, along with orange juice and a café au lait. The mornings fill you with fresh air while you sit amongst friends and practice your French. The walk to class is just as nice. The mornings can be a little chilly, however when the sun starts to peak through the clouds it is as if a warm blanket was just placed over the city. My first class is in a small, but homey room, with friendly classmates and an amazing teacher. She is so nice, always smiles at you and makes sure that you never get lost. Writing this sentence hurts the high school rebel I still have somewhere inside of me, but I must confess, the homework is the best! You get the perfect amount, not so much that you feel overwhelmed and rushed, but not too little that you feel you have not learned anything. It is perfect. I already feel like I understand this language so much better! Doing homework in this library just makes me feel magical. Homework is finished every night with loads of time to spare for the night.
I do not even know where to start to explain the nighttime adventures here. I had no idea my feet could walk so much. Nancy Sinatra must have had Paris in mind when she said, “These boots are made for walking” because that is just what my boots have been doing. Weeknights are usually spent doing homework and then sitting on the roof with wine and cheese watching the beautiful Parisian sunset. Then the weekend nights have so much room for activities! It can start in an English pub near the Luxembourg gardens, to sitting on the grass watching the light show at the Eiffel Tower, then dancing at a club in Bastille, or a party on a boat floating down La Seine River and can end with a free baguette in hand while watching the sunrise over the Notre Dame. Last weekend a large group of us went out to a bar and made Parisian friends and we spoke French as much as we could. Who knew a learning experience could be so much fun! We got their contact information and will probably meet up with them again and speak even more French!
If you are not really into the French language then I can see my excitement getting boring to you. However, you have to understand, language is the greatest man-made gift. The first humans on earth wanted to communicate to each other so badly that they created their own language. Humans want nothing more than to be able to communicate and share life with each other. Language is what fuels the unconscious and conscious mind. Without language we would not truly exist. So being able to communicate with the people here in France is exhilarating. I feel accomplished and more human every time I have a conversation in French to someone. From ordering an apple at the café, “Bonjour! Je voudrais une pomme s’il vout plîat.” to striking a conversation with someone at the bar, “Bon Soir! Quelle bière est la moins chère, mec?” makes me feel that much closer to the human race.
Also, we had an excursion this weekend with the program. We went to Giverny to see the House of the famous impressionist painter Claude Monet. Being in the atmosphere that filled Monet with such inspiration was a life changing experience. The garden, and the pond with the notorious water lilies, was absolutely breathtaking. Colors swirled all around you and gave you a feeling that life was going to be ok. After Giverny we went to Rouen. This is the town where Jeanne d’Arc, the first feminist, lived. God told her she had to fight in the war to keep her people safe, so she cut her hair and joined the war, leading a group of men to victory in the war. However, back in those days women were not allowed to do such things. When she was found out she was said to be a witch and was burned at the stake. Now she is a religious symbol and seen as a saint. Bits of the foundation of her house are still visible and the Notre-Dame cathedral that honors her is available for visiting. When we were there, a beautiful wedding was happening. These excursions were amazing and I cannot wait to have my eyes opened even more during this trip. This weekend is Bastille Day, which is Independence Day for France. Check in on my next blog to hear about that crazy shindig. Au Revoir!