A bit of everything in this installment. Firstly, made it to Paris, despite the nasty weekend-cold I had just gotten over a few days before, to see my good friend Isabella from Chatham, who is studying abroad there with Smith College. I had been to Paris two times before and felt satisfied with the amount of tourism I had done, so the weekend was less about showing me the sites and more about catching up. She lives in the 13th arrondisement right by the national library, a towering modern building (or, group of 4 buildings) that’s designed to look like four open books that form an enclosed courtyard at the center.
She told me that although it is a lovely design, it was not a well-thought out one: the designer did not take into account the fact that his open window idea (he intended for the entire exterior to be windows, which they are, but did not realize that all that light would damage the precious materials that the library is indeed trying to protect. Now these windows are merely covered up with a quick fix of Ikea blinds to shelter the books). We spent most of our time just wandering around central Paris, drinking hot chocolate in a café on the l’île de France, scoping out the Bastille neighborhood by night and hanging around her apartment, a cute and cozy hideout from the November weather (which still has not hit Valencia).
SHAMELESS PLUG: and if you want to see the pictures from the trip, AND all the pictures from the semester so far, just check out my new flickr.com page. I realize I had been sending y’all links to facebook albums that I’ve made private. So now everyone, a facebook member or not, can see what I’ve been up to.
This week has been relatively low key: my internship on Monday, my tutoring session on Wednesday (not sure if I mentioned but I’m giving English lessons to a 7 year old boy whose family wants him to learn enough language to go to summer camp in America. He’s a great kid and I’m learning lots about my own language in the process of teaching it!), and on Thursday something cultural; the program bought us all passes to this art exhibit that’s here for a year, a collection of Sorolla paintings from the New York Spanish Society. Ironic that they’ve been in the states all these years and I’m only just seeing them now in Spain. It was finally time for my art history class knowledge to kick in, and it made the event more enjoyable, since I could actually see what we had talked about in class a few weeks back (Sorolla is a quintessential impressionist from Spain).
With only a short while left in the semester, the group dynamic and the individuals are definitely changing. People are starting to get comfortable, starting to feel bad for not having spent as much time in Valencia, and starting to wish they weren’t leaving in 3 weeks. It’s so hard to believe that the first semester is already over, and that after a month of traveling the program will refresh, start all over again, this time with a new batch of people (and much more of them!). We year kids keep prophesying about what the experience will be like to be sitting in the orientation the first day, watching the newbies and their anxiousness while we already have 4 months under our belt. But the change will be welcomed and I’m excited to see what will go on next semester…