Colby in Paris2010

Colby is a junior majoring in business marketing in the Cox School of Business, with minors in art history and photography in Meadows School of the Arts. In fall 2010 she is participating in SMU-in-Paris, where she plans to study art history, French culture and photography. She’s eager to get lost in the streets of Paris, explore the suburbs and countryside, relax at local cafes, witness beautiful masterpieces, indulge in LOTS of cheese and bread, couture window-shop her heart out and snap thousands of memories.

Study trip to Normandy

Colby2.jpg This past weekend we went as a whole group to visit Northern France and Omaha Beach, with its graves of American soldiers from the WWII invasion of Normandy, aka D-Day. More than 9,000 graves were marked with white crosses! It was a very emotional experience.

We also visited the Memorial of Caen and the reconstruction of Caen after WWII and the invasions. All of the cities in Normandy were destroyed after the U.S. bombing during the invasions. The visit complemented what we are learning in our CF class, which covers French and U.S. relations in the interwar period.

We learned a great deal about WWII and France’s outlook on the war, which was interesting since I really only knew about the U.S. involvement. I am not a history buff, and still I really enjoyed this trip!

Colby4.jpg It was also great to spend time with everyone in the group. It’s a small group of only 15 people, but what I am enjoying most about the SMU program is getting to meet people I probably would not have met. Here we have a wide variety of majors, from biology to music, and my business major is somewhere in between. As an upperclassman, I take classes with other business majors, so it is great to become friends with a bunch of new people.

Colby3.jpg At the end of our trip we also visited an apple orchard, which is very typical for the Normandy region … lots of cows and apples, which means great cheese, milk, cidre, pommeau and calvados. The tour of the orchard was so fun and ended with a tasting of apple juice, cidre, pommeau and calvados … very educational.

We all had a great time in Normandy visiting all the sites of D-Day, the Bayeux Tapestry, exploring Caen, walking Omaha beach on the beautiful coast of France, and the apple orchard. Normandy was gorgeous and a great break from the city.

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My list of things to do: Cross these off!

I officially have completed my list of things to do in Paris:

The last ones I completed:

Colby1.jpg • Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and, yes with the stairs … and yes I know what you are thinking … I am crazy
• Picnic and watch the sunset on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower
• Try the Laduree macaroons … very popular … the best and most expensive mini macaroon in Paris
• Visit most of the bigger churches
• Spend many hours in the Lourve and Musee D’Orsay, including class time
• Sit at a cafe and people watch
• Eat lots of crepes (my favorite is bananas and sugar)
• Walk from the Louvre to the Notre Dame along the river
• Vintage shop in La Marais
• Visit the best photography museums in town
• Take TONS AND TONS of pictures

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Exploring Paris

Colby3.jpg Done all the tourist attractions … now what?

Colby2.jpg We have been to the Eiffel Tower, Concorde, Louvre twice, Musee D’Orsay yesterday, Notre Dame, Arc de Trimophe, the islands, Sacre Coeur and Montmarte, and La Marais … we have already seen so much of Paris! It was been great. Every area is very different. Some have more cafes than others and some areas are very expensive and other areas very cheap. I like to stick with cheap.

Other things we have done a lot of is eat. I eat a lot here … the food is so good, I am hungry all the time! My French family eats very small amounts, but I always have to get seconds. Dinner is always healthy and simple with a baguette bread and cheese platter. My favorite kind of cheese so far is Cantal … tres tres bon. So many baguettes, croissants, pain du chocolat, macaroons, the list of sweets continues … crepes avec sucre (sugar) or la confiture (jam) … everything is so good. I didn’t know the French had such great food! AND the quiche lorraine – avec fromage et jambon, so good!

So anyway, I walk a lot around Paris as exercise – and to find great places to eat on the cheap! The cheapest places I found so far are around Monteparnasse, which is by Reid Hall (our school) so the student prices are great … and great food – bakeries, Chinese, baguette paninis.

Colby1.jpgSo the hunt continues – best food for best prices. Don’t ever eat around tourist attractions – too expensive!

Farmer’s markets are great and everywhere! I went to two today. One was a big one on the banks of the Seine next to the Notre Dame with all kinds of gourmet cheese and wine from the South West of France – with free samples! It was great.

Colby6.jpg There are so many things to do in Paris. It’s awesome – I bet you could get off at every metro stop and find a really cool part of Paris. I love exploring the City. I feel like I have seen all of it, but the best part is that I haven’t even gotten close! Paris is beautiful and there are so many hidden neighborhoods to discover. My favorite is to find pretty little parks in areas that are very busy. It’s nice to slow down from the fast-paced city life. I always have a book with me in case I find a nice place to stop while I am exploring the city.

Paris has so much to offer! So much to see! SO many people! Lots of people watching – it’s great just to sit at a cafe and order a cafe creme (coffee with cream) and watch the tons and tons of people in a hurry race by.

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Mastering the Metro

I am the master of the metro. Once you get it, it is so easy and fun to ride. It is very crowded, but what is neat is that everyone rides the metro and you can get virtually anywhere … it’s only a matter of switching lines. All the numbers and colors can be confusing, but that is why you keep your trusty map with you at ALL times.

This was the most exciting and nerve-racking thing about living in a new city … the public transportation and finding your way around the city. SO many people! All the time and very much in a hurry. It is great practice for fast walking or light jogging … catching the metro when you are late or even just to find the metro station and find your line within the metro station. So many signs!

A bit overwhelming, but I reassure you, it is not bad. Trust me, if I can do it … you can do it.

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P1010017.jpg It is our second day in France and we are in Compiegne, an hour outside of Paris in the countryside. It is very beautiful here with a little village centered around a river and cobblestone alleys. The city itself and the surrounding area hold lots of history from wars and even as far back as the Roman Empire. Today we visited the Roman ruins, including an amphitheater and Roman baths. It was really cool!

P1010039.jpg Yesterday I had THE BEST CROISSANT IN THE WORLD. I started taking pictures of my food, to really look like a tourist. All the food and bread is amazing. We all have had a croissant for breakfast and chocolate croissants for afternoon snacks. It’s a great diet … very nutritious. It’s funny … there are no bread plates in France so at the dinner table I made a huge mess with all of my crumbs from the baguette bread … very American! I just wonder how Frenchies eat all this bread and croissants without making a mess on the table! My goal this semester is to master how to eat the oh so flaky and delicious croissant without a mess … like the French.

P1010070.jpg I am also so excited we got passes to the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay so I can go whenever I want and not wait in lines! How awesome!

Oh, and I am also finding out that smiling at strangers is not good. It is of course nice in the USA, but here it is considered flirting so I need to control the natural nervous tendency I have to smile.

The director of the program was telling us that Parisian waiters at cafes hate humans and to not take it personally if they are rude to you! haha … He said they are even rude to French people, so when you go to have a “cafe” at the cafe, it will be a wonderful Parisian experience to have a rude waiter. A very French experience. I thought that was funny.

Today we had lunch in a park … some of us went to the grocery store and got baguette sandwiches and went to the park for a picnic. It was wonderful 🙂 another great Parisian adventure.

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