Well, in the absence of internet access, I will begin this post now (9/7/12) and post it whenever I can. So, I left off on Tuesday after my farewells. Wednesday at around one, my parents and I set off for the JFK Hilton. For future reference, there is more than one Hilton at JFK. Know which one you’re going to. Anyway, we arrived only 15 minutes later than the recommended drop-off time. My parents were pretty much told to leave, and I signed in, got a room key, met my roommate for the night, and then got to meet the rest of the AFS students from America going to France, Spain, Italy, Bosnia, Belgium, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Turkey, and Portugal. Over the course of that evening and Thursday morning, we played ice-breakers, discussed the AFS mission, watched two short AFS films, and got lots—and I mean LOTS—of advice.
There were probably a few hundred students at the Hilton, with maybe 50 heading to France—one of the largest groups. However, only six of the students going to France (including myself) are spending the semester there. For whatever reason, the six of us took a different flight—direct to Charles de Gaulle as opposed to the layover in Zurich that the year students had. Not that I can complain about that! So the six of us (and the one girl going to Bosnia) left the Hilton at 1:30pm on Thursday. Our 5:29pm flight left pretty much on time—with all of us very excited.
Well, I guess we weren’t really expecting the fact that the flight was going to about seven hours long—and that we would jump ahead six hours. We left at 5:29pm—and of course nobody was at all sleepy until 4.5 hours later. But by the time I finally got to sleep (around 10pm my time; 4am in France) there was not much of the flight left. And that pretty much explains why in the past 31 hours, I have slept exactly 1. And because I really don’t want to fall asleep now and totally jetlag myself, I’m going to try to hold out the 5 or 6 more hours until a normal bedtime. What’s more, we’re not allowed out of the hotel until tomorrow when we take a bus tour of the city. So that is how I come to be sitting in a hostel in Paris writing this post.
But anyway, I made it to Paris and I’m now staying in a youth hostel with some 300 international students. Pretty cool!! All of the AFS people here are, naturally, French. So it’s been a weird mix of French and English. Most people, even those not from the US, know English considerably better than French. But a few people don’t speak English at all, so French is the way to go. The adults usually try to speak to us in English—I had a pretty long conversation with Suzy, who picked us up at the airport, in which I spoke in French and she in English. Good practice for us both.
I have been to France before, but I was nine years old at the time and don’t remember it all that well. Since being here, I’ve noticed differences that I wouldn’t have expected. For example, the airport bathrooms...and the VERY superior “cafeteria food”.
Some photos of Paris:
More this weekend!