The first weeks flew by, and I am learning new things every day. This blog post is not only a way to keep you updated, but also a way for me to reflect. Today, I am going to talk about the most tedious part of studying abroad: administration.
I was lucky enough to get accepted at Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, a massive housing campus for (primarily) postgraduate students. Currently, there are around 12,000 students from more than 140 countries living at Cité. The idea of being surrounded by such diverse environment was one of the main reasons for my moving there. Students live in 40 different houses: House Lebanon, Korea, Mexico, Canada, and so on and so forth. I am in House Cambodia where 50 per cent of the occupants are Cambodian, the other half is international. But Cité provides more than just housing. There is a student restaurant and a café, a library, and numerous sports grounds. Students gather all over the campus to have a picnic or to do other activities together, ranging from fencing to dancing or singing. Finding accommodation in a city in which affordable housing is rare can be frustrating. I am glad that I was spared the hassle of apartment-hopping.
The course registration, in contrast, did shred nerves. Courses are offered on a first-come-first-served basis. At 3:30 p.m. sharp, I found myself at a place with high-speed internet, coffee warming my hand, staring nervously at the computer screen. After four minutes, almost all courses were unavailable. In the end, I got enrolled in almost every class I wanted to be in. Looking at my schedule, with nine different modules in total, I knew the following weeks were going to be full of work. But more on that in my next blog post.
The Art of Bureaucracy
In France, what do you need to get a metro card? A French number. What do you need to get a SIM card? A bank account in France. What do you need to open a bank account? A French address. Generally, as in any other country, bureaucracy requires patience and sometimes drags out seemingly trivial activities. But, ultimately, everything worked out fine. I am thrilled (no exaggeration) about my Imagine R, a student card that allows me to use transportation in Paris as often as I want for a period of one year. Since I am commuting every day, that card is a true blessing.
City of Lights
Paris is a great city. I try to participate in extracurricular events as often as I can, be it a new Picasso exhibition at Musée d’Orsay or an Israeli food festival. Parisians value public spaces to a great extent. Even now, in November, people still choose to sit outside and eat together.
I feel home in Paris, but I love the city like tourists love Paris. It is a superficial love and I aim to get a better grasp of Paris in weeks to come. I will let you know once I do (hopefully in my next blog post already).
November 2018 | Loë Guthmann