Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Aujourd'hui j'ai compris!

I think I've had enough of the internal monolog for a while via the blog.  But the one thing I'll say is I have my first exposé tomorrow morning.  The subject is "France's Military Footprint in Africa" and I am doing it with a french student, but in English.  I am about 74% done with it at 6:04PM the night before it's due.  Which is REALLY good for me...  I know Axel and Audrey would agree with that.  Also, I understood most of my class today!  It was my Professions Politiques class, taught in French.

On that note, I am going to go back to trying to describe what I've observed here.  It probably goes without saying, but the French LOOOOVE them some Red Tape.  There is no larger, nor more annoying bureaucracy than the French government (at least not one that I've heard of).  Imagine having to go to the DMV for any and every little thing that concerns your life.  Because that is what it feels like when I do ANYTHING here.  Opening up a bank account, I was probably handed a hundred pages of stuff.  Renting an apartment is even worse, because it involves not only my documents but documents from my dad, my university here, my government and the French government.

That being said, I still can't quite figure out the French people.  When you talk with them, they seem very warm and hospitable.  I've noticed that in not just my host family, but my partner for my exposé tomorrow and some other french kids I've met.  They have been really nice and friendly to me.  But when you pass them on the street, or sit next to them in the metro or on a bus they are very cold and standoffish.  The same thing when you go into a store.

That is what shocked me the most, especially after working at the UCSB Family Vacation Center/Career Services this last year.  At both of those places, we were taught not only to deliver the right information but also that the customer interaction was equally if not more important.  Apparently that message hasn't quite made it to France.  You can walk into a store, look around, ask questions, and you'll be lucky is some clerks look up from their books to answer you.

Also, on the way to school I pass by about three or four men's shoe stores.  I have yet to see one solely female shoe store.  It makes playing the "Gay or European" game that much harder!  Because the men dress so well here, and generally take good care of themselves both materially and physically the stereotype of the metro/gay male we have back in the States doesn't apply.

I haven't put some pictures on here in a while, so I'll do that!

I fell asleep here... It was a wonderful nap

View from the steps of the Panthéon

The President of l'Assemblée Nationale sits right behind where I was standing

I was feeling really artsy, too bad for the guy in the background 

And here is something that I want to have you all take a look at.  Here is the difference seven months makes:

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