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Posts Tagged ‘The Louvre’

I was already running a little late. And today, the 4 metro — the easiest way for me to get from my neighborhood in the 10th to SciencesPo in the 6th — was unfortunately broken.

Well, not broken. There was a problem with another train a few stations down the track, and the problem would be fixed “sans accune delai” (You don’t need a translation there, I hope).

Apparently, this wasn’t enough for most of the other passengers on the crowded train at midday. People started pouring out of the train cars and pushing their way to another line, hopping to catch another train that would take them closer to where they wanted to go.

I decided to follow suit, and jumped on the 7, which doesn’t exactly go to the 6th, but comes awfully close.

While on board, I consulted my ever useful Paris Pratique map, and discovered that the best thing for me to do in order to make my 12:30 class was to get off at the Pont Neuf station, run across the Louvre courtyard, hurdle over the Pont du Carrousel and run up Rue des Saints Pères to Boulevard Saint-Germain, where I would soon after come to the main SciencesPo building and my Media in Transition lecture.

I did this, sprinting in my tight, slightly-heeled Royal Oak, Michigan Salvation Army purchased dress shoes, feeling good but growing increasingly worried that some as yet unforeseen traffic problem or red light or slow-moving Parisian child would prevent my perfect, on the go plan to get to class from actually succeeding.

I did get to class on time, albeit a little sweaty and a tad bit ruffled.

But as I sat down, catching my breath and opening my school bag, I reflected on what I had just done.

In order to make my afternoon lecture at one of the best universities in France, I ran through the outer courtyard of the Palais du Louvre, sprinting past I.M. Pei’s controversial glass pyramid with the Arc du Triomphe just on the other end of the forced persecutive.

I dashed across the River Seine, glistening in the early spring afternoon sun and playing games with the reflection of the Notre Dame to my left.

I hurried up Boulevard Saint-Germain, dodging students and smokers and tourists alike, and made it to class on time.

It suddenly dawned on me that, despite my old ennui about my term here and my homesickness and my seeming poverty and my worry about grades and procrastination and declining work habits and future concerns and all of that wretched business, it is simply impossible to be truly unhappy in this city.

No matter how lousy things might seem, I am in Paris. So things can’t be that bad.

And they aren’t.

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This weekend was pretty nice, so I can’t really complain. Nor is my title entirely accurate. I just couldn’t think of anything else to write up there.

I apologize for being absent for a few days. My continued calls for homework to do finally came true, and I found myself with a small, but necessary pile of assignments to finish or explore this weekend. So, after class on Friday, that is what I did — along with other, less homeworky things.

Friday was a lovely day. The weather was warm and clear, I had a nice run in the morning, and I met up with a girl from my French class to work on a joint project for this coming Tuesday’s class meeting. As part of our grade, we are required to give a “revue de presse” — a presentation comparing coverage of a news event of our choosing in both a French newspaper and a foreign newspaper and launching a corresponding class debate — and our presentation will be on the coup d’état in Niger last Thursday.

It’s a pretty complicated issue — the president may have already staged a coup last June, according to some, when he abolished the government and the constitutional court to guarantee himself an illegal third term of office — but we are using the coverage of the coup in both The New York Times and the French daily Le Monde to explore the idea of international press coverage of these kinds of events.

The Times suggests the possibility of a coup, without actually confirming that one took place, while Le Monde staunchly declares that a coup did take place. Now, today, no one is doubting the coup. It happened, the military took control and there is international concern over the usual grab bag of human rights violations and violence that could possibly explode in the coming days and weeks. But we hope to launch a debate on the fact that a coup, which is clearly a big deal, was not easily found in the international press — page A4 of the Times, and difficult to find in many other American newspapers. From this fact, we also hope to discuss the respective coverage of the event — coup or no coup? — to explore the responsibilities of the media in reporting these kinds of things: should they be accurate in their coverage, or the first to publish something?

After our meeting, I had my French lecture on music and politics, which was just as fun as I remembered it. We discussed important trends in Western music and political development throughout the middle ages and beyond as a lead-up to the 19th century, which is the main focus of the course. The absolutely lovely and humorous prof made us all sing, as a class, repeatedly, to demonstrate important musical tone developments.

The best part of the class is that I can understand the majority of what the professor says, which is all in rapid, conversational French. The other students, not so much — when they ask questions out loud in class, I have to strain to understand sometimes —  but definitely the prof. Which is wonderful.

Friday night saw me making dinner with a Carolina friend here in Paris for a different study abroad program  and one of her new friends, followed by a visit to the Louvre — which is FREE on Fridays for students, so WIN — and an early bed time. I like the Louvre fine, but I do find it too large to fully appreciate. We just hung around one specific wing — where I oddly ran into someone I knew from my welcome program — and agreed to come back in the future and explore the rest of the museum.

Saturday was more homework — all mostly finished by the afternoon — and a run, followed by an attempted outing with the dinner party gang to the Centre Pompidou to see the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. This group of musicians are exactly what their name suggests: an Austrian ensemble that fashions instruments out of produce. I originally thought the concert was free, but it was actually 14 euro, a fact which initially deterred us from going. I finally convinced my friends to join me, but by the time we got there, it was sold out. Which was a bother.

We did get to see the ensemble demonstrate their instrument making process, which was almost as cool as seeing them live, and completely free. We followed this up with a dinner — my winter roots dish, which everyone loved — and a small outing with some of their friends at someone’s apartment.

Missed the last metro, again, so I stayed the night on the other side of the Seine, waking up today rather late to meet up with my French partner again for our project. After a small dinner — I wasn’t too hungry today, actually — I am settling down for the evening to edit some of my papers for class and maybe read a little. I also will be going to bed early, as I was out too late last night.

I discovered today that we have winter break all the following week, so I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. Maybe explore the city? Maybe hang out with some French friends? Maybe to London for a day? Spain? Somewhere not Paris? Who knows.

But I’m doing well, and as the weather improves, so does my overall happiness. Soon enough, spring will be here for real, and that will simply grand.

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