Sunday, October 26, 2008


Beautiful flowers, friends and landscapes. Brought to you by Monet and Company. Finally restored to their former beauty, Monet's gardens were in full bloom last weekend. Amazing because it was a chilly October morning, None the less, incredibly sunny and dewy. From what I was told, Monet would envision particular scenes, and then landscape his gardens as he desired to paint them. You can still see a strong resemblance. Take a look and keep in mind some of your favorite Monets. Now trying seeing the gardens through his eyes, and imagine translating and express them into a painting. Pretty cool right?

Friday, October 24, 2008


I was considering some of the contrasts here with my life back home and thought it would be interesting to give everyone a clearer picture.

Home - a small apartment, bigger than my freshman dorm but otherwise the smallest space I've ever lived in (which now feels perfectly adequate, wow Americans like a lot of space). There is no: dryer, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, TV, DVD player, wireless, or bathtub. Instead, I, listen to the radio a lot, go out to see movies, wash dishes by hand, cook everything on the stove, take french showers, hang my clothes to dry, and use the Ethernet every couple days.

School - the smallest school I've ever attended, about 150 students. Even my exterior course, I'm in a group of about 80 students that I take both my classes with. It's easier to meet people and form closer friendships. At IES I know all the staff on a first name basis. There is much much less homework. Reading for my classes, a lot of busy work for my language class and nothing for my exteriors. You read and study, that's it. Next week is mid-terms so I will be doing a lot of reviewing this weekend but thank the lord no huge assignments as of yet. I study politics, sociology, language and psychology.  So weird my psych school is based in psychoanalytic, and to some extent - Freudian - thought!! They still believe that crap here ( sorry if I'm offending anyone but gahhh FREUD??? How about something remotely current and applicable?? reality is my anti-Freud) But to be fair I've never studied psychology from this perspective so its an experience. Teachers do not use a whole lot of outside media or supplementary material. No power points, videos, online homework etc. We have lectures, and we ask questions. This may sound boring to some but actually I've never studied half these subjects, let alone from a French perspective. So they are very interesting. You have to try and get your head into this other culture and understand it from their world view but I find myself constantly comparing things to my own culture. Which yes, is a whole new ball game.

Exercise - Haven't found anything yet. Any ideas?? At home I'm really active but here there is no opportunity. The gyms are expensive and private. There's nothing offered with the universities here. That just doesn't exist. For velib ( the city wide bike rental thing) you need an American Express Card or a European one with the microchip. I don't have either. What I've come up with is the occasional run outside (I hate running outdoors ; ) and workout videos that I hoard from the internet.

Work - Not sure if I can even get a work visa, but it feels really weird to have so much time to myself.

So what have I been doing with my excessive amounts of free time you ask? Well I study french a lot on my own. Constantly craving improvements in the language. And its amazing to have those extra couple hours a week to commit to it.   Always looking up words and reviewing grammatical rules.  I visit the plethora of art exhibits, museums, monuments and cinemas here. I spend a lot of time with my friends, or on my own reading books (especially in the beautiful parks). I cook or have lengthy dinners with my host mom. I commute on public transportation (how many hours have I already spent on the metro?? I'd rather not know..) I write letters and go to hear live music. And of course I take a lot of photos (my new passion) and write my blog.

So there you have it. Life abroad, deconstructed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Musée National d'Art Moderne

Last Wednesday night I took myself on a date to the George Pompidou Center.  I had been seeing these adds all over Paris for a special exhibit passing through.  The exhibit was that of Jacque Villeglé.  His mediums were unusual - most of the pieces were created with those huge posters/advertisements - torn and rearranged on a canvas with other words and images drawn in.  The exhibition was incredibly colorful.  Definitely made some strong social critiques.  There was also a video that he had made with the Pompidou Center.  It was a series of images/drawings like slides - that changed almost instantly.  It was like watching a dream in fast forward - or snippets of someone's memory. I also explored what I could of the permanent collection in my limited time.  I will definitely be going back.  Apparently its free Tuesday nights for students.  I've had an insatiable craving for art lately.  Saturday was spent at the Louvre.  Yesterday (Friday) I went to Giverny with IES.  Wow I have some beautiful pictures.  It's going to take me a bit to get them all up but MOM you are going to flip.  The gardens were still in full bloom.  Which was incredible since it was so cold yesterday morning you could see your breath.  

The view from the top of the Pompidou center.

Some of my favorite pieces from the exposition.  However these loaded out of order... The bottom, 42 rue de turbigo, I believe refers to the yellow and blue piece - one of the last few pictures.

I thought this room was so cool.  It was all based on the idea of living in an inflatable world.  Various pieces of furniture and little shelters like the one below made of inflated plastic.  There was this crazy documentary in this room too.  It was a film from the sixties showing people playing in this huge plastic bubble/oval that was floating on a body of water.  Sort of hard to explain...   Reminds me of a kid's dream - to have a huge bubble fort.  Maybe that was the point?  Adressing that childhood fantasy... The adults in the doc, playing in the bubble - they seemed pretty gleeful.

The view from outside as I was leaving.  Why aren't museums open all night long?  

Other pieces I found interesting for one reason or anther.  Now this one below is just ridiculous!  I was standing there laughing to myself while the curators peaked around the corner at me... Can they not see the humor in this?  The little blue dude was against a huge background of foliage.  

This was my favorite part of the permanent collection.  It looked like a huge barrel from the outside, but when you looked in through the opening, it was actually a room.  It gives me that feeling of a calm summer night out in the country, when you're laying in bed listening to the sound of summer.  And that heavy humidity before a downpour.  So cool!!  

One of my favorite pieces from the exhibition.  I believe the info for this is one of those top few plaques.  Everything is a little jumbled...

Be sure to click on this one.  From far away it didn't look like anything all that interesting.  But the little white waves are actually made up of numbers written out.  I wish there was more information on this one - Whats the signficance of these particular numbers? 

Monday, October 13, 2008

La Nuit Blanche

What an awesome weekend. The night of La Nuit Blanche was beautiful. It was crisp, fresh and chilly outside. After making a delicious dinner chez moi, we ventured out into the cool cloak of night and began our exploration. During La Nuit Blanche there are crazy installation pieces setup neighborhood wide, carnivals, late hours at the museums, theatre, music etc. I personally had the ambition to want to see everything, but it didn't really pan out. We started at carnival in the Marais. It had a ton of old school games and rides. We followed that by the lit up Gare Montparnasse. It reminded me of the bat signal, in only the best of ways. This powerful blue light blocked the building so that you couldn't see it head on. It disappeared into the water below. Beautiful!! After that it was on to the installation pieces on the Champs Élysées. They were really cool and futuristic. I felt like I was walking through some sort of moon colony. The
stars and leaves made really unusual shadows on the pavement. We followed that by a crazy electro concert. The club, Showcase, is located under Pont Neuf, a huge bridge that crosses the seine. It's essentially built into the side, the support, of the bridge. You walk down to the lower level of the river and low and behold there is the entrance. The music was awesome and the admission was cheap. There were some models dancing on the stage - probably hanging out still from fashion week. At one point one of them popped a bottle of champagne and dowsed everyone at the front of the stage. Myself included of course. We danced until the sun came up. It was the white night after all!

Pictures and updates from this past week and weekend still to come. The pictures take forever to upload, my apologies for the delay!
This week I start my two psychology courses at the Psycho-prate (L'ecole de Psychologues Praticiens). I'm really excited and simultaneously terrified! Have since visited the Louvre, the George Pompidou, had an incredibly coincidental run-in with a grade school friend and a beautiful lunch in at a friend's home on the outskirts of Paris.
À bientôt!