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Archive for the ‘Versailles’ Category

It has been over a month since our plane took off from O’Hare Airport and it has already been quite the experience! I have yet to really blog about France and here are my keen observations regarding that other Red, White, and Blue country:

1) Scooters

Remember 10 years ago when it seemed every kid had a razor scooter only to be immediately disgarded and shelfed after a solid summer? Well apparently that trend never died in France and they are everywhere to this day. Kids ride them up and down the block like I rode my bike when I was 7. Adults ride them to work (no joke) and even bring them on the bus. It is just one of the many transportation options that should have been killed years ago but still remains popular.

Minus Wolverine this is typical.

I feel like for the amount of effort you put into into riding a scooter, you don’t get much of a return. You can only go so far with those 14 oz. wheels and an awkward center of balance.

2) Fashion

The French dress nice, they really do and it’s somewhat embarrassing how inferior we are on a day to day basis. They deck themselves out: Scarf, berets, layers, muted colors, Louis Vuittons under their under arms!

3) Strikes

To quote my structures teacher, “the French have a proud tradition of public uprisings.” And he couldn’t be more right because they always seem to be going on the strike. The first thing to go? The public transportation system. You see, they play the game that if you get other people mad who don’t have anything to do with their demands, then The Man must cave in. Which sucks because we and the rest of the public who are even more dependent on public transit aren’t able to travel from place to place as easy. However, it also makes it really difficult to have that same structures teacher make it from Paris to Versailles to teach us some maths.

On an unrelated note, I learned all about the French and their striking way of life in Sicko oddly enough.

4) P.D.A.

The French don’t hold back when it comes to P.D.A. Guys and gals everywhere are just mackin’ it. On the streets, on the bus, on a bench, everywhere. Hide yo kids, hide yo wives!

5) Cigarettes

They also feen (spelling?) cigarettes like no other. One of the most common stores in France are tobacco shops, there is probably one every 3 blocks. There is one in Champaign, a college campus no less. Their smoke of choice seems to be rolling one up themselves with or without marijuana sprinkled in there.

6) McDonalds and Starbucks

I’m going to make an entire post centered around McDonalds but to generalize they are extremely common. France and the rest of the world make fun of us for our obesity (and for good reason) but I’ve noticed that there are a buttload of McDonalds and they’re always packed with people. A bit hypocritical no? You’d think that they would want to eat at a number of places before ever considering McDonalds. But then again, all those calories are usually burned off by the end of the day because they walk so often.

Also, Starbucks is extremely common as well. If you’re ever in France, you might as well walk half a block to the nearest cafe.

7) English?

Not so much. The French don’t speak a whole lot of English like I was told before leaving. They speak a little English but for anyone who doesn’t speak a lick of French, it isn’t enough. Restaruants know basic English well but people on the street will give you a look if you are speaking English. That’s happened like 5 times these past 2 days.

The French also talk very quietly. As Americans, we are obnoxiously loud compared to them. In public adults are almost whispering to each other. Our kind on the other hand are always laughing and yelling up a storm where ever we go- that’s probably why we warrant an unwelcoming stare wherever we go.

Do they speak English in “What”?

8) Weather

The day I left Chicago the temperature was in the 70s/80s I can’t remember. The moment I stepped outside of the airport I couldn’t help but notice how noticeably cooler it was. I forgot the fact that Europe is higher in Latitude than Illinois. Despite how much cooler it is in the fall, Paris has may actually have a warmer Winter with the help of the good ‘ol North Atlantic current – the one that stops working and is responsible for all the destruction in The Day After Tomorrow. Time will tell though because I don’t really know who or what to believe at this point.

In general, the weather has been sporadic in which I mean, it’ll be cold, dreary and damp in the morning, and warm, sunny and awesome by noon with a drop off in temperature by night. The weather is extremely unpredictable but according to our program director, ” It [Versailles] gets more rain than London.” Now that is harsh.

9) Drivers

Everyone in France drives like an inner-city taxi cab driver – absolutely bat shit. You really have to be careful with them because they don’t follow many of the basic guidelines of driving an automobile. You even have to be careful crossing at a crosswalk with a green light I am that dead serious.

Driving Instructor: You’re a nice young man and, yes, I am your friend.

Borat: You will be my boyfriend?

Driving Instructor: No I will not be your boyfriend.

10) The French Are Assholes

The French really are assholes. I gave them the benefit of the doubt but they truly are assholes. They may be a proud people, but they are just as conceited to anyone who isn’t French. I have been laughed at so many times at the grocery store or what have you. In a setting where I am giving them money, they still find it amusing to laugh at our broken attempt at French. Sometimes they don’t laugh but are just down right rude. For instance, I went to order food at McDonalds and the woman at the cash register barely acknowledged my existence and showed no human compassion whatsoever. I ordered in French too! AND who is she to be snooty towards me? She is a French citizen who works at McDonalds, probably the most American symbol on the planet next to the flag. When I went to Germany and Belgium, those people were so nice and even helpful at times. The French are the complete opposite except for the French farmer who helped us out on our Normandy trip. Other than that, everyone in the Paris metropolitan area of French descent is an ass. There I said it.

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Living Situation(s)

Upon arrival into Paris, my classmates and I literally had no idea where we were going to live. We took a bus to ENSA-V and sat through a short presentation regarding living in Versailles and were given our living assignment shortly afterwards.

approaching the apartment.

A Mr. John (not Johnathan) Sterr and I are roommates and we are situated along the Avenue de Paris, the main road that leads up to the Chaeteau. Google map it if you don’t believe me. For privacy reasons, I am not allowed to discuss the exact location of our apartment, nor am I allowed to give out the identity of the couple who are housing us. Instead we’ll refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. Frenchy. Mr. and Mrs. Frenchy are a super cool older couple. They speak English well, something that isn’t anything but guaranteed, and they are really cool with the fact we can’t speak much French. Although, Sterr and I decided we will try and talk in French to them as much as possible out of respect for their culture and our desire to actually learn the language. Our foreign language teachers would be most proud of us.

We share a flat with Mr. and Mrs. Frenchy and essentially have one half of the flat to ourselves while they have their nicer side of the apartment. We have access to their kitchen, with our own supplies, within the designated hours of permission. Sterr and I also have our own bathroom. However, in France land, the toilet and shower are commonly in different rooms of the house. Also, the shower head isn’t locked in a fixed location and requires to be grasped with your hand in order to do the washing. AND they encourage you to turn the water off when you’re scrubbing away and to turn it back on when you rinse. Ecologically it makes sense. However, it does need some getting used to but I really can’t complain. But I do miss that Lake Michigan water at our disposal.

bathroom. I opted not to retake this photo.

shower.

bidet.

Which leaves us to our rooms. I have a girls room. The walls are a light lavender.  My bedding consists of an array of pinks, whites, blacks, and lime greens. But hey, I’m not one to judge. Mr. and Mrs. Frenchy had a daughter that lived with them, it only makes sense that she had a girl’s room. What I guess I am trying to say is I’m not gay.

The bedroom also lacks a dresser or an armoire which makes putting clothes away a lot more interesting. Instead I’m given these IKEA-esque, squared shelving units.

presumably from Sweden.

my gurly bed.

It may not be the most scenic or convenient location but there certainly are perks about our place. Wifi. Not everyone has it and we do and thus able to communicate with the outside world efficiently and update a blog no one really reads. Also, living with a family enables us to learn the language better and have someone who knows France and Europe at our disposal. And what I like about our place the most is walking out the door to this everyday.

syc-syc-Sycamore.

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Flight 667 Nonstop to Paris

I’ve made it. I’ve survived my first weekend. And most importantly, I haven’t been mugged by any Internationally-Renown Ninja, Pick Pocketers. The days leading up to my departure were full of mixed feelings. A little bit of anxiety, a lot of excitement, and the perfect balance of clarity. After all, I am leaving the country for nine months, how can you not feel somewhat emotionally overwhelmed all the meanwhile trying to pack away your life for an entire school year?

Thursday was my last day in The States and I am proud to say my last meal was 2 hotdogs + fries, and a Cherry RC from none other than Henry’s Hotdogs on Ogden Avenue in Cicero. It’s within the opinion of my close friends and family and I that Henry’s is a hidden gem in the hotdog community.

Hotdog lovers. Go to it.

In true Corpuz Family fashion we arrived at the airport later than what was suggested (Three hrs before take off not two!). Although the line to check bags required waiting over an hour, I had plenty of time to kill before boarding, let alone take off. There was certainly lots of excitement at the Gate. A lot of us haven’t seen each other since last semester and we were about to hop on a place for Europe so one can imagine how gitty we all were in our seats.

About 15 minutes into waiting at the gate, the intercom interrupts the bland, airport music and we’re finally ready to be boarded. The gittiness increases 10 fold. No one can really believe what is about to happen in all honestly. We’ve been waiting months, some of us years, to board this flight. And for you LOST fans (if you really can’t stand LOST or obnoxious LOST fanatics such as myself I suggest you move on to the next paragraph like now), I was given the seat 42 F, which happened to be Ana Lucia’s seat number. Now that made the plane ride a lot more intoxicating than any human being should ever feel about a mild coincidence involving a TV show and real life. What’s even more pathetic is how I knew at the top of my head Ana Lucia’s seat number. Oh Benji…good god.

“42 F. Wanna trade?”

The plane ride wasn’t too bad to say the least. Our row consisted of Jackie Davis, Mathew Barret, and Allison (Allie) Gloude, all of which are classmates. Since it was a French flight, we were given our God given right to be served alcohol damn it. I had Champagne, and it was OK, nothing special. But to be completely honest, the moment I knew it was going to be a plane ride to remember was when I was browsing through the movie menu and I found The Last Airbender. And may I say it lived up to the hype of being disastrously bad. This movie was bad. Not The Room bad, but M. Night Shamalayan bad. WOW, is all I have to say.

Oh god.

Another theme of the 8 hour plane ride was playing Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It was one of the many games that were available on and Allie, Matt, and I tried to make it to 1,000,000 pounds (cuz it wasn’t the American version). And because it was the English, English version we were given questions about British culture that we were completely oblivious to. In the end, we only made it to 500,000 pounds but did not get the question wrong. However, on the way back, after months of culture absorption, we’re bound to make it to the million mark.

Eventually we did make it to Charles de Gaulle airport and we couldn’t believe it either. I was expecting the plane to crash and to text to my twitter account in order to be forever remembered as the guy who twittered while the plane was crashing. No such luck.

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