My view from my window!
The last few days have been so packed with stuff! Wednesday we took our placement tests for the "cours pratique" which is an intensive, 10 hour/week French class that is required of all international students studying at the Sorbonne. I ended up placing into advanced, which I was really nervous about, since they told us that an American advanced class would translate into Intermediate in France. I started my class right away on Thursday, and it will definitely be quite a challenge, but I am so excited about it! My professor is amazing. She is so energetic and enthusiastic and is really very funny. We will not just be learning grammar, but we will be learning the linguistic, historical components of the language to learn about why the grammar rules have become what they are. My professor said that by the end of the class, she hopes we don't have to use translation sites or books ever again because we will know so much about the roots and families of words that we will be able to figure these things out for ourselves.
After our placement tests, we were all on our own with no staff to guide us around
the area. A friend and I decided that we would walk back to the CEA headquarters together, since it is just between a mile and a half--2 miles. We had the most beautiful walk ever! We went past the Panthéon and the historic Sorbonne buildings, along the Seine, past Notre Dame and the Hotel de Ville, and couldn't believe how beautiful everything is. Yesterday, after my first class, which is a 30 minute commute from my apartment, I went back to the Latin quarter where our placement test was to pick up my text book. I got super lost coming off the metro, and got caught in the freezing, pouring rain. I was able to find a small store to buy an umbrella, and eventually found my way back to our group lunch spot the day before. I ended up walking all through the neighborhood and around the Jardin de Luxembourg. In the afternoon, we had a group bus tour of Paris to see the sites, which was just as informational as it was touristy. A bunch of the girls and I went shopping afterwards, and I bought my first Longchamp bag!! I've been wanting one since the last time
I was in France, and they are much cheaper to buy in Europe than to order online in the States. Last night I also had my first sit-down dinner out of the trip! We met up with a couple students who are living at the Cité Universitaire campus, which is a huge, beautiful campus for international students in France. We found a random restaurant to eat (one of the only ones that wasn't filled with valentines day couples) and had a great meal with great wine.
Today, I had my placement test for the phonetics component of my language class, which will work on pronunciation, etc. I got super lost (again) coming off the metro, and thought that I had reached my destination until an old woman came out of the building (which turned out to be a private apartment) and asked me if I needed help. She was so nice and walked me to the location, and we had a nice chat about my study plans and why I wanted to come to Paris. It was so nice! The sun came out when I finished my test, so I walked some more throughout the Latin Quarter and back
to my neighborhood, and all around my area to scope out the best boulangeries and patisseries. I found out that the largest collection of relics from the Holocaust is in a museum that is literally meters from my apartment, so I will probably check that out sometime next week when I have a bit of free time.
Tomorrow, we are off to Bruges in Belgium for a day trip and a tour of the oldest Belgian brewery!!
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