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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sammy's twinkling memories in the City of Light

The lovely thing about Paris is that it is everything you expect it to be. The buildings are a study in weathered beauty. Their cafes have excellent food, and dogs prowl the aisles for scraps and affection. Sacre Ceour, Notre Dame, the Eiffel tower and countless other monuments surpass the description of magnificent. The language has a multifaceted lyrical quality. And the entire town teems with a complex history that is never far from sight. Suffice to say that I have loved Paris and believe I will never stop.
The lovely thing about my trip in Paris is that it was nothing I expected it to be. My host mom was not only sweet and helpful but also the proud owner of a parrot named Roberto. Paris served not only as a lesson in French but as a refresher course in Spanish as well. And Parisians are warmer than I expected, at least when an attempt at French is made. I learned more quickly at the school than I expected. And music is omnipresent in Paris. There are street musicians near most all of the major attractions that border on professional. There are free concerts in the churches that border on breathtaking. And the greenery of Paris gives it a gentler feeling than I have ever seen matched in a city of its size.
And then there is the Louvre. The Louvre was more resplendent than I could ever have guessed. The fact that I am only contributing one paragraph to the Louvre shows great personal restraint on my part. Admittedly I am aided by the fact that finding the appropriate words for my experience at the Louvre is difficult. I'll start by saying I went seven times and saw all of it. I went through every single room. And the amount of art in any one room is simply staggering. They have sculpture after sculpture, artifact after artifact, painting after painting. Twenty, thirty, forty paintings squeezed into one room. And they have dozens of paintings that I grew up knowing and loving my entire life. Seeing them in person bordered on a religious experience. And they have rooms, rooms as in plural, of Rubens, van Dyck, and Botticelli. And it's not just about classical paintings and statues at the Louvre. Sometimes you'll turn the corner and find a twenty five foot, astoundingly well preserved pillar from an eighth century temple. Not to mention the fact that they have an entire medieval moat on their basement floor. A moat! I cannot stress to you what a strange revelation that was. I can honestly say that if their security was lax, I would have taken up permanent residence and never come home.
Unfortunately not all surprises are good. In addition to being sweet and helpful my host mom was a smoker, and seemed to have difficulties with my house mate's request for vegetarian faire. It seems despite taking dietary and health requests, the information is not passed along to the host families. Also the neighborhood that my host mom lived in didn't feel particularly safe after sunset. And the school was touch and go as far as their teachers. The teacher I had for the first two weeks was très magnifique. But then for my last week I had a different teacher. He was by no means bad, just a little frustrating. He refused to use any English at all, because he thought it would help us. The problem was that included asking him how to say something. This resulted in some quite interesting pantomime. In general I just felt there were some communication issues with Accord. And as a side note, there are no books, but lots of worksheets. Which was fine with me, but it frustrated some of the other students. However, as I said, I do feel like I learned a lot of French very quickly.
Overall, every day in Paris felt like a dream from which I never wanted to wake up. For every wonderful thing I wrote about, there were ten more that didn't make it into my blog. There was the Musée d'Orsay, Rodin, and Moreau. There was the cafe that, if cafes were people, I would have married in a heartbeat. There was the excitement of using the IPA I had learned at UTD, for my own pronunciation guides. There was the joy of my weekly phonetics class. There were countless evenings spent wandering along the Seine and down picturesque Parisian streets. There were a million twinkling memories I made in the city of light that I will doubtful ever forget.

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