Un blog Travellerspoint

Daylight Savings Time Mishap

semi-overcast 12 °C

I saw in my American calendar that daylight savings time was Sunday. Great! On top of things! I turned forward the clock Saturday night. Sunday, as I mentioned before, I studied for midterms and took a walk. Didn't meet up with anyone the whole day. I went for my morning run yesterday at 7:10am only to look up at the Mairie's (arrondissement hall, instead of town hall) notice billboard to see that it was 6:10am. I was utterly confused. I thought maybe, being part of the French government, the Mairie was taking it's good old time.

But at 7:30, when I finished my run, it was still totally dark and the only people out were those delivering goods to the grocery stores and restaurants. I stopped by a window washer and asked him when daylight savings time is. And then he told me. Looks like daylight savings time in Europe is the last Sunday of March. Apparently, I lived all of Sunday an hour ahead of every other person in France and Europe. And if I had had a rendez-vous, I would have showed up an hour late! So much for being globally conscious...

So at (truly) 7:15am, with nothing to do until 8:45am, when I had to leave for class, I studied a bit more and made falafel from a mix I bought at the kosher grocery store. Boy, did it turn out to be a long day! I am also very happy because I went to the Gaite shopping mall and FINALLY bought a water bottle from the GoSport store. I have been drinking a lot less water in Paris because of this, and this shall be remedied!

In French Politics and Society, Prof Habibi (who I think might be a Coptic Christian, because I saw her necklace had two "Jesus" fish on it) showed us part of the 1958 movie "Mon Oncle." I felt a bit of deja vu, as if I had seen it before, but I can't recall when it might have been! It features Jacques Tati, who Habibi claims is the Charlie Chaplin of France. From the movie, I wouldn't say that AT ALL. But, it was still interesting mockery of the 50s consumerist society. Crazy looking "modern" houses, a Keeping-Up-With-The-Joneses attitude, ect.
On a different note, I'm really hoping this class's midterm will be ok, because I joined the class three weeks late (due to the internship fiasco). I caught up on the readings, but this doesn't make me feel much better. Oh well, just praying for the best! The finance midterm is the one I'm really stressed out about, as I'm sure are my classmates. French will be a breeze. Business French will be relatively easy, because I studied a lot, and Marketing is nonexistence, because it's at a French business school and they don't have the concept of "midterm" in their vocabulary.

I walked home from PolySci and happened to see a mini boutique selling loads of clothing, including skirts. Bought a great jean skirt for 20 euro. Nobody went to Lions Bar; those of us from IES were studying, and Amir was working. Not sure if Henry went. Ugh...we still have to plan Ireland!! As for me, I went back home and did more studying. Bedtime, 10pm (11pm-Elina-Daylight-Savings-Time). I'd say, a successful day!

A bientot!

Posté par parischica 05:35 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

After-Shabbat Sortie & Midterm Study

overcast 12 °C

Shabbat is just ending later and later every day! It ended at 7:38pm yesterday, and I planned to go to the movies at Montparnasse at 8:15pm! Barely made it; Emi and Genia joined me. We went to see "Toi, Moi, et les Autres," a musical playing at only 3 movie theatres in Paris. Being French, we found out that it had a political motif. Immigration.

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The story is about a gaté (spoiled) rich boy who falls in love with a Morrocan girl living in the not-so-well-off part of town. She's ambitious and is trying to get a law degree. He doens't know what to do with his life, except for fall in love with her at first sight after accidentally hitting her brother with his car (pretty lightly, but broken arm still). His parents want him to marry Alex, a girl as well off as he is, but he's not in love with her anymore. Only eyes for Leila, now. Leila has a Senegalese friend who works at a hair salon. When she gets captured by the police for not having papers (Leila had made her dossier (file), but something wasn't right), our hero asks his daddy, the police chief, to help. Daddy's not excited about it, but when hearing that his son would be willing to marry Alex, he says he will take a look. Sad prison scene of the Senegalese woman crying with her daughter on the other side of the bars. Then she is bound and pushed onto a plane headed for Senegal. Only to realize that Leila, our hero, and all of their friends are the passengers on the plane. They sing a song about friendship and love, and the pilot refuses to take off.

Sometimes, I wish I didn't have to think about these problems. There's never truly a solution. These immigrants come to France from misery hoping for a better life (just like all immigrants, anywhere, do). I don't know if this lady was paying taxes on her hair salon, but it's hard for me to think about people getting kicked out even though they might be productive citizens. I can't say the same of the bums and beggars on the street, though I don't know their situation, and many of them are actually sick or mentally unstable. France doesn't have enough special homes for them, apparently. The big picture would be scary - immigrants flooding France, which is not that big of a country, and taking up social services, costing lots and lots of money. So that's what it boils down to. One has to look at the big picture and forget the humanity of the individuals. It doesn't seem like there's really another way. I wish there were means for them to improve their own countries. The root of many of their problems is their terrible leaders who take money for themselves and don't build up the infrastructure of their country and education of their people. Can I blame them for leaving? :-(

After the movies, we went to a restaurant right next door called Hippopotamus, which was pretty nice. Except that none of us really ate dinner before the movies, but eating it at 11pm was still not a good idea. The girls had hamburgers while I had pea soup and fries. Then we all shared mousse au chocolat. I decided that this was one meal of many that accumulated to not so good eating habits in Paris. I need to hunker down and start exercising! I miss my Loyola gym! So, I decided to have a plan:

Run in the mornings (except for Tuesday and Saturday) from my apartment to Denfert-Rochreau, two metro stops away, without stopping. I was never a runner and always hated it, but I've been listening to an absolutely fantastic motivational book-on-tape by Darren Hardy, given to me by my uncle Sasha. It talks about how ANYONE can do ANYTHING they put their mind to if they have a game plan and are CONSISTENT. Sounds chiche? Sounds too easy? Hardy provides many examples, and he himself is the perfect example. He is the publisher of Success Magazine and a role model for achievement. I am going to take him seriously, stop thinking that I am not a runner, and learn to run, improving my self-esteem and health! Ha! I said it! Now that all of you know this, I can't possibly give up :-)

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I woke up this morning and ran all the way to Mouton Duvernet, walked to Denfert, ran back to Mouton Duvernet, walked to Alesia, and ran back to my apartment. For me, for the first time, that's a feat. So, again, the goal is to run from my apartment to Denfert without stopping. Then, apartment to Denfert and back to apartment without stopping. This would equal 1.11 miles. Who said I could never do the mile run in junior high gym class? Ha, I shall prove my 13-year-old self wrong!

This, coupled with healthy eating habits, should do the trick. All of you have to be witnesses to this when I come back from Paris. I have two months (eek! time flies by fast!). If I don't make it, I'll be SUPER embarrassed, so I guess there's no turning back :-)

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I spent the rest of the day studying for my Business French midterm and doing practice problems online. I took one break to go outside and clear my head for an hour. I walked by a bookstand where the livres (books) were selling at 3 euro each. I got the Girl with the Pearl Earring (La Jeune Fille a la Perle) in French. To read after I finish Kiffe Kiffe Demain for French class (this is a book I got at the librarie (bookstore) when our French teacher took us. On the recommended list. Written by a 16 year old Morrocan girl living in the Parisian projects.) Then, I walked down Alesia, west, which I haven't done before, into the 15th arrondissement. Not the best area ever, but for a 4pm walk, it was fine.

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A bientot!

Posté par parischica 12:51 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

Out and About with Photographers

overcast 12 °C

Ahh, got to sleep in today. That's what I like about Fridays. No school = sleep. Henry and I were supposed to meet up at noon in the 17th arrondissement, so I got up at 10:30. But really, I don't like wasting days, so although getting up late is nice in some ways, it's not in others. Why were Henry and I supposed to meet up? Becuase we're going to Ireland for spring break and we have to plan!! Daniela, and maybe Eugeniya, are coming, too! Can you believe it? Ireland! I never thought in my life I'd get to go, but when you're in Europe, everything is possible!!

The meeting didn't happen, because Henry forgot that he had to meet his boss at 1pm. So we're rescheduling. I just hope we don't wait long because plane ticket prices will rise. At 1:45, Marlene M, the photographer at Galaries Lafayette who did my photoshoot, called me. We've been trying to meet up for the past few weeks so that I could get my photos. She's a bit errant, though, as I may expect of an artist ;-) Thankfully, I didn't have much to do today (except study for midterms, but that can wait, can't it?), so I accepted her proposal to meet at Bercy Village (off metro Cour St. Emilion, line 14), in the 13th arrondissement.

I've never been there, but I realized that the metro is one stop away from the metro Bibliotheque Francois Mitterand (French Presidents like having buildings named after themselves), which is the end of bus 62's route - a bus that I could take a minute away from my apartment at Alesia & General Leclerc! I felt so Parisian...knowing the bus system! It didn't take long at all, whereas it would be exasperating to have to take 3 metro lines to get there (Alesia - Denfert- Bercy - Cour St. Emilion).

I walked 10 minutes from the library to Cour St. Emilion, across the Seine. This is quite an industrial part of Paris - just a little ways south is where I could have potentially had the Gostai internship that I wrote about a while back. Saw Accenture Paris on the way.
But once I crossed over, the little area of Bercy Village was pretty quaint. There is a garden - Jardain Bercy - which must be beautiful during spring/summer. Then, I found Cour St. Emilion and, to my surprise, a sign that said "Bercy Village." I didn't know what this meant, so I went in.

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A quaint walkway with restaurants, bistros, and a few outlets. All quite expensive. I met Marlene, and she invited me to one of the cafes. It was quite quite quaint, with nice decor and artists' paintings on the walls, for sale. Marlene said she used to have her own work on those walls, too, when she had a contract with the previous owner. That's why she's back - she wants to see if she can renew the contract with the current owner. She treated me to drinks; she had a vitamin/orange kind of drink and I, a hot chocolate (which is ordered as merely 'un chocolat')

We talked some politics - she explained to me why many French people are unhappy with Sarkozy and why she, in particular, is unhappy. Though she told me she had changed her mind about accepting the French socialist system and realized that it doesn't work so well. Lol. At least one French person realizes this. We talked about some differences between France and the U.S. Marlene is really sweet; I'm happy I got to talk to her, and practice my French, at that :-) And, I finally got my 5 photos!! They're beautiful. Marlene said I did really well as a "model" :-) I found out that she could make me a CD with the 5 photos on it so that I can share them rather than taking a photo of the photos, for 5 euro. We'll be meeting up this coming week to do that, so I apologize for the enticement, but my dear readers, you will have to wait a little bit to see the end result!

Some really random eateries I saw on the way:
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Random_006.jpgAccenture's rez-de-chausse (1st level)

I was supposed to go to Pessy's family for Shabbat in Brunoy again this weekend, but as Moussi got engaged (Mazal Tov!!), the chatan's (fiancee) family is coming, so Freida apologetically asked me if I could come the following Shabbat and then celebrate Purim with them afterwards (Purim is Saturday night through Sunday, so right after Shabbat). I told her that it sounded even more perfect than this weekend! I am very much looking foward!!

Shabbat Shalom et a bientot!

Posté par parischica 08:26 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

Strasbourg Field Study

sunny 2 °C

Last Thursday, the school, divided into two groups, left either to Strasbourg or to Brussels on a field study. This means a learning experience, not vacation. But I preferred to see it as the latter :-) I was part of the Strasbourg group. We took a train from Gare de l’Est (East Station), and I had an epiphany of why it was called that. Strasbourg is to the east. Gare du Nord (North Station) made sense to me, too. Gare de Lyon, not so sure, unless it used to be used heavily to travel to Lyon. That’s the station Audrey, Sreya, and I took to get to Nice. Anyway, the ride was about 2.5 hours long. Not so bad.

We ate lunch on the train; I had bought mine the day before at the new kosher beggel (that’s right) shop by my apartment. It’s family owned – the son was there at the beginning, and made my beggel. Then, his father came to take him home (closing time is early – 4pm). We talked about his son’s plans to go into medicine, for which everyone out of high school has to take an extremely difficult test to get in. Not at all like our 4 years of prep work and then the MCAT. He didn’t make it the first time, so now he’s working and studying, hoping to retake the exam. His father is from Algeria; we talked about that, and the Arab situation, and the U.S. (I was asked if New York is far from Chicago – they have only been in L.A.)

Back to Strasbourg…we got in around 1:30pm. It was sunny and cold. Colder than Paris. After 10 minutes allowance at the hotel, we took a bus to the European Council. I’m still not sure what it does haha! But we got to see where the council members and the translators sit. Then, an Italian man who is in charge of the media department spoke to us for a while. The most interesting part was when he told us about himself.

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Then, we went to the cathedral, where we were given an hour to amble around. By this time, it was so cold that everyone immediately ran to the nearest café and grudgingly came out afterwards. I was absolutely in love with the architecture of this Alsatian city. Alsance, now a region of France, used to be German. Both languages are spoken in Strasbourg, and the architecture is definitely German. My friend Caroline put it this way: We get to see the beauty of Germany without having to hear the language! And she’s right; we didn’t hear much German in the streets, although we knew that many people do indeed speak it.

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Dinner was at a beautiful restaurant in La Petite France, an area in south Strasbourg. It was right on the river, which we could see out our window on the lower level of the restaurant. We all ordered wine, which IES allowed us to do. For my table (Sam, Jenny, Caroline), I ordered my now-favorite wine – white wine with cassis (blackberry). Then, we were served traditional Alsatian “pizza,” called a “tarte flambée.” It just kept coming and coming…Caroline and I, being the vegetarians in the group (though it pains me to call myself thus ;-) ) had a veggie tarte flambée. Everyone else had pork with a variety of veggies. It doesn’t make me happy to think that our meals were cooked using the same utensils…but I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I’m willing to eat beggels for two days straight for every meal. While everyone had about 4 pizzas, Caroline and I had two. Then, the waitress brought out a fish/potato dish for both of us. Caroline kind of looked at it and said…but I’m vegetarian…The waitress was so confused. She said in French…ah, so then you are vegan! Apparently, in France, vegetarians eat fish. Weird. So they replaced the fish with veggies.

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Again, it was so cold outside that even though we had free time after dinner, everyone went back to the hotel. Caroline and I, rooming together, switched on the t.v., hoping to find something interesting. Apparently, there are a lot of German comedy shows. Ironic. ;-)
The next day, after a measely breakfast in the hotel (Etap hotel chain), we went to visit the European Parliament. This was more interesting than the European Council! There was going to be a session soon, so the staff was preparing the technology and checking the lighting in the room where everyone sits. We were told that every person can speak in his/her own language during the sessions, and that there is a translator for almost every language. The hardest one to deal with is Malta, apparently. Sometimes, there needs to be a double translation. Example: Maltan translator uses Italian and the Italian translator puts it into French for everyone else to understand. Unlike at the European Council, where knowledge of one of the three official languages is required (French, English, German), this is not true at the Parliament.

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Lunch was at another nice restaurant, just across from the cathedral. We could have wine again, but white with cassis was not allowed this time, so we settled on plain white. I had fish and pasta, Caroline had veggies (They didn’t give her much at all! I shared my loads of pasta with her), and everyone else had something with pork in it. Gosh, French people really like their pigs!

Everyone had free time afterwards, except for me. Peggy was nice enough to book me a separate train ticket back to Paris so that I could get back in time for Shabbat. So I said my goodbyes to the lovely Strasbourg, which I hope to be able to see again in my life. I made it to Danielle’s just in time to light candles. Thank G-d.

Yesterday, in real-time, I sat through a 2.5 hour delegates meeting at IES (6pm-8:30pm). Each of us represented a class (or several). It was quite interesting to hear the positive and negative aspects of every class that IES offers, though by the end, it was quite tiring!! Didn’t get to go out for Deb’s birthday, but I’m hoping to go out for Emi’s (belated) tonight.

I’m invited to Brunoy to spend Shabbat with the Gourevitches again! I’m so excited! It will be like being back in W. Rogers Park!

A bientot!

P.S.
Some Italian vocab I learned in Milan:
Più – more.
Sinistra – left
Buena sera – good evening
Giapponese – Japonese
Fromaggio – cheese
Per – for/to
Proxima fermata – next stop (fermata in music terms means to hold a note!)
Biglietti – tickets
Cinco (pronounced Chinco) – five
Cincuente (pronounced Ch) – 50
Uscita – exit
Via – street
Di – of
(And, of course, I at least came in with the knowledge of Bongiorno – hello, Arrivederci/Ciao – goodbye, Grazie – thank you, and Prego – please)

Posté par parischica 03:37 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

Vacances Part V - Final

Milan - Last Day

sunny 4 °C

Thursday, February 24 - our last day in Milan. We woke up at 6:30am, had the delicious chocolate-filled Italian croissants, and went to try to see la Ultima Cena (the Last Supper). Without booking tickets months and months in advance, the only chance a tourist gets is to come early and see if there are any cancellations for the day. We got there at 8am (it opens at 9am) and were told that there were no cancellations! Bummer! I read up on the painting (in Italian) on an info board that they had. Apparently, the oils that Da Vinci used were a new mix and started disintegrating after 6 years of the painting’s life. Specialists have been restoring it and believe that the one that hangs right now is the version that looks closest to how Da Vinci painted it. Here is where the famous painting is housed:

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Vacation_11_421.jpg Church adjacent
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We walked to the Da Vinci science & technology museum and got there at 8:30am, only to be told that the museum opened at 9:30am. We ambled around, went into an Italian bookshop, stared into the window of a bakery, and trudged back to the museum with the knowledge that we would have to stand outside in the cold for another half hour.

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15 minutes later, many school groups showed up, as well as some guys selling stuff that reminded me of the ones at the Eiffel Tower. The students were immensely happy for the distraction while they waited. The three of us groaned at the thought of sharing the museum with all the students, but it turned out that they stayed in special student labs to work on projects while we got to walk around relatively freely. There were neat exhibits: astronomy gadgets, globes, telecommunication, Da Vinci’s inventions, boats, trains…Be prepared, I took a LOT of photos :-)

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Vacation_11_476.jpg hehe, my favorite :-)
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Vacation_11_471.jpgThen, we went into the “Must Shop” museum shop and I bought some 3D paper to draw on (you draw whatever, put the glasses on, and you’ve got yourself a 3D picture!) Lunch consisted of falafel. Then, we tried to find the Italian Pinacoteca museum, not really knowing what we would find there. We got lost, found the Pinacoteca Brera, a library that is different from the museum we were looking for. A nice gentleman saw that we were lost and pointed out the Pinacoteca Ambrosia to us. We went and looked through a booklet to see what paintings were inside the museum. They looked similar to what we would find at the Louvre, and after looking at the ticket price, we left to wander the streets of Milan again.

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Vacation_11_489.jpg Cherry marzipan!

We had some time to spare before dinner, so I borrowed Sreya’s “The Girl who Played with Fire,” which was vastly interesting, so I will have to get it on my own to finish reading it. Dinner was at the same place as last night – this time, gnocchi per 4 fromaggio that were a bit disappointing compared to Nice’s gratin gnocchi. And tiramisu that wasn’t the best, either. Sreya: Let’s go to Happy Hour. Me: As long as I’m not hung over for my flight tomorrow! But we didn’t end up going. In fact, we didn’t party at all this whole vacation! But we had such a great time that it doesn’t matter.

Flew EasyJet for the first time to get back to Paris. The timetable only showed the gate 15 minutes before the plane was supposed to take off, and seating is whereever you can find it. No one seemed to want to sit in the very front with the flight attendants, but there was so much leg room there! I immediately took advantage.

Paris, sweet second home Paris...I missed you!

In real life, Madame Benoit, my French professor, took our class to the theatre yesterday. My first time in a French theatre! We saw a play called "Au Dela du Voile," which takes place in post-Independent Algeria. It's about two sister. One is traditional, the other is free-thinking and liberal. The former wants her sister to wear a hijab in public and to sumbit to their brother's wishes. The latter will have none if it. The play was a bit long and intense, showing the discord and fights between the two sisters. The two end up asking each other a fundamental question: who am I? The free-spirited sister asserts that she is no one if she has to wear a hijab and submit to her brother. Her conservative sister protests, but, at the end, realizes that she, too, feels like she is nothing. So in the end, they came to sort of understand each other. It was helpful for me to have taken the Francophone Literature class last semester; we read a lot about women during the war/Independence years of North Africa.

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Today is Deb's birthday; she's going to dinner at 6pm. I don't think I'll be able to go celebrate it with her because we have a delegates meeting from 6-8pm. Each class has a delegate; we filled out a mini questionnaire on the class (what is going well, what is not), and all of us delegates have to present the summary of our peers' questionnaire answers. I am the delegate for my international finance class. Most of my classmates hate the class because our professor is a PhD and treats us as such. He doesn't explain fundamentals before going into greater detail, and his English, though very good, is slow and not cohesive, making his train of thought difficult to follow. I feel bad for him, but what can we do? We need to be able to understand the material and do well in the class...

A bientot!

Posté par parischica 05:48 Archivé dans Italie Commentaires (0)

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