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.


Marilyn said...

Thanks for blogging, Michelle. Between talking/emailing Genna and reading your comments I'm having fun living vicariously. Genna's experience with the French medical/dental system was most enlightening, too. Her prescription cost less than the co-pay would have in the US! Keep writing, Marilyn

Dinah said...

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog, and won't bother you with many comments going forward--but keep up the good work! Sounds like you're having a wonderful time! BTW--when my daughter was in Dublin studying, she found an exercise partner/buddy to run with outdoors. She found the same challenges to exercising that you have found--and having someone to run with made it easier and more enjoyable. She actually trained for a marathon. Enjoy every second of your experience in Paris! Take care--and let us know if you have any questions from campus!
Best regards, Dinah Cox (Development Director for the International Experiences Program)