Bienvenue à Paris!

I’m finally in Paris!

The last time I was in Paris was when I was 12; I was here with my family on the Lenoir-Rhyne A Cappella Choir tour.  We sang one of my dad’s pieces in Notre Dame!

The last time I was in France was towards the end of high school.  Once again, I was in Europe touring with the LR Choir, then my sister flew over to do our own mini-trip to France and Spain.

The last time I was in Europe was my sophomore year of college on Luther Choir tour.  We went to Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

The last time I was abroad?  Well, that was summer after my junior year of college when I went to Senegal.

Needless to say…it’s been awhile since I’ve done this abroad in France thing.  And I have been quite anxious about it!  I can’t even begin to share all the fears that have been running through my head as I begin this month-long conducting program through the European American Musical Alliance.  What if everyone is at a way higher level than me?  What if I don’t remember my french?  What if I find out I hate conducting?!…or worse… what if I find out I love it??  In spite of all of the emails we’ve received in preparation for this program (and all of the homework we’ve already been given!), I feel like I don’t know what to expect.  But the good news is that I made it here, my french is holding up, and I’m remembering how much I love spending time abroad.

As many of you know, I spent 6 months living in the south of France (outside of Aix-en-Provence) when I was 14.  Some things have obviously changed since then, but many haven’t.  For instance, I distinctly remember journaling about how bothered I was by “first class” on the airplane.  My seat was in the first row of second class, and I was so annoyed that they closed a curtain to separate the classes and I had to use a different lavatory than them.  Boarding my plane yesterday, I felt the same annoyance…though this time, it was much more deeply rooted.  Classism is yet another way we divide ourselves and build barriers.  There really is no reason one person should receive better treatment on an airplane than anyone else.  I guess I realized that at 14, but didn’t quite find the words to talk about it until 23!  Another thing that hasn’t changed about me is that I still love this country…deep in my bones.  Something about it feels like home to me, and boy does it feel great to be back!

my little room

Upon arriving in Charles de Gaulle airport, I was able to meet up with one other person from my program.  He and I very slowly made our way over to Cité Universitaire, where we’ll be staying for the month in dorm rooms.  It’s a pretty decent setup, though I’m told I’ll be sharing my room (which is clearly a one-person room with a cot thrown into it!).

view from my window

The lack of AC will take some getting used to…especially on this 90 degree day, but I really don’t need much, so this will do just fine.

My new friend Amir and I kept finding more EAMA folks, so a group of us went out to explore a bit and get some lunch.  One Croque Monsieur, nutella crepe, and Coca-Cola later, I felt re-energized and was able to forget the fact that I hadn’t slept in about a day or more!  We walked around the St. Michel/Notre Dame area, stepping inside the giant cathedral for a brief moment.  Then we walked over to the Louvre (though not inside – yet!) and I sat with my legs in the fountain for awhile.  I probably could’ve explored all of Paris immediately, but someone reminded me that I’m actually tired, and we have all month.  So our strange little group headed back to the University.  (When I say strange, this is who everyone reminded me of: one person reminded me of Butch Walker, one of Du Huang, one of Jonah Hill, and one was like a mixture of Patrick Burzlaff and Andy Gisleson.  And if you know any of those people, you’ll know what I mean!)  I finally had a chance to shower and write this short-ish entry to catch people up to speed.

Tomorrow evening at 6pm is our first meeting, then we have placement tests on Saturday (yuck).  I’m excited and nervous!  Hopefully all of those things I learned in college will come back to me, and quickly!  In the meantime, I think I’m due for a nap before dinner.

Peace to you all… I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment if you’d like!  Oh, and one more thing!  If you want to write a letter, send it to:

Amanda Weber, Chambre 520
Maison des Provinces de France
Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris
55 bld Jourdan – 75014 PARIS


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