September 7, 2006
bits of Paris
How long has it been since I last wrote anything of substance? I kept wanting to write something (as every day I don't write equals another day where I have to write even more until I must eventually shackle myself to my computer and develop carpal tunnel syndrome), but the desire to plop down on a mattress and do absolutely nothing kept winning out. Six days in Paris during new student orientation feels more like a month during which one suspiciously picks up little French. [sigh]
- walking by the Seine
Paris is beautiful—I'm sure you knew that already. Every new place I go to makes me go "whoaaa" or "holy crap", but not too loudly or else I will be the annoying American tourist. I've already leaned to whisper in certain places as to not make my booming, grating voice reverberate too much where it may disturb humans with normal voice levels. Or super hearing.
But I'll start from the beginning before Paris looked pretty. All new students are initially housed at the FIAP, a hostel-ish place in the 14th (I'll refer to arrondisements every now and then) before receiving permanent housing. As soon as we arrived at the FIAP from the airport in semi-conscious, eyes half-opened jetlagged states, we had to stand in line to obtain orientatinon related material for...a while. A long while.
- tired students
For all potential Paris study abroad students, prepare for THE INTENSE FUN THAT LIES AHEAD!!! But don't worry; it's only the first day when you have to wait around forever and go to a bunch of activities and talk to a hundred people whose names you don't remember.
My room had four beds and as I was the last one to arrive, I ended up with the top bunk. Yay, I love climbing stuff. I especially liked the showers that would release water for about 30 seconds until the depressed button became...undepressed. Ye know, like those annoying faucets in public restrooms. I'm not complaining; the water felt like the best thing in the world after marinating in my own sweaty clothes for god knows how long.
- petit dejeuner
Although my free (although I'm sure I paid for it somehow through school fees) dinner at the FIAP was only memorable for being bad, Sunday's breakfast was much more impressive. I picked a darker croissant for optimum crispiness and was overjoyed to bite into something that tasted like butter if it were made of a gazillion layers of dough and had a light-as-air crust. This one croissant, probably nothing out of the ordinary in Paris, was probably better than anything I had ever eaten in the US. Seriously. The freshness of it made a big difference, but I'm sure the 99% butter content did too. Although I tell people that I'm not a big fan of croissants, that may only refer to croissants outside of France. :P
This fairly unusable car sat outside the Glaciere metro station (the closest one to the FIAP) all throughout Sunday. I suppose it had burned up the night before. The French aren't kidding when they say they don't like to do things on Sunday. ;)
However, I did find a few places that were open on Sunday, like this bakery further down from the metro station. Palmiers, like croissants, are another baked good that I was never insanely drawn to in the US, but I had never seen one like this before. Instead of the puffy pastry I was accustomed to, this version consisted of tightly packed, solid layers that weren't too soft or crispy. Although I didn't love it to bits, it was definitely worth eating.
The Paris Metro is very easy to use, at least compared to NYC subways. One major difference is that doors don't automatically open in the metro cars—you have to lift a handle or push a button. The cars also beep right before the doors close so you don't get various body appendages stuck between them.
What I love about the metro is that the maps and signs are extremely clear. Perhaps due to below-average brain functions I've become confused a number of times while navigating the NYC subways. So far I haven't gotten hopelessly lost in the Paris metro, even when going through long transfers between different lines. Who would think large, brightly lit signs and simple line maps could be so useful, ye know?
On Sunday afternoon (...oh god, I'm still on Sunday?) I went to the Notre Dame with Tesia, a fellow NYU visiting student, just to kill some time. Obviously, you probably shouldn't eat anywhere around major tourist areas or else you may pay 3.50 euros for a can of soda. Earlier in the day I had bought a 1 liter bottle of water from a little grocery store for 0.80 euros near the FIAP.
- ice cream!
Once place that you SHOULD go to near ND is Berthillon, probably the most famous ice cream maker in France. While I don't know if I saw the main store, a gazillion cafes in the same area sell Berthillon ice cream; walk around and you'll find it somewhere. I joined a bearable line outside a cafe on the corner of rue Jean du Bellay and quai d'Orleans (if you haven't already noticed, I'm not giong to bother typing accents..yes, I'm so evil!). Two tiny scoops of creamy pistachio and caramel ice cream that started to melt immediately upon freezer liberation set me back 4 euros. Was it worth it? Welllll...the caramel is awesome as noted by other foodies and the pistachio was the most "real" version I've had (as in it contained real pistachio chunks and was not artificially colored luorescent green), but I actually preferred Otto's caramel gelato. I hope that's not sacrilegious. Definitely go to Berthillion if you get the chance, perhaps on a day that isn't too hot so that your cone doesn't become an ice cream soup cup.
- Notre Dame
Oh yeah, that's the Notre Dame. And me. It's a good thing you can't tell how tired and sweaty I was at the time. During my time here so far I'd say that any time I haven't been sleeping or in the shower is when I've been tired and sweaty.
I'm afraid I've become too lazy to write real content. Lookie!...building! This is in Montparnasse, which (I think) is famous for a tall ugly black building that has a great view of the city. In the left side of this photo you can see a Starbucks. HA HA HA, IT'S AMERICA.
Here's a ceiling in one of the classrooms I saw on a campus tour. Nothing special, ye know, just...an ornate mural. In a classroom. With a very high ceiling.
This is where I'll be living for the next four months. Yeeeup. I ended up doing a homestay with an American family, for all people. ;) No, I didn't request an American family, but that's what I was offered by my housing advisor and I think it worked out for the best since my homestay mum, who is very familiar with Paris, can give me useful information without any language barrier. The insanely nice apartment is in the 16th near the Trocadero, which if you're familiar with Paris you'd know is a very...nice area. Yeah, I'm just going to stick with "nice" until I walk around and see what else is around there. The apartment is a convenient 10 minute bus ride from my school's campus, which is across the Seine in the 7th.
While I had been told many times that just attempting to speak French is usually enough to keep French shopkeepers from hating you, so far I feel like...erm...no, nothing will be good enough. I know very little French, but I always try to speak it when I buy something in a bakery, despite that my French is so horrible that I'm obviously American or a rude French person who speaks very poorly. It's a good thing I like baked goods so much or else I'd just go hungry...such as today when I felt so freaked out by the prospect of again being the clueless American who doesn't know how to order a sandwich that I realized it was easier to just skip lunch. [tummy grumbles] I may grab something on the way home, perhaps a baguette? I don't know. At least I know there's fruit at home.
Maybe I'll get used to shopkeepers looking at me as though I am something unsightly stuck to the bottom of their shoes. My student advisor warned me that this may continue for a while. [sigh]
It's not all bad, of course—it's just that you tend to remember the bad more than the good. Thankfully I've had one very nice experience that I typed up a few days ago yet never finished since I was in that "tired and sweaty" state. After I post this entry I'm going to go home and find something edible.
I dragged my two suitcases across Avenue d'Eylau to my new home after saying a horribly American-accented "au revoir" to the cab driver who spoked enough English to ask me if I spoke any French. (Not really.."un peu"?) After entering the front gate, I noticed two young women and a guy sitting and chatting on the steps up to the apartment entrance. The two women were dressed in cute, casual dresses and the guy was wearing dressy (but kind of casual...yeah, I have no idea how to describe clothing) trousers and a sports jacket. Basically, they were nicely—although not overly—dressed for "sitting and chatting outside on the steps with friends" and looked like they had walked out of a catalog for 20-somethings, except they looked friendlier and not like scowling models. I ungracefully plodged towards them through the cobblestone courtyard/driveway and then...
"[insert something in French]" asked one of the women. They started helping me with my bags as I stared confusedly. Oh god!
"Uh...je ne parle pas français bien..." I trailed off since I knew that whatever I was saying sounded horrible. Yes, you have to actually open your mouth more to become a better speaker, but the desire to speak is kind of nonexistent when you know your pronounciation is worse than a dog's. If that's possible. (In my case, I think it is.)
"Do you speak English?" asked the same woman with what sounded like a British accent. Woohoo, lucky me!
I pressed the button to my homestay's apartment and the other woman, who also spoke English, said she knew the family. The guy didn't speak any English, but he took my bag without question and brought it up the dark, red-carpeted spiral staircase as the first woman I spoke and I dragged my heavier bag up little by little.
"Is this the right floor?"
"Uhhh..." I knew it was the third floor (which is the fourth floor in France since their first floor is the ground/zero floor), but I had lost count of how many flights we covered already. As we stared at the large door, my homestay mom opened it. I thanked my random, exceptionally attractice baggage carriers, whose names I unfortunately didn't get, as entered the threshold oh my home for the next four months.
For me, that was my msot surreal "Paris moment" up until that point. Seeing the Notre Dame as I walked down the Seine was kinda weird ("Whoa...there is is,") and seeing a bit of the Eiffle Tower pop out from behind my school's library was also odd ("Whoa...it's big,"), but happening to come across some random, extremely nice people who helped me bring my bags up was a lifesaver and made me less freaked out by French people, especially after I went to a boulangerie that morning and felt as though the woman who handed me my sandwich wanted me to go far, far away, preferably to another planet.
Although the idea of doing a homestay with a meal plan (three dinners a week) was the last thing I thought I'd be doing, I realized it would be better as a way for me to use French. ...Except I'm actually living with an American family, so I don't actually have to use French. The housing office tried to place me with a French family, but they had already rented out their room. The American household sounded awesome, primarily because of the wifi. I wouldn't have ever imagined just how lucky I was before visiting the apartment. For one thing, it's huge, and secondly it is one of the cleanest places I have ever seen. I found out later that they have a woman clean the apartment every week. My monthly rent is high (750 euros, which is less than NYU housing), but, as opposed to a cheaper independent room, I don't have to pay for utilities, I get free wifi, access to a washer and drier in the kitchen (which is ridiciously nice), some free food, and a ginormous window that opens up to a beautiful courtyard. I don't want to guess how much the whole apartment actually costs.
Posted by roboppy at 9:15 AM
Your pictures are beautiful and mouth-watering as usual *droolz* Have fun in Paris and take advantage of the European rail system to travel to other places and eat! :D
Make sure you bring me back a cute french waiter as a souvenir.
do you know mike and rion? they recently moved to paris and like to take photos too. they also eat on occasion.
Welcome to France! hope that you get to try many other French pastries and such. They're pretty much all good. Don't worry ifs some of us French people look at you bizzarely. Most of us are insecure about our english too and would have just as much trouble speaking it as you in french. Hope you enjoy your stay
Welcome to France! hope that you get to try many other French pastries and such. They're pretty much all good. Don't worry ifs some of us French people look at you bizzarely. Most of us are insecure about our english too and would have just as much trouble speaking it as you in french. Hope you enjoy your stay
I just started reading your blog and am really looking forward to hearing more about your time in France, I've never been so I'll have to live vicariously through you!
Glad you are back posting! And the photos are great :) try a crepe -- so tasty, so goood!
If you went to the one on the Seine, then that is the main Berthillon. I hear there are crazy lines there.
God, it makes me want to go back to France so bad. It's just so enthralling...
Paris is a wonderful city, but get used to parisians rudeness: there are like that and won't change! I'm married to a French (thought not from Paris) and he doesn't like parisian either!
But Paris is astonishing!
Have a good time!
Yes, you should totally go visit with Mike and Rion!
I know what it feels like to move to a new country where you don't speak the language! Just keep trying, and bring one of those tiny English-French dictionaries in your purse or pocket...a lifesaver and a great way to learn. Don't bring the bigger one because you'll always find a way not to. The tiny one is perfect! Buon chance!
I live vicariously through you. Hope your host family is nice and your French will get better. :) Good luck!
Glad to see everything is going well. I'm surprised you've had time to include some food content. I'm sure there will be a bit of a culture clash at first, but you'll adapt quickly. My guess is the language barrier is just as frustrating for them as it is for you. It's nice that you found an American host-family. When you go "home" you can actually relax like you should. Looking forward to more!
Have a great time in France! Try to get down to Bayonne for the chocolate.
Having studied abroad before and not knowing much of the host language, here's some advice. (You don't have to take it, but it's useful). You should take the opportunity to speak as much French as possible wherever and whenever. If you don't, it's pretty much a waste to go abroad somewhere with language other than your native. Just figure that if you make mistakes, you'll probably never see a lot of those people ever again, and if you do see them often afterwards then you're leaving in 4 months anyway and won't see them for a long time. I would take advantage of the fact that your host family can speak English by speaking more French with them and asking them for tips about the language from a second language acquisition POV. They would know better than French people that learning French is difficult and nailing the accent takes practice, and they would probably be more lenient with mistakes. (But make the mistakes or you'll never learn). Be more open minded about your environment and take it in (sometimes you don't need to comment). I was surprised you weren't more wowed by seeing famous places that are adored by most people. Your comment that Paris was just "beautiful" doesn't do Paris justice. It's breathtaking and uniquely gorgeous. Sticking to the pastries and stuff in Paris is nice, but open up and try all Paris has to offer. Specialty shops are significant in France and open markets are well-known. And if you ever get a chance to get out of the city, do it. The most difficult thing I'd have to say is that you should blog less or worry about blogging less. Paris and study abroad should be more for you than anything else. If you spend a couple hours concentrating on your blog or being lazy and staying inside, you'll miss those hours in Paris where you could be wandering and enjoying the sights. So try to get the most out of your experience. It really is once-in-a-lifetime and does go faster than you think.
yeah, french people can seem rude, but i think arrogance is honestly part of french culture. I experienced the same thing when I was there, and the only way to rationalize it is to think, "well if my capital city was this beautiful, I'd be proud of it too." It'll get better =) KEEP FOODING! As a loyal reader of your blog, I wish you the best ;-)
Glad to have you bacK! That language barrier sure sounds frustrationg, but what better motivation to learn a language than out of necessity! Im sure you will progress nicely. Although i must say , the French are known to not like us Americans very much but i say WEAR YOUR AMERICAN with pride!!!! ITs the french after all! ^_^
i love your blog, but i've never commented before, but i thought i would now because i can totally relate to your situation. i lived in italy for a year and despite knowing quite a bit of italian i was soooo intimidated at first that i actually skipped meals because i didn't want to have to say anything too! anyway, you'll get over that reeeaaal quick.
have a fun time. i LOVE paris, it's so beautiful and despite what they say, everyone i met was super nice!
Oh Robyn! Make sure to have fun - all your photos look amazing. I'm coming back to visit next year and anticipate hearing stories of all the croissants, pate and desserts you've had! Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy! :)
Yeah, things may seem somewhat difficult during your first moments, but it will get better, don't worry! You're in that rough period of Adjustment, after all. Take good care of yourself and make sure you don't stop blogging and posting pictures for those of us with less exciting lives ^^ Have fun! Before you know it, it'll all be over and you'll be headin back =)
You live in the 16th, near Trocadero...damn! Nice! I used to babysit there when I lived in Paris, more than 10 years ago. At the time, I used to live in the bad part of 18eme, with the junkies and prostitutes. Well, not "with", but, same neighborhood. I wish I were there right now, so we could meet. I might try to go there before the end of this year, so... who knows? Good luck!
Have fun in Paris! It's a fabulous city. When I lived in Europe, my friends and I would go to Paris during the weekends and we'd gorge ourselves silly. Bwahaahha.
Paris locals are actually among the nicer people I've encountered, provided you make an effort to speak their language. My French is horrible, but I left every store/museum/bakery with a smile on my face because the people there are so darn helpful. :)
Thanks for all your comments! I'll reply to some of them. :)
Oh, and in case anyone forgot why I'm here, I actually have this thing called "school". I have classes every day, so when you suggest that I go to a million places and different countries, it's unfortunately not going to be that easy (as someone who isn't familiar with the area and as of now has no good friends here) unless my classes aren't demanding or I feel like failing them. Of course, I'll do as much as I can without going insane (surely someone who reads this can sympathize with how long it takes to edit a gazillion photos and then...stufffff...).
Also, I didn't mean to portray all French people as rude. I wouldn't really call it rudeness, maybe like...uh...a few people acting like they're not having a good day...or something. I don't expect to be welcomed with open arms or anything, haha.
Tien: I've seen Rion's blog, but had no idea they were in Paris! Thanks for pointing it out.
Stan: I should try a different pastry every time I go out. :) I find it hard to believe that any French person's English could be worse than my French, I AM THAT BAD!
Nick: I don't think I went to the main one because the address of the place I went to isn't the same as what's listed on the website. :P (And I saw photos of it on flickr.) A lot of places around the same area sell the ice cream. I'll probably visit it again!
Sara: Oo, I do have a little dictionary. My bag is full of maps and stuff already, hehe. I guess I can shove another book in there..
someone: I got some tips from my host family about what to say (I told my host mum that I didn't know how to order a sandwich, haha), but I would like to speak more French with them..eventually. Not sure how I'm going to get the rolly "r" down. :(
I was wowed by the famous places, but it's not like I can describe them well enough, so I didn't see the point of trying. "REALLY BEAUTIFUL" isn't very good. (You've seen how I describe food, right? I would be even worse at describing architecture) Anyhoo, there are a few modes I could be in when I write: tired, awake, excited, etc. This was definitely a "tired". Sorry that my comments weren't good enough, but if you want me to describe the beauty of 99% of the buildings I'm surrounded by, I can't. The best I can do is show you photos and then hope you feel something from them.
Jennifer: Ooh, it's not just me! Now I don't feel so weird, hehe. I'll work up to ordering a sandwich soon, hopefully.
Monica: Yup, the Trocadero is the closest metro to me. If you come back, let me know!
Mahar: Maybe I don't look confused enough to be worth helping..doh. We'll see. I walk around assuming no one speaks English (although maybe that's why I'm freaked out by everyone).
Regarding the locals, actually, I've always found them to be really rude, even with people who acually speak good French. I speak French, although with a Quebecois accent, and whenever I go back to Paris they still treat me like garbage. I went to a French (not French Canadian) school in Montreal and I have a few French friends (born in France, raised in France then Quebec) who went back there after high school, and whenever I talk to them they complain about people not smiling in stores/coffeeshops etc. and just generally being anal. Anywho, long rant, just to say: Don't think that it's you, they're like this with everyone. But if you disregard it, you'll have an awesome time. Damn, I wish I was there right now... Mmmmm .... cheeeeeese...
Oh, and, as a side note, the last time I was there, I went as a vegan, left as a vegeterian. Yeah.
Dearest Lovely Robyn,
How lovely it is to read your blog and hear about your new adventures. You've scored yourself a pretty nice place to rest your head little lady. That appartment building is GORGEOUS!
I empathise with you completely, I remember arriving in Paris as a 17 year old, totally baffled by it all and trying my hardest to remember how to say to my host family "Je suis fatigue!" (I'm tired)
After 2 weeks, the language clicked and I was discussing religion, politics, human rights - ok, I'm lying - but I was able to string a sentence together.
The jet lag has probably hit you hard, so don't beat yourself up my love.
I spent the first 7 days of my trip in my room, frightened to leave the building because I feared I wouldn't be able to work out how to unlock the door when I came back from being out for the day (what an air head)
Top marks to you for going out and seeing some of the city.
I hope school turns out to be fun. If you ever decide to come over to London - then give me a yelp. I can come and meet you if you like? I'll take you to my friends restaurant (he's the head chef of a Gastro Pub) you'd love it!
Millie x x x
Kid, you are doing GREAT. When I went to London for study abroad I hid under my London bed for a week until my host family came and got me. Eat. Study. Blog. Incidentally, I never undestood why people say that the French will like you better if you speak at least a little French. Mostly they will look at you as if you are a little murdering their dog. i think American Sign Language might be better although, of course, that too is not French. Keep writing. ANNIE (from Manhattan)
ooooh could you comment on the laduree macarons? I want to know if they are amazing as everyone says...i trust your judgment!!
Your notes on Paris are charming, and you know, it is a fine US tradition to kill'em with kindness, so even if you are not treated well, you can smile, express admiration, and even swoon with delight when something really pleases you.
Maybe learning to say "good innards" in French will cheer you up. You will make friends fast, and I think if you offer to share your wonderful photo skills, you will soon have won over the Parisians. Post when you can, study hard, enjoy yourself.
I love Paris so very, very much. Just reading about it makes me ache to go back!
I had been studying French for a few years when I went and became nearly fluent while I was there for a summer. I found that most people in Paris were very understanding and appreciative of my attempts to communicate in French. I didn't really encounter a lot of the rudeness that people speak of, but I could've just been oblivious to it, too. I tend to get that way.
If you have some free time on a weekend or something, do go visit La Sainte-Chapelle. It's a gorgeous little cathedral on the Ile de la Cite, built in the 1200s, with some truly stunning stained glass windows. Also visit Sacre Coeur, the Byzantine style basilica on the top of Montmartre. There's even a cool little tram that will take you up the side of the hill! One other place that always wows me is La Grande Arche at La Defense, at the end of one of the Metro lines. The building is really cool and it's got a great exhibition center at the top - go up on the roof for a great view of the Axe Historique, a view straight down to L'Arc de Triomphe and L'Obelisque!
I love the traditional Dutch breakfast of a fried egg with cheese slices on toast, but for me, nothing beats the French breakfast of strong coffee and fresh baguettes and croissants served with soft butter, jam, and nutella. Ohgodijustmademyselfhungry. Time go to find some food! Have a GREAT time in Paris!
weeg: Hehe, I've seen those before. :) They're not too poofy-like. I mean...euh, poofy looks like a lot of other things. You can only do so much with simple nubbly rabbit-ish creatures.
Monica: I've had more luck in the past few days; no one looked at me like dog poo! Yay! I WIN! Unfortunately, I still speak horribly. Hohum.
I thought you were going to say "I left an omnivore." ;)
Annie You hid under your bed? Nooo...you're more outgoing than that! I am shocked and stuff! ;) I rather like wandering around aimlessly; I know that as long as I have my handy arrondissement book, I shouldn't get too lost. :)
Today I went to the supermarket to get some stuff and the woman at the checkout said..stuff to me. I don't know what she said, but I just answered "non" to both questions and hoped those were possible answers. :P
Jane: I'll definitely try it at some point, but I heard they're not *amazing* per se. Maybe it's more of a status thing. BOOO! I had a macaron today from a random place and it was goooood. (Of course, I like most macarons.)
Aunt Nagini: I WILL SMILE MY BRAINS OUT! Good innards...hm. Bon innards? Like "eenahrds". Hehe.
tulips: Almost fluent in a summer? Then maybe I will become half-decent at French! PRAY FOR ME. Today I said "Je ne parle pas francais" to someone...well...it's a start. The woman was really nice and started talking to me in English, har har.
I haven't encountered that many rude French people, so I guess i was just having an unlucky start. On the flipside, I've had some nice waiters lately.
Ooo I wanna go to La Grande Arche! I went there when I was really little, but didn't actually go inside it. That's on my "to do" list. :) Thanks for reminding me!
Have a nice stay in Paris!
Yes franch people can be rude, they are less so in the south of France where I live as I notice when I go to the north of the country.
(good) innards = (bonnes) entrailles?
although it doesn't sound as cool as innards
as always your photos and verse are beautiful, inspiring, and humbling.
while you're in Paris, do try to go to the catacombs, as I'm sure you will. And take some snaps, as I'm sure you will.
and most importantly, enjoy your time there! Parisians are some of the most warm and welcoming people on the planet in my experience.
NY and NJ are looking forward to your return. But don't you worry about that quite yet.
at last, at last, at last!!! welcome back! i was beginning to worry because I wrote about this blog in my column (http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=bongAustero_aug30_2006 and a number of people wrote me to ask if the blog is still active. anyway, good to hear from you again.
Monica: Hm...yeah, I quite like the sound of "innards". Shouting "ENTRAILLES!" doesn't have the same effect!
tommy: Thanks for your kind comments! I forgot about the catacombs, oh god...yes, I shall go. There isn't much on my "to go" list at the moment, so ...I'll just stick that on. :)
bong: Thanks for mentioning my blog! Did people also write because roboffy.net didn't take them anywhere? ;) I don't think I had a month-long gap in between my updates. More like...a week?
omg Pa-reeeeee! I am sure you will pick up the lingo in no time. Otherwise tummy-rubbing motions and wide-eyed nods will suffice I'm sure.
Fab photos. I love the one of the shower and the train too. And you look so small and lost in front of the Notre Dame :)
Don't worry about the content. Blogs are supposed to be fun! At least, I think so anyway. :D
The pictures are awesome though.
I get what you mean about the French. It's the way people treat you when you go to China. I remember a really bad incident when a group of Chinese people laughed at me and insulted me to my face for not knowing any Mandarin.
But like China, not everyone will be like that in France, yeah? :D
I used to speak French actually, but that's non-existent now. No practice can do that.
Continue enjoying yourself over there!
I can't seem to comment on your last post (9/13), since there seems to be no comment link, so I'm commenting on this one.
I'm envious that you're experiencing Paris! I hope to visit it sometime next spring-- I've never been there, much less any part of Europe. Oh, the food! Your photos look awesome, as always.
I know it's difficult to adjust to a place where the culture and language are different from what you're used to. I hope you will hang on and and be patient with yourself.
As for number of classes, take 4! 5 classes is an inhumane load, even if you were in NYU. And you'll only regret later that you didn't have enough time to spend exploring Paris and other parts of France.
I wish you all the best!
I see that you're in Paris, and if you're interested I can give you the address to find a goat cheese pastry that will change your life...maybe you have already found it, but I just thought I would offer it, from one bakery hunter to another... My blog is "The Great American Bakery Hunt", check it out if you want, I included my URL above...by the way, I am a new reader to the blog and I am really enjoying it. Thanks, feel free to drop me a line for Paris advice!
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