My second week in France has found me slightly more integrated into Parisian culture. For one, I am navigating the metro much easier now that I’ve taken it approximate 281 times. It’s the primary form of transportation for everyone, and it’s extremely efficient and pretty easy to navigate once you get the hang of it.
Second, I have made many new friends through my program (CIEE). I have come to realize that people who choose to study abroad are usually the adventurous type with very interesting backgrounds, and I’ve gotten acquainted with some wonderful people this past week.
I met up with one such person, Austin, Saturday night to have a picnic by the Canal Saint Martin. We met at the place de la République. Instead of attempting to paraphrase, I’ve copied and pasted the significance of place de la Republique from the bible of students young and old: Wikipedia–
“The location of the Place corresponds to the bastion of the gate of the Temple in the wall of Charles V (raised between 1356 and 1383). Decorated in 1811 with a fountain called the Château-d’Eau, designed by Pierre-Simon Girard, it took its current shape under the Second French Empire as part of Baron Hausmann’s city renovation scheme. Most of the theatres of boulevard du Temple were demolished for this project.”
Nowadays, République is a VERY central location with tons of shops and restaurants surrounding it and lots of Parisians lounging on benches or eating on curbs. That night, Austin and I discovered a large group of people salsa dancing in the square next to the statute. It’s a great place for people to gather.
From there, we walked to the Canal Saint Martin, where we sat amidst true Parisian youths who were blasting french music, drinking beers and smoking cigarettes (we tried to blend in by taking swigs from a bottle of wine, but we somehow obviously stuck out as Americans because a young Arabian couple came up to us asking for directions in English).
Obviously, eating is a big part of my life in America, and something that has been a huge part of my French experience thus far. Meals in France, and food in general, is culturally completely different than it is in the U.S. But that is for another post. Let’s instead discuss the primary focal point of my French diet. Anyone who knows me already knows what my favorite food here is, but for those of you who don’t, it’s THE FREAKING BREAD. I eat baguettes daily; it’s a huge staple in Paris. So is wine. Lucky me.
Another thing that is regularly part of my life in the U.S. is yoga. It’s something that I’ve always been naturally pretty good at because of the flexibility that twelve years of gymnastics bestowed upon me. I was interested in finding a studio in Paris, so I did some poking around and found a class that was actually taught at the Jardin des Tuileries, the big garden that precedes the Louvre. The forecast was perfect, the price was right, and the metro stop happened to be on the line from my apartment (no transfers required). Can someone say lumières?
I invited my friend Lexi to the class. We ended up being a half hour late, but caught enough to feel totalement incroyable at the end. During the middle of a pose, I caught Lexi’s eye.
“Casual Eiffel Tower sighting,” she whispered, gesturing with her head (the only limb that was available) to the distant tower silhouetted against the twilight sky.
Friends. Food. Yoga. All things that are a part of my daily life in America, and now also in France. Even though I can still only speak small phrases of the language, I am feeling slightly less like a tourist a week and a half in. I’m hoping to feel more and more at home here in Paris in the coming weeks. À Bientôt!