Today was my first day at school. I don't know what I would have done without my roommate Lisa. She helped me get my metro "carte orange" which the ticket lady wasn't going to sell me because I was a "tourist" (how could she tell???) and helped me get to school and back home again. A "grand merci" to her!!
We got on the metro, and I laughed almost the whole way into Paris. We were packed so tightly that the whole thing could come to a screeching halt and we didn't budge (I am serious!) It was so hot and sweaty, yet people kept smooshing their way in. I couldn't help but find it humorous. I guess that is one way to get to know the people of Paris! And BTW, the whole notion of them not using deodorant or bathing is false. Believe me - I was up close and personal with several French armpits today. I would know.
Having become an expert in French underarms, I moved on to the language. We had to take an exam to see what level we were. I think I was a negative 3. In French, that is a negative trois. I had an entire page of ????????? for one part. I did, however, manage to write a full 3/4 page for the essay part (those of you who live with me or have had me as a student won't be surprised at this.) It probably sounded like Tarzan-speak ("Me have green eyes. Me high school teacher. Me like French Revolution. Beaucoup.") In fact, I may have created a new language (I think I'll call it "franglais" - part French, part English.) I may have thrown in a few Spanish words, too. I am sure they were either highly amused, or highly insulted. Either way, I am in basic French.
After our test, they put us in a room and gave us an introduction to the school and went over the school rules. All in French. I understood "rien" (nothing). She could have been telling me that space monkeys were climbing the Eiffel Tower and burning the city and I would not have known any different. Thankfully, I wasn't the only perplexed one.
I met other perplexed people from all around the world today. There are people in my class from Mexico, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Japan, Turkey, and Canada. There are a couple of Americans, too, and I am very happy to say that I am not the oldest one in my class! After lunch today (salad, quiche, and a pear tarte to die for - and all for 6 Euros!) some of the girls and I made our way to the Galleries Lafayette. It was amazing - Prada, Dior, Chanel, Vuitton - every designer imaginable. Of course I could not afford anything (you can stop sweating Bill!) After that, the EF activities coordinator, Matas, showed us around the Latin Quarter. I had already been to most of the places we went (and Bill - I found that little boulangerie we ate at near Notre Dame!!) but I went along just for the "getting to know you" factor. I got along very well with the Canadian girl. Her name is Stacey and she shares my love for shoes and shopping.
After I asked Matas to find Madame Geoffrin's Salon for me (which he did), Lisa and I made our way back home. The metro was still pretty crowded and very sweaty (but not stinky, thus supporting my earlier statement about French hygiene). Lisa gave me a French lesson today (we officially begin lessons at the school tomorrow) so that I could at least tell the host grandmother that dinner was "c'est bon." And, it will make you proud to know that within 24 hours of my arrival, the adorable 7-year old girl, Aurore, knows to offer me chocolate after dinner! I guess chocolate speaks the international language of love!
I may be witnessing the most bizarre thing - "Two Week's Notice" is on the French TV and Hugh Grant's mouth is moving, but a French voice is dubbed over his. It is beyond strange to see Hugh Grant "talk" without a British accent. He loses some of his sexiness without his accent. Bummer.
Merci to those who have left posts for me. It is great to hear from home. And Lisa I., my room is MUCH better than that hole at Millersville!! (a pit in the local dump would be better, though!)