Surprise! I graduated...kind of. It was more of a faux graduation for me. The real deal doesn't happen until January, but there won't be an official ceremony at that time because our graduating class for January is so small. So we were clumped in with the larger group who graduated in June of this year and enjoyed a weekend of celebrating with them. I still have classes this fall and 100+ blank pages staring at me waiting to be turned into a thesis, but the end is in sight! So I don't have my official Master's degree yet, that will come this winter. But in the meantime, there are plenty of things I have mastered here after being in Paris for a year and a half...
- Croissants: The difference between a good and bad pain au chocolat (a chocolate croissant that can be extremely delicious when made well or when done poorly tastes like a Hershey's bar inside of hamburger bun). The perfect pain au chocolat is less than two hours out of the oven, cooked to perfection and has two lines of evenly spaced chocolate running through it. YUM.
|To an untrained eye, this looks delicious. But look closely, we've been cheated out of our well deserved second strip of chocolate.|
- The weather: Even if the forecast calls for sun and no clouds, it can rain. When people are visiting me and I tell them to grab their umbrella even though there's not a cloud in the sky they look at me like I'm nuts, but it happens. A lot. For example, Wednesday's forecast is completely feasible. No clouds, lots of sun and rain.
- Customer Service: In France, the customer is never right. Period.
- Crowd Control: The most effective way to stand in line is to not. The French hate lines and I've learned that the way to get to the front of any line is to join the masses and push your way to the front. Big purses are a plus in this situation for shoving purposes.
- Paris at its best: August in Paris is the best time to be in the city. The Parisians cash in on 3-4 weeks of their seemingly unlimited vacation time for the year and head out of town. Many things are completely shut down for the month, the streets are empty, the metros aren't crowded and the parks have plenty of open green space to sprawl out with a good book.
And there are still things that I have yet to master...
- French Greetings: There's nothing more confusing than having American friends in Paris. Some Americans embrace the French tradition of bisous (a kiss on each cheek) as a greeting, I am not one of those Americans. I'm fine with just saying hi and moving on. It's hard to predict who is going to go in for the bisous versus who is going to go for the hug and in the end it's always super awkward. I've almost straight up kissed people on the lips before accidentally and I've definitely seen it happen to other people.
- Life Without Air Conditioning: I don't know if I'll ever be able to figure out how to exist here in 97+ degrees without complaining. Not having access to air conditioning still is an adjustment. It's not at my apartment or school and most restaurants and stores don't have it either. Last year when I was teaching I asked a student why people don't buy window AC units. He laughed and said "those are for small chinese food restaurants!" Ok, then...no AC it is.
- Questionable Foods: I love French food, but there are just some things when I go to the grocery store that I can't get on board with. Milk that doesn't need refrigeration, eggs at room temperature, the whole concept of non-flavored yogurt, certain meats that seem to have an unusually long shelf life, etc. I don't understand it still, but I've come to realize these things are oh so very European and my uneasiness is rooted in my American upbringing.
- Goodbyes: With graduation came another round of goodbyes. This batch of goodbyes was especially hard as I had to say au revoir to some really great friends. I've been sulking for a few days because the city feels empty and my schedule seems wide open all of a sudden.
But back to the point. Graduation. It was a weekend full of dinners, cocktail parties, dressing up and celebrating. And it was so much fun...hey, you only fake graduate once - right? Here are some pictures from the weekend of celebrating:
|We had dinner here - at the French Senate in the Luxembourg Garden|
|Inside of the Senate|
|The graduating class of 2011...I was MIA for the picture but everyone else looks nice!|
|Adam, Nora and Myself|
|Adam, Shauneen and Myself|
|This was from night two of celebrating at a wine bar|
(Evan, Ben, Adam, Nora, Me)