Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Last Week of Sunshine

I have had such a wonderful week here in Paris! After a week of cold, rainy weather, we have had almost an entire week of beautiful, cloud-free sunshine with temperatures in the mid-70s. The ideal weather has certainly helped me relax a little despite the stress of classes and (starting yesterday) strikes.

In order to end with the positive aspects of my week, I am taking the liberty to [briefly] vent about the current strikes. To begin, I do not even understand how the unions in France can be so upset, as the current strike has resulted from an increase of the retirement age in France from 60 to 62. That still seems rather young to me from my Anglo-Saxon perspective. From what I have heard, employees in the private sector are the individuals who will be most affected by this measure, yet these are the very people who not only cannot participate in the strike, but who are inconvenienced the most by the transportation disturbances! I suppose I cannot really judge French politics as an American, but it is still frustrating to have to get up at 4:00 in the morning so I will have a chance to get to Paris in time for an 8:00 class...

Now for the more enjoyable aspects of Parisian life. : ) Once again, I went to the Louvre this past Friday. Before entering the museum, I finally broke down and went to the Starbucks that conveniently happens to be just outside the entrance to the galleries. I am a little surprised I made it a month and a half with no Starbucks, but everything is about twice as expensive in Parisian Starbucks. Anyway, I visited the section of the Louvre with medieval/early Renaissance statues, which, surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed. Most of the works were religious in nature, and it was fascinating to me to see (through artistic expression) how people in different regions of Europe at different periods in time viewed their relationship with Jesus. There were many wooden statues that were larger than life-sized, which I thought were particularly moving.

To conclude with a few notes about my classes, I must say that I have really come to like French methodology (at least the Sciences Po "variety"). At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, I think it is almost fun to figure out how to organize all my presentations à la Sciences Po (everything divided into two sections, then two sub-sections, then two sub-sub-sections, etc.). At the very least, I seem to be adjusting more and more to classes in France, which has been rather challenging coming from an American university (which is not necessarily easier, just quite different!).

I don't really know how many people actually make it to the end of my posts (which are a little longer than I would prefer...), but I hope you all have an excellent week! I hope to have some pictures from Limoges, France for my next post...


  1. I make it to the end of your posts, Benjamin! I keep looking forward to your next post whenever I finish, too. Keep them coming!

    I can't imagine having to consistently wake up at 4:00 to make it to Paris. What are you actually using for travel during the strike?

  2. My morning transit has been a little complicated. I live near the RER B, which generally has almost no trains during strikes due to the area's reputation as being home to the "bourgeoisie," which is not really the case... Yesterday, my host father drove me to Massy, where I took a train on the C line (there is about 1 train per hour there) to go the long way into Paris. This morning, I was at the RER B station at 5:40, and I discovered that there was going to be one train at 6:20, which I took into Paris. Fortunately, the metro has not been affected too badly for this strike, though this strike does not have a definite ending point, so it could continue for at least 3 weeks in a worst-case scenario. Thank goodness I don't have classes on Thursdays or Fridays!

    I am glad you like my blog. I reread the end, and I sounded a little more desperate than I intended; I just suddenly realized how long my posts can be when I wrote that!

  3. The posts need to be LONGER. And they need to be DAILY. So there.

    I was so excited to see your post because I check nearly every day! Apparently I did not check earlier this week because my first reaction when I saw TODAY'S post is YAY!!!! He did two in English. However, upon further inspection, I see you DID slip a French one in there AND IT DOESN'T SAY THE SAME THING!!!!!! So I shall keep translating them in Google and keep thinking I know what you are talking about.

    Seriously, can't you just do an online diary, a DAILY diary, so we can all know what and how you're doing EVERY SINGLE DAY??????

    Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. :)

  4. Dear Turtle,

    I have given much thought to your request, and would like to assure you that it would not pose the slightest problem for me to write posts every single day. All I ask of you is to come over to Paris, explain to all 7 of my professors (in French, of course, except for the Italian professor, which must be in Italian) that I have more important things to occupy my time than to prepare my oral presentations, write my essays, practice my speaking, do my research, and prepare for exams. : )

    Seriously, though, I would LOVE to be able to post every day, as there is so much I would like to be able to say. I really am quite busy, though, especially with the current transportation issues. I will try to post more regularly, at least. Oh, and my French posts are a little different for two reasons: 1.) There are a few readers who read both types of posts, and I don't want to bore them with exactly the same things, and 2.) There are some aspects of French culture that would be too complicated to explain in an English post, so I just don't mention those things usually in my English posts. And yes, you can certainly translate through Google, just don't be shocked if you ever come across something that sounds rather strange after being translated. : )

    Hope you're doing well!