Month: June 2013

MYTHBUSTER EDITION

I wanted to take some time today to bust or confirm some popular American stereotypes of the French people. (Disclaimer: this is entirely based on my observations over the past 2 months and certainly does not characterize ALL French people!) Here we go: Yep, they really do smoke ALL THE TIME. Actually, no one I live or work with smokes, but it’s impossible to go to a café, stand at a bus stop, really be anywhere outside without finding either a cloud of smoke or a giant pile of cigarette butts. They really do eat baguettes, cheese and wine for every meal. A tradition I am more than happy to take part in! People actually do say Oh là là! Rather than the sort of coy expression it’s become in the states, it’s used here as the equivalent of “Oy vey” or something along those lines. In fact, the number of là-s you add, usually directly corresponds to the amount of stress you are feeling at that particular moment. As in “Oh là là là là là là là là là là là là!!” Strikes really …

11 Things that Improve Anyone’s Day

When the proprietor of the little fruit and vegetable market across the street you’ve been patronizing recognizes you passing on the street Interactions with store clerks where they don’t automatically respond to you in English When your host mother tells you that you have a very good accent and then proceeds to make fun of the French accents of the English people she knows Successful interactions with co-workers that include more words than “oui, d’accord” Seeing a Molière play in French at the Comédie Française and actually understanding (parts of) it Smirking at all the American tourists looking for the Louvre on a Tuesday Realizing you know a shortcut to get somewhere Figuring out a metro route without looking at the map Surviving any phone conversation, no matter how short When you accurately use a complicated verb tense in casual conversation and you don’t have to think too hard about it When seeing this reminds you of where you are, a fact that still hasn’t ceased to amaze you:

ONE MONTHIVERSARY!

That’s right, gang. It’s June 15 which marks exactly one month since I arrived (May 15) and one month until I return (July 15). Pretty crazy, right?! Since I now have lived in two of the greatest nations’ capital cities, I present to you the following lists to commemorate this momentously bittersweet occasion. Top Things Paris is doing better than DC 1) Bread. Step into any boulangerie and you’ll smell what I mean. Unless you go for the artesanal Harris Teeter Bakery loaves, most of the bread we eat in the States is square and comes in a colorful bag. Which is not to say that stuff doesn’t exist here because I guess some people make sandwiches out of it. The last bag of “pain de mie” we bought was actually called “American Sandwich” I kid you not. But that’s because the French have even perfected the sandwich beyond what we can handle in America. Take a look at the popular baguette sandwich. Compact, flavorful, hearty, everything I love in a sandwich plus the added benefit of …

Delusions of grandeur

Visiting the Chateau de Versailles can feel daunting. There’s a lot of pressure to “do it right” and “avoid the crowds” and “avoid weekends”  and “go early”…….oops. Our attempt to mix these words of tour guide advice with our college student sleeping habits led to rolling out of bed and to the train station by 10:45 and arriving in the quaint city of Versailles around 11:30. It’s so interesting, because as Americans, our history was founded in small wooden town halls by farmers and business men. Our concept of “American royalty” lies somewhere between George Washington and Beyoncé. And our most extravagant palaces are the big white marble buildings of DC or privately owned celebrity mansions. The Chateau of Versailles is completely foreign territory, and not just because it’s in another country. I struggle to think of a way to describe it other than enormous and sparkly. No seriously. Everything is covered in gold. And that’s just the outside.

Take a ride on the Paris Métro!

Bonjour Westgate!! Today I want to tell you about something important to the life of every single Parisian: Public Transportation!! In big cities like Paris, Washington DC, and New York it’s very important to have an effective system of public transportation  so that people don’t have to drive everywhere. More than 2.2 million people live in Paris; can you imagine if all of them drove to work every single day?! Luckily, Paris has one of the best Metro systems in the world!