Monday, September 20, 2010

More Sightseeing and More Classes

As the title of this post suggests, this week was filled with more sightseeing and more classes. I made a real effort this past week to squeeze as many outings in Paris as I could between classes, knowing that I will soon have too much work to be able to do much sightseeing.

To begin the week, I tried some mini-macaroons (which were absolutely delectable!) from La Durée, a well-known pâtisserie in Paris. After that, I went to the Champs Elysée, where I walked from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe before heading over to Père Lachaise cemetery. There are many famous writers, composers, singers, and other well-known people buried at Père Lachaise, including Chopin, Rossini, Proust, and Edith Piaf. Unfortunately, I could never find a real map, so I only managed to find Proust, but it was very relaxing nonetheless to spend a few minutes away from the noise and traffic of Paris streets.

Later in the week, I went to both the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée du Louvre. The Musée d'Orsay was somewhat disappointing, as 53 of their paintings by Monet are currently on loan for an exhibit at another museum in Paris, but I nevertheless was able to see a lot of Van Goghs and several sculptures that I really liked. The Louvre, which I visited the next day, was simply breath-taking. I planned to spend an hour in one small part of the museum to really be able to appreciate the artwork, but I decided to see the Louvre "à la tourist" for the first time, making the [very long] walk through the entire building to see the most well-known works. Because visitors under 26 years of age can get in for free without having to get a ticket every Friday evening, I plan to go there for about an hour almost every week to really see and appreciate as much as I can.

This past week truly signified the end of vacation for me, as I received all my assignments for the semester. As a side-note for those not familiar with French universities, French classes are rather different from their American counterparts, at least at Sciences Po. Rather than having weekly homework assignments, reading, and quizzes, most classes may only have an exposé (oral presentation), a fiche technique (a 2- or 3-page overview of an important topic or event), and a final exam, for example. The first day of each conférence (a class of about 20 people that goes along with the 250-people lectures) is spent by selecting topics for these assignments, which can be a rather stressful process. Nonetheless, I survived my first round of classes, and now know what my work load will look like for the semester.

Although I occasionally wish I were French [so I could actually understand what my professors are saying when they become a little too animated about a particular topic! : )], I truly do enjoy being an international student. So many of my experiences have reminded me of L'Auberge Espagnole (an excellent French film that I would highly recommend). For example, last night I went into Paris to have dinner with several of my friends I met during the welcome week, and there were two American students, three Chinese students, one Hungarian student, one Swedish student, one half-Russian student, two Australian students, and two German students! It was so much fun to communicate in broken French and English, sharing our experiences from the first couple weeks of classes at Sciences Po. I hope the rest of the semester goes this well!


  1. Oops! I meant to post here, but I accidentally posted on your French entry! Sorry about that! I want you to know that I may not make a comment because I hate signing in to Google just to post a comment--I'm scared I'll forget to sign out!!! But I almost always read these things practically as soon as you write them. Guess that tells you how frequently I check, huh??? Keep them coming and forgive me if I don't post a comment! I really do dislike signing in to Google, typing the security word, blah, blah blah! But I love reading your posts!!!!! (And translating them!)

  2. La Durée!!!!! (!!!) I am so glad that you have empirically verified that rose petals are rather delicious. I must try that flavor. Sounds like a good enough excuse to come bop over to France, n'est-ce pas? : )

    Also, I love the pic of Cupid & Psyche - one of my favorite sculptures!

  3. Laura,

    I am glad you like the blog! You certainly do not have to comment on every post, as I know quite well now that you read them rather regularly... :) As for the French posts, they are usually comparable, though I am writing for a different audience when I publish in French, so my posts are nonetheless a little different. I hope you are doing well!

  4. Kristin,

    Yes, rose petals are VERY delicious (at least in macarons from La Durée, though I imagine they could make almost anything taste good... : )). You definitely should bop on over so you can confirm my results, as one test does not give my discovery any credibility...

    Cupid and Psyche actually happens to my one of my favorite sculptures, as well! In fact, I think it may be my favorite sculpture in the entire Louvre. I will have to wait and see what I think after I make my very thorough grand tour over the course of the next few months.