Wow, I have done so much since I've been here. There was the wine and cheese tasting, which was so good. I'm still having a heckuva time with wine, though. I mean, I've only dranken red, but all I can taste is "sour grapes." Which is exactly what wine is, but still. Looks like I won't exactly be a connoisseur.
So, how 'bout dem Bears! My friends Lacy and Halley and I went to a sports bar called "The Long Hop" and we watched the first three quarters of the NFC Championship game. Lacy is from New Orleans, so we were totally rooting for two different teams, but I had such a good time. I'm glad the Bears played in the afternoon and not at night, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to see any of it. Unfortunately, we couldn't go all the way this year, but maybe next year... :) I did not get a chance to watch the Super Bowl. This is the first time this has happened my entire life. I have always, always watched the game. Even when I was very young and didn't have a clue what was going on. Sigh. Oh well, it would have been worse if the Bears had won and I didn't get to watch.
I've seen the Sacre-Coeur as well. Talk about an absolutely beautiful church. It's high up on this hill, all white and pretty. Then then we walked around the neighborhood, which is called Montmartre. Kind of trashy, but a lot of fun. Then we walked over to the Moulin Rouge. Past the red-light district. Wow... extremely trashy. Nothing but sex shops. Yikes. And the Moulin Rouge is just one of the buildings on the street. Very amusing to me. Then we decided to walk to the Louvre, which was a long but beautiful walk. I enjoyed it very much. Then we went to the Latin Quarter, which actually reminds me a lot of Bourbon Street, and we had dinner at this amazing Greek restaurant. It was a three course meal for only 10 euros. For starters, I had this dish called... well I can't remember exactly, but it is rice wrapped in grape leaves and it is so delicious! I had it once in New York, and it tasted so good! For main course I had this skewer of grilled meat and onions, with rice and a baked potato. Then baklava for dessert. Yum. That's just all I can say. So delicious.
Speaking of Montmartre... so there is this French song I like to listen to on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack called "Complainte de la Butte." It is very beautiful, and one of the lines in it is "The stairways up to la butte can make the wretched sigh/While windmill wings of the Moulin shelter you and I." So, the Sacre-Coeur is on this enormous hill, which is actually called La Butte. And the Moulin Rouge is below the church. And to walk up to the church there are about a thousand stairs you have to climb. So I was listening to this song and I finally got it! Isn't that cool? I just get so much more about Paris in pop culture now that I actually live here. It's kind of like watching Seinfeld after you've lived in New York. It's so much funnier.
All throughout my first three weeks here I've had this prelim workshop class, which is three hours every morning of French. The very last day is a placement test because it is a two-credit course. Now that is over with, and I am so glad, too. I'm really looking forward to my regular classes, which just started on Monday. One of the classes I am taking is called "May '68" and it is about the student riots, etc in Paris and the rest of France during the summer of 1968. I am very excited for it. My homestay mom, Dominique, and her husband, Jean-Francois (come on, how French are their names? And their last name is Le Garrec) were talking to me (in French of course)about May 68. Dominique was 18 years old and was really into it, doing protest marches and stuff like that. She said it was such an amazing time in her life and in French life in general. I am so excited for the class.
One Saturday I went with my friend Iva to see a French move called Hors de Prix. Very amusing. And last Sunday I went and saw Bobby. Amazing. Just amazing.
By the way, I love the way the French do meals. I love having separate courses and I love being able to take my time and not feel rushed. I hate rushing. I like to linger over coffee and talk, though I'm rarely actually drinking coffee. And I love French bread. I've eaten so much of it here... we just won't go there. But it is so delicious :)
Last Thursday, the day after our last day of prelim and the day of our final exam, was a very good day. Lisa, Victoria and I went out to a bar after lunch for drinks, then we walked around the neighborhood for a while. Later that night a bunch of us went to this bar called "The Frog and the Rosbif." It was actually a lot of fun. So about me and alcohol - I've actually started to drink it. Nothing big, and of course never enough to get drunk. That night I ended up having three within about an hour and a half, and I was fine. I'm glad I'm such a big girl. Plus I make sure I eat a good meal beforehand and I drink lots of water. So what did I have... haha just kidding. I had a strawberry shot, which tasted like syrup, a Long Island Iced Tea and then a shot of tequila. I promise, I'm doing well.
Last Friday was such a great day. We went to Fontainebleau, which is this absolutely beautiful castle outside of Paris. We took a tour of the castle, which was so incredibly beautiful and gorgeous. I still can hardly believe that people actually lived in rooms trimmed in gold. Talk about wow. And I am totally in France, because there was the King's bedroom, the Queen's bedroom and the King's mistress's bedroom. Yeah. After our tour of the castle we drove to another small castle and ate a gourmet lunch. It was absolutely delicious! It was three courses, plus lots of bread and some wine. So good, so good. I know I'll never be able to have one of those meals again, so I savoured every bite, for sure. Driving around the French countryside was so nice. It was actually very foggy that day, so everything was kind of mystical and I really felt like I was in a fairy tale, in my castle in the clouds.
After we got back to Paris I went home and then Lisa, Amie and I went out with some of Lisa's French friends. Who are actually very nice by the way. We met them at a restaurant and then we went to a bar and then a club. Hmmm. Now, I'm definitely not much of a clubber, but I had the best time! I had so much fun that night! We left at like 3:30 in the morning, and I felt like I’d only been there like an hour. It was such a blast.
I love how Madame has a washing machine, but unfortunately she does not have a dryer. I need a dryer. Need one. Hanging your clothes up to dry just isn't the same. So Saturday I set out to find a dryer, and find one I did. It was at the Laundromat down the street, one of those huge industrial dryers. My clothes were done in like 10 minutes, it was great.
Sunday I went to the American Church in Paris, and I met a lot of great people my own age. We just had Bible study last night, as a matter of fact. I'm so committed to finding and developing relationships in a Christian community. I know my avoidance of one during the fall was the reason I ended up being so miserable. I need people, need as in I have discovered how important relationships truly are. Thank You Jesus that the people You have shown me are so incredible. We've grown so close so quickly and it's so wonderful. Thank You Lord for being a relational God, a God who knows us so intimately and so deeply.
So here is my class schedule:
Monday: Conversation and Composition 9:00 – 10:30
Tuesday: Democracy in Europe 18:00 – 19:30
Wednesday: Conversation and Composition 9:00 – 10:30
Thursday: Democracy in Europe 10:45 – 12:15; May '68 12:30 – 15:30
Oh yeah. No Friday classes, and only one class a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That's right, I'm only taking three classes this semester. The prelim workshop was two credits, so I'm still getting 14 credits this semester. I'm going to enjoy myself. I love having free time to go running and to go to museums and to go shopping at the market. I love taking my time.
Monday I went to the Louvre. Check this out – since we are students, we can get into the Louvre for FREE! That's right, gratuit. Normally the Louvre costs something like 14 euros a pop, and there's no way anyone can see the whole Louvre in one day. I still remember the first time I saw the Louvre. It was breathtaking. I mean, my breath was literally taken away it is so beautiful. And it's so big! I had no idea the Louvre was so... huge until I actually saw it in person. Did you know the Louvre has something like five miles of galleries? It was so overwhelming when I went inside. I walked around and I saw the Mona Lisa (La Joconde, as it's called in Paris), Winged Victory (the angel statue with no head) and Venus de Milo (the statue with no arms). They were all so beautiful and I got chills down my spine just thinking about how famous and beautiful these works of art are and that I was actually seeing them live and in person. It was so cool! The Louvre just has so much stuff. I decided I am going to buy a sketchbook and just spend some afternoons sketching the beautiful Greek statues. And when the weather gets nicer I will sketch people on the bridges or in the parks. Yay, I love being in Paris!
Monday night I made beef stew with my host family. It was so much fun, and plus I learned how to make it. She pulled out this retro 1970s pressure cooker. I'm sure my dad's got one of those around somewhere, so I will make it for sure when I come home. I just had a very enjoyable day yesterday with my host family.
Tuesday morning I went running in the Bois de Boulogne, and it felt so good! It was nice to get my blood flowing and my muscles moving. Afterwards I took a nice shower, and then I went over to the outdoor market and I actually bought stuff! Woo-hoo! This French market is so huge. It has absolutely everything you can possibly imagine - fruits, veggies, fish, cheese, bread, meat, clothes, shoes, purses, belts, coats, baskets, absolutely everything. I was so intimidated the first time I went there, but today I told myself I was just going to do it and I bought some bananas and a baguette. I was just so happy that the vendors actually understood me and what I was trying to say. Later in the afternoon some friends and I went to a grocery store and bought some Clementines. They were so good! I think the next time my outdoor market is open I am going to buy some. I love having fresh fruit and fresh food all of the time.
Today I went over to the Musee d'Orsay with my friend Allison. Wow. The paintings there are so beautiful. I actually stood next to real paintings by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Gauguin, etc. I took my picture next to some of the Monet ones so I can send them to my mom. Afterwards we went over to her apartment and hung out, drinking tea. It was very nice. Her place is so beautiful, too. She totally has a balcony. That is my absolute dream. And not just for a house in Paris, for any house. I love windows and balconies. If I had one I would open the windows to it every day and say good morning to the city.
So I love living in Paris. I am so happy here. And this is one massive journal entry.
I will write more because there's still so much more to write. Have a lovely day, everyone, and here is the quote for the day:
"Les escaliers de la butte sont durs aux misereux/Les ailes du moulin protegent les amoureux"