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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Notes on life abroad, Parisian culture

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Dear Carletonian readers,

Thought I’d write in to tell a bit about the Paris Spring 2015 program currently.

Twenty-five of us are sticking it out over here in the land of virtually free baguettes and functioning public transit, where saying “I’m full” means “I’m pregnant” and “I’m excited” means “Let’s get it on.”

Academics are light – they leave you with plenty of time to promenade in parks and check out museums, or listen to “Chicken Fried” and look at your passport’s watermarks.

When fort enough to do the former pair, I’ve noted a few things worthy of inscription in my favorite campus weekly:

French gardens can be real eye sores – take Versaille, for example.

I understand the domination of plants (they literally tie branches to fences to make two-dimensional trees) has something to do with expressing human will, but were it up to me I’d will to repose on a lawn (which in many parks you’re not allowed to do, albeit because of high traffic) and watch the spring leaves sprout, rather than order around my lackey’s lackeys while they trim hedges all day.

That said, those parks where you may plant yourself in the grass and enjoy a baguette and an inappropriate amount of camembert are rather attractive. Whole swaths of people swarm to the same park, forming a crowd without a concert, and allowing you to play with other people’s dogs (dogs in Europe are way nicer) and eavesdrop on complaints about austerity.

On the tannin front, we’ve come to appreciate that not all wine comes in boxes, and some of it literally tastes like a hot baguette or lychee fruit, if you gargle it for a couple minutes before hand and hold the glass just pinched between your fingers like a potato chip.

But seriously, every Tuesday we help out with a high school English class situated out in the suburbs, also known as the banlieu.

Whenever we discuss music, the kids all explain that they prefer Jay-Z to Stromae and Game of Thrones to any French series. I see this as a pretty good metaphor for the experience of studying abroad here.

We can learn about the history of Notre Dame until our prof is blue in the face, but in the day-to-day one really has to listen for bits of French culture (beyond the obvious, duck-tails and mopeds) that are alive, as opposed to stones placed or words writ- ten hundreds of years ago. Anyway, the pleasure’s always in the search.

Until next time,

-Jack Noble, Foreign Correspondent

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