Monthly Archives: August 2011

If you can dodge a Parisian, you can live in Paris.

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Ok so my computer is being difficult and taking way too long to upload photos, so you will just have to wait till tomorrow for me to make a post about today’s field trip (stay tuned for the Notre Dame, the Pantheon, Sorbonne, churches, and the Latin Quarter!)

It has been a LONG day. Every morning (until the end of next week) we have our French Language Intensive from 9-12 every morning. And it is extremely difficult to sit there and absorb French for 3 hours, especially since I compulsively check my watch until our ten minute break so that I can go the bathroom. I kid you not, my bladder runs my life. I suppose it only makes sense that someone as stubborn as me would have stubborn organs (No Grandpa, I do not have a nervous bladder, contrary to your adamant opinion, I simply drink A LOT of water). And then Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have our field trips. Which are absolutely wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but we do lots of walking and listening and by the end, even though I want nothing more than to explore where we go, all we want to do when we finish is to sit our asses down.

I always think it’s so funny how our field trips begin. We leave from school to a different bus stop, metro stop, metro station. And our teacher (who a classmate pointed out today look EXACTLY like Tina Fey, but the tan and French version.) always tells us what route we are taking “in case we get lost.” I should have known on the first day when she told us one of the things she likes to do is walk that I was in for trouble. Now I’m not exactly adverse to walking (that is how I often travel at Santa Cruz) and in case any of you weren’t aware, my mother happens to be a secret Olympian fast walker. She books it and more often than not, I’m trying to catch up and am left in her dust. Although in comparison to Dillon, who has giraffe legs, but walks soooo slowwww, dear god, I could give birth before he reaches the door of our destination. Anyways, whenever our field trips begin, I think about the movie Dodgeball. You know how they say in the movie, “If you can dodge a car/wrench, you can dodge a ball.” With our trips, I think to myself, “If you can stay with the teacher and make it to the destination, than you get to go on the field trip.”

In other news, somehow in Paris all of my valuables are safe, but back in California they are not! My debit card’s number got stolen and someone spent a pretty penny in Barstow, California. Instead of being angry or upset that I have to go through rings of fire to get a new card or are any money over here, I am reminded of my car culprit. For those of you who are unaware, my car got broken into the third or second to last week of school in San Francisco. Surprisingly, I handled the situation (I often have a tendency to freak out and my mother receives blubbering phone calls from me). The two passenger windows were broken into and most of our (I was with 4 other people) stuff was stolen, one purse was left untouched under a seat and my gps system was left alone in the center console. Therefore, I assumed….the culprit was a T-Rex! Who else would break into two windows, instead of going through one, leave things that were “out of reach” on the floor and not be able to reach the center console? A t-rex I tell you.

Check back รก demain (means tomorrow) to hear about my Latin Quarter experience, where it gradually dawned on me that the Latin in Latin Quarter refers to Rome and not Spanish Latin (I thought there would be enchiladas galore…)

 

run, run, run, run, run, run, run away

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The title of this post is a reference to “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads, a favorite band of mine. I often like to listen to this song while I run, especially now that I’m in Paris. Why? Because there is a French line in the song, which makes me feel good about my practicing of french.

Well that was a small tangent from the larger point of this post. Which is running. First of all, THANK YOU DEBBIE, I OWE YOU MY LIFE. OR MY FIRST BORN. OR JUST SOME PARISIAN CHOCOLATE. Debbie, from Ventura Orthopedics, completely healed my tendonitis so that after 7 months, I am finally able to run! And honestly, it has been both breathtaking and amazing to run in Paris.

There are so many great parks and the Seine offers great sightseeing and people watching while running alongside it. There is a great park right near my dorm and there is this bridge that you can take to get there. The bridge runs on top of a large street and is lined with trees, flowers and fountains. It’s so beautiful and I often see other runners and walkers up there. Once I get past the park, I enter the road once again after going through a tunnel. The tunnel leads to a pathway that feels like I’m in Jurassic Park (lined with lots of flora and fauna, but alas, no triceratops). I often see roller bladers, bikers, runners, and my personal favorite- small children on scooters. Seriously, why didn’t I bring my razor scooter? It’s how all the cool kids get around. And if I had brought it, I would have an extremely strong right calf by the time I head back to America. Lesson obviously learned.

I will say that the one difficult thing about running in Paris is running past all of the boulangeries where there is fresh bread being baked. How the hell am I supposed to run by that?? I will admit to have stopping at one or two boulangeries and just staring longingly from outside like a hungry puppy. Now I travel with a few euros in case of emergency…

The Bovine Ghetto

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Today our field trip was to Villette/Cite de la musique, which are both in the 19th arrondissement. Of course, the day started freezing cold and then as soon as we started our trip, the weather completely changed and it became unbelievably sunny. Well, Mom, you were right, always dress in LAYERS. Which today meant wear my kitten tank top (I got some chuckles over that) beneath layers of tops which I didn’t think I would be taking off.

I asked my teacher, “so is the 19th arrondissement a ghetto-y arrondissement?” She looked at me for a moment, but then said, “yes, I suppose so.” The arrondissement (Paris is composed of 20 for those who don’t know. And the outer ones were added later in the years, so the buildings are more modern and industrial, also cheaper for people to live in). Although according to my mother, a ghetto is defined by the presence of graffiti and gats (her words, not mine). So technically, this is not a ghetto. In case any of you were wondering.

This is a canal that runs through the arrondissement. It was created in order to move wood, heavy materials, and some foods (I like to imagine a huge boat of brie floating down the canal). Interestingly, the canal was built from the beginning of the canal into the Seine, which usually occurs the other way around.

So here’s Villette’s history: It used to be a place for slaughtering cows. The cows would walk to the stalls and then be killed and distributed to all of the hungry Parisians! However, along came the 1960s with refrigeration! So then they needed to turn this place into something else…so in 1980 they had a competition where around 460 architect teams entered their ideas into a contest. And the new design is now modern and contemporary! It features little different theme gardens (a bamboo garden, a hide and go seek garden), folies each featuring different themes (one has a Quick-Belgian version of McDonald’s), and sprawling lawns with various architectural pieces!

This shows to the left, the largest Science Museum in Europe and to the right (the big, shiny dome), Europe’s biggest 360 movie theater.

This is one of the folies with a wonderful bovine mural in a tribute to its history. After we finished with Villette, we went to Moooosique de la Cite (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

This is the Cite de la musique, where various artists come and play from all over.

An awesome fountain that was originally created for animals to drink out of.

All in all, a great field trip, although I’m realllly looking forward to the Latin Quarter!

I wish I had an easy bake oven…

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So apparently there is a store that sells only frozen gourmet food. And before you jump all over that and tell me that French people only eat the most freshest food and pick it from their backyards, well, you are wrong. Because in my apartment we have a mini fridge AND a microwave (But we lack an oven-boo hoo, no baking for me unless someone wants to send us an easy bake oven). And many other Parisian places do too. I guess that this store that sells all these frozen foods is sometimes the main event of dinner parties!

Today I also realized something. Picking your nose in public is totally the norm in Paris. All the cool kids are doing it. And people aren’t even shy about getting caught. When I was going on the up escalator and was caught the eye of a man on the opposing elevator picking his nose, he simply smiled and continued his hunt for gold.

I have also seen a lot of roller bladers. That’s a big way people get around, in fact, I even saw two police men on roller blades going through traffic. I can’t decide which is more comical- police roller bladers or segue using roller bladers?

That’s all for today, it’s a homework day (which is so weird to be doing again) and I’m in need of some sleep catching up as well. Tomorrow is another field trip, which I can’t wait for!

It takes an American (girl) to eat a village.

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Well, I have certainly done a lot of things in the past 36 hours. Go to the Eiffel Tower, experienced my first rainy day, had my first class, went to Montmarte, saw the Sacre Coeur, had a french meal with a french person, practiced my french, and went to a marche (essentially a farmer’s market).

I’ll start with the first thing and work my way down the list. The first rainy day. Wasn’t I a creature of the swamp 6 days ago? Yes, I was. Apparently the weather changes quickly. But no Dad, it’s not because Paris is a desert. That factoid doesn’t apply here. It’s just Paris, and since it is Parisian, it does what it wants. In my french class, which is about 16 people or so, I’m the only Santa Cruzian. And there were maybe one or two Berkeley kids. So when it started raining, it was clear who the Norcal kids were. We know rain.

After class, we had our first field trip, where we went to Montmarte. Montmarte is a really adorable town, where lots of artists used to live (Picasso, several writers, and where the movie Amelie took place), the Sacre Coeur is here, and lots of history. I kept thinking on our tour how much my father and grandfather would have loved the tour because of all the history we were learning! Which made me reflect on the European History class that Julie and I took freshman year…Oh Professor Beecher, how much you judged me when I asked you to spell Napoleon…(I wanted him to spell a different name, but he didn’t hear me, so instead I looked like an idiot. Wow, what a surprise.) Montmarte is the highest hill in Paris and Sacre Coeur is the top. So once again, it was clear who the Norcal kids were (or maybe just the Santa Cruzians) as the walking and hills were not really a big deal. To get to Montmarte, we used the metro, which I finally think I understand. Although most of you know that I have a shitty sense of direction (hey, remember that time I tried to take a train to San Luis Obispo, but instead headed to Los Angeles?), the metro isn’t that hard to get a hang of.

This is a church in Montmarte that was built in the beginning of the 20th century, I believe 1904. It is art nouveau, with some gothic mixed in. It was originally built with the metal showing, but since that was not done at that time, they later put brick on, so that it would blend in more. Mother, aren’t you extremely proud that I retained that knowledge just for you?!

This is the Sacre Coeur, which has the heaviest bell. I believe 36,000 pounds, but I can’t remember exactly. One of the statues on the front is Joan of Arc.

This is a view from the top of Montmarte, unfortunately the picture turned out a bit blurrier than I had hoped.

And then evening rolled around and I was super psyched to go meet up with my first Parisian native! My best friend Emilie introduced me to many of her friends who now go to university in Paris, and so last night I met with Hugo (he is from the same town that Emilie’s grandparents are from). Hugo took me to this AMAZING restaurant, where I think if they would let me, I would just move in there. I could take up residence in a corner and just eat the left overs. I asked Hugo to surprise me and order whatever he thought we be good. I had duck stuffed with vegetables on top of potatoes in a savory brown sauce. Shiza Minelli, that stuff was DELISH. Our conversation was a mix of French and English, I told him that my Frenglish was going to be mostly present tense. Then came dessert…oh, yes. I ordered that one myself as I had my eye on the prize. I had a creamy panacotta with a kiwi/strawberry fruit glaze on top. I think I may have done the happy chair dance in public (Mom, I may have even done the excited clap, I don’t remember, I was in a dessert haze). Afterwards, we walked over to a small street lined with bars. It was so funny to be inside of one, as the music they play is all American techno-y music. But I suppose that’s the crowd they want to attract. I had a really great ginger beer and got in some good people watching. There aren’t too many blonds in Paris I have noticed…

This morning Diana and I went to our local marche, which runs Thursdays-Sundays. Right before we left, I had a moment of sadness as I realized I could not walk out the door in sweats…sad day. Poor Diana has had to listen to me tell her at least a thousand times about the purchase I am waiting to make. What purchase? The rolling cart-bag. It’s this fantastic thing that I suppose some people have in the States, but everyone has one here. It just makes life so convenient! No cloth bags, just shove yo stuff in a rolly bag. Take it on the metro, walk it down the street, use it as a shopping cart. The possibilities are endless. Christmas present anyone? So anyways, our marche pretty much kicks ass! Finally, I don’t feel extreme guilt over buying a single vegetable. And once again I practiced my french! Although there was one issue…the price for various vegetables are in kilos. I don’t exactly know how much that is. So when I got one kilo of mushrooms…well I paid for an entire mushroom patch. There are now no mushrooms left in the 12th arrondissement. Thankfully, Diana and I cook very similarly and like the same stuff, so we went splitsies on a lot of things. We then came back and cooked a humongous brunch for ourselves, which was fantastic.

Poor Paris, it won’t have any food left when I leave and it’s economy may go down the drain.

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Wow I’m so behind in my blogging life, sorry blog, you’ve treated me so nicely, and I’ve just been giving you the cold shoulder. It’s just that I’ve been trying to experience this other part of my life. It’s not you, it’s me. But let’s try and make this work.

This first little post will be just that, short. Two days ago I went to the Eiffel Tower with a BIG group of people. BIG mistake. Why you ask? Well, in case you haven’t heard my theory before…getting big groups from point A to point B is much like herding kittens. You try and corral them all and get them to go one way, and inevitably one kitten is in the corner playing with a ball of yarn and another kitten is drinking milk in another corner. And all you want is FOR ALL THE KITTENS TO MOVE. It basically took us 25 minutes to just get some snacks and walk 50 meters to the metro station.

Anywho, we finally arrive at the Eiffel Tower and it’s funny because there’s so much excitement to see the Eiffel Tower, but then when you go see it during the day, you realize it’s simply a huge metal structure. But then as you walk closer, you realize just how ginormous it truly is. We settled on a grassy hill across the street from it and ate our little picnic. It was beautiful, but I want to go back at night when it is twinkling.

gardens and subliminal messaging

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Palace de Luxembourg

Ok so first and foremost, here are some PICTURES! These are from today, when Diana and I decided to bike to the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was an amazing bike ride, we went over the Seine, past the Notre Dame and through all these beautiful buildings. I’ve decided that I am going to become a queen so that I can live in a palace much like this. There’s all these great paths and patches of grass to sit and picnic. And there’s a fountain right in front where children put in little sailboats and push them around from each end of the fountain. Which made me think of Stuart Little, continuing the theme of rats for the day, as my friend Ben told me I needed to make a Parisian rat friend, such as in Ratatouille. Because we all know, I came to France to increase the amount of rodents that I know.

Today I had my academic orientation where I found out that I will be taking French Cinema and French Media, along with a French language class. I’m looking forward to all, especially to my two week language intensive that starts Friday. We will be going on 6 different field trips and we have a pass (that claims I’m an art major- Mom aren’t you proud?!) so that we can get into various museums for free.

Side note- Mother, I have received numerous compliments on my new birkenstocks. In fact, I have seen them EVERYWHERE, but in all different colors (my new ones, not my older Santa Cruz hippie ones). Dad, I’m sure you are thrilled to hear this, as when you visit you will be quite fashionable…

Anyways, onto my main message of this evening. My address! First and foremost, my phone still works, so I can receive international calls and email fo free. No texting though, I only have 50 a month, so don’t text me unless you are sending my dad a check to pay for my phone bill. Or it’s a funny picture message. Those, I’m willing to accept.

My address is:

Kelsey Krasnigor

c/o ACCENT

Rue du Faubourg St.-Antoine

75011 Paris, France

*Needs to be Air Mail/Par Avion

**VERY IMPORTANT: Write on the package “No commercial value /or/ Personal use only” otherwise the mail will get stuck in customs for a very, very long time.

The reason I give you my address? Well, because I know how many of you will be sending me things. As things are quite expensive in Paris and I am a poor college student, I know all of you (meaning as of yesterday, my grandfather, my aunt and my dad- woo 3 subscribers!) are DYING to send me things. Unfortunately, for the first time in my college career, I will not be accepting monthly packages from Nana containing army rations of baked goods. Tears. What are you sending me you ask? Spices (cinnamon, paprika, curry powder, basil, thyme, chili powder), mass quantities of nuts (nuts are crazy expensive here! Unless you want to eat the nuts in chocolate, which I consider to hold lots of nutritional value….), measuring spoons and a spatula, towels (I bought a towel yesterday and it is the size of a bath mat, it barely covers any vital organs), dvds- Bravo shows specifically and the rest of Sex and the City, and love letters (let’s be pen pals, I will write back ANYONE who writes me in all French- impressive, non?” Can’t wait to receive all of your delightful packages!