Matt KK writes from Paris:
Paris is wonderful albeit cold, rainy, and very very windy. My apartment is very large by European standards and I am directly across the street from the Val de Grâce church, which is exceptionally beautiful.
I think the greatest amount of culture shock here comes from going to a European university. Nothing is run in an effective manner: offices close weird hours, we only meet once a week for two hours, reading is no more than 30 pages a week. That said there are some great funny perks here at university: they give us major English and French newspapers for free in the morning (Le monde, le Figaro, la Croix, Wall Street Journal, etc.) and they have these men in blue blazers who just wait in the lobby of each building in case you need to ask directions.
If anything, my confidence in my french is getting better and I’ve been overcoming my inability to switch between Tu and Vous when talking to people. I never get as much practice as I would like but I am getting better and attempting to meet French people.
I also took your advice and take the bus everywhere: it is exceptionally cleaner than the metro and far more convenient. Plus I feel like I see many more of the little back streets and often have beautiful unexpected views of the city when the bus crosses the river.
Everything is exceptionally expensive and the exchange rate gets worse by the day…that said, bread in the bakeries, and cheese and wine in the supermarkets are still the most inexpensive items around so none of us ever feel like we are on the verge of starvation. I can’t think of what else to mention at the present, except that Paris is lovely and only bound to get more beautiful as the weather improves.
I hope everything is great in Boston,