Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Studying French at the Sorbonne

The Sorbonne
My Language School

So I'm in Paris to brush up my French skills which have been unsurprisingly neglected since my graduation last July. Tempted by the prestigious name of the Sorbonne, I enrolled at the Cours de Civilisation Françaises de la Sorbonne to follow the 'Cours Complet with a specialisation in Business French' for the Spring Semester.

I was a little hesitant about signing up since I felt I'd been running on the educational hamster wheel long enough, however this seemed to be different enough to jump back on for a few more months. My decision was actually inspired by a British woman I met in India who, like me, studied French at university and worked as an au pair for a French family. Despite having had very similar experiences, I was jealous of her living in the capital during such an exciting period of history. She was an au pair in Paris in 1968 and enrolled in the CCFS. She said she was badly paid and so after strolling the baby up and down the Champs Elysées, her only treats were her trips the the cinema. Woman after my own heart! Whilst I can't relieve the excitement of the Cinémathèque Française in the 60s, I certainly can study French at the Sorbonne. And go to the cinema. A lot. Like, everyday for my first week.

After two weeks of classes, I couldn't be happier. My French teacher looks just like Frozone (including chic turtleneck) and today I had a lecture from a man in a cravat who, whilst the students were filing in, played harpsichord music. En plus, the French practice is pretty great too.

Lunchbreak in the Jardin du Luxembourg

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The flâneuse in Paris

A rather gloomy day of sightseeing in the City of Light marked my arrival in Paris. I've been here before, many times, thanks to my Erasmus year. But never to live permanently. Well... perhaps permanently. TBC.

The first thing on my list was the exhibition of Brassaï photographs at the Hôtel de Ville. Amazingly, I found myself among Parisians on their lunch breaks and not another tourist in sight; although maybe they were just blending in as well as I hoped I was...

I studied Brassaï's work at university in my favourite module with my favourite teacher which really helped me enjoy my afternoon there since I am a bit of a photography novice. This is not a review, although it is brilliant and I recommend it heartily! But in bringing back my memories of this class, I remembered the flâneur. 

The image of the stroller, an urban-explorer, obviously appealed to the romantic student in me and has stuck in my head ever since. The flâneur wanders the city and observes its people, its everyday existence but from a distance. He is detached and objective. In my seminar we discussed the lack of the flâneuse, where are the women wandering the streets of Paris? Well, it was a pastime that only rich and educated men could undertake.

So, welcome to the 21st century. During my stay in Paris, in my wanderings of the city, I will become a flâneuse and enjoy all that this city can offer.