I think I may have finally understood what English students pay so much money for: organization. This week I started the infamous task of ‘inscriptions pédagogiques’ (signing up for modules). It’s really old school here – everything is done on paper and involves standing in a queue for at least 15 minutes. Consequently, most of my time has been spent running around from department to department frantically trying to form a timetable with no clashes and enough time to travel between campus sites. I was gutted to find out that I won’t actually have any lessons that take place at Place de la Sorbonne this semester. That privilege is predominantly granted to those taking Masters (strictly speaking I could have had one, but I decided that the same class at Clignancourt at 10:30am was rather more appealing than the 9am class in the more picturesque Latin quartier). Despite having a lot more hours here than in England, I think I have somehow succeeded to squeeze all my lessons on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays…(win!)
With the realization that I was finally going to start my academic year here, I went on what turned out to be a long quest for lined paper. Apparently it’s the norm here to write on squared paper, which I just find plain odd… I have not been in a Maths class since I was 16, and the mere sight of squared paper brings back bad memories of algebra and trigonometry. I had my first History lecture on Thursday which was not as overwhelming as I had expected it to be. Plus, I had made some French friends during the day whose shoulders I could peer over when I had missed something! What is really convenient for me is that both the families I work for live in the neighbouring arrondissement to where the majority of my classes will take place – so I can hop straight on the metro to work after a class. After work I joined my fellow Warwick frenchies for a French/English pub quiz, where we had some rather cheeky Italians who were trying to copy our answers for the entire evening!
Friday finally marked the end of a long administrative debacle with signing up to modules for French Language at the Sorbonne. That being said, I do have to go to various offices next week to change a class round and add a History module! Had a quick stroll in the Jardin du Luxembourg before meeting up with my German friend Ann-Kathrin and visiting a quaint little restaurant in the 5th. It goes without saying that Paris is expensive, but if you venture around the smaller roads off the tourist trail it is possible to find some reasonably priced cafés, bars and restaurants. I also found out that there are loads of lunchtime offers – it’s possible to have a three course meal for 12 euros!! After finishing our final inscription pédagogique, Nikki, Rebecca, Kristin and I celebrated the end of a stressful week with crêpes and a walk along the Seine.
Today has been a rather cultural day spent with some fellow Erasmus students in the Musée d’Orsay, which is home to an array of works by Monet, Rousseau, van Gogh and Delacroix just to name a few! After having had a rather intellectual afternoon, we ended up in a bar called La Vénus Noire in Saint-Michel. Happy hour is from 18h-21h with cocktails at 6.50 €. The bar has an underground cellar which I later found out dates back to 1290 and has had many famous French writers such as Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine as visitors. Indeed the cultural theme continued with a cocktail in hand, that’s how it’s done in Paris!
Jardin du Luxembourg – Rue de Médicis Rue de Vaugirard 75006 Paris
Métro: Odéon (4) RER B: Luxembourg
Musée d’Orsay – 62, rue de Lille 75343 Paris Cedex 07
Métro: Solférino (12) RER C: Musée d’Orsay
La Vénus Noire – 25 rue de l’hirondelle 75006 Paris
Métro: Saint-Michel (4)