If you are ever having a funk day in Paris – or just need a formula for an automatic good one, consult the following list (in this order):
• Wear high heels to class (and prance around the city in them after school gets out) – they’re much less foolish-looking in the 7ème arondissement of Paris than on the damp campus of the University of Washington. Plus, all the girls wear fancy shoes to class here. Embrace the aching feet as badges of honor.
• Buy a crépe nutella-banane from the crépe guy outside St. Germain-des-Prés (the oldest cathedral in Paris, which I walk by every day) who is nice but says disturbing things like: “Are you Indian? I know you’ll want a lot of pepper on your galette.” Even from the possibly racist crépe man, I’m pretty sure there is no more satisfying after school snack in the world.
• Hang out with fun girls! It’s a lot harder than I predicted to go 4 weeks in a strange country without my usual girlfriends, so it is seriously healing to go sit with a group at a café and have french girl talk.
• Find a new museum to check out. Today another girl from group Odéon and I decided to explore the Eugène Delacroix museum right near school. It doesn’t have a ton of art (since most of his is at the Louvre), but it’s in the apartment where he died and has a lot of interesting things. Plus, it’s free with the annual Louvre student pass (15 euro for unlimited Louvre entry for the entire year, what!).
• Listen to ridiculous music on your headphones in the metro. There’s something oddly pleasing about secretly listening to Christina Aguilera while crushed between a bunch of sweaty French businessman and the greasy subway door. The Cure is also excellent for this purpose.
• Go buy a tradition (The best kind of baguette – it costs 30 centimes more but is so worth it!) from the nicest old lady at the corner boulangerie by your apartment. My particular favorite is the woman who is always so tired and flustered by the time I come around at 18 or 19h that she calls everyone “monsieur.” Of course, this insult only flusters her more – especially the days R or I wear skirts and she’s still confused.
• Continue to scheme ways of convincing the Fédération Française de la Couture that I am a member of the French press and I definitely need a free press pass for Fashion Week (the first week of October in Paris). If anyone has any bright ideas on how to facilitate this, please let me know.
So Sciences Po sent us another email – apparently registration is now Friday. Interesting, considering that I’m flying to Munich at 7h Friday morning and supposedly the only way to get the classes you want is to sit still and keep refreshing the website all day long. I’m not sure what my plan to get around this will be…right now it’s wait and see if they magically change it back to Thursday!
So other than having no way to register for classes, I think I’m doing pretty well at the four-week mark. I have a place to live, people to hang out with, a job and easy access to banana-nutella crépes. Although this is probably the most romantic city on earth, it’s also the best place to be to just hang out with yourself. Last night I went to see Le Vent se Lève by myself (going to movies alone is one of my most favorite things to do) and there was not a single group of two or more in the theater. It was me and maybe seven other lone people scattered through the room. It was the same way when I saw Marie Antoinette a few weeks ago, except there was one couple in the middle of the singles.
I think people are a lot more nervous about being on their own at home, but here it’s totally normal to go sit and have lunch with yourself at a café, or go to the cinéma or a museum. It’s an easy place to start over with no friends. I promise I am not as pitiful as that just sounded – but it’s true, Paris is a forgiving place to be on your own. Of course it’s always more fun to have your girl group!
** A cultural note: Shower caps are different here. In the U.S., they’re voluminus plastic bubbles large enough to protect your hair and probably face, neck and shoulders from any water. In France, they’re more like decorative swim caps. I was pretty thrilled to discover that the one I purchased for a euro at Monoprix is randomly trimmed with lace. I think the extra trim makes up for the fact that I can barely fit my head inside of it. Really though, who needs to be lace-trimmed in the shower?