Thursday, March 15, 2012

Still living a moveable feast

My last few weeks have been...draining, eventful, exhilarating, and non-stop.

While, unfortunately, I didn't get much time to write (and I'm sorry for that), I have certainly been doing a lot of living. So, let's recap as best as possible...

My last week of classes was exhausting. So much work and only one night to study for finals! Presentations, and papers, and reading, oh my! Every night was a late night of stressing and wondering why there aren't more hours in the day or more juice in my tank to work even harder.

But, eventually, finals were over and, as I think back on it, I can definitely smile now for two reasons. First, I am done with classes! Ha-ha at all of my Boston University (and other various universities) friends who still have another half of the semester to toil over textbooks. And secondly, I made it through a semester of college-level classes in a foreign language! If learning about history and politics in French isn't a feat, then I might as well throw the towel in for trying to be impressive.

The very same night as finals ended, I jetted off for spring break in Prague, Czech Republic! I have received a lot of questions about why I would have chosen Prague to spend my spring break - going from somewhere cold to somewhere even colder. Well, I wanted to go somewhere a little different than the usual tropical destinations. I wanted a historical experience and a party all wrapped up into one unusual European location. The Czech Republic gave me exactly what I needed.

Each day of break was a marathon to soak up as many of the amazing sights that Prague has to offer, not to mention to scarf down as much of the hearty food (that we definitely have been missing in Paris) that we possibly could. Going to Prague is not a place you go on a diet. Whether it is the pounds of meat, potatoes, and bread dumplings, deep fried cheese, or the foot long wieners as the replacement for Taco Bell as the late night snack, or the world's best beer (arguably), Kortney, Catherine, and I totally ate our way through Prague.

Yum! Pilsner Urquell - one of the national beers of the Czech Republic and my personal favorite.

The style of the city is absolutely stunning, as well. It goes from gothic to baroque to modern in the blink of an eye. The coolest thing is to see the effect of post-communism on the city - the Museum of Communism is right above a huge McDonald's, for example! One of my favorite things to see was the famous Charles River over the Vltava River at sunset - breath-taking. There is a small sculpture of John of Nepomuk and superstition has it that if you rub his belly, you will one day return to Prague. Let's just say I rubbed his belly for a good two minutes straight.

John of Nepomuk - he looks polished compared to the rest of the structure because he gets rubbed so much by superstitious people (like me!).

Tons of people rush to the Charles Bridge at sunset to see the gorgeous sites that it has to offer.

The gorgeous view at sunset from the Charles Bridge.

The night life in Prague was really awesome...especially, if you want to doing something illegal...but, not what you're thinking! Prague is one of the hubs for pub crawls (illegal in many other places in the world), which is when, for a flat rate, a host bar offers an open bar for an hour to two hours and then takes the group to different local bars and clubs with no cover! My friends and I did a couple and we LOVED them. Not only was it a good, debaucherous time, but it was a great way to learn about night life spots that we would have never found our first few nights in Prague. We were able to meet so many people from around the world and make friends in a more relaxed and uninhibited setting. On one of the pub crawls we did, we finished at a huge five story club, with different types of music on each floor. It is the biggest one in Central Europe, but possibly even Europe as a whole!

After a wonderfully relaxing eight days in Prague, I returned to Paris. But, there was nothing bittersweet about spring break ending because I had the special privilege of getting to see some of my best friends - Liz, Leah, Julie, Lexi flew all the way over from the United States to visit me for their spring break, while Kat and Saba hauled their cute booties from London, where they're studying, to Paris to make the reunion complete. Words cannot describe the feeling of relief you get when you see the people you have been missing for weeks and weeks and months. They were a great cure for my nagging homesickness and stress. They have been in Belgium and Amsterdam for the past couple of days, but they are coming back to Paris tonight for the weekend. I'm so lucky to have friends who would fly halfway across the world to be with me.

The final huge development in my Parisian life has been my internship. This is my first week working at a well-known Parisian public relations firm, which focuses on tourism. One of my favorite things about the company is that it is run by a strong woman. I love meeting successful women because they inspire me to want to go further and achieve more. Getting adjusted to a French company has been a little bit of a trial-and-error endeavor, but I think I am starting to get the hang of it. It is very interesting to pick up on the small differences - when you walk in the office in the morning and when you leave for the day, you must say goodbye and hello to everyone in the office; being to early is not good, being a few minutes late is expected. I am really enjoying noticing the nuances and getting the chance to work on my French, especially since I am doing a lot of translating of articles from French to English. I am really hoping that this improves my French exponentially, so fingers crossed!

So, as you can see, these past two or three weeks have been...out of this world. I've had my ups and my downs, but Paris is shining a whole new light on me lately. It is as if I see it with different eyes. Maybe it is the eyes of a working stagiare ("intern" in French), rather than a student. Maybe its the eyes of someone realizing that their journey here is halfway over (!!!!). Maybe its the eyes of someone who has been matured by their experience already.

Whatever it is, Paris is continuing to glitter for me like the Eiffel Tower does every night, without fail. I can honestly still say, Paris, je t'aime.