Les Noces de Fiagro

French Word of the Day: opéra (oh-pair-ah)- opera

The strike was extremely exaggerated.  The metro workers must have said, “Meh, we’re tired of striking.  Someone else do it this time.” because there were no delays on the metro at all.  (The RER, the train that goes to the suburbs, is a different story, but they’re pretty much constantly on strike so they don’t count.)

To make up for the metro’s working perfectly, the opera people decided to pick up the slack.  Our group had reservations for the opera, but Shelley got a call this morning telling her that there would be “no decorations.”  They said the opera would be performed without a set or costumes.

They were lying about the costumes- the actors were wearing them and they were awesome.  The lack of set, however, made the opera seem a bit more like a rehearsal.  But easily the best sung and acted rehearsal I’ve ever attended.  People at the French Opera gots mad skillz.  For cereal.  I had total voice envy.

I understood the French subtitles, and so this opera was much more entertaining than the last one I went to (Madame Butterfly).  Well, that and The Marriage of Figaro is a comedy whereas Madame Butterfly is just depressing.

Now I’m off to completely forget French for a week whilest I travel to Barcelona and Lisbon.  I’ve never been to Portugal before, but everyone I mention it too lights up and tells me how amazing it is.  I’ll be with three others from our group who aren’t exactly seasoned travelers.   This should be interesting.

I won’t really forget French.  One of my teachers kindly gave me 40 workbook pages to complete after break.  At least I’ll have something to do on the plane?  I thought the French didn’t have homework.  There are just some stereotypes that should be true.

Thanks for the pictures and posters, everyone!  I’m still getting them, so I’ll wait until after break to put everything up.  (I also can’t put them up yet because I’m still trying to figure out where I can buy tape.  Seriously, not as easy as you’d think.)  I’ll show you how it looks when I get them all up.

Pain au chocolat count: 23 (not likely to go up in Spain or Portugal)

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Walking Everywhere Instead of Taking the Metro: So In Right Now

French Word of the Day: marcher (mar-shay)- to walk

You’ve got to give it to the French: they sure are persistent.  Thursday, they’re launching an even bigger strike.  I think this time public transportation is going to be basically shut down.  Seems like I may have to finally figure out how to walk to school.

I also have to go meet my lupus doctor for the first time on Thursday.  I don’t even remember where he is, but that’s going to be interesting.

There’s a possibility that I might be improving in my oral French skills.  When I order food, people don’t stare at me as though I’m speaking Russian to them.  I also was able to properly act out the part of an angry customer to the point where my teacher kept laughing at everything I said and proclaimed me to be the most difficult customer she’d ever met.

And she’s FRENCH.

After class, Théo met me at my school and brought me a pain au chocolat.  Going for the Best Boyfriend Ever award?  I think yes.

All-in-all today was a pretty decent day other than learning about the strike.  And now I have to go do homework about the past prefect tense (passé simple).  Incredibly useful, the past perfect.  It’s a tense no one ever uses unless they’re writing a book.

If I ever write a book in French, I’ll be grateful for this.  Probably.  Not.  (It can be avoided even if you’re writing a book.)

Pain au chocolat count: 23!!!!

Many, Many Manifestations

French Word of the Day: toujours (too-jor)- still (as in, we’re still striking?), always, forever

Yes, the French are still striking.  Everyone seems to think I’m in the middle of all the riots that appear on the news.

Let me set the record straight: The only riots I’ve seen are the ones where everyone in Paris tries to get in the same metro car at the same time.  If it’s not the entirety of Paris, it’s at least half of them.  Apparently we all take the exact same metro at 8:30 am.  And again at 5:15 pm.

The Senate passed the bill to up the retirement age on Wednesday.  Did this stop the strikes?  Of course not.  This is France, baby.

My friend did participate in the manifestations that are going on everywhere.  There’s been some concern from the youth that there will be less jobs for them if everyone is staying in their jobs for two years longer.  Is this a valid concern?  Do you need to have valid concerns to start yelling in streets?

He read his account of the manifestation to all of us (I assume it was written for a paper… Not sure.), and I think he got threatened by a police officer?  I have no idea.  I need to learn how to understand French-speakers who are my age.  He made a motion like he was being choked by another person.  I’m going purely on gestures here.

I got my service learning assignment.  I haven’t started yet, but I have it!  I’ll be working with La 20e Chaise (it’s in the 20th arrondissement and the Chaise is because it’s by Pere Lachaise- the cemetary where Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde and… everyone famous ever is buried).  They do all kinds of things with the community.  For example, they have sewing classes so that poorer women (and men, I assume) can take on sewing projects for extra money.

Some of the high schoolers have asked for English lessons.  They’ve asked for native English speakers to teach them.  As a native English speaker, I’m happy to help.  I’ll start after my school break finishes in two weeks.  I’m supposed to use movie clips and songs and whatnot to teach.  We’ll see how that goes!

Pain au chocolat count: 22

Here We Go Again

French Word of the Day: rhume (room)- headcold

Everyone in Paris has a cold right now.  We all caught it at the exact same time.  I went to a concert (classical, not rock) last night and the two musicians were almost drowned out by a symphony of phlegm.

That’s the lovely image I’ve decided to start my entry on.

I’ve finally managed to wash all my clothes without incident.  In the other foyer, the machine somehow turned all my whites an unattractive shade of brown.  Before you all say catty things like, “SEPARATE, Meghan.  Whites, colors, darks.”  Let me just say, I did separate colors.  Why did it turn everything brown, then?  I don’t know.  Maybe it was trying to make a statement about how all clothes should be equal regardless of their color?  Maybe sensed that my clothes were American and felt a prejudice against them?  I don’t know the inner workings of French laundry machines.

The French haven’t stopped their strike yet.  They had a huge manifestation (demonstration?) on Tuesday.  Many of the metro lines weren’t affected… except for mine, which was running half the trains of its normal schedule.  Thanks, strikers.

The manifestation on Tuesday occurred right by my school during class.  It sounded more like a huge party than a mass of angry people.  They were shouting things, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  My teacher said it was something like: “Sarko, tu es feu (fou?), les jeunesse sont dans la rue.”   It translated to “Sarkozy, you’re done.  The youth have taken to the street.”  The teacher said, “It’s hard to control the youth, so when they take to the street, you’re in trouble.”  I tried listening to what they were saying after she told us, and it still sounded like, “Blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blue!”  I guess chanting can be equated to figuring out the words to a song: hard enough in your own language, impossible in another.

Of course, the street that the strikers decided to have their huge march on was the street I need to cross to get home from school.  I inadvertently took part in the parade by jumping in front of it, but no one complained and I managed to get to my metro stop.  Luckily, the strike has lessened and my metro line is running full-schedule again.

I’m out.  Jenna and I are joining Arnaud at his place for some good ol’ American rap before heading to a club with even more American music.  You just can’t get away from it.

Pain au chocolat count: 20