Letters from the dorm: Paris, here I come

Letters from the dorm: Paris, here I come

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The Eiffel Tower is one of many landmarks in the amazing city of Paris.
The Eiffel Tower is one of many landmarks in the amazing city of Paris.
Photo: Isabel Lai
A week ago, I packed my bags and set out for Paris - the French capital I will be calling home for the next nine months. It wasn't until the Eurostar pulled up at the Gare du Nord terminus that I realised what I had got myself into.

I came to Paris to study at Sciences Po as an exchange student. I knew absolutely nobody in the city. My secondary-school-level French may be good enough for ordering a croissant at a cafe but I can hardly chat away with local Parisians. I dreamed of being in Paris all summer, but now that I was finally here, I felt lost.

Luckily, the university had prepared a one-week welcome programme for exchange students. We also had classes that taught us the French way of giving presentations and writing essays. We learned we must start an essay with a three-paragraph introduction, followed by a main body of text and a detailed conclusion which introduces new points. I guess I will just have to get used to it!

But the highlights of this programme were the evenings. The Bureau des Eleves (student union) organised "A Bar a Day" event, which meant going to a different bar every evening. We duly did so.

One night we ended up being so noisy that some neighbours started pouring water and throwing eggs at us from their balconies!

As if our schedule wasn't full enough, we also took part in a Sports Day, where we tried out Zumba (a dance fitness programme), played football and dodgeball, attended a boat party and went on a sightseeing cruise along the River Seine.

To end a busy week on a high, we had a picnic at Bois de Vincennes, the city's largest public park. In a truly French manner, we sat out in the open air and munched away at our saucisson (dry sausage), cheese and wine!

Still, I remain a newcomer to Paris so I have a fear of the unfamiliar. However, as I look out on to the classy, artistic streets of the city from my apartment window, I remember the real purpose of my visit: To see the world from a new perspective.

 

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