2013 Spring External Programs France Timothy Knapp

Ballet and Being Late

In Paris, I have a habit of being lost and late for something all at once. It’s a bad habit and a bad combination, and the latter part comes from my inability to commit to memory the amount of traveling time to get anywhere from my apartment. I still have this idea of the metro as being a sort of teleportation device. I’m finding it easier to navigate Paris, but it always takes longer than I expect it to, and I never seem to give myself enough time to do it.

The director of our program got us discounted group tickets for the ballet at the Palais Garnier, a historic opera house and the setting for The Phantom of the Opera. The building is beautiful, and the interior is elaborately covered in gold and Chagall murals.


The ballet was a performance of Roland Petit, and it was made up of three separate acts: Le Rendez-Vous, Le Coup, and Carmen. It was a great experience to see a genuine French ballet, and I was really excited when I recognized the music in Carmen from an episode of Hey Arnold!. It was all very impressive, and it was easy to be mesmerized by the orchestra and the dancing and the fancy opera house.

The first half of the performance, however, I had to sit on top of a very high balcony, where the stage was barely visible, because of my aforementioned habit of being perpetually lost and late. I sat with the rest of the late arrivals, a disappointing majority of them were American, and one of them was a girl from my program. I guess we aren’t doing very much to change the French perception of Americans.

My grammar class is made up of about 8 people, almost all of them from different countries. Most of them speak a little bit of English, but our language in common is French. It’s a funny experience and really good practice to speak to other people in French that are at the same level of proficiency as I am. My American friend in my class and I have been spending time with a classmate from Korea, who doesn’t speak any English. When we accidentally speak to each other in English, we have to attempt to translate it for him in French as to not be rude.

We all went to an old movie theater that has been playing a marathon of Alfred Hitchcock movies, subtitled in French. I was impressed by how well our Korean friend could follow them just reading the French subtitles. I always love watching old movies in old movie theaters, and the fact that they were American movies in a theater in Paris made it all the more exciting.

Classes have been time consuming and extremely exhausting, but I still manage to do things outside of class, and not forget and that I’m living in Paris. When it isn’t too cold, I like to take the metro to no stop in particular, and walk around.  It’s a great way to collect thoughts, or clear my thoughts, or just appreciate Paris.

My afternoon promenade along Champs-Élysées:



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