After having enjoyed the whole of January off, I have been back for two weeks now at the Sorbonne after yet another stressful round of the infamously known palaver that is inscriptions pédagogiques. Despite being told last term the exciting news that the Sorbonne was finally breaking into the twenty-first century and carrying out its first ever enrolment online, it turned out that us Erasmus students were not granted this privilege. So, off I ran around Paris again manically trying to sign up for classes. Being a Wednesday of course, the offices slammed shut as soon as the clock struck twelve, leaving me with an incomplete timetable. When myself and Nikki went to the Sorbonne on Thursday morning hoping to finish everything, we were horrified to see a notice informing us that the office was ‘exceptionally closed’ (even though we could hear voices of staff coming from the inside…) My luck did not improve in the slightest as I then found out at Clignancourt that many of my previous translation classes from last term were already full, forcing me to muddle around my timetable even more. Not really fair seeing as all the French students would obviously beat Erasmus students to it being able do their enrolments at the click of a mouse, whilst we have to battle with offices which are never open – but hey, tant pis. Everything is more or less sorted now. I’ve also started tutoring for a third French family who live in an amazingly huge apartment in the 14th arrondissement – which I later found out is where Monsieur Hollande himself lives! After the stress of enrolment, I had a catch up with Warwickers Emma and Mairead. We decided to venture to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest covered market in Paris serving street food and fresh produce. Possibly due to the fact that we went during the week, we were rather disappointed by the lack of atmosphere and things on offer. Markets here tend to be buzzing, especially on Wednesday afternoons and Sundays. Rather unimpressed, we went for a drink in a quirky looking café not far off. In fact, it turned out to be a little bit too quirky, serving hot drinks made only from almond milk. Whilst this tasted pretty good in my latte, it made Mairead’s hot chocolate taste rather bizarre. Who would have thought it was even possible to have a bad hot chocolate in France!? That being said, the place was really different and the service was really friendly – and is definitely somewhere to go with any lactose intolerant company!
On the Saturday night I had some friends round mine for a few drinks. We had a pretty entertaining night playing the post-it note game where everyone has to guess the famous figure written on the post-it stuck their heads, during which I learnt several new French personalities. I always seemed to end up with a blonde or Brit stuck across my forehead of course! Grégory and Caroline then showed us several satirical sketches about French politicians – apparently there’s even one on David Cameron. On Sunday evening I caught up with fellow Sorbonne international students Isa and Kangha in a bar called Café St Regis by Le Pont Marie. We were lucky to catch happy hour otherwise this was definitely not the kind of place students could afford – it was very swanky, with amazing cocktails and serving a generous portion of olives and peanuts as an accompaniment. Waking up Monday morning was a bit of shock, though I am happy now to have 2 lessons a week at the real Sorbonne, which are always worth getting up for.
Myself, Grégory and Boryana had decided spontaneously during the weekend to buy last minute tickets to the France-Germany game, which only cost 17 euros. Plus, we ended up with brilliant seats, at the front of the second tier right in the centre of the pitch. I had wanted to go to the Stade de France since coming to Paris, and it certainly lived up to its expectations – witnessing the entire stadium erupt into singing La Marseillaise was quite something. I also learnt some important footie vocabulary: l’hors jeu – offside, un coup franc – free kick, une faute – foul etc… Seeing as the only chant I knew beforehand was ‘Allez les Bleus!’ I told Grégory that he needed to teach me the basics – though it turns out that this is pretty much all the French supporters sing. There was a song about standing up if you’re French, which I obviously couldn’t participate in! In comparison to English fans, the French are rather tame and sophiscated. They also do not lance continuous abuse and swear words at their players, which was nice to see. France got off to a great start with a goal right before half time, yet the Germans came out blazing in the second half and soon equalized with a goal from Muller. I asked Grégory if there was an equivalent expression for ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings’ ( Literally ‘C’est pas fini jusqu’à la grosse dame chante’ ), which made him laugh a lot – it does not exist! Though I think it’s now incorporated in Grégory’s footie vocabulary, as he was desperately shouting ‘Mais la grosse dame’ once France found themselves 2-1 down and whilst the last minutes of the clock were ticking. Despite France loosing, it was a good game and a great experience!
I’ve also enjoyed several more Parismus events, which are always fun and a great way to meet new people. First was ice skating at Hôtel de Ville. Here I was also asked by my friend Lucile if I would do an interview for the Sorbonne student TV channel as an Erasmus student giving my opinion on what it is like being an international student there. I hadn’t any time to get nervous about being filmed speaking French and being watched by fellow students online – plus, the fact that I was being interviewed by a girl dressed up as a polar bear (apparently the mascot) put me rather at ease! Whilst I sang the praises of Parismus as a great base for bringing together French and Erasmus students, I did have to be honest and have a slight bitch about Sorbonne disorgansation and its gruelling administration process – which all the Frenchies agreed with thankfully! On Mardi Gras I went to a bilingual quiz which served free crêpes and where I ended up being the only Anglophone in my team – no pressure! Mastering the music (including naming Anglophone songs which has been translated into French) and general knowledge rounds, we won the quiz and got a bottle of champagne and continued our celebrations in a bar afterwards with a few drinks. I then had a good night out at yet another Apérismus at Tribar at Bastille (which I like to call the Parisian Smack) seeing and catching up with lots of people.
As always, life in Paris is never boring!
Marché des Enfants Rouges: 39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Café St Regis: 6 Rue Jean du Bellay, 75004 Paris