I need to ask for what from whom in which building on which floor?: how to navigate the French university system

 

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I’m about three weeks into my second semester here in Paris, and I must admit that being able to call myself a student at the oldest university in Paris is a kind of magic that most people will never get to experience. Most people in the language world, especially in the French language world, know the prestige that comes along with the name of the Sorbonne. The Sorbonne is one of the top universities in all of France for the humanities, and it is known world-wide as well.

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What is this romantic Paris you speak of?

It snowed in Paris today, and as I was walking around the Latin Quarter to find a book for one of my literature classes and to head to the library at the university that I now attend (I switched to the Sorbonne for this semester), I couldn’t help but to be enchanted by the beauty of the quiet, chilled, and snow-filled air encompassing the historic buildings around me. It was magical. It was, dare I say it, romantic.

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Settled with being unsettled but also not settled with being unsettled

“Good, for the most part. It feels nice to be back in the sense that I feel like I still have a lot that I need to accomplish here, but I also feel like I’m having a slight existential crisis. like I feel like my life here isn’t real, like it’s just this bubble of a life that I live floating about away from the real world.” These were my exact words when a friend asked me how it felt to be back in Paris and jet lag was kicking my ass, (It’s still kicking my ass.) so 2am thoughts became real, real quick.

I also had someone ask me the following question while I was home in the States: “If you absolutely had to choose right now between living in the United States and living in Europe permanently forever, which would you choose? If money wasn’t an issue?” I cannot properly express to you the amount of anxiety that I experienced because of this question. Even though I said Europe, the truth is, I have no fucking clue. I really, truly don’t.

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Contemplate death and feel a stronger sense of life: an afternoon spent in Auvers-sur-Oise

 

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I’ve always had a great interest in tortured artists. I’m not entirely sure why, but I feel that it has something to do with the fact that there’s a part of me that feels understood by them, the part of me that feels a little lost and always pondering life’s deepest and darkest questions. I find beauty in the way that they bring light to pain, beauty because it’s a natural part of being human and living life. Tortured artists help us to remember that our pain can be used to create beauty.

I’ve always felt intrigued by the works of Vincent Van Gogh, most notably his Starry Night (Yes, I know. I’m completely cliché) and his works displaying the everyday life, painting those everyday moments the way they actually appear, sometimes dreary and sad, the reality of how life can be. It’s not all sunshine and butterflies all of the time (though I like it equally when it is).

That’s why when I learned not only about the beauty of the small village of Auvers-sur-Oise but also about Vincent Van Gogh’s small stay there before his untimely death, I was immediately intrigued and put it on my list of places to go during my Toussaint break.

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