So I'm here, its my second day, and I can say that today was definitely better than yesterday. Traveling took a long time on friday/saturday. I left North Carolina at 7 am, and after many layovers and delayed flights, got to Paris at 7 am on Saturday. I was met in the airport by Gilbert, a twenty something Parisian who works with IFE, my program. We sat and waited for Natalia, Max and Kat to arrive (supposedly 2 hours later, but it ended up being only Natalia, and Kat and Max got delayed and came much later). Gilbert and I sat, to his dismay, in a Starbucks in Charles de Gaulle for about 2 1/2 hours and just talked in french. I was really surprised that I felt completely comfortable and relatively confident with my french. It was a really nice feeling. Gilbert is also pretty awesome, he is the "mec" (slang for guy, new word) who will be giving us orientation for 10 days before all the school starts. Natalia finally came, and we took a taxi to our respective foyers. Mine is in the 13th arrondissement, which is in the South East near the periphery of Paris, and its nothing fancy, but its fine. Its in a safe, relatively quiet neighborhood right next to Paris' oldest China town, and I have a single with a sink, but the bathroom and shower are communal on each floor. I'm working on personalizing it and making it nice.
Lets just say Saturday was not a fun day. I felt extremely homesick and lonely, and really wanted to come home. Max showed up pretty late, but then he and John and I went to dinner, which made things a little better, but still not really.
However, today got better. John and Max and I went for a long walk to the Seine and Notre Dame, Louvre (just outside), etc, and then I went back to the 11th to meet Sam (girl) and Emily, and we hung out a bit and then went to dinner in the Marais (3rd). I needed some girl time, so that was good. We met this wonderful and goofy french man who sat next to us at the restaurant, a regular apparently, named Christian, in his 50s i would say, who teaches weekly free french classes to foreigners. He instantly chatted us up, apparently everyone knows we're American, whatever, we are, but he was very nice, he taught us some things, and its generally really good when we get to practice with natives. Again, I was really surprised at how comfortable I was speaking. I learned:
The word for tip: pourboir
How much do you tip: "ce que tu veux" translation: whatever you want, but usually 10%
Two words for the bill: 'addition' ou 'note'. According to Christian, smart, educated girls use 'note', but the waiters said that either is really ok.
We did a lot of walking, which was good, and I'm starting to get a sense of direction, although I got turned around a lot.
Tomorrow I think I will go for a walk in the Bois St. Vincennes, right outside of Paris but near me, and then Sam, Emily and I will go shopping for useful home items, etc.
I'm starting to feel better, thinking of all the places I could go and see and such.
But still, a year is a long time, and its just the beginning...