What a wonderful first week in Paris, I don’t know where to start!
I got up super early on Tuesday morning to catch the 7:01 Eurostar to Paris and arrived around 10:30 (the trip was only two and a half hours, but there was a time change). I had to bring all of my luggage on the Metro to get to the hotel across the city where my program was meeting, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, so that was good. I got to the hotel in plenty of time and even got some time to rest before we all met in the lobby to depart for the API (Academic Programs International, my study abroad provider) center.
The first few days were pretty basic–we got to know where the API center was, had several different orientations, and got to see where we would be going to school, the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP). It is a beautiful campus, and right in the middle of the city. We received our class schedules and I don’t have classes on Wednesday or Friday, which is ideal I would say. Classes are different here; I will have five different classes but they each meet only once per week for three hours. It’ll take some getting used to, but I’m up for the challenge. The commute from my apartment on the Metro will be about 40 minutes, which isn’t too bad.
I am living in a lovely apartment building six floors up in the 19th Arrondissement ( I can see the tip of the Eiffel Tower at night from my living room window!) with an Irish woman named Philomena. She has two daughters who are in their twenties, but they are both studying in other countries. She is quite kind and has a boyfriend who is also wonderful. It is important to note (this is for you, Dad) that although Philomena is Irish, she only speaks French to me, which is really great. It’s a bit difficult sometimes to understand everything she says and to form an answer quickly, but I think I am doing better than I expected with speaking French, and I know it will improve so much during my time here. She is really patient when I don’t understand, so that helps too.
Our orientation activities didn’t take all of our time this week, so I did some wandering around Paris. The first night a few of us walked around the middle of Paris and into Notre Dame, which is much bigger inside than it looks on the outside! Another day, a few girls and I went to see the Eiffel Tower, which was gorgeous despite the fact that it was raining. The day after that, I walked around my favorite neighborhood of Paris, Montmartre, in the north. Montmartre is where Amy, Randy and I stayed when we were here two years ago and it has the Basilica Sacre Coeur, which is breathtakingly beautiful. It is also high up on a hill, so the view of the city below is spectacular. Our API group also took a boat ride on the Seine as part of our orientation, which was really cool; there is nothing quite like seeing a city’s landmarks by water!
Yesterday we went on our first excursion to Fountainebleau, which is a beautiful chateau about an hour outside of Paris. It was amazing inside; apparently it’s one of the first French castles to have incorporated Italian Renaissance art into its walls. There were many frescos and paintings to look at as we walked though. We had a guided tour of a fraction of the rooms before walking around the town for a while.
I had my first class today, which went really well. It was a French language class with only ten people, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the professor and the other students. I got to campus super early because I didn’t want to be late, but now I know exactly how long it takes to get to ICP.
That’s all I have for this week, thanks for reading! I am loving it here so far.