Life is so good.
Mentally prepare yourself, this is going to be a little long. And when I say a little, I mean it’s pretty dang long. My apologies, deal with it.
Bonjour! I write this from the Adagio Hotel Tour Eiffel in Paris, France. I left early Friday morning to arrive at the Sea-Tac airport to take my flight to the Charles de Gaulle Paris airport. Think about that; Sea-Tac vs Charles de Gaulle. French is such a gorgeous language. It was ten hours and twenty minutes of listening to music, reading, and sleep. I don’t sleep well on airplanes though and only got about an hour, if that. We flew over France and as I creeped over the guys shoulder sitting at the window next to me (Every time I looked, I swear he’d wake up and give me a look as though he felt super awkward. Good times.) I hadn’t realized how France looked, I guess. It was all countryside, countryside, dark, lush forest, countryside, HUGE CLUSTER OF BUILDINGS REALLY CLOSE TOGETHER, countryside, more forest, countryside, MORE BUILDINGS SUPER CLOSE, countryside, more forest. It is greener than I expected for some reason. The sunrise was spectacular, the orange, golden yellow, and pink hues fading into the purple and blue clouds I got to watch as the cities below us woke up, as the mist slowly was burned away.
As we (a large portion of the group had a layover in Seattle and I just joined them) got off the plane at around 8:30am (that is Paris time, where in Seattle it would’ve been about midnight), we had to figure out how to get to our hotel. We ended up taking a shuttle to take a bus to take the train to get to a subway to walk the half mile from the station to our hotel. By the time we got to the hotel, it was about 12:30 in the afternoon. So much walking, so much sweating, and so much soaking in the culture.
We passed through mostly rural areas. On the shuttle we crammed in as close as we could in the already overcrowded cars. On the bus we fought to keep on our feet through all the roundabouts and crazy turns as the bus driver shot the breeze with other guys up at the front of the bus. On the subway and train I watched as everything flew by: graffitied (I don’t think that is a word…) structures and walls, narrow, cobblestone streets, cinderblock houses with little red and brown shingles and wooden shutters, bikers and runners, open windows, broken down old factories. As we walked to our hotel, I couldn’t even talk for taking in the sites around me. The narrow streets lined with small, parked cars, the apartment complexes that stretch up so high, the people themselves staring at this group of 15 or so girls panting with all of their luggage, painfully obvious that they’re all Americans. I was able to pack enough to where I just put my carry on suitcase inside my larger bag, and just carried my backpack. Go me. It had warmed up significantly throughout the day so I was extremely happy I packed as light as I did. There is one girl who had two large suitcases and she was struggling pretty hard with that. I think the heaviest thing I brought was the Costco size jar of peanut butter…
We weren’t able to check in our rooms until 3pm so we were shown around by one of our professors so we would know where to get groceries, cash from an ATM, and other useful places. Oh yeah, did I mention that when you look out the window of two of my professors hotel room (they’re married and have their three sons with us as well) the Eiffel Tower is literally right there? Just hanging out. A group of us went with the professor to the Eiffel Tower, just so we knew how to get there. NO BIG DEAL. It’s maybe 10 city blocks away. MAYBE. I feel like I’ve been freaking out a lot more than the other people in my group about how we’re in PARIS.
We finally got to check in our rooms, in groups of about 3-4. Not everyone had arrived yet but we did it anyway. I’m with two lovely other girls, both from the Utah area. The entire group is probably 35 students? Mostly from BYU and mostly girls. 3 boys total actually- lucky them. We’re on the 16th floor with an amazing view, despite being on the opposite side from seeing the Eiffel Tower out of our window. After checking in, taking a quick power nap (mind you, I’d been up for a very, very long time) and showering!! That was the best. But after all that, one of my roommates and I went grocery shopping. We came back, settled in, and soon went to sleep from a very long day. Slept like a baby.
Today we got into our church groups (we’ve been split up to go to different wards as to not overwhelm one church building) and went to church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in case you weren’t aware). My group consisted of 10 people, myself included. We walked to the station to take the metro to another station to take a different metro to Antony where we walked about a mile to find our building. It was not a regular church building either. It was just another building on the city block, stuffed between a couple businesses. It was a family ward but still very small. They were very kind to us, and had many members who spoke English. For the first hour, starting at 9:30am, we had Relief Society (we about doubled the amount of people attending) where a woman was kind enough to translate a beautiful lesson for us about choices and how we can remind ourselves to choose the right. The second hour we were fortunate enough to go to an English taught Sunday school from a convert from the States. And for the last hour we had Sacrament meeting where we stumbled through the hymns, listened to two missionaries give talks in French (one of them had only been out for 5 days and it was his first ever talk in the French language), and an older couple who had been visiting their daughter-in-law and grandson, who actually had their talks translated from English to French. Their grandson was just baptized yesterday and they spoke of how they hope he will turn out to be as wonderful as his father, their son, had been. It got quite emotional as the grandmother spoke as her daughter-in-law translated for the rest of the congregation the struggle she had in losing her oldest son. They were a beautiful family.
Tomorrow we get a walking tour of Paris and then begin our museum hopping. We haven’t gone to any yet but we will be receiving a list tonight on the assigned places to go. This afternoon a group of us (not everyone is doing everything together quite yet) went to Notre Dame using the metro. We actually ended up at some random church at first, which was actually really cool. We eventually found our destination and walked around for a couple hours. We also went to the Saint Michel fountain which is really close to Notre Dame. We also saw the Seine river, Sainte Chapelle, and Palais de Justice. It was all gorgeous and pictures will never, ever do any of these places justice. There were quite a number of people out and about, including a line for a tour that wrapped around the side of Notre Dame. Actually when we were walking as a group to the metro to get to Notre Dame, a guy starting cussing at us in English, saying how “You are in France, speak French once in while…” That’s where I’ll end the quote. It was rather humorous though, considering he said it in English and none of us speak French anyway…oops.
I have yet to upload any pictures on my computer yet but I plan to soon. I am tired but the jetlag isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Yesterday I was slightly delirious so I think the worst of it is over. I am still a water snob and am trying to get over it. The people are kind, more so if you try to speak French. I know basic things, enough to tell someone I can’t speak or understand French, which I feel has been very helpful in getting the point across. Everyone in the group is still getting to know each other, but are all friendly enough. I am so .grateful to be here, especially with an LDS group. We don’t even start classes until we’re in the London center. So, in what, three weeks? I should probably read those books for the classes I’m taking then…
I will try to get pictures up with the next post, once I figure out how to do it. If there are any questions that need answering, email me (if you don’t have my email…that sucks) with the subject of “Question” and I will try to answer it in the next post, whenever that may be. They’ll probably be fairly sporadic until October 11th, when we will begin residency in London. So stoked.
Well. There ya go.