à la recherche du temps perdu

ah, exchange student life.

where one can just meet a random friend on the way to the library and decide to go eat lunch now and then during lunch, decide to join a group going to the Louvre in 10 minutes…

where, even more extreme, one can plan a 7-day trip to Rome with 4 people, then privately decide that one wants to stay in France instead, only to have the 4 others also suddenly ditch the Rome trip and come along…

…and thats exactly how our trip idea from Toulouse to Nantes started, and now it has snowballed into a project involving seven people, an Opel Zafira, and several dreams of finding the meaning of life somewhere between Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz…

Actually, this is just the way I wanted my college life to close, as a sort of reminiscence, reflection and re-interpretation on the preceding 5 years of my existence, or what college life was all about.

impromptu visits to the capital; ramblings (I am a bit sick,,,)

I give the title because we went in with one of my friends (name deleted to insure anonymity, and to avoid being blamed for posting this) to meet some friends of this friend. Unfortunately, the friends’ status as friends seemed rather questionable since they hardly bothered to even aknowledge the existence of my friend when we finally found them, after having been chased through half of Paris by frantic cell-phone calls, initiated exclusively by my friend. (you can guess that my friend is a guy, and that my friends’ friends are pretty girls)

oh well; good to see that the parisian froid-sang is contagious; (perhaps I myself will learn something from this, maybe becoming less gullible to those telephone surveys that I always somehow feel obliged to answer, or to always accept random acts of kindness from strangers, no matter how counter-productive, for instance like being driven up from the store in Jouy-en-Josas to campus, even tho I still needed to go to the post office, because I couldn’t decline such a charming offer from a local étudiante)

Anyway, Im drifting off again, but dont blame me, blame me being sick today, with swollen eyes due to some infection which I hope will go tomorrow…

And now, for something completely different:

us at the cafe at the place du Luxembourg.

And now for something completely the same. Us paying for the coffee at the cafe at the place du Luxembourg. Notice the heavily opportunistic use of 5 cent pieces to get rid of excess ballast.
The Pantheon. There are many great things about it, including the great French it commemorates inside, and its entry prices, the latter of which explains why we didnt go in to see former, at least yet.

The Louvre; Im getting a bit sloppy. It seems I have forgotten to rotate the picture; actually, I blame my swollen eyes, which make me now have the motivation for manipulating pictures I cannot see anyway be lower than that of a claustrophobic chipmunk closed in a cage.

Where I’m @

Hi guys. Now, many of you didn’t want to believe me when I said I live at the end of the world. Well, guess what? I’ve got photo-graphic proof, courtesy of Google Earth. The first way of telling that there is nothing exciting in a 50′ radius of here is the fact that no-one actually bothered to place one landmark sign on the map, except one guy who mistakenly labelled the HEC restaurant as a “compelling culinary center clear of any comparison” [just kidding, even students here would not be arrogant enough to claim that…], anyway, please witness the map below, with the signature forest (which I see outside of my window) separating us from the outpost of civilisation others call Jouy en Josas (top of picture).

Axtually, as I am writing this, I am currently residing in the house the furthest to the west of the bottom quadrant of the photo. I’d point to which one, except I’m not at your pc, so that I could point. As a clue, it’s actually the one closest to the main building, on the bottom left [right above the (C) symbol], a fact that comes in handy when the alarm tings 5 minutes before class starts at 8…

News around Campus

Attempting to act sustainable, I stumbled upon a strange paradox: the cheap, humongous, environmentally friendly refrigerator I have devised right on my dorm’s terrace is actually not sustainable; for whatever will I do when summer comes??? Already, I have started to consume my Hoegaardens to keep them safe from those inquisitive rays of sun that seem to radiate ever more often onto my rain-worn balcony.

On other news, I have somehow landed in FRENCH IV, aka. the hardest French class; I’m one of the two boys in the class of about 15, which is somehow typical of high-workload courses in general here; apparently, the men here seem to have found more lucrative endeavours, like shirking work and occasionally bumming beer from my giant refrigerator.

The university St. Gallen has written me, and has decided to accept all my “reccommendations” for how the credits should be transferred; I guess the absolute holy terror, (including the sending of pathos-laden mails with sentences like “… es macht keinen Sinn, hier Kurse zu nehmen, ohne bescheid zu wissen, ob sie mir überhaupt angerechnet werden…. “) has finally paid off!!!

Finally, a few colleagues, most notably me and Luis from Mexico, saw a car the other day for 700 Euros, and started fantasizing about doing road trips in France; now how cool would that be? If I had the money, I’d do it, but I certainly don’t, plus, that seems like a hard sell to my parents at home…

Paris by night

There are several mysteries inherent in life, including why the HEC has a separate building for sport activities (gym, indoor soccer field) without any shower or change rooms, why my room shares a shower cubicle with the adjacent one, with a translucent door (not that I am opposed to this, for as I hear, a french girl is just moving in ;P ), and why, oh why the HEC and the Uni St. Gallen still haven’t figured out whether they want to give me even 1 lousy credit for this exchange semester; apparently, St. Gallen is not convinced that these classes here are actually master level, even tho they do stem from a master-level catalogue…. pompous bureaucrats. Whatever, just trying to let off some steam here before going on to the praising Paris part.

Well, here I am sitting in my room, after a long day of crawling the capital yesterday followed by a gratuitous binge-sleeping session till 12 today morning. Far from reporting In Westen Nichts Neues, there are several fun facts I want to share with you, in condensed form, of course.

Im glad to report the Eiffel tower is still standing; I subjected the great needle to a véritable strip-tease as I approached her from the east, revealing more and more of her iron-clad beauty as she slipped from behind a line of Parisian apartment buildings; ooh, here she is in her dotted dress:

with this fascinating, beautiful “upskirt” shot of the core:

well to sum it up, the monument is just huge in every respect! I mean, I think it beats any skyscraper because of its singular “approachability”, exposure, and naked grace!

So, apart from these little nightly adventures, what else did we do?
Well, we took pictures of the turbid Seine, where my body is perhaps going to be thrown into: We took a little rest, to have a drink at an even littler cafe, out of even smaller little coffee cups (check out how everyone is trying to dive out of this picture, btw… poor Austin was caught in the middle, feeling perhaps a bit uncomfortable at not being able to slip away…)
plus, we posed the obligatory student-tourist-group picture
and we risked our lives, in traffic, to take pictures for YOU.

Paris, the first time

Yeah, so it was my first day in Paris today; I went in with Tamás after everyone else who wanted to go either skipped or went separately; in fact, even the few guys still coming in with us decided to get laptops instead of exploring the city… At least this left us with less waiting for everyone to take pictures, rest in a little cafe on the way, buy the cute little porcelain doggie in the shop window or have a quick burger at Mc. Donald’s….

So today, we were actually able to cover quite a bit of terrain in a first little preliminary exploration of the premises…. But actually, let me backtrack a bit and say that the city where we are living, to put it more exactly, the city that we live close to, is actually what the Swiss would call a kaff. A kaff, and in a huge way. Meaning in a tiny way. Meaning, it is not a small city, it is a tiny, tiny, little miniscule outpost in the middle of the pampa. Here a picture of one of the main arteries:

Oh yeah, and the shopping district by night:

Impressive, huh? Well, after that much provinciality, it is understandable that we were a bit interested in the big life. So that’s why we took a metro to the Ile de la Cite and were not that suprised to find this:

Ah yes, the Notre Dame. And to overuse a term favoured by american tourists around the world, the inside was even more beautiful than the outside, witness this somewhat overexposed shot (for dramatic purpose, of course)…

We then proceeded to the Centre Pompidou, of which I shall not share any pictures, because I couldnt get it all into the viewfinder. Instead, how bout the Louvre, with Tamas posing, to make the picture more lively 🙂
Then, we took a long metro ride from the Concorde to the Sacre Coeur, and were greeted by a great view of the tower:
and the city:

I promise you, the next post will be more amusingly written.
Thing is, today was more about educating me than about entertaining you; for because of former,
Im way too wasted now to do the latter.

Second full day in Paris

Well, all of you who were on academic exchange will know that the first three days seem to take forever, then, all other days fly by like [insert the name of a very fast bird here]. Knowing this, I decided to leverage the extra time by doing something I usually have trouble squeezing into my repertoire: go to the gym and lift weights senslessly for 1 hour, known to germans as pumpen. In the gym, I found (suspiciously) thin frenchmen, with one of whom I started a conversation. How I liked it in France was his first question, and whether Paris was the most beautiful city in the world was the second. Well, judging by his complexion, I prolly would have gotten away with a double negative, but, I thought, why not be nice and soothe his Gallic soul with a bit of sweet talk…

Now, how bout some random pictures I took not long ago:

another from the RER on my way here, continuing the story on the previous post…
Ma chambre, with ma laptop.
The view today morning. There was a mistake, I did not order snow.
self portrait with bed and shawl.
My lunch, alu-foil style.

And now, my cheries, Im going to go shopping in Joy-en-Josas, and Ill bring you some pix….

Goodbyes & PARIS, here I come….

Ok. so these last few days have been heavy with heartache and hard goodbyes. I said goodbye & good luck to the new executive board:

Then to Rouven & Daniela who had organised an incredible “au revior party”

Then to mah friends in Zurich, including mah main man Dominic, too, with whom we even light-signed an artistic photograph (with my mobile):
And of course I said bye to my family… at the end of all the goodbyes, when everyone had definitely seen enough of me, and was already in the stage of “ok, but now go”, I took a deep breath, boarded a train, aaaand….

and sooner than I expected, I had entered the heart of French civilisation. Now, you might have expected a beautiful picture of the Eiffel tower, but instead, this is me on a french RER, already heading for the HEC campus. The sour face is due to being woken up so early in the morning. All I actually got to see of downtown paris so far was a short flash of the Sacre Coeur… Too short for pictures :))

So, what adventures await me in Paris? Loot? Adventure? Classes on Chinese History I ? The latter most definitely, of the former two: only time will tell. So far, Ive only met a Hungarian called Tamas and some snooty french people, one of whom switched to English while talking to me, which I gather is NOT a good sign.

Ah well, the excitment of tomorrow awaits…. Here my resolution manifesto for the whole French Trip:

1. Take everything with humor & levity
2. It will never be like this, ever again. Be conscious of such mortality!
3. Always remember your secrets (I don’t remember what I meant with this 1 😉 )
4. France? It’s a dream. Don’t worry, diffuse… or wake up…
5. Be French. Be intellectual. Spin Virilio and Focault into your discourse
6. Enjoy the first 5 days. then, enjoy the next 5.
7. Blog. Rename your blog “mouches mortes”
8. Always remember home.
9. Write, search serindipity
10. Create words. Forget lists. forget this list.
11. Yeehaw. Paris as a student. this just rules.