I’m back in Paris! It’s been a great first week, full of old and new friends, great pastry (duh), and a running start back into the school year.
The week was a mix of class (molecular gastronomy with the legendary Hervé This), introductory activities (convincing the first years to sing, dance, and generally be ridiculous in a public park), and finishing activities (thesis presentations and graduation for the cohort above me). It made me really excited for everything to come this semester, and also made me remember that this class-all-day-every-day thing gets really busy…
I did manage to get out for some fun this weekend, and because it’s me I decided to run to Versailles with my running group on Saturday (11 miles) and go for a 14-mile hike (well, nature walk) on Sunday. Both were very excellent ideas, although I’m definitely heading for an early bedtime tonight. As a bonus, the hike passed through a pick-your-own farm near the end, where I got to pick apples, green beans, and lettuce straight from the fields! It was a great start to a great year!
It may be because we don’t have classes or any real responsibilities, but so far I am LOVING Dublin. Between good beer, imposing stone buildings around every corner, and locals who call all sorts of things “grand,” it feels like a good place to be. Plus people are super friendly! Maybe I just got used to the, ahem, reserved nature of Parisians, but I went to a local running group and was pleasantly surprised to find everyone super chatty and welcoming.
Because I’m me and I can’t help myself, I decided to start training for the Limerick Marathon in May. I forgot how much work marathon training is–in addition to the actual running, there’s the planning and stretching and showers and feeding myself (I’m even more hungry all the time than usual). It’s a lot, but I’m also loving the motivation to get out there and explore the city on foot.
Classes start tomorrow! This semester is more business and regulatory focused, and we have a big development project. But because we’re technically in the school of culinary arts, I’m also taking an extra class–on cake baking! I’m stoked.
In the last two weeks, I’ve officially moved into the city of Paris, started classes for my master’s degree, and met all of the people I’ll be spending the next two years with. So just a couple of small things.
The dorm makes me miss my tiny little studio like crazy, where at least I had an oven that worked and control over when the lights went out, but it’s honestly better than I expected. My roommate Elif is great (we’re in the same program). The miniscule shared kitchen embodies everything I remember disliking about dorm kitchens the first time around, but it also means that we sit around together eating green beans in bathrobes at 10 pm—things could be worse! I forgot how much fun it can be to run into friends in the hallway, pop over to someone’s room for tea, or summon everyone in the middle of the night for urgent birthday planning shenanigans. And I did manage to make a birthday cake, so I guess it’s functional enough.
The students in my program are amazing and from all over—23 people from 20 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. We all have really different backgrounds, and it’s so much fun to meet a super diverse group of people all crazy passionate about the same field. I’m organizing weekly dinners with the not-very-secret hidden agenda of getting to taste everyone’s different food, and I’m very excited about it.
Photo credit: Roxanne
So far, classes have been mostly just introductions to the program, the professors, and the various life-defining choices we’re going to have to make in the next two years, followed by people telling us not to stress about said choices. We did also get to see all of the master’s thesis posters and presentations by this year’s graduating class, which was a really cool way to see where we’ll be at the end of this and get a sense for the options available to us. Some of the research was super interesting and also right up my alley (my favorite posters were about cookies and pizza, shocking). To show off the perks of being part of this program, we also got to tour a Danone research center and make blue ice cream with Hervé This, creator of molecular gastronomy. Tomorrow marks the real start of classes with homework and exams and all of those unfortunate things, so I’m enjoying the end of the easy part while I can.
Photo credit: Roxanne
Oh, and I joined a dragon boat team! We’re called the Dragon Ladies of Paris and I think I agreed to a race of unknown distance in two weeks. Should be fun!
Photo from the Dragon Ladies de Paris Facebook page.
The first days of this sort of move are always rough, between the delirium of jet lag and the overwhelming realization that you actually did just change everything about your life without really knowing what comes next. Luckily, France has an excellent antidote to that sort of spiraling in the form of baked goods: on my first afternoon here, I walked to a bakery and immediately felt better about the world with a pain au chocolat and a baguette in my hands. Any place that considers still-warm bread for the dinner table a necessity has some values I can get behind.
It’s been a quiet week of spending time with friends from the US (who live here now!), meeting some of the other students from my program, and dealing with the headaches of any move–train pass, bank account, phone setup. Every (mostly) successful conversation in French boosts my confidence for the next one, but I have to say that I’ve been a little disappointed not to need my meticulously organized folders of documents. I suppose I shouldn’t wish unnecessary bureaucracy on myself, but I do have 2 copies of my immunization records if anyone asks.
Tomorrow is move-in day! I’m looking forward to unpacking after more than a month of living out of suitcases and to being a more-legit resident of Paris!