A couple of weeks ago I went for a lovely run in the Jardin des Plantes. It was a cool morning, and the run was great. The part that I ran on was like an uphill spiral all the way to the top, where there was a kind of observation deck. There were lots of runners and a group doing T’ai Chi. The gardens are massive, and there is a museum of natural history, a botanical school, and a zoo.
I have been taking an intensive French language class to get as much back into French as possible before I have to start taking law classes in French. It’s been really great. I have an incredible teacher in the mornings for phonetics and written French; she is probably the best language teacher I have ever had. My afternoon teacher is for oral skills, and she’s very nice (not that she isn’t great, it’s just that developing oral skills mostly involves practice with listening and speaking, so we’ve been doing a lot of that, which is pretty much the same no matter who teaches it). I’ve made several friends through the language course from all over Europe. I’m the only American. There are a couple of Italians, some Germans, an Austrian, a couple of Turkish kids, etc. Most of them are here through Erasmus, the intra-European exchange program. Here is an incredible phenomenon: when you take 14 students from all over Europe and put them together, they will automatically default to English. These are all students around 20-23 years old, and I am the only one who’s mother tongue is English. They all speak their own native language, very good English, and intermediate French (most of them are taking French classes throughout the year in addition to their major-specific courses). So, by the end of the program, they will be very advanced or fluent in 3 languages. And they’re not the language majors. The language majors I’ve met speak 5 or 6 languages each. Incredible. Anyway, we’ve been having a great time in class and at lunch getting to know one another and learning about each other’s countries.
As an update: I have a bank account! I was so excited to get one (after 3 attempts, I finally had all the right documents). But then, when I went to go get a cell phone, I learned that I would need a carte bancaire. This is the French equivalent (sort of) of a debit card, but there is a chip in it, so instead of swiping it, you put it into the machines. Carte bancaires require a pin for every transaction, so the idea is that it will be a disincentive to steal the card because you can’t use it anywhere without knowing the pin. This is kind of neat. In the US, they rarely ask me for my ID when I use my debit card at restaurants, stores, etc. Anyway, it turns out that you need a bank account AND a carte bancaire to sign up for a cell phone or any other type of monthly payment service. So I went back to the bank, and they told me I had to transfer money into the account, wait 3 days for it to clear, wait for some code to arrive in the mail, and then I could come back and get my carte bancaire. Sheesh. I’m hoping to get it tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. Then I can get a cell phone! Woo hoo!
I got my NaviGo card. Success! I waited in line for hours, but in the end it was a victory. I felt so proud to have overcome the oppressive French bureaucracy in this small way.
I am still apartment hunting. I’ll probably write an entire post about that later. Apartment hunting in Paris is not for the feint of heart. I think I have an apartment lined up, we’ll find out soon. Either way, I have to move out of my temporary apartment on Saturday, so I really need to find something. Fingers crossed for this new, great (but expensive) place.
New words: four (oven), micro-ondes (microwave), lave linge (washing machine), coin cuisine (corner kitchen), chauffage (heating), réfrigérateur (you can probably infer the meaning), bail (lease), cour (courtyard)