Since my last blog was a little harsh on Paris, (sorry Paris), I need to say this first: Paris is not horrible. Paris is actually quite lovely once you become acclimated. Perhaps I was stressed about about having to track down my shuttle driver, which was a mistake, and perhaps the airport personnel were not the best judge of the people I was about to live amongst for 30 days, because, once I calmed down, got to the dorms, met all the other girls and vented, things got better. A lot better. I met people who knew I was a student, and so they appreciated the fact that I tried to speak French. The restaurant owners here are lovely and will talk to you and make you feel welcome. And you will eat food that will make you believe that there is no way the food could get better, but it does. Something that our RA has been teaching us is that the people will try to make you feel like you are speaking incorrectly, but just humor them. That is the way it is. They are private people and unless they are getting to know you they won’t go out of their way to be friendly. Don’t take it personally. They are wonderful people when you do get to know them, and if you ask them for help with the language, they are thrilled because you are trying for them.
We have seen so many beautiful places in the last few days and have had a bunch of adventures. Wednesday night after dinner, we were supposed to go to the Eiffel Tower but it started to rain so our professor cancelled the trip, but some girls still wanted to go take pictures, so we took the metro and walked around. It was gorgeous at night. The Eiffel Tower lights up maybe 10 minutes to every hour, so it looks like a sparkly Christmas tree. It is beautiful. I feel kind of bad because there are so many beautiful places here, and they are becoming very touristy. There are street vendors and little street performers everywhere. We went to Sacre Coeur. It is gorgeous. You climb all of these stairs to get to this huge church and outside there are all of these little vendors, then you go in and it is so quiet and beautiful and reverent. Photos are forbidden and it is still a church that is used for prayer and not just for show, so you would think that people would be more respectful, but I actually saw a man put his foot on the pew to tie his shoes. Maybe it’s just my Catholic upbringing, but places like these should be looked at with awe and respect, and its sad that they are just another tourist site. The church itself is huge, and there are candles you can buy for 2 euro and light by the saint of your choice. I thought that was a lovely idea and a really good way to raise money for the church. There are no vendors, just donation boxes next to the stacks of candles. I bought a little tea light and lit it for my family and placed it next to the Virgin Mary.
We ended up going to the baby bottle restaurant I mentioned last blog, and that was an adventure. First off, it is a literal hole in the wall. So it seats maybe 32 people total, and its very cramped and they serve your group pieces of coldcuts and cheese and bread for the fondue, which is made with wine. It is delicious but strong. And then they serve you your wine. In the baby bottles. It is so strange but so much fun. The walls are covered with graffiti from all of the people who have passed through. They encourage you to make your mark, so we left our signatures and a shout-out to OU.
Today we have just hung around the university. We are trying to see how expensive a trip to another country would be because everything is so close. Our RA left to go to London this weekend, and she was giving us a bunch of different tips on traveling outside of France. I will let you know how that goes as we learn more. Also, a man I sail with has family friends here in France just outside of Paris, and they have called to see if we would all like to meet up. They speak fluent English too, but I am still nervous to meet them. More on that later as well.