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 Française 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.


kathy c said...

No se te olvide lo que te dije de los mejores bailarines de salsa -- Le Diablitho Latino! To keep working on your french, they have rueda classes, but best is just to watch the experts later in the open dancing.

Salsa portoricaine is at Barrio Latino, also have classes.

There is salsa every night in Paris, see

Here's your to-do-list for these next couple of weeks, Jo:

Say bye to the Ashkenazis in the Marais and hi to the Sephardim in Belleville when you visit the Marché Belleville-Ménilmontant

Musee de histoire de la ville de Paris

On the necropolis tour: Simone de Beauvoir & Porfirio Diaz's graves are in the Montparnasse Cemetery, so don't miss that one either (I read somewhere that SF was inspired to build our necropolis in Colma after Paris relocated its cemeteries from the cental city!)

More copycats - notice the kiosks for Spectaculares, Willie Brown had the same guy build those for SF's Downtown (and the self-cleaning toilets too) after he visited Paris
Boatride down the Canal St. Martin
Or walk the canal from Cite de la Industrie all the way to the Seine and stop to talk to the Gitanos and homeless activists along the way.

Ricardo said...

Sounds exactly like a sabbatical in Paris ought to be!
A Peruvian in San Francisco

LauraB-R said...

Sounds so amazing! Thank you for sharing the pictures and the blog. If you can visit and show pictures of farmers markets that would be great.

I miss you and can't wait to hear more about what you are up to.

Mucho amor, Laura

LauraB-R said...

Sounds so amazing! Thank you for sharing the pictures and the blog. If you can visit and show pictures of farmers markets that would be great.

I miss you and can't wait to hear more about what you are up to.

Mucho amor, Laura

Jules said...

Sounds amazing! Keep those dispatches coming.

Un abrazote,

Doug & Emese said...

Oh, how I wish I were back on the road! Thanks for giving me the vicarious continuation of time abroad, Jo Ellen! Keep up the missives!

Richard said...

c'est magnifique
me alegro que estes disfrutando, gracias por compartir tu experiencia.

Mucho cariño

Emily said...

I love your blog, Jo Ellen!

A foodie website with a France board:

Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures ...