Not quite french yet

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Hi everyone!

I’ve been living in Paris for just over 5 weeks now and a lot of things have happened since my last post: I’ve finally found myself somewhere to live (phew!), I’ve started going to classes properly and I’ve already handed in work that counts towards my final mark – all before Durham has even had freshers’ week. The only sad part about moving into my new flat was the fact that I’d no longer get to walk past the best shop in the world on one of my daily commutes. Aptly named ‘The Dog Club’ as it sells the most adorable puppies, which are on display for everyone to see!

However, 5 weeks has definitely been enough time for me to notice the massive cultural differences as well as just the downright weirdness of life in France. Here’s 5 things that I’ve noticed so far:

  1. It’s not easy to find proper cup of tea: As a tea addict, this is the main issue I’ve encountered so far (a lot more problematic than missing my first week of classes). The French almost always choose coffee, which is not something I’m willing to get on board with. The first thing I’ve learned is not to order tea in a café or you’ll end up having to go back and ask for milk. The second is that once your supply of PG Tips has run out, head straight to Marks and Spencer’s for the next best thing- their strong English Breakfast tea. Finally, don’t expect to survive by boiling water in a pot, it’s just not the same.

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    The kettle and toaster I bought to complete my flat.

  2. France is closed on a Sunday: I thought it was annoying that many shops in England close early on a Sunday, but this is the next level. Almost everything is closed on a Sunday. It’s possible you might find the odd shop but you’d have to be looking quite hard. Apparently, no one is unwell on a Sunday either with all pharmacies and doctors having their doors firmly locked and their shutters down. The only saving grace is that McDonalds follows its own rules, so there’s no lack of Mcflurrys all week round.
  3. Every lecture or class is at least 2 hours: Coming from a University where lectures and tutorials are 50 minutes, and the longest class I’ve had is 3 hours, this was quite a shock. Not only are all lectures and tutorials 2 hours, but my programming and practical classes are 4 hours! (not including the 15 minutes that’s meant to be a break). I’m slowly getting used to this new system, but I have to say I’ve struggled to retain my concentration for 4 hours- who wouldn’t?
  4. The use of the internet hasn’t really caught on yet: Pretty much everything here is done on paper. Processes that would normally be quite straightforward in England such as opening a bank account and signing up for modules all have to be done in person or via a hand written form in the post. This does tend to mean that everything takes a lot longer and uses a lot more paper than it really needs to…
  5. French keyboards are confusing: A bit of a strange point, but one that has been quite a big deal amongst my friends and I, even those from countries such as Germany and The Netherlands. Here in France, the QWERTY keyboard doesn’t exist and you have to hold ‘shift’ to be able to type numbers and even for a full stop. It doesn’t sound like much of a problem, before you realise that your typing is littered with ‘q’s instead of ‘a’s and symbols where you meant to type numbers. Have a go yourself by following this link :https://www.branah.com/french

So there you have my summary of what I’ve learned here so far. It turns out that most things are very similar to England, but there a couple of differences that I haven’t quite managed to get my head around yet. At least the buildings are always pretty:

 

Studying at Sciences Po

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Here at Sciences Po we are already in week 9 of the fall semester and there is only one more month of classes until the Christmas holidays. As this blog is also meant for inspiring students to go on a year abroad I decided to dedicate this entry to what studying at Sciences Po is like and how it differs from studying at Durham. I hope that it will help some of you to evaluate whether or not a year abroad would be something for you, especially since around now is the time to start applying for one. I cannot emphasise how much I recommend doing one and so far I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love their Erasmus experience.

So while this post might not be the most exciting, the next one will be more fun again, I promise.

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Welcome to the Sciences Po

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Bienvenue à Paris

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August is coming to an end and so are my first two weeks here in Paris. Time went so quickly and there are so many things happening that I barely get the time to unwind and reflect. But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

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Ian from Texas, Connor from New Hampshire, Avery from Singapore, Erin from Boston, Tesni from the UK and me enjoying the evening sun on a boat-bar in the south of Paris.

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Welcome to France

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I’m not even sure how to go about writing what my first week in France has been like, but I guess if I were to liken it to anything it would be like being chucked in at the deep end, but with plenty of armbands, goggles, and a rubber ring for good measure.

I’ve really enjoyed getting stuck into things with my internship at Bless. I’ve met so many people in this first week but it’s surprising how much easier it is to retain those names when most of them are in English. Continue reading

Semana Santa: Stage 2

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Another retrospective blog, the first part of which can be found here:

 https://theadventuresofaliceabroad.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/semana-santa-part-i-cause-were-young-and-were-reckless-well-take-this-way-too-far/

 

My brief voyage to Paris started with an unpleasantly early train to another big city. Barcelona airport is possibly one of the hottest places I’ve ever been. Despite a slight delay I arrived safe and well by the afternoon, and what is perhaps most impressive is I managed to navigate an hour long metro journey, with several changes, without problems. Strong independent city woman points for me.

Once my Air bnb host kindly picked me up from the metro stop and helped me up the EIGHT (!) flights of stairs, I dumped my things and headed for Montmartre. Here I met up with a pal from home, where we ate dinner spitting distance from the sacré cœur. I’d only been in Paris about 5 hours by this point, but already everything felt a world away from Tudela.

 

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 Crossing pretty much the whole of Paris with no disasters!

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