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O Fim duma Viagem

Oh, the people you'll meet

FRANCE | Tuesday, 25 August 2015 | Views [276]

When I got to the hotel, the concierge told me that, although my room wasn't ready, other people's room in the programme had clean rooms. Good for them? And I could either leave my suitcase there, or have the concierge call their room while I waited them.

I wanted to meet the other programme participants! I told him that, and a couple minutes later Nikhil and Ruby showed up to introduce themselves and show me to Cambria's room. Ruby would be my roommate as soon as we had a room to go in.

While the concierge was checking to make my room wasn't ready yet, he discovered Nikhil's was, so he left shortly after and it was just me and my roommate in someone else's room. We talked about ourselves and our summers, and then Cambria woke up and joined us. Then Laura and Megan showed up, and Nikhil came back with his roommate Joe, and the introductions started again and again. We were hungry for (non-aeroplane) food, so off we set.

Several people made comments that it was like freshman year all over again. For me, I found that it was a lot like the first day or two of SUMSRI, except that I was the only non-Brown student, and everyone was looking at me for help when it was time to split the bill.

Honestly, being a math major was a lot more isolating than being a non-Brown student. Between lunch, a staying-awake snack with Ruby and Paula around 3:30, and dinner, I had significant conversations with half the people in the programme on Sunday. Only one person (Cambria) was a science major (biology) and she wasn't planning on taking bio classes this semester. So I had not met anyone else taking classes at Paris 6. Which meant when everyone else was going "Classes at Paris 4 don't start for another month. What are we supposed to do after the orientation classes end?" I was trying not to worry that classes start on one week and I'm still not anything approaching registered. (Also, orientation and the classes associated with it doesn't stop for two weeks after Paris 6 classes start...)

Being the only Brown student is, for the most part, barely noticeable. The link of being Americans in Paris is stronger than the specific of what university we're all from. And Brown is big enough that many people have never met, and everyone has different majors (I'm sorry, concentrations) so, for the most part, I can blend right in.

It is a little strange, because, although there's no one person who knows everyone, everyone else knows someone. And it's not like anyone came here with their roommate, significant other, or best friend of 7 years. But everyone else has someone they can act out the following conversation with:

"Didn't we have a class together?"

"Were you in Costello's Australian lit class?"

"Why yes, I was."

"Then yes, we did."

I kind of wish I did too.

And, although people do have all different concentrations, etc. etc., there are some things you'd need to have gone to Brown to understand immediately. Like the proper way to ask about someone's major. What the different names of the forms mean.  Who all of the French professors are.

At 5:00 there was a welcome meeting. We got our pass for using the Paris metro, directions for finding the office the next day, and a small booklet containing details on orientation schedule and proseminar. And, with the promise that everything would be further explained later, we were once more set free.

I must admit, I'm not used to having this much freedom the first couple of days. IES certainly didn't give us this much, and Carthage booked every minute for the first few days of freshman year. Similar thing for IMSA. SUMSRI was like "you guys can bond without us giving you activities or making sure you're all in the same place at the same time," a philosophy Brown in Paris apparently subscribes to as well.

Well it's true, it does mean that people meet in staggered groups. And, since introductory conversations are relatively similar, you'll be asking and answering the same set of questions. At SUMSRI we got around this by answering these questions once in a small group, and then interrogating people individually anytime the small group found itself with one person who hadn't yet answered. Here, I've just been answering the questions as they come up. So I've said I'm from Chicago about 4 times, that I'll be studying at UPMC 3 times, that I'm studying math 3 times (not all the same conversation) and that I spent the summer doing research in Ohio twice. To save time, I've stopped admitting that I'm not a Brown student unless someone explicitly asks. And, since everyone is inclined to assume I'm a Brown student, they usually don't ask.

After a bit of searching, (restaurants in Paris are few and far between. More legitimately, we were in Paris! We'd had a late lunch, and most of us were more content with wandering around than necessarily finding food right away) we found a creperie that was open. (It was also a Sunday at the end of August, so most things were closed.) The restaurantier tried to be helpful by offering us an English menu but, when he learned that we all spoke French, and were studying abroad, he took away the cheating menu and talked to us exclusively in French. He was pretty friendly, chatting with all of us when he had the time, and the food was tasty. I had a 4 Cheese Crepe. It was good, though pretty overwhelmed by the sharpest cheese.

By the time we returned to our hotel, it was nearly 8:30. We all agreed that it was late enough we didn't need to worry about staying awake any later, so we returned to our rooms to end a very long day.

Tags: exploring, food, introductions

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