A YEAR OF STUDY IN PARIS

Miranda and her friend Lindsay are living and studying in Paris for one year!  Read about their adventures in this fabulous city!

Sept 13, 2010 ... Bonjour!

I safely arrived in Paris on Friday morning at 9am. It was a long (and for the most part sleepless) flight. Customs was easy – no questions. Then without fail Lindsey and my luggage arrived and our driver was waiting patiently for us to come through the door. He drove us into Paris and showed us where our school is. It doesn’t look like a school because it only has a front the size of a small store but apparently it is all in behind and has a very good reputation. He gave us a tour of the surrounding area (confused us more) and then we magically ended up at our house. We are on the third floor which to Canadians we would consider the fourth floor – this equals tons of fun trying to get our year’s worth of luggage to the top! (It is 58 stairs up) It is working out alright – very different than Canada but we will make do. (It was built in the 17th or 18th Century so there is no sneaking around the floors are creaking -  AND I got locked in the bathroom for a good period of time because the doors just don’t open like the used to.  Laurence Meyniel (who owns the place and lives here with her son Pierre age 15) took us to the grocery, the post office and the metro! From there we did some exploring and checked out the Eiffel Tower and surrounding area.

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Sept 13, 2010 .... We live in Saint Mandé which is basically Paris but 142 steps outside. For those of you familiar with Vernon it is like Coldstream – rich too. It is small in population but you don’t know when you have left Paris so it is one big centre to me.  AND guess who lives below me! – the Saint Mandé Mayor.

Since arrival we have done morning walks. (One to the Castle a couple blocks town and twice we have taken the metro to Montmantre area which is very beautiful.) I have ate sorbet along the Seine, had Croque Monsieur at a cafe, gone to Sacre Coeur twice, found an English speaking church in a high fashion district (majority of attendees at the service are aged 18-30) shopped on Champs Elysees and bought nothing...and had a picnic with some friends that will be going to the same school we met on Facebook on the grass at the Louvre with a little wine - bread and cookies!

To sum life here up – I was super nervous and questioning my choice to move to Paris when I first arrived but now I am so happy and loving it. My French is improving and my English is deteriorating.

Miranda

Sept 20, 2010 ... Bonjour!I have been here for about 10 days now and I am still in love with the city. Since the last update I have explored the Latin Quarter, ate a crepe on the streets, sat in awe of la Tour Eiffel one evening while chatting to a very nice couple from Ontario, had the most expensive and tastiest hot chocolate (most likely in my whole life), went to the Père Lachaise cemetery, shopped at the Gallery La Fayette and tried to sort out our visas. (The visa has been quite the issue. For three days we were on a goose chase and in total tried seven different spots...the last one was right had we lived in the border of Paris but as you know I can see the border from our window...so we had our first experience with the French Administration!) This weekend we went with our home stay Mom to Eu, Normandy to stay at her parents’ house.  On the way we stopped in Aumale. It was a beautiful village in the country. We got a tour of an old wheat mill from 1899 that was powered by hydraulics; saw an old church and a prison. The prison was so tiny – no light and you had to bend over to walk through it. Not a place I would want to go – very cold and damp also. Then onto Eu ... when we arrived Laurence let us go out in the town and explore. We headed straight for the castle and explored the gardens. It was so beautiful with nice sunny weather which is uncommon for the area -Then the church bells started to ring which I find to be one of the most beautiful noises in the world. Lindsey and I were just giggling with joy! We got a free trip to Normandy – beautiful weather and church bells! (Now get me a pastry! – I got some sort of creampuff-ish ball of deliciousness!) We wandered around with no direction which was so nice. As much as I LOVE Paris it was nice to get out of the bustling city and into the country. We also got to see a photography exhibition at a church very close to Mama and Papa’s house. When we were walking home we heard owls so Linds and I hooted – and they hooted back!!The house we stayed in...or should I say mansion... was an old nunnery from the 15th century.  It was massive! There was just door after door leading to another long hallway of rooms. However because it is so old it makes for an interesting experience. I now understand why it is called a water “closet” – there was no hot water for what we could figure out and the temperature inside the home was between 12 and 15 degrees Celsius depending on the room! (In Vernon I like my room at 23 degrees...)At our place in Paris Linds and I cook for ourselves but that night they said we could eat with the family. Our first true French meal! We had cold cooked potatoes, salad, fish, cookie sans Jacques **sp (came from a large shell), bread, wine and butter! Papa – the dad to Laurence- wanted us to keep eating... He speaks fairly good English and told us << you know, men like woman who are plumpier as to too thin ones!>> It was a great experience and yes mom I did try both the fish. For dessert we ate Vanilla ice cream with almond cookies. Across the street from Mama and Papa lives one of Laurence’s sisters (I believe she comes from a family with 12 children) and she knew a lady organizing a dance that night in a theatre. So she took us down and stayed with us for one hour and we all danced! It was very fun. When we were meeting people we even got to do the bijous (kisses on each cheek) for the first time!In the morning I got a pastry in town after breakfast that was also very good. Then Laurence took us to the sea – la Manche (Between N. France and England). I dipped my finger in but no swim. It was simply breath taking. For lunch we ate on the beach at a restaurant. I had steak with fries. (Those of you who have seen Julie and Julia remember how it mentions the French loving their butter...my fries came with garlic pesto butter for dipping!) And Mom... I tried a mussel from Laurence... not my favourite – maybe with more butter?Classes start Tuesday. I have French, business law, introduction to international business and international marketing. All of them are three hour classes. I am excited to start as it has been about 5 months since I have been in school AND I get a four day weekend every week because I only have classes Tuesday to Thursday.À bientôt!

xoxo Miranda

Oct 17, 2010 ... Bonjour!  I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and are enjoying the colours of fall. I definitely miss seeing the Okanagan Valley change colour and I didn’t realize how much I missed my Thanksgiving traditions until I saw photos my parents took in the Pumpkin Patch North of Vernon. So far I have seen nothing for fall decor around Paris and very minimal regarding Halloween. Disneyland Paris claimed to have been decked out for the season but I have also been to Disneyland in California during October and I think it is safe to say how each park celebrates fall is a different story. However, it did make things feel a little more like fall with the decorations Disney did have. Escaping to Disney for a day made me feel like I had had a whole vacation – because other then the dominance of french it was very similar to the N. American parks.

A semi- routine has been established now that school is 1/3 of the way through. I have class Tuesday evenings, and during the day on Wednesday and Thursday. I always have a four day weekend but it hardly feels that way with everything I need to get done. Also, group meetings for projects also take place on Monday and Friday’s so don’t think I am getting off too easy.

When I am not in class or meeting my groups to prepare numerous projects I am out trying to soak in a little more Parisian culture. I have explored the Musee Pompidou (modern art), attended an acoustics show at Shakespeare and Company, attended the grand opening of the new H&M on the Champs Elysees, sat in the Rolls Royce’s at the Paris auto show, cruised down the Seine, checked out a flea market, had a picnic at the Eiffel Tower for Thanksgiving, explored La Defense (business district), helped with the kids at church and have ate many more pastries! I try to do something everyday even if it is little or as simple as buying something different at the grocery store. I love the Paris and the fact it is normal to buy a baguette (and a treat) and munch on it on the way home from the store.

Good news – internet has been restored to the flat after a three week absence, we have toilet paper once again, and a working shower! Those incidences have made me grow a lot and I am so thankful for what I have been given.

Paris is all of a sudden very chilly – and simply because of the age of the buildings they are not kept warm like back home and the windows have quite the draft. I am learning to bundle up even when inside the house and drink and eat warm things rather then turning up the thermostat – because well....you can’t just walk over to the wall and press a button here! The odd door still stumps me by how it is to be opened but usually someone isn’t too far behind that knows how. Just a little embarrassing though...

Tonight I am off to church – I have found a great group of friends here at St. Michaels and take part in the 18-30 activities. There are meals after the Sunday services, socials on Tuesdays (conflicts with French class) and life groups on Thursdays. I try to make it to as much as I can. It is so neat meeting people from all over the world and finding out what has brought them to Paris. Everybody has a story.

Hope you are all toasty-warm and enjoying the beauty of fall. Miss you! Miranda


June 24, 2011 .... Hello everybody and happy SUMMER:

After being an ambassador for Vernon, then an ambassador for British Columbia I feel like the only way I know to say good-bye to a year is by giving a sort of speech.... but since that isn’t going to happen here is my last email from Paris.

I think I only sent about 10 updates over the year, a few less than planned but I was just so busy having fun! I would often sit down to write about one trip and then weeks later I would find myself making it about two.  But honestly, these notes are okay but it is so hard for me to describe to you the Paris I fell in love with, from my perspective without physically showing you.

Since I last sent an update my life has been a whirlwind of doing everything I still never got to over the year and doing everything again that is my favourite, and being a tour guide to my Mom, Dad, and Grandma. We went to Monet’s gardens in Giverny (near Vernon!), saw the D-day beaches of Normandy, a beautiful town called Colmar in the Alsace region, Versailles, Disney, and of course every nook and cranny of Paris I could get them too. Oh... and we ate our hearts out with French cuisine... it was FANTASTIC!

Looking back on the year a few things stand out to me but really every single day here I enjoyed, I took thousands of photos and I am so glad I took the opportunity to study abroad. I recommend it FOR SURE!

First off, I loved making friends from ALL over the world, literally. It is actually kind of embarrassing to admit but I met people and made friends from countries I had never even heard of before. Even if we didn’t become super close - when you are miles from your family and sharing Paris it is really easy for your hearts to connect. Over the year I made a few best friends as well. All of whom I feel so blessed to know and to have shared this experience with. It is hard to know that our future visits will be few and far between but our memories and friendship is strong and I know that even if we are not in touch all the time we will always have a special place for each other in our hearts. Also, the two churches I attended here, Hillsong, and St. Michael’s have been phenomenal. A real light to me and to the city of Paris and I am so thankful for those churches and the family in them, they were a very important part of my year.

A few other quick highlights (but there really are many) were the Eiffel Tower event I helped organize last semester, Nice, Sweden, getting ENGAGED, Norway, Spain, Prague, the Netherlands, London, my family coming and the FOOD ( I can go on about that for days...)!

A lot of people ask me what my favourite thing to do is.... so I thought I would include that. I love it all.  Really. But I have 2 favourites and I can’t choose one because to me they are very different. One of my favourite things is going to the courtyard of the Louvre just at sunset or after dark – it doesn’t matter if all I have time to do is walk through but I just love it there. It is best on a Tuesday because the Louvre is closed that day so there are even fewer lingering people then say the average 30 spread across the courtyard on other nights. I have my special seat by the fountain on the back side of the pyramid that I always go to, alone or with friends, with food, a book, wine, or my thoughts. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly but the whole experience is just so enchanting. It makes my heart just melt – and even more when I walk through the corridors (or when it is so quiet I can hear from my spot) and I hear the people playing music, a cello, sax or possibly a flute... it’s really indescribable. AND if you go just to the right spot – here from the Louvre you can also get a great view of the Eiffel Tower (my other favourite). I love the Eiffel Tower, on the ranking of greatness that was created on my school trip it was dubbed the SUPER BAM! (the highest ranking level of greatness on the scale). If I go first thing in the morning I can gaze at it alone (I really love getting away from the tourists) or if I go at night I like going before sunset for a picnic or cards on the grass, with friends, some pastries and maybe a little wine too. Then as the sun is setting I wait for that moment when someone, somewhere, turns on yellow lights that illuminate the tower. It is more subtle at first and as it gets darker it gets even more magnificent – then on the hour it (as I say..) SPRINKLES and everyone cheers!!!!! There both at night, they both light up, but the Louvre is tranquil and more undiscovered, and the Eiffel Tower is energetic and ALIVE!

I hope that one day I can bring David here to see and experience these things. You know, show him why I was ‘thinking about moving to Paris for a year’ and also what made me leave the love of my life for __ days... of course he is my greater love but this year was so important to me and I learned so much from, yes school, but the greater things I learned were about the world, life, and myself.

Live in Paris for a year. Check.

So now what? (I have ended my last two speeches that way as well...) I fly out Saturday morning and my destination is Prince George to go see my FIANCE!!!! Our very good friends are being married on Friday; we have a wedding to finish planning for August, a honeymoon, and then back to school in the fall. David is going into his graduating year and I still have at least two more. Who knows where we will be in a few years – but right now our dream is to move to Sweden after I graduate (so far the move is not planned on being permanent!) I am on to a new adventure with my best friend.

Thank you to everyone for being a part of this year in any capacity, prayers,  flipping through photos on Facebook, reading my emails, meeting up with me in Paris and new friends I met in Europe – this year was more than I ever imagined it to be. To the ones at home – I am very excited to see you all again!

Paris, mon amour – À bientôt!  Miranda

P.S. If any of you ever come to Paris let me know if you want a little list of things to do – or better yet if you want to bring along a private tour guide!