Sep 26

Yom Kippur just ended a few hours ago. It’s probably the most important day in the Jewish year; it’s a fast day, so no eating or drinking for 25 hours, and you’re meant to spend it praying at synagogue, reflecting over your sins in the past year and repenting and stuff… yeah… fun times.

It actually went really well this year, though, because I spent it at a friend of a friend’s house (I think we’ve hung out enough by now that I can call her my friend? haha) and went to synagogue with her. I don’t really have anyone around my age to hang out with at my synagogue in New York, and it definitely made things easier. I also slept a lot, and I mean a lot. I am glad to have this day behind me, though.

I’ve had a really busy week! Next Monday, I start classes, so it’s been sort of a last hurrah before la rentrée (back to school in French)!

So last Wednesday night my friend took me to this bar she’d been to a few days previous. All she told me about it was that it was “nerdy”. I wondered what that meant… I asked her what the bar was called. “Dernier Bar Avant La Fin Du Monde”, she told me.

OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, anyone? The Restaurant at the End of the Universe? Yeah? YEAH.

The bar was… well, it was exactly what it sounds like. Avengers action figures, people wearing Doctor Who T-shirts, staff dressed as pirates, a glass box on the wall with Guy Fawkes masks inside, marked “Break In Case of Revolution”…

And of course, there were the themed cocktails. They had the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, YOU GUYS I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND. Like, I only brought along 8 books with me from home, that’s all I had room for, and one of them was Hitchhiker’s even though I’ve read it like 4 times. Anyway the cocktails were sort of pricey but I had one anyway because just look at the names come on.

The book has this to say about the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster: “Its effects are similar to having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” Another time, I told myself. It was a weekday, after all. (Please ignore the fact that the ingredients in the book are fictional. I KNOW.) We also got this red beer that was sort of sweet and super light but delicious. Luckily the place was in walking distance from my apartment because we headed out quite late.

On Thursday I attempted to register for classes at La Sorbonne Nouvelle for the first time. Ha, I laugh at myself looking back on that day… silly me, thinking I would be able to register for classes a week and a half before they begin! Anyway, I went over to la fac (the university, in French) and nervously knocked on the door of the film department. The secretary gave me a form to fill out and told me to come back the next week. Apparently, I wasn’t allowed to enroll in first year courses because of their quota. That made my life more difficult because of a bunch of credit hour issues I was having…  all the film classes would only transfer back as 2 credits, except for some of those first year classes. Now there’s the possibility that I’ll have to take 5 film classes. OH WELL. At least I didn’t have the same issues as other people– mean secretaries, classes closed out, offices swarmed with students… I was the only one there at the time. Nice, quiet film department. Even quieter than at home. Hehe.

That night, a friend and I decided to check out an ERASMUS party at a club in Montparnasse (in the 15th arrondissement). (ERASMUS is the European exchange program, it allows European students to go study at any other European institution.) I went over to her residence at the Cité Universitaire International, which was pretty cool. It reminded me of an American style campus– lots of space, trees, jogging paths… the residence buildings are divided by country, so she was in Canada House.

We went to the club and danced for a few hours, to mostly American music. There was supposed to be a Mexican theme going, but the only sign of that I saw was a Mexican flag draped over one of the balconies. Here, have a picture of us. 

And here, from the balc.

Once again, I had a train to catch the next day, so we didn’t stay out too late. My friend slept by me, and we had baguette and Nutella for breakfast. I’m glad I had someone to share it with because I totally would have polished it off by myself, it’s just the BEST. I resisted buying Nutella for, like, 3 weeks, but no more. You tried, Gabrielle. Gold star.

So CUNY organized a weekend trip for us to Montoire, in the Loire Valley, about an hour outside Paris with the TGV (the fast train). There were 6 spots for us on the program, and it was all paid for by CUNY. The program used to be a week long, with 12 spots, but because of cuts it was limited to a weekend… next year the program is going to be stopped all together, which is a real pity. We were placed with  families, whom we met at the train station, and we ate our meals and toured the area together.

We actually didn’t know anything about the program in advance. We were told it was a free trip to the countryside and that we’d be staying with families. That was it. We joked on the train that we were walking into the plot of a horror movie.

I stayed by an elderly couple, the Auvilles, who were very nice and welcoming to me. M. Auville picked me up at the train station with his Yorkie, Fripouille, in tow. We drove through the countryside for about a half hour, past lots of cows and the occasional deer, and eventually arrived at the house, which was literally in the middle of nowhere. But it was absolutely beautiful– and what a contrast from the city, just an hour and a half away!

They also had a few chickens, geese, peacocks and a goat out in their backyard.

Shortly after I arrived, we sat down in the living room for our aperitif (before dinner drinks) of champagne. You know, if there’s one thing I learned that weekend, it’s that alcohol is the easiest way to save on heating bills. It was so, so cold in that house, as they hadn’t started using their fireplace yet for the season, but Mme. Auville just told me to drink up and I was fine. That went for the rest of the weekend too!

We sat down to dinner and talked about lots of different things. They told me about the business they had started in 1958. They had a custom stationery company called Sodisac, and it actually still exists but they no longer run it. Their offices were in Paris while their factory was near Montoire, so after they retired 25 years ago they moved out there. They have 3 kids and a few grandkids, one of whom is my age.


4 comments so far

  1. hashem
    22:58 - 10-8-2012

    Great pictures!!!!! Looks beautiful over there. Glad you fasted and prayed… will let you have a good year!

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Gabrielle in Paris