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Oui, Pinch Me – I’m in Paris!

Semester Abroad

“Bonjour mon ami! Maritza will be sharing her discoveries, joys and snafus while studying in Paris. Bon voyage!”

 

An Appetite for Paris

Although I’m in quite possibly the most beautiful city in the world, Paris is nonetheless unable to stop me from being a poor college student. Luckily for me however, my “An Appetite for Paris: Gender, Globalization and Food” class (an unnecessarily long title, I know), requires students to complete at least twenty hours at a slow food café by the end of the semester. And it’s turned out to be an interesting assignment.

Attracting an assorted group of people, patrons at this café range from affluent professionals to someone who I’m pretty sure is a man who plays the accordion at one of the Metro stops I take to school. He kindly took the time to demonstrate to my friend and me the various speaking accents of France. According to him, the Southern French speak treeeees doooucement—very slowly.

Besides, being a place I have to go to for class, the café is a great environment. I usually sign up to set up before a meal, serve the food, and clean up after, which is great because whoever is working at the end of the night gets to take the leftovers home. The best thing I remember taking home was organic peanut butter because it’s super expensive here, and when the dinner is made by a professional chef who often volunteers his time every month, it’s even better.

Besides being a place I have to go to for class, the café is a great environment and attracts an assorted group of people.

Because I work there for hours at a time, I get to participate in the various activities they host including movie nights, shows, and presentations. The last time I went, a man came representing Amnesty International and spoke about child soldiers in Nepal. I somehow ended up joining the organization and I might even participate in a protest they’ll hold next month – a very “French” thing to do because the people here are always on strike!

Fashion. Luxury. Glamour. Livestock?

Paris is known for all of the above. France is a country that takes pride in its cuisine, and for good reason. People go to boulangeries (bakeries) daily to pick up fresh baguettes that take six hours to bake and really only last that long as well. There are laws that require produce and meat to be carefully regulated and not overridden with chemicals and hormones. Each year, Paris hosts a “Salon de l’Agriculture” (agricultural fair) – the event is so important that people from all over the world get visas just to come for the week it’s in town! My friends from the program and I went on the last day and had fun taking pictures of the cows, bulls, and sheep (as well as sneaking in free samples from time to time).

After getting our fill of food, my roommate and I visited the Louvre Museum because it’s free on the first Sunday of each month. I was really excited to be there and in awe of the sheer size and beauty—and that’s just the building! I was able to see my favorite statue of all time, the Nike of Samothrace, up close. I was very surprised to see how much bigger it was in person. And of course, we couldn’t have left until we saw the most famous painting in the world: the Mona Lisa. It was placed on a wall, sectioned off so no one could stand any closer than about a yard from it (it’s been stolen before). Now that I’ve gotten the Louvre down, my next mission is to see the Eiffel Tower.

Oohhh, we’re halfway there…

School is reaching its halfway point, and while it’s a bit far away I can see the end drawing near. Still, I won’t think about that yet because spring break is coming up and I’ll be going to Venice, Italy! I can’t wait to try on the festive carnival masks, meet other students in hostels, and ride in an overpriced gondola—that I will share with the students my friend and I will have met in our few days there. Hopefully, the next time I write I’ll have lived it up in Venice but be ready to come back home—to Paris, that is.

 

Until next time, au revoir!

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By Maritza Moulite, University of Florida

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