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O Fim duma Viagem

First visit to the university

FRANCE | Sunday, 30 August 2015 | Views [161]

A crash course in the names that the school I'll be spending next semester at:

The full name is Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie. When it's abbreviated, this gives rise to the rather logical UPMC.

Depending on the context, the Sorbonne can either refer exclusively to Paris 4, or it can refer to the 11 universities and related institutions in Paris, or, if UPMC is feeling particularly neglected, it can refer to Paris 4 and Paris 6, since they were direct descendants of the Sorbonne after 1968.

Paris 6 is another acceptable name, especially if you want to distinguish between the various French universities. And, much like many other universities, you can also give the place name and call in Juisseau.

Whatever you choose to call it, it is my home away from home (the Midwest) away from home (the apartment I will some day soon be getting) for next semester. And, on Friday, it was finally time to see it officially.

The university is officially closed until 1 September, but there was someone there who was willing to exchange forms. We have them copies of our passports, something from the French bank, a photo, and proof that we were, at least for the purposes of the programme, Brown students. In exchange, we got three copies of a sheet of paper attesting that we were students at UPMC, a course selection sheet, informational pamphlets about the university and the city, and a promise that someday, (probably after we started classes) we would get student IDs.

After that, we looked at the outside of the buildings (highly informative, I'm sure) and headed back to the office to make another copy of the forms that said we were students (because Stephanie and Erin needed a copy and we definitely needed all three?) And then to the bank to sign forms. On the way out, Jaclyn and I bought magazines for our class with Christine and headed back. I grabbed lunch and ate it in the office while I finished my homework and prepared for my individual meeting with Christine.

During the individual meeting, Christine asked me questions about the apartments I'd seen, my heroes, my family, and my plans for next semester. When she found out what out those plans, she asked me more about Japan and Japanese. It took a lot more concentration to keep from slipping into Japanese, but I managed to not throw topic markers in there, so I'm counting it a success. I think Christine was pleasantly surprised to hear me talk, because during class I tend to be quiet and unable to explain vocabulary I know. It was a good, causal interview, though I'm not entirely sure what the point of having them was.

After that, I needed to go to my last apartment. This one was about 20 minutes from the office, so it made for a pleasant walk. The apartment was nice and large enough, though the visit wasn't that great.

My first question was "can you take out the bed?" It was a futon, and I thought the ease of going between bed and sofa was important. And in the hotel and one of the apartments, converting a sofa into a bed had been a matter of pushing down, and a fully made bed popped out. I expected this bed to be similar, but wanted to check.

The landlord struggled to get the bed open, then found sheets and seemed to really want me to lie down on it. And then she could not put it back. She eventually gave up with the comment that the room was plenty big without needing the bed to be a sofa. Which is probably true, (the room was pretty big, all things considered) but still not exactly the ideal response. (Probably worse for the student who visited the apartment immediately after me who might not have known the bed could turn into a sofa.) It was not one of my top choices, but I could see myself living here.

Then it was time to finish my homework, not fall asleep reading Balzac, and go to class. There was just talking about the magazines we'd bought. Mine was a knitting magazine, so outside of defining what knitting was, there wasn't much to say. "It's a pattern, it's a picture. Aren't they pretty?"  Megan had bought a magazine geared at people in their early twenties who needed help making decisions. As evidenced by the inclusion of cards with pieces of advice. Megan handed them out to us to bear in mind. My advice (be a devil's advocate) was not anything I needed to be told.

With the first (and allegedly hardest) week of orientation out of the way, I went back to the room. Ruby and Clara both went out to eat dinner with friends, (it's amazing how many people here have a friend in Paris right now) so I had the place to myself. I ate a sandwich, then went out in search of dessert. I found it in Kenza, an Algerian bakery that seemed to specialise in pastries that were imitations of different fruits. They were tasty and adorable, even if they weren't macarons. (I've been in Paris for almost a week and still not had a macaron. This is something that needs to get corrected stat.)

Tags: apartments, dessert, university, upmc

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