So I already knew my birthday was bound to be amazing since it would be in Paris, but I had no idea how great it would actually be.

To start off the day, we had breakfast (as we do every morning) in our housing’s cafeteria. We were given a ticket that gets us breakfast every morning, and lunch or dinner each day. It has taken me a couple days to get adjusted to the food, especially the breakfast food, because I’m so used to having a scrambled egg, bacon/sausage, and a protein shake in the morning. I’ve been swapping that out for yogurt with honey, pain au chocolat, crossants, ham slices, boiled eggs, and/or fruit. After breakfast, we headed to an electronics/book store called Fnac, where we bought our book for class. We then went and got our sim cards replaced in our phones so that we could text and call each other within France! If anyone gets an iMessage from a 07 89 number, don’t worry, that’s probably me! I can still iMessage for free (if I ever get internet…) even if it is coming from my French cell phone.

We had baguette sandwiches for lunch at the mall called Italie 2. That place was slightly frustrating because it was so loud and busy and I could hardly hear what the lady taking my order was saying to me, let alone translate it in my mind. Either way, I still got my sandwich so it all worked out! A couple of us got to shop at our first French solde (sale) at Zara. There were about 6 items I wanted to buy because all of the stuff there was so cute, but I ended up just getting two shirts and a pair of shoes. Even with the sale, most things were more expensive than they are in the US, unfortunately..

Next, we went to Notre Dame. It is absolutely huge and beautiful! For my birthday dinner, we ate at this restaurant across the Seine from Notre Dame. I had a croque madame, basically bread with ham, cheese, and an egg on top. It was DELICIOUS! We finished that meal with gelato (I had raspberry and lemon) and went to meet up with the rest of the group at Fontaine St Michel to start our bike tour.
I have to say that the bike tour we took of Paris has been my favorite thing we have done so far. Paris is breathtaking as it is, but getting to view it all as you bike in perfect 70 degree weather and sunny skies… Amazing. We biked around 5 miles and saw so many sights, and almost died a couple times in crazy Parisien traffic. I want to do it again!

To top off the best birthday, after the bike tour, we went to watch the world cup at a super fancy French bar. My amazing new friends here bought me a creme brulee and sang Joyeux Anniversaire for me!  They really made my day special and I’m extremely thankful for the great new friendships we are all forming.

I also want to shout out to my friends from home and of course my mom and dad for throwing me a surprise before I left. I didn’t see it coming at all, and it was so awesome to be reunited with some of my favorite people. Overall, the feelings I’m feeling are of overwhelming gratefulness for the opportunities I have here in Paris and the wonderful people in my life both back home and in Paris!


Main highlights/observations of today:

– Worked on our essays at a little cafe by the Fiap (thats what our housing is called); a man came up to Ben and I and started talking to us.. with his pants undone. Creepy. We went back home after that.

– Took our placement test to find out what Sorbonne class we’ll be taking. Also met a new friend who may be in our class, she’s from Duke!

– Finally felt like I was respected by a waiter because I could actually converse effectively with him in French! I think I was all warmed up from the French oral part of the exam…

– Found a delicious crêperie! It’s called Le Jardin Secret or something like that, I don’t really remember, but I had a plain sugar + butter crêpe and it was divine. Definitely going back there.

– People here can tell we’re American from miles away. However, it seems to be true that if we speak French, we are able to gain their respect.

– The sun sets around 10pm here. We have been waking up around 8 every day, so the days seem so much longer! I love it.

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