Apparently 2 buildings on the same street can have the same number, one followed by "bis" which means it was added later, which I did not know until later. I went to 75 rue des plantes and the ISA office wasn't there...because I wanted 75 bis rue des plantes, which I think I may have walked past, but Idk. I went back the other way and around the corner to ask someone how to find it. Eventually I did, but before I did I was very upset and lost, in the snow and a city I don't know very well yet. I thought the bis was part of the street name, but "bis rue des plantes" was not on my map! At least I got there, and was a bit late but it was the first day and I definitely was not the only one, and I didn't miss anything.
Orientation went well, some of the information was the same as what had been online and in the booklets, but I did learn a lot. I have my Carte Navigo now (picture attached). It works on ALL forms of public transportation, and one price gets me unlimited for the month. It has my picture on it, so someone else couldn't use it. If it gets lost or stolen, they will replace it, and reload what you had on it, for only 8€. It doesn't need to be swiped, only tapped, and works from inside my purse, which means I am less likely to lose it.
I LOVE the public transportation so far. Besides the amazing Carte Navigo, paper tickets are universal as well. I have only taken the bus so far, but each bus stop has a display that tells you how long it is until the next one arrives, and it is very accurate! Each stop has a name, instead of just an intersection, and the bus announces the stops. There is also a digital display that says the next stop, the final destination and how long until it gets there, which also seems very accurate!
One reason I like the bus is there is not a lot of traffic in Paris, especially compared to Philly or NYC, so it only really stops at red lights. People do seem to wait for pedestrians in the city as well, which is nice. I also like it because I get to see things, maybe places I might want to check out, which would not be possible from the metro. I got a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower over the Seine as well as a mini statue of liberty on an island in it!
I now have a cell phone. Incoming calls are free, so let me know if you want the number and can call internationally. PLEASE REMEMBER THE TIME DIFFERENCE!! Incoming texts are free as well. I will also soon be issued a US Virtual number which will have a US area code that people can call locally and it is forwarded to my phone, but this does cost me $0.49 per minute. It is not prepaid, and it has a contract, but you tell them any start and end date that you want. It was only $25 for the phone and sim card, but I have to return the sim card when I am done. However, the phone is mine to keep, and I will hang onto it because it is unlocked, so I can use it in the future when I go to any European country and would just need to get a sim card when I do!
I bought some things at Carrefour and was surprised how cheap it was for their store brand, yay! Unfortunately I didn't have my reusable bag with me and they don't appear to have bags. But it was only 2 things so I just carried them.
I missed the first bus home because I was turned around for a minute and no one was like "Hey, the bus is here," but the next one was only 7 mins away. There are several bus lines near me and right near the metro and I love how frequently everything runs. Apparently for the metro, you can estimate about 2 mins per stop to figure out how long it should take you to get someplace.
Street signs are sometimes hard to find, they are attached to buildings rather than standing alone or being on traffic lights. There are signs that stand alone, which can be confusing because they just point to landmarks and things, so when I thought they were the streets I was very confused.
I may go out this evening with some of the other ISA girls, but I don't know what the plans are yet. One of the guys from TCNJ missed his flight, so IDK when he will be getting here, sucks a lot for him, but he was very ill prepared and didn't even get his visa, or pay for the program until 2 weeks ago!
That is all for today so far, au revoir!
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