Sunday, January 27, 2008

The first weeks

So much new to get used to. Living alone, the time change, the language...but the weather has been almost identical to San Francisco, providing a constant drizzle, cold, occasional peek of sun.
I have been in school at the Alliance Fran├žaise for two weeks, getting homework and attending 9 hours per week. I go in the afternoon, which leaves mornings and nights free for whatever comes up. My French teacher, whose name is Anni, is a cultural experience herself, using a lot of shrugs and hand expressions to punctuate her talks. She is also very pregnant, so I anticipate a maternity leave during my stay here. I'm learning a lot, getting a lot of "travail a la maison, or exercises"as she says. Not the more common term of "devoirs" as we are 'all adults here' not enfants a l'ecole. The class has 2 Brazilians, 2 Americans, 1 Australian, 2 Turks, 1 Chinese, 1 Colombian, 1 Israeli, 1 Pole, 1 Japanese, 2 Hungarians, and 1 young woman for the Arab Emirate. Not everyone is there every day, but that is the crew at present. Since you can start on any Monday, new people come in then.
School has a fabulous multimedia center with French films that have French subtitles (a boon for the learner...Is that what they were saying???!!!) and lots of phonetic exercises, grammar exercises and studying aides for specific proficiency tests that you can take for bussiness, or other areas of study.
My friends Valerie and Glenn reccomended a Yoga studio not too far from here, run by a guy named Gerard who heads an official Yoga Alliance recognized foundation focusing on Yoga Dynamique...flow style, or Ashtanga. So far have tried 3 teachers, including him, and find the classes quite lovely. A good workout, and vigorous but with the quality I love from Kripalu of pausing to dip into the experience.
I have made a few friends in school, as well as recconnecting with some I knew before, and among them is the wife of a fellow student who is also into Yoga, so we are checking out classes together and talking about it. I'm going to start writing down Yoga terms in French as they are a great way to add to the body parts and movements in spoke French...maybe do an oral presentation in class of a yoga class ;-)
Paris is a great movie town, with not only the new films from all over, but revival houses with all kinds of festivals. Just this week, film series focusing on Sean Penn, the Cohen Brothers, Antonioni, Tim Burton as well as focusing on genres like Gothic, etc. So far I have seen 9 films, Russian, Chinese, Australian and of course French.
I'm trying to pick a new part of the city to check out several times a week, and that has been fun, as well as making very aware of what shoes can take that kind of walking...I'm averaging about 2-3 hours a day, but on some put in 4-5. I have made friends with the family of a friend in San Francisco, and the woman in the couple is wanting to practice English, so we have a regular Friday date to explore some sight in the City. So far we have gone to a Klezmer concert, walked all over the Pere Lacheise Cementery, and are going to the Catacombs next week. There is a theme there, maybe?
Other random observations are how different the news is here...there are actually regular reports about the Middle East, Asia, African countries, and the US is of course another foreign country. Journalists are fairly clear about the grain of salt they add to the analysis that comes from the US about the economy, the war and peace efforts, etc.
I'll add pictures to the blog as soon as I figure out how to upload them!
Meantime, bises to all...don't be afraid to respond if you feel like it, as well as to ignore the postings.
Jo