Valpo Voyager

Student Stories from Around the World

Author: Emily Hardesty (page 2 of 2)

Soaking Up un Peu de Culture

Looking at art in the Musée d'Orsay

One thing I did not know about Paris is the large number of museums that can be found here: 204, to be exact! Although I did take a few art classes back in high school, I do not consider myself an art buff. But since I’m here now, why not take in a little bit of art culture while I can?

Of course there are the famous museums that are bombarded with tourists almost everyday, including the Musée du Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in the Centre Georges Pompidou. But there are many other museums that often get overlooked, such as the catacombs, the Musée de Radio France, or the Musée du Vin. Since the weather has been quite rainy since I arrived, I decided that I this is my chance to visit as many museums as possible before the sun returns for good.

I started my quest for art two weeks ago when my program group went on a guided tour through the Musée d’Orsay. This was my first time seeing the museum ever, and I was completely blown away by it’s beauty. While the outside itself is very lovely, the inside is what took my breath away. The Musée d’Orsay resides in an old train station, giving the building a unique quality that makes it stand out from other museums in Paris. The museum’s collection includes artwork from impressionists and post-impressionists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, and Van Gogh. My favorite piece that I can across had to be Van Gogh’s self portrait. I really enjoyed the group tour and learning about the history behind famous pieces of art rather than constantly guessing what really went on in the world when a masterpiece was created. I can’t wait to go back and see more amazing artwork!

Inside the Musée d'Orsay

Musée d'Orsay

 

Next on my list was the Musée du Louvre, without a doubt the most famous of all the museums in Paris. Situated in thecenter of the city, the Louvre holds many different kinds of artwork, including ancient Egyptian artifacts, Greek and Roman sculptures, and paintings from the Italian Renaissance. Its most famous piece of art is the Mona Lisa; luckily I didn’t have to wait in a line to see it! The museum is absolutely gigantic, and I succeeded in getting myself lost when I visited the Louvre last week. The building is absolutely georgous and has a triangular glass building for one entrance. It’s even connected to an underground shopping mall complete with a Starbucks and a McDonalds. No wonder it’s the most visited art museum in the world.

Musée du Louvre

Venus de Milo, Greek Goddess of love and beauty

The Mona Lisa

Life in the 14th Arrondissement

I finally visited the Eiffel Tower!

While my first week in Paris was a little hectic as I was trying to adjust to life in a new city, things have gone much smoother this week. After discovering the cheapest grocery stores in the neighborhood, learning how to use the washers and dryers at the laundry mat, and navigating the metro system successully, I feel as though each day is better than the last. I have heard so many times from my program director that the first week of a study abroad program is the hardest, and I couldn’t agree with her more. If things can only get better from here, I know this semester is going to be as wonderful as I imagined.

When I used to day dream about living in Paris, I imagined myself wandering around the Eiffel Tower on a bright, sunny day, revelling in all that is French. This image was quickly thrown out the door after almost two weeks of consant rain. Literally every day since I arrived here, the sky has been filled with clouds. Although it is a little sad to live in constant gloom, I will not let that stop me from enjoying my time here. Spring will simply be all the more glorious when it returns.

La Tour Montparnasse

After traveling to a handful of the different districts in Paris, I can gladly say that I live in the 14th. Paris is divided into twenty districts (or arrondissements). They are arranged in a sort of clockwise spiral like a snail, starting in the center of the city with the 1st district. The district I live in is far from the tourist hot spots and is quite different than living near the center. Roads are mostly one-way streets and are rarely busy. Instead of designer clothing stores and expensive restaurants, there are smaller shops and cafes where you can try and save a little pocket money. Although nothing is more than a fifteen minute train ride away, life is just a little less crazy than in the center of Paris.

Since my foyer does not have a meal plan, I have to cook my meals in our kitchen if I do not feel like spending money at a restaurant, which happens to be most of the time. While finding a grocery store was quite simple, chosing my own groceries was a different story. Even though I have cooked meals for myself at home, it’s much different when you have to plan on buying every single item you will need for just one meal. Unfortunately, I discovered that I am a terrible cook and will be living off of grilled cheese, noodles, and poorly cooked vegetables for the next few months.

My savior: the boulangerie.

Luckily, there is a wonderful thing called a boulangerie on almost every corner in Paris where you can buy fresh baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolate, and other delicious concoctions that melt in your mouth. Bread in France is absolutely sinful. The crust of a baguette is perfectly crisp, and the inside is incredibly soft. It is simply the best bread I have ever tasted. Bread is definitely going to be my number one food staple while I am here…

Every day I wind up thanking myself for every decision that got me here so far, from choosing to live in a quiet neighborhood to choosing this specific study abroad program. As I learn more about Paris each day and see amazing cathedrals, monuments, and architecture, I couldn’t be happier than where I am now, and I look forward to seeing much more of France and Europe soon.

La Vie à Paris

It lacks a little color, but hey, it's home.

After so much anticipation and planning, I am finally here. It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was laying around my house bored out of my mind during winter break. But now I am here in Paris, and I’m going to try my very best to make the most of it!

My 6 1/2 hour flight from New York to Paris on Sunday went smoothly, and we landed at 6:30 a.m. Unfortunately for me, that was seven hours ahead of Chicago time. As a result, I had terrible jet lag on Monday. It did not help that I had to sit and try to understand my foyer director explaining to me the rules of the dorm in fast, fluent French. Needless to say, I took a 3 1/2 hour nap immediately after that rendez-vous.

My foyer is actually very quaint. It’s in the 14th arrondissement near Montparnasse (a skyscraper) and is easy to get to using the metro. Many French girls around my age live here, but girls from other countries stay here too. My roommate, for example, is German and has been living in this foyer for a year already. We speak English to each other since we are both more comfortable speaking English than French. While this may not be useful for practicing my French, she’ll be moving to a single room at the end of the month and I’ll be getting a French roommate. Hopefully by then I’ll be a little more comfortable speaking French to native speakers! (I tried ordering a sandwich yesterday and failed. But that’s what learning is all about, right?)

My study abroad program is through Central Colleg and only has four other girls in it. Already I am thankful for choosing my program for this reason! It’s so nice being relaxed in such a small group and getting to discover Paris without sticking out like a sore thumb in a huge group of Americans. My program director is also wonderfully helpful, and I could never thank her enough for all of her help so far.

While I have not been in Paris for very long, I am so excited to see what the semester has in store for me. Tomorrow I am starting a language class with the Ecole Etoile, and I can’t wait to see my French skills improve. Although I haven’t seen many monuments or museums yet (even the Eiffel Tower!), I know I have four whole months to see what Paris is really like. I think I can safely say this semester is going to be a memorable one. (:

I've been trying to get the hang of this since I arrived!

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