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Published: October 20th 2005
Arc de Triomphe
I hadn't been to see this monument yet this time, we walked from the Louvre to it, it is so large that it seems like it will only take 15 min., straight lines can be deceiving!
All right, so I miraculously have developed a schedule that leaves me with Tuesdays and Thursdays off! This gives me two days off to explore this city without the crowds that gather on the weekends! Yippee. This does make my Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedules a bit long but it is definitely worth it!
My first course is a writing workshop that is four hours a week where we focus on writing different types of essays in the French style and continue to learn the nuances we started to pick up in the Intensive Language Program. The professor for this course is a short blond woman who reminds me of Bette Midler, or my fairy godmother as it seems like she is going to wave her magic wand and everything is going to be better. She is very enthusiastic and seems very kind, not to say she won’t be tough, this course will be a lot of work but bring it on! Our first assignment: write in the style of Montesquieu in an ironic essay on a subject that revolts us….we’re diving right in.
Then comes History of French Painting in the 19th century, which is only three
Fountain in Pl. de la Concorde
I hadn't ever noticed this fountain, I've walked past it 5 times in the two months I have been here, it is dwarfed by the obelisk right next to it guess but one of Winnie’s visitors pointed it out and said, “that is so beautiful, it would be the main attraction in most cities and you haven’t even noticed it yet!” hooray for a new perspective, two heads are always better than one
hours a week (I wish it were three hours a day! yes part of that is because I have a crush on the professor, but the material is obviously right up my ally!). This should be a great course as I mentioned in my last blog because we spend one of our classes doing a lecture in the center and then one in a museum. So our first few trips will be to the Louvre, then the Musée D’Orsay and so on. Just as a refresher point one of my majors is Art History major so a lot of these works I have some exposure to, but I have never studied French painting exclusively and we have already looked at works and artists I’ve never seen or heard of. We just started talking about David who I did my oral presentation on in my language course, which was really great because I was able to say I presented all the information he did, maybe I’ll be an okay Art History teacher after all! He is great though because it is all coming from a new perspective from any course I took at CU and he makes the big connections while addressing the details so it all fits into a context very well.
Then I have Francophone Literature and the question of Identity. The first day I was rather unsure about the course, as she seemed a bit stiff. But the second course she warmed up and had us talking about our own personal definitions of identity. This is great because I haven’t even thought that through in English and it is fun to think of it in my alter-French-ego and how that compares to what I think in English. We are going to focus on African francophone literature and the relation of language to identity. So far it has been wonderful and I have left that class mulling over some thought or another that I am not sure I would have found without her suggesting the topic.
My final course is Theory and Method of Critical Studies, a mouthful huh? It is giving us a foundation in all the great thinkers that have influenced French society, culture, politics, ways of thought, art, film….. lets just say how they have influenced the French. It is a bit over my head and I often find myself getting lost in our Sartre readings but then I come up for air and understand the next thinker (how did I get through 14 levels of schooling and never hear of Simone de Beauvoir?! Was my head in the sand or was she never mentioned?)
The great aspect of this program is that all the courses tie into each other in some fashion or another so what I learn in one is the foundation of the other. This is great; I am looking at the same mountain from different sides! It is so different than anything I was doing in the States and that is the point right?
Our program is affiliated with the Sorbonne and so any of us can take any course we wish at one of its eight campuses. I went to two different campuses and tried a class at one and it just wasn’t right. I am really glad I saw that process though-they are so disorganized. The one course I really wanted to take I looked up on a Tuesday and found out it was to be held on Friday so I went to it on Friday but it had been moved to Wednesday! This stole a lot of my steam. I am used to the hyper-organized online system where everything just clicks into place and never gets changed. As I did not find anything great I going to stick with a light course load and spend more time in museums or lay in the grass (although I think that weather may prevent that).
I met with a woman who is a pronunciation/phonetics teacher at the center and she had me do all sorts of CRAZY and awkward things. She was about two inches from my face sticking her tongue out, making noises for me to repeat and moving my tongue to get a better view of my palate. This was all after very little more than a “hello, how do you do?” so I was far from ready to be so intimate with this woman. She is great though I can’t wait to give you all an impression of her, really a stitch. She asked if I was a singer and said she wanted to work on my understanding the “wave of the language” as I was speaking with the correct pronunciation but with an American intonation. So she will work on where to breathe in sentences, and to slow down. Can you believe I even speak too quickly in another language?! She said that people who really enjoy speaking speak slowly and with great pronunciation and articulation so I should listen to the public radio here and try to imitate them. This has been very fun.
Fun things: I spent all day walking around Paris and hitting all the tourist spots because Winnie was entertaining guests. The day was clear and crisp and so I really enjoyed the walking. Winnie and I bought three French CDs each the other day that really made me happy. I walked in and picked out three judging solely on their covers, listened to the first few songs on each and bought them! How uninformed of me, huh? It all worked out very well, I can’t get enough of them and they all sing very clearly and at a reasonable rate so I can understand at least the choruses. Winnie bought some that had been recommended to her and those are amazing too. Now we are on the lookout for any of them coming in concert.
As I was waiting in the Louvre yesterday for my class to begin I walked into this random office and picked up a brochure because I wanted the cover for my bedroom wall and opened it up and it has a list of lecture series they offer! WHAT? I couldn’t believe my eyes. This affirmed that I wasn’t going to take anything at the Sorbonne, instead I can take a series of 3 or 5 lectures on varied topics in the Louvre. That should get my French going and who knows what my fellow “classmates” will be like?
Wow, that was a long one. This weekend I have my first visitor! I get to play tour guide and have some Colorado love! There are a few events here this weekend including a Salon de Chocolat, which we will be going to come rain or come shine. I hope you all have thought of your Halloween costumes by now as October comes to a close!
I don't really have any pictures to share but here are some from my walk. I have gotten requests for photos of Winnie and me from our trip to the south and I am working on getting those from Winnie, so stop pestering me (haha) I'll try to get those up next week after Amelia leaves me
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