Today marked my four year anniversary in France. Or, as Sam calls it, my Franciversary. Which makes sense, since I used to celebrate monthaversaries with an ex. And while he made fun of me for the word at the time, I later found out that he had co-opted it for use with his new girlfriend. Charming.
Anyhoo. Four years ago today I arrived in France via the now-defunct Air India flight to Paris, smelling of curry and homeless, friendless, clueless, and scared shitless. Luckily none of those adjectives apply anymore. I now have all new adjectives, like broke, well-traveled, and definitely-too-old-to-be-going-back-to-school.
That’s right, I’m going back! I’ve enrolled in a Master’s at the Sorbonne, and classes start on the 27th. For years I’ve been avoiding this, looking down on those who use a student visa as a way to stay in France. I thought I was all hard-core, being an illegal alien and hiding from the law. But really, it was just exhausting and stressful. What’s so bad about the easy way out? The fact is, I like easy. Easy is good. Easy makes for fewer popped Klonopin and a happy passport. I did hard-core for four years and earned some easy.
Not that enrolling in this Master’s degree was easy! Whoo boy. If I can ever bring myself to face the months of paperwork and hoop jumping that I went through this past Spring, I’ll write about it. The French have perfected the art of la paperasse, which I choose to translate as “paperwork that is so useless it could just as easily be used to wipe my ass.” I’m convinced that the reason school and office supplies are so expensive is because there’s secretly a monopoly with the state. For every form you need to file, you need the correct folder for it. They get you in the paperwork fees and the filing fees.
So, I’m getting my Master’s degree at Paris III, La Sorbonne Nouvelle. Lest the word “nouvelle” fool you, the school was founded in 1253. That’s right. Like, 800 years ago. Holy crap, right? The University of Paris was all divided up in 1971, and the resulting schools were given names and numbers.
My degree is housed by the UFR (Unité de Formation et Recherce) Monde Anglophone, in the Etudes Britanniques, Nord-Américaines, et Post-Coloniales department, doing the Littératures anglophones track. Confused? Just look here. I’m doing option 1.
I’m super nervous. I haven’t been a student, apart from some classes at The New School I took for fun, since Spring 2002. The other people in my program are likely to be straight out of undergrad, so a good eight years younger than me. And they will, for the vast majority, actually have degrees in Littératures anglophones. I do not. My degree is in Linguistic Anthropology. And did I mention it’s from 2002?
I’m scared I won’t remember how to do homework, or research, or write papers . . . GAH! PAPERS! They were the bane of my existence at Brown. It doesn’t really make sense, since I’m actually a decent writer. I mean, I worked as an editor for five years. That should count for something. But I don’t know the crazy way that they write papers here, and have a feeling it will take me a while to adapt. Socratic method, my butt. It’s just a way to keep everything as complicated as possible.
We’ll see how it goes. For now, I’m just so ready for class to start. I hate having nothing to do, and I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing the past few months. I’ve read five of the books for my classes already, as well as five books for research into my first year’s thesis. Yes, I have to write a thesis each year. Fun times. And further proof of my hypothesis that the government is behind the ridiculous prices at Gibert Jeune. Really, a hanging file is just a piece of cardboard and some plastic. There is no reason for it to cost 1€50.
To end on a pretty note, here are some photos of my tour of the Palais du Luxembourg today. This weekend was the Journées du Patrimoine, when all the buildings that are normally closed to the public are open and free. People line up to see the Palais Elysée, the embassies, private museums, Val de Grace, etc. I went to the Senate, housed in the gorgeous palace at the head of the Luxembourg Gardens.
It’s not any prettier than many of the other palaces I’ve seen around Europe. But what’s truly shocking is that it’s right in the middle of Paris. It couldn’t be any closer to the heart of the city, and it’s totally closed to the public 363 days a year. Check out this view from inside the Petit Luxembourg:
And the Senators have this amazing private library:
With a not-at-all-shabby view from each window.
And this room, where the magic happens:
It looks like an opera house:
Even more amazing, though, was the ballroom. It’s so huge and gold and luxurious that pictures won’t really do it justice.
I wanted to see loads more places, but yesterday was Yom Kippur so I only had one day, and I *might* have slept till 11 this morning. What?! Fasting is tiring.
Send good back to school vibes my way, please!