French Success Stories

In an effort to look at the positive side of life throughout what has so far been a trying experience, I will recount the successful French endeavours I have made in the past day. If you are new to my blog, welcome: I am studying abroad in Paris for six months, and so far the first has been difficult to say the least. But hey, I am still in Paris. If you’ve been following, this will be a rather refreshing post!

1. Yesterday, I sat down in the library to write an entire Plan Detaille (read: incredibly specific and detailed outline for an essay that I will never write) that was due in 5 hours. To begin research, I checked the Sciences Po catalogue and found that they had a few helpful books on Boulangism, the Dreyfus Affair, and French nationalism – just what I needed. I wrote them on the slip of papers (yes, you have to request a book via a slip of paper), and brought them to the librarian. Upon seeing the books’ titles (somehow they know these things), they said “Ah, pour ces, demain” – “For these, tomorrow” and then some time that I didn’t understand. In disbelief, I said “QUOI!?” – “WHAT!?” and the librarians looked at me and repeated slowly and with incredible diction “De-main” – “To-morrow”. And me, I did what every good American college student does: “FUCK!” The librarians, again stunned at my behavior, said “Non non non, pas de fuck!” – “No no no, not fuck!” Clearly they did not understand that this paper was due today, so I told them: “Non, ces livres sont pour un papier qu’il me faut donner au professeur aujourd’hui” – “No, these books are for a paper that I have to give to the professor today”. It seemed that the librarians finally understood – one of them sighed and said, “Ah, oui, je comprends le fuck” – “Ah, yes, I understand the fuck”.


2. I have discovered the only form of efficient French administration: the “appariteurs”. These are basically wannabe security guards that are stationed in each building of Sciences Po, at the front, who are there at your service when you need them. I have utilized these scary-looking men twice, once to recover a lost iPod, and today to recover a lost cell phone. In both cases, the items had been returned to the appariteurs and stored away in safekeeping until someone came to claim them. And that was me.


3. Successfully maneuvered my way through a meeting with a woman at HSBC to open a French bank account. In true French fashion, I am to return tomorrow at 11 am to meet with another advisor.


4. Today, when trying to order a hot, fresh panini from the cafeteria lady at the Gymnase (the cafeteria, not the gym), I struggled to explain what I wanted. I attempted to navigate my way around the word “panini” by saying things like “hot sandwich” and “pressed sandwich” instead. When she finally understood what I was asking for, she said “Ah, un panini” – “Ah, a panini”. Good job, Marina.


5. Finally made it to Oberkampf for drinks last night. It was pretty cool but I think we need to return on a Friday or Saturday, when things don’t shut down at 1 am. Lauren and I had some great sangria at a bar that was a bit more pricey than we wanted, but still, 4 Euro for such a fruity, delicious concoction is pretty reasonable. And now we know exactly how to get there, and where to go. We also discovered the most amazing little bar in Montmartre – “Le Rendez-Vous des Amis” – that serves cheese plates and meat plates and you can get a bottle of wine for 10 Euro to split among friends. Cheap drinks, cheap food (8 euro cheese plate – it was delicious, and plentiful) – who could refuse? Also had great decorations on the walls and was definitely a “local” hangout. We’re kind of local now!


More success stories to come – maybe one of these days I will even master French fashion.


2 thoughts on “French Success Stories

  1. Hi Marina,
    I am enjoying your blog. You are certainly taking advantage of what Paris has to offer. You are a talented writer and I look forward to reading more about your trip as you go. Give big hugs to Marina and Sonia in Chaville. Take some pictures of their house and of them and add them to your blog since I hear you go there as a refuge from the city once in a while. I will forward this to Kai. He is now studying French at Ithaca so he will enjoy it. Bon Sois I forget my french.
    Love Auntie Karen

    1. Thank you! I will certainly send them your love and post some pictures. It has been so great to get out of the city and spend time with family! I’ll say hi to Kai as well!
      Bon journee (have a good day)

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