Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Parisian Adventure

Yesterday was the first day that I was actually responsible for things, and it went surprisingly well (to be fair, I didn't really have to do anything that hard).

I was supposed to make sure Lise was awake by 8:10, and at the precise time that I was about to get out of bed to go upstairs to her room, guess who creeps into my room holding Snowball? So that was taken care of. It's easy getting a seven-year-old ready for school because she doesn't take an hour like I do. We ate breakfast (cereal and juice), and she knows what she likes to wear, so that's easy. I don't even have to walk her to school because four of the five days, she walks to school with the little boy who lives across the street, so she and I just played with Snowball more until 8:50, and then she was off.

About a half hour later, I left for my first solo day in the city. It took me little longer than it should have to get to the language school (L'ecole L'Etoile in St. Germain des Pres) because I wasn't paying attention on the Metro, so I accidentally stayed on for one stop too long, which mean I had to walk a little farther, but I'm really okay with that because it's the only way to figure out what exists nearby (I'm trying to walk around as much as possible, because the Metro stops aren't that far apart anyway). I took my language placement test to determine what class I'll be in, and while there were some things that I've always managed to avoid learning, I am happy to say that this was the easiest French language placement test I've ever taken (thank you, four and half months in Bordeaux!). This was about a million times better than the placement test I took in Bordeaux, which I took one look at and knew that there was really no point in me taking it because I couldn't understand most of the questions. So the test at L'ecole L'Etoile was the start to a good day :)

I had googled places to get a "mobicarte sans engagement" (a pre-paid sim card without a plan) for my phone, but first I decided to stop by St. Sulpice. I'm so glad I did...it's HUGE (the size of a cathedral), and really interesting on the outside. And it smelled like wax from all the candles, which is another smell that I had forgotten I associate with France and its many churches. Some churches aren't that satisfying to visit, but this one was, and it helped that it has some paintings commissioned by Delacroix as soon as you walk in.

I couldn't find the St. Sulpice Metro station (later I saw it a couple of blocks away), but I wasn't in a hurry, so I just started walking in what I hoped was the right direction, and I eventually ended up on Rue de Rennes, the street of the phone store, so that was nice! And on my way, I accidentally found H&M, so yay. I was super proud of myself for being able to ask for the specific thing I needed for my phone, and I got it (much cheaper than I thought it would be!). But what was even cooler was that while I was waiting, another girl who was American walked in and started asking people for help, and while the other French customers couldn't help her, I could, and it felt pretty awesome to be able to give advice on what she needed to do in her situation at the store of a French phone company. She and her friend are studying at the Catholic University program (or something like that), so we have plans to hang out soon.

Then I walked back to Montparnasse, which was a long walk but I like walking so it's okay. Montparnasse is easy to find because it's by a very very tall tower that you can see from very far away, which makes life easy. I was also proud of myself because I found my way back to the Transilien trains, even though there weren't any specific signs directing me to them, and I had to guess what the other signs were referring to. Also, the best thing about all of this is that I have a Navigo card, which Anne loads money on for me. (I think) it's unlimited for the amount of time she buys on it, for the metro, buses, Transilian, etc, and it's the greatest thing ever because I feel like more of a local, and because I don't have to fumble with all of my many metro tickets, which look like RER tickets, which look like Transilian tickets, and I don't have to constantly keep track of which ones are used or hold on to them on the train since you need the same tickets to exit that you used to enter. Just having my one permanent card is so great! It definitely makes everything less stressful.

I got home around one something, took a nap, and then hung out with Juliette and her friend for a little bit when they got home at 4, where we had this exchange:

Juliette: Amelia, what language did you speak in Bordeaux?

Me: French everyday, because that's what they spoke.

Juliette: Yeah, but you don't speak French.

Me: Well, I speak some French.

Juliette: Then why do you speak English with us all the time?

Me: Because I like speaking English. (Anne has asked me to not let on that I can actually speak a good amount of French so that her kids will have to use their English).

Juliette: Yeah, but we really can't help you improve your English anymore.

So that was funny. Then I walked to school to pick up Lise at 4:30, and obviously she was the absolute last kid out, just to make me worry that I was never going to find her I guess.

The rest of the night was easy. I made her practice her multiplication tables before we watched The Aristocrats (they have almost every movie about animals ever made), and then Anne made really good tomatoes stuffed with beef for dinner, and then Lise and Juliette and I (and Snowball for a little bit) watched High School Musical, and they sang along to every song.

So it was a good first day of "work"! Today I'm lounging around because I don't feel like doing anything, but I'm going to get up soon and explore Clamart, which has a cute downtown.

1 comment:

  1. The Catacombs are somewhere near Montparnasse, aren't they?? Put that on your list.