“Normalcy”

It has now been over a week since I arrived in Paris, and almost two weeks since I left the States. Sometime it seems like it’s been so much longer than that, but other times it feels like no time at all. Paris is such a beautiful, jam-packed city, and I’ve only seen a little bit of it. Luckily though, I have a lot more time to explore.

Classes kicked off this week. I placed in a decently high level of French, which I was excited for. The professors here refused to speak English (which makes sense, but also makes things VERY interesting), and my classes are five hours a day, five days a week. I’m going to learn so much in the six weeks that I’m here! We’ve only had two classes, but we’ve already read a short story, created and performed a skit, and covered grammar that would have taken about 2 weeks to cover under normal circumstances. Supposedly, as classes begin and as I begin to feel comfortable in my home stay, I should find a sense of normalcy in my life right now. I should be used to waking up in Paris, going to class, and taking part in the city. However, I sort of hope that never happens while I’m here. I don’t want to wake up and forget that I’m experiencing something amazing. I would much rather open my eyes every morning, remember I’m in Paris, and bounce out of bed, excited for the day.

Anyway, after being cheesy and all that stuff, I should talk about what’s been going on! This weekend, my program and I went to Normandy (about 6 hours away from Paris). We visited a museum, the memorial/cemetery for the American soldiers from the war, and the cliffs that the American soldiers climbed. We stayed in a small but beautiful walled-in city that was thirty seconds from the beach. I would upload pictures to try and explain how amazing the scenery was, but my internet is poor quality and won’t allow me to. We spent the evening on the beach watching the sun set, and walked around the town. The next morning we stopped at Le Mont-Saint-Michel, a beautiful church surrounded by a city. After that we headed back to Paris.

This weekend was lovely, and it was fantastic to get out of the city and see more of France. I’m looking forward into next week hoping that my class goes well and that I’m able to actually speak French well. Paris is wonderful, the food is delicious (they absolutely love bread), and I’ll be on the lookout for an awesome story to update you with. Bonne nuit!

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The City of Love and Light

With each day, I find myself falling in love with Paris. I only arrived on Friday, and it’s Sunday night, but the city is beautiful, the language is lovely, and the people are unique. Of course, my first few days here are not the same as what is to come. My placement test is on Tuesday, and classes start this coming Thursday, so I have been using these free days to tour (and study). But being able to explore what Paris has to offer has been incredible so far, and there is so much more to come. It hasn’t been all peaches and cream during every moment, but this is a wonderful experience unlike any other.

To give you a small taste of some of the more negative, and probably now funny, moments: my roommate and I took a Taxi (we spoke French to the driver!) from where we had an informational meeting to our home stay. However, the driver didn’t take us to the right place, and we sadly only noticed once he had driven away. There was a moment of panic as we realized we had been left on an unfamiliar street in a city we knew nothing about. We asked a French lady for directions, and were able to understand what she told us to an extent. We had to do quite a bit of walking, pulled out our maps a lot, and lugged our suitcases down the streets of Paris while receiving many strange looks. It also took us a good half an hour or so to find the right house once we had the correct street. This is one of the very few not-so-great experiences I’ve had so far.

However, the good completely outweighs the bad. Once we finally arrived, we met our host (which I shall refer to as Madame). Madame made us a lovely “typical” French dinner, with more delicious courses than either my roommate or I were expected. We had a chicken course, a vegetable course, a salad course, a cheese course, a sorbet course, and a fruit course, all accompanied by bread. It was SO much food, but it was all fantastic and very French-y. We spent the next day visiting the Musée d’Orsay (museum), the Seine River, and the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t go to the top yet, because it was closed, but that can be saved for another day. Some French men jumped in a picture we were taking, and were very friendly with the complements. We had a good laugh once they had left. Today was spent in Versailles (a huge palace and garden) and at Monet’s house, both of which were incredibly beautiful. I’m loving being a tourist, but also being able to semi (though not always successfully) blend in.

I feel like I’m being enlightened here. I’m learning so much about culture and how different people can be in different countries. I’m also starting to improve my French. Granted, my roommate and I had an interesting experience in a restaurant, where we essentially failed at speaking French and the waiter immediately switched to English, but I’m also having the opportunity to speak it more and more here, which is wonderful.

Anyway, my placement test is on Tuesday, and we will see how it goes! Soon begins my studies in Paris, and soon my French improves immensely! (J’espère…)

Kendra

Lost in London

It’s been quite a few days as I began to embark on my study abroad experience. Again, my name is Kendra Jozwiak. I’m fortunate enough to be able to study in Paris this summer, and right now I’m spending a few days in London with my program before we head over to Paris.

Today we had a tour of London, and got to see all the typical tourist-y stuff. Our tour guide was fabulous, always cracking jokes, and it was a fantastic tour. However, at the end of the tour, they dropped us off in London, pretty far away from our hotel, and gave us the day to explore. I thought this was fantastic at first! A group of us walked around some adorable little shops, and even went through a museum. That’s when things started to go… we’ll say “unlucky” for us. There were six of us in the original group, but another girl and I lost the rest of the group among the wonderful paintings. Realizing we were lost, we pulled out our trusty, tourist map of London and took off walking down what we thought was the right street in the right direction.

It took us about 2 miles to realize we had no idea what was going on.

We stopped, pulled out our map again, and were hopelessly confused. We had walked in at least three circles, and were headed the completely wrong way. How did we end up across the river and a mile south in the wrong direction? Luckily, the people of London must recognize when they see two helpless, unlucky girls, because a helpful older man directed us to a tube station. After that (and with an incredible amount of help from the people who work the tube), we decided to be those super nerdy tourists. We visited platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, and even popped by the TARDIS from Doctor Who outside of another tube stop. We got excited when we heard the announcements in the tube say “mind the gap” and even tried (and failed) to speak with English accents.

We finally made it back to the area where our hotel is, ate some fish and chips (we felt so British!) and are just about ready to crash for the night. I can now say that I got lost in London. I’m actually sort of glad it happened, because we were forced to figure it out, and we also got to see more (and different parts) of London than we would have.

Tomorrow I head over to Paris on the Eurostar train. I’m excited for what awaits me over there (hopefully I won’t get lost in Paris, even though it will probably happen). I’m hoping that I can conquer the placement test, and then just relax and enjoy France. Until next time, “cheers!”

Kendra

My Mind is in Paris…

Five days until I arrive in London on my way to study abroad at L’Université Paris-Sorbonne. My name is Kendra Jozwiak, and I have a wonderful mix of excitement and anxiety for the experience I’m about to have in France.

As I start preparing to leave, many worries flood my mind. Am I packing enough? Too little? Do I have everything? Do I know enough French to do well on my language placement test? But even as these worries roll over in my mind, the things I am excited for start to take over. An entirely new place awaits me with completely different experiences. I’m going to learn so much, and be able to do things that I couldn’t have without this opportunity. A little over a week from now I could be sitting in a French café enjoying a cup of coffee and a croissant while looking out at Paris.

I’m lucky enough to be staying with a host family for the six weeks while I’m in France. I received information about them just today, and I think I actually squealed with excitement. Another American student and I will be sharing a room in this family’s house (at least we can fumble through the transition together).

As each day passes, it seems less and less real to me. But at the same time, my excitement continues to grow and it’s all I can talk about (I think my family might be getting annoyed). I can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to have this experience.

Kendra