As I alluded to in my first entry, the first week of the UF in Cambridge program begins with an outstanding week in Paris to set the stage for our studies in Cambridge. We will cover plenty of ground in Paris and, in order to make the experience as digestible as possible for readers without omitting significant details, I will follow a simple and consistent system. First, I will list the sites that we see and any pre-planned group activities such as dinners. Then, I will include several paragraphs telling some of the stories from the day. If necessary, I will add an extra session with personal musings about the questions that have arisen through our studies or interactions with French culture. When we arrive in Cambridge I will likely change the format, but any such changes will be clearly marked by an announcement.
Day One: Arrival
Sites: Cite Universitaire, Parc Montsouris, Eiffel Tower
Today, everyone arrived in Paris for the program, some coming from America, others from study abroad programs just ending or added time visiting friends and family around the continent. Slowly, we trickled into Cite Universitaire, international dormitories created in connection with the University of Paris system by the French government after World War I. Officially, our program began at 4p.m. local time with a group briefing on the week’s itinerary and personal introductions. From there, we unpacked a bit and then regrouped for a picnic provided by Dr. Kroen on the lawn of the park across the street from our dorms.
After a lovely, healthy and relaxing dinner, part of the group joined in the public aerobics class hosted by a local gym during the summer on the park lawn. For those who chose to watch, the show was splendid I am sure. A bigger, more enticing show lurked on the horizon though: the Bastille Day fireworks display. Travel adrenaline still flowing, we jumped on the metro to downtown Paris to claim a spot among the crowd. Luckily, we arrived early enough to hear about a half an hour’s worth of lovely opera orchestral performances. Then, at 11p.m., the sun’s glow barely extinguished, the Eiffel Tower took center stage for fireworks shooting from the ground and even off of the tower itself. We are truly spoiled to have been welcomed to Paris in this grandiose fashion. The night ended there as we all headed back to the dorms trying to quell our excitement to see the rest of the town and cope with whatever jetlag we had. If it is not stretching the signs too far, the first night in Paris seems to indicate that the upcoming week will be particularly extraordinary. Read the next entry to find out the answer!!