It was a weird feeling for me to wake up this morning and have almost no mention of September 11th. I explained to my French mother, Anne-Marie, the importance of September 11th and what it means to Americans. She knew what had happened and obviously that the actions had sent America into war, but she never knew really how it affected Americans. It was nice to be able to share a bit of my culture with her for a change.
Speaking of my host family — I live with Anne-Marie, a single, older lady in a HUGE apartment in the 7th arrondisement of Paris. The apartment is not only beautifully decorated, but I have my very own bathroom and room! (I feel I lucked out compared to some other students who have to share their bathrooms.) Best of all though is my view of the Eiffel Tower. The Champs de Mars (the park under the Eiffel Tower) is literally across the street, I can’t believe I was ever worried about my French family! Anne-Marie is so nice and encourages me to really work on my French and experience as much Parisian culture as possible. She’s very similar to my mother at home, so it’s comforting to have her to talk to and laugh with during the evening
This week was the first week of actual class. It’s a bit bizarre having to take public transportation to school considering I’m so used to hopping in my car and buzzing down to Airline Garage. I quickly realized that in order to be on time, I have to plan ahead and leave at least 30 minutes in advance. I usually take the bus to school, but almost all of my friends take the metro (the French version of a subway system). Each month I have to buy a “Carte Orange,” which gives me unlimited trips on the metro, bus, tramways, and RER (a fast train to the outlying suburbs). I can’t imagine getting around Paris without the bus and metro! Cabs here are pretty pricey, so I have been avoiding them as much as possible.
SMU students take classes at a center called Reid Hall which houses several other universities study abroad programs such as Columbia, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, and Dartmouth. It’s a beautiful building that has a lot of “Parisian” charm. In the center is a gorgeously manicured courtyard that we can study in, chat with friends, or surf the net with WiFi. So far I LOVE all my classes. The professors SMU uses are extremely knowledgeable and have a passion for their subjects. So far my favorite classes are definitely my independent study history class (5392) with Dr. Kahan and my French (4373) class with Dr. Roynier. Both are challenging, but interesting. For my research project I’m currently in the process of trying to get approved for a Bibliotheque Nationale de France card to let me have access to original documents from the 17th century.
I still can’t believe I’m actually living in Paris for the next year! Over the past few days I’ve been sitting in cafes with my friends, laughing about the funny things that could happen to us in the next semester, but I know no matter what this will be a life changing experience!