As my time in Paris draws to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to miss about living in here and what I’m looking forward to having back in my life once I’m in England.
Things I’m going to miss
- The boulangeries: It’s so nice being able to buy a fresh baguette or croissant whenever you fancy, I don’t think Durham will be able to match that.
- Drinks by the seine: A lovely place to meet up with friends in the evening!
- Café au lait/ café crème: I basically became addicted to these, in theory the same as a latte but for some reason it just tastes so much better.
- Crêpes on every corner: Nutella and banana crêpes are soooo good.
- How much there is to do: If you’re bored its so easy to find something to do for free. That reminds me that I’m going to miss the gardens and the free access to museums a lot as well.
- The transport system: It’s so easy to get to where you want to be, with so many different options for the same route. As long as there isn’t any snow or strikes that is…
- Speaking French: It’s the best feeling when you actually understand and contribute normally to a conversation.
Things I won’t miss
- The taste of the water: The water in my flat was weird. I don’t know why.
- Going for runs and trying to dodge all the tourists: One of the most frustrating things, why doesn’t anyone move out the way when they see you coming!
- Not having an oven: So many recipes that wanted to be made and weren’t, can’t wait to do some baking finally!
- The lack of a good cup of tea in cafes: I don’t have much to add, I just really miss buying tea when I’m out.
- Nothing at all open Sundays/ bank holidays: What if I run out of milk on a Sunday!? Or I need to go to the doctors! Both of these things happened, the solution was always expensive.
- The prices: (!) I can’t wait to put my Tesco Clubcard back to work and actually buy food for reasonable prices.
- Living on my own: I’m glad I did it, but I’m ready to live with people again, it can get very lonely.
- Speaking French: As much as I love it, I also hate it when I can’t understand and contribute. It will be nice to go out and not fear having to ask questions. Being able to speak a language fluently is so amazing.
As my next blog will hopefully be a video blog with pictures and videos of my year, I wanted to take this chance to talk about whether I actually met my aims for my second semester. My aims were to make more French friends and speak more French in general. While I’m not sure I made actual friends, I do have a French student on Whatsapp since we were lab partners! And I’m actually quite proud that I put myself in the situation where I was working in a pair with one French student for six weeks- It certainly meant I was speaking more French. As far as speaking French is concerned, I definitely did more of that due to a group project and working in a café as well as forcing myself to speak French was I was out and about. While I’m not fluent yet (anyone will tell you that this is very difficult), I certainly feel much more comfortable with the language than when I arrived and in general I’m comfortable conversing. The good news is I have a lifetime to improve, so I’ll definitely be returning to Paris! A bientôt x
After almost 11 weeks in Paris, one of the things I’ve struggled with the most is the guilt of not making the most of my time here. When I’m relaxing after university, eating tinned soup and even when I’m studying I have the feeling that I could be using my time to see and experience more of Paris.
This feeling was growing towards the end of October as I’d spent a lot of the month worrying about and sorting wifi, my bank account and then even more so when I had a mid-term exam for each of my modules. Mid-terms at my host university count for about 20% of the module mark and normally take place between 18:00 and 20:00 in the evening. This is probably my peak procrastination time so really isn’t when I’d choose to take a relatively important test. This meant staying in and studying for these, taking more time due to the language difference and resulting in more guilt. The other side of this is guilt for not studying. I was in a bit of a vicious cycle, yet to find a balance between everything.
I will admit to a quick visit to Le Musée de l’Orangerie when I should have been studying.
However, with midterms over and everything finally sorted, I’m planning to assuage my guilt by getting some more cultural activities under my belt. The next week is looking hopeful with plans to visit the Catacombs of Paris as well as an organised run through the heart of Paris and a birthday party with lots of other Erasmus students.
At the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.
This past weekend also allowed me to experience some fantastic food and discover what there is to do in Paris other than visiting museums. Despite being vegetarian and most menus listing only meat and fish based meals, asking for a vegetarian alternative normally results in some delicious food. On top of the incredible food, a highlight of my weekend was seeing a classical music performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. This was a brand new experience for me and was such an exciting opportunity to get dressed up and discover something a bit different. With tickets as cheap as 5 € I think I’ll go again!
Finally, I was lucky enough to be invited for a meal in the Eiffel Tower, by far the coolest thing I’ve ever done. This was an experience of a lifetime made all the better by exceptional food, breath taking views and great company. While we were up on the second floor, the weather changed from rain to fog and then cleared to give an amazing sunset. This gave us some dreamy photos (see below) which I’ll be showing to people for a long time to come.
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!
The cutest puppies!
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:
- 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.
The kettle and toaster I bought to complete my flat.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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…
- 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:
Notre Dame at night
Hey, I know you haven’t heard from me for a while, but I am still alive and on my year abroad in Paris. Or more specifically I am back again. Continue reading
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.
Welcome to the Sciences Po
Time here in Paris is different to time elsewhere. Or so it seems to me. It goes by so incredibly quickly. Only 20 days have passed since my first blog post; but in that time so much has happened. Continue reading
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?
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.