Finally - we're in our permanent housing! The FEU (Fondation de Etats Unis) is where the majority of the API group is staying, it's the place I updated about before I even left for France, with pictures from the website. The FEU is located along the Southern periphery line of Paris on the Cite Universitaire campus, which isn't an actual school but rather a collection of housing establishments built for students studying/living abroad - in all I think there are 30-something houses all representing different countries. From my window I look directly into the Biermans-Lapotre building, and no I have no idea what that is. We are also surrounded by the Franco-Brittanique & Mexico houses. Pretty cool! The Cite is awesome, I can't wait to explore it more, and hopefully on a less rainy day.
On that note, it's finally raining! It's been high 90's here every day, plus humidity so it's muggy and hot as heck. Makes everyone pretty tired and irritable, so it's a really nice change in the weather today for us! Rain, rain, rain, and 66F out. In other words, perfect.
So two days ago when we first arrived at the FEU, everybody was more or less bummed out by our circumstances. It took us 4 hours to get to our building from the hotel, mostly because we had to drive all across Paris to drop off students who were doing home stays or staying in studettes by themselves, but also because traffic is horrendous here! After finally arriving at the FEU, cranky and hungry and all around in not so great moods, we find out that they don't have our rooms set up for us yet. Our director Melissa was pissed, and started talking really quickly and loudly to the man behind the counter. In a matter of minutes we had our rooms and all was well, or so we thought! Then we discovered the bathrooms (showers and toilets separate from our rooms, although we do all have our own sinks in our rooms). The toilets are in one area (WC) and are completely enclosed, which freaks me out! I guess it's a French thing to have shared facilities with walls that extend from the ceiling to the ground, with no air room. Creepy. Then the showers (douches, I know, ha-ha) are in another room and they are completely enclosed too - yikes! Not to mention they are operated by a push button mechanism that allows you to control neither the pressure or the temperature, and only runs for about a minute before you have to press it again. We all got over the initial shock of the FEU and I've actually come to like it a lot, the bathroom facilities are fine, at least they work, right? The only gripe I have is that the sink in my room leaks from the wall, it's basically coming out of the wall, and every time I use it the tile by my closet floods. Nice.
So we settled in here, the Sorbonne students had their placement testing, and the 4 of us going to the Catho went to get lunch and explore around our Arrondissement a bit (we're in the 14th). We had lunch at a cute place right near the Chinese part of town (not quite "Chinatown," but similar) and went to buy some much needed FANS at the Mono Prix. Those fans saved our lives the last couple days, it's miserable indoors during the day. That night all of us staying at the FEU went to dinner at this Italian place with a great view of the Eiffel Tower. We went late, so we got to see it light up and sparkle at 23h00. It was gorgeous, and totally made up for the crappy food. From there we decided to go check out this "free to American students" club that one of the girls had found right down the street. It was... interesting, to say the least. They waved the 15E fee if we showed American identification, and it was this huge underground dance club. Europeans dance hilariously, to sum it up. And they rip you off on drinks. It was fun though, we decided we'll go back again but we will definitely have to dress more appropriately for that atmosphere (most of us were in shorts, tank tops and sandals).
Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I was so burned out on the heat that about mid-day I started being a whiny baby and just wanting to sit in front of my fan - too bad we had a full day of things to do with API. In the morning we went for coffee & breakfast on the Champs-Elysees and I got the most delicious almond croissant I've ever had in my entire life (yes mom, better than Sparrow!) and we found a Starbucks, which was fantastic because there is absolutely nowhere to get coffee a. to go, or b. cold/iced. We got to walk up the Arc de Triomphe after that and took lots of pictures and enjoyed the wind up top. Then we had lunch and did some shopping by the API building before our "cultural orientation" meeting, which was completely pointless if only to make us more sweaty and irritable.
Then... it was nap time. Took the Metro from the FEU to the Louvre (that is a long Metro ride, too) for a guided tour around 18h00 (6pm), wish I was in a better mood for that tour because I think it would have been really enjoyable and informative, but my feet were killing me and the heat had definitely gotten to my head by then. I'm planning on returning sometime while I'm here to actually check it out and enjoy the masterpieces, sans tour guide and exhaustion.
That night the group of us at the FEU plus one of the home stay students (Frank) decided to cook some dinner here at our tiny junk kitchen in the building. We had pasta, salad & bread - your basic college meal. After that I completely passed out, and now it's just after 12h00 and raining still - happy, happy! I think the plan is to see some museums today, since our row boating trip apparently wasn't quite in the cards for today (Row boating in the rain? No thank you). Sorry for the long & involved update, guess that's what I get for skipping a day.