Monday, October 24, 2011

Reporting from the right bank

Since I've moved to the other side of the river, I've had to change some old habits. You get used to your haunts, the same faces on the street, the baker that knows you by name and uses tu with you like you've known each other for years. Now it's new metro stops and bus lines to route out, a new grocery store (and I had just perfected navigating the aisles of my old one!), new shops and streets to learn. I'm enjoying learning a different part of Paris, even though I'd walked around this area many times before moving here. But it's not the same as actually living there. You have to know your neighborhood, especially in Paris (well, France), where most businesses are closed on Sunday. Luckily, there are little superettes--over-priced convenience stores that are open till around midnight--around the city, but you have to know where to find them. They're usually tucked away in an unsuspecting corner as to attract the least amount of people possible. Anyway, still getting to know my surroundings, and I see something new every day that I hadn't noticed before. Though I really hate schlepping all my crap around the city every year when I move, it's nice to get to live in different parts of Paris. I love getting closer to the "real" Paris with each street roamed, each metro stop used, each bakery visited. (The French may not be the best cookie makers, but they most definitely excel in making other baked goods.)

I've relocated to the République/Bastille area, a very posh and busy part of the city. It's actually the merging of three arrondissements (districts)--the 3rd, 10th and 11th. Lots of bars filled on the weekends, cute hipster-filled cafés, bike shops, art galleries, etc. It's cool and I've just barely started to discover the places around me.

Since there's no direct metro or bus to my work, I've taken to biking to work. I could take the metro, but even lazy Rachel admits that a 25-minute metro ride is just stupid compared to the 10-minute bike ride. Ask me about this in late November and I might have a different answer.  I take the city bike that I have a subscription to and have to go around this big statue:

It can get kind of scary. Plus, it's cobblestone that's not completely flat, and plus, incoming cars have the right of way. It's like a mini Etoile--maybe I'll try that one next. (With a helmet and insurance card.) But I like to think that biking around Bastille on a daily basis makes me a little more Parisian..or at least I pretend! (Two years in and I finally tie back to the title of my blog)  Usually, it's not this crowded, but this picture was clearly taken during a strike. And it is currently strike season, so I'd be lying if I said I hadn't already seen it look similar to this in the mere three weeks I've been living here. Pretty soon it will get cold and like magic! The strikes will go down to practically nothing. 

Another week of school went by and I've started to get into a routine, finally. I hate the first few days of class because you're still figuring out logistics and trying to make a good impression, ha. I've got the metro route down (it is god-awful in the morning. Squeezed up against the walls, fun.), I know where my classes are, I know my classmates' faces, and (most importantly) I've gotten a temporary library card while I wait for my enrollment to be made official. France is slow with anything that involves filling out papers, and university is no exception. Being as I was accepted at the very end of September, my process has been pushed back. They're still validating my American degrees or something, I'm not totally sure. Even though I haven't had to pay yet, I'd rather just write the check and get this behind me. I had to reschedule my appointment at the prefecture because my current uni is taking so long, and I need my official "you're in school" certificate to get the cheap metro pass....sigh, France. You're exhausting sometimes.

The more I study translation, the more I think why didn't I just do this before? I've been a language enthusiast for a good five or six years. It made sense for me to finish up my journalism degree in the US and obviously it would have been a waste for me to have not finished my French degree after spending a year and a half in France. But all those months two years ago that I mulled over which degree to choose, what path to follow, how I could incorporate my language love and journalism..I don't know why I cast away translation so quickly. Probably because I know, here at the beginning, that it is not a job you do for the loads of money. It's more of a "Ok, I have these skills that would be wasted if they just chilled in my brain. Can I find something that can put them to use and I can make and ok living out of?"-career. I'm ok with that. I really enjoy translating between languages, learning new translation software, meeting other to-be translators with a huge variety of languages, tying in a lot of the communication studies I did last year, and *best of all* talking strict grammar. I love grammar, and can pull out subordinated clause, direct object pronoun, epithet adjective  and many others like no one's business. 

Did I mention that I'm taking German and Spanish classes for fun? Oh yeah. Might have gotten in a little over my head. Translating into French won't be allowed in my professional career, but is good practice for now. I have a high enough level that I do an ok job. However, translating from French to Spanish? Oooh là, a bit difficult. It's a challenge that I am enjoying, but so far is taking up a big chunk of my time. Eeek.

So, all and all, I'm really enjoying my second go at being a student in France. The commute is longer, and the school is a little rough, but it feels like I'm where I should be. And not watching kids anymore? Oh, the joy. OH THE JOY. 

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