The saying "Work before play" was heeded this weekend. (Random fact: I've gotten a lot better at not procrastinating this year!) In fact, my host parents originally took me to Paris for my SAT. That's the great thing about taking international tests here. They are always in a big city that requires traveling, so you are tempted to spend more than just a few hours there for the test!
I was up at 6am Saturday morning for the SAT. Unfortunately, it did not go as well as I expected. It was probably the worst testing experience I've had. I've been a nervous testtaker for the past few years, but this was the first time I completely blanked out. It was a timed test, so I found myself constantly thinking about the time and nothing going into my brain when I was reading the passages that I had to respond to questions for. What's worse is that I know I did badly. I'm the type that thinks they failed and end up getting an A. However, when you have five mintues left and only half the paper is filled out...there is proof you failed.
That was just for the reading part. The writing and language test went better...save for a few careless errors I probably made while rushing to get all the questions answered. However, the reading part is one of the most important parts of the test for me as that's normally my strong area. Math went okay, but I am not expecting a great score either just because it's math. I was mentally finished by the essay part. I simply do very badly having to read a passage and write an essay in an hour. I will get my scores back in June or July, and if I need to retake it, I can in the US. What bothers me most about the test is that I know I could have done better, and I don't really feel like I deserve such an awesome weekend in Paris after I messed up on one of the most crucial parts of the weekend.
Immediately after my SATs, which ended around 1:15pm, my host parents took me to the Arc de Triomphe, amidst the rain and my disappointment about the SAT. I decided to let it go, at least for the weekend, because like my host mom said, there is nothing I can do about it for now, and I didn't want to ruin a weekend that many people only dream about experiencing. The Arc de Triomphe is famous for the First World War, the Unknown Soldier and Napoleon's success. It wasn't too painful to get to the top, but it was a spiral staircase, so going down made you feel dizzy. At the top, we had a good view of what is known as "the Star, which refers to how the street sections come together. We could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, although the top was covered in fog and clouds.
|A view of the streets of Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe|
We stopped for a quick bite to eat in the tunnel that led from the subway to the Arc de Triomphe, and then my host parents took me down the most famous street in France: the Champs Elysées. It looks like just any other street in Paris, but all the luxurious stores are situated there. My host dad was delighted to see a Starbucks, so we explored one mall.
I remember falling in love with the idea of the Bateau-Mouche when I studied it in French class two years ago. It's a boat that takes you all over the Seine and you see many famous sights. At this time, it had stopped raining, so we happily took our seats on the top part. My host parents started talking to me in English, which always gives me a laugh. During our boat ride, we saw the two museums from afar, the Musée d'Orsay and the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, the ferris wheel, and more than I can even remember. Afterwards, we went back to the appartment and had a relaxing evening. I happily texted all of my family members saying "Hey, guess where I am...PARIS!!!" I don't text my parents very much, but I sent them some photos from the first day.
|My host mom and me on a bridge in front of the Seine with the|
Musée d'Orsay to our right and the Eiffel Tower in the distance
|Family pic on a bridge!|
|Me on the Bateau-Mouche|
We were up and going the second day at 7:00am and were some of the first ones under the rain in line for the Louvre, one of the biggest museums in the world that houses the Mona Lisa and countless other works of art. It originally started out as a castle nine hundred years ago. I would say it is about three times as big as Park City, for those of you who know what I am referring to. It had everything. I am not really an art maniac, but I did appreciate walking on the grounds of such great artists and where much of the history of France took place. After all, if I have ancient French ancestors that were once kings, I must have been in their territory.
My favorite part was seeing what was first used to build the museum when it was a castle. We were next to what would have been the dungeon and walked in what would have been the moat. We also saw a mummy, sarcophagi, and countless artifacts dating back to thousands of year B.C. It took hours just walking from room to room admiring paintings and sculptures representing religions, love, myths, landscapes, etc. It seemed like each culture had a different way of painting. We saw European, American, African, and Egyptian art. What's more is that even the ceilings were decorated. I would be looking all around myself trying to get the most out of each room and then my host mom would tell me to look up at the ceiling too.
It's so easy to get lost in the Louvre, so I guess you could say we decided to play hide and seek. While I was looking at a painting, my host parents would run into a different room and hide from me, all three of us dying of laughter when we found each other. My host dad also has this fascination with escalators, so he had fun this weekend.
After our seven hours at the museum, we went to the Notre-Dame. We couldn't go to the top because that part was closed, but we did take a tour of the inside. A service was going on too. I really don't know how anyone concentrates in a service when there are people from all over the world observing!
I know everyone is waiting for this one. Yes, of course I did go to the Eiffel Tower. That was Monday morning. Again it was raining. I walked past the same place I did eight months ago when I first arrived in France, and I just don't know how time flew by so fast. It was cool to reminisce and also a little painful.
It was amazing to stand under the Eiffel Tower and look up at it. Not only is it sturdy, obviously, but it is really pretty. You can tell it's French. I remember reading the mystery book series "The Magic Treehouse" and one book was about their trip to Paris. Thinking back, that's probably where I got my adventurous ideas from, so I was reminiscing back to my childhood while standing under the magnificent structure. After the admiration came the tiring climb.....six or seven hundred steps for the top observation deck. I'd say it was worth it, although gym class the next day was pretty hard!
From the top of the Eiffel Tower, we could see all over, especially after the sun came out. I immediately went to comparing the Eiffel Tower with the Empire State Building. Unlike the most famous structure in New York, I did not feel the tower swaying. That would have been cool, but I don't think my host mom would've liked it! I only saw a few skyscrapers in the distance...welcome to Europe. Unlike New York, there were not all the posters and billboards that you could see from miles away. From my experience, everything seems closer to Paris than in New York. For example, I could see so many famous French sights just from being at the top of one structure: the Montmartre, the Pantheon, the Notre Dame, etc. While atop the Empire State Building, I had to squint just to see something that was in the street next to us.
|Our view from the Eiffel Tower (on one side)|
I now know why Paris is called the City of Love. There were newlyweds taking pictures all over...next to the bridge and in front of Notre Dame. Being in Paris also made me thankful I spoke English. People would come up to us and just assume we spoke English. Well, luckily they were right!
I am also really thankful that we had such a great weekend in Paris. If we had not had such a good time outside of my exam, it probably would not have been a good weekend for me. We had a great appartment, which was just a mile away from Roland Garros. Even if the tournament was not going on, I can still say I've been at least near it. The waiting lines were not too bad either. After all, during that time, I just had fun sassing my host mom in English and laughing at my host dad's English accent. Ah, good times!
It was hard to say goodbye to Paris, as I plugged in my headphones with my songs about the city and prepared myself for the ride back home. The next time I will be there will probably be to take my plane back to the US. This isn't like a trip that I did with my dad to New York the last few years, knowing I would return each year. In fact, I don't know why I keep referring to New York in my post about Paris, but I get this rare happiness when I am in big cities with my loved ones. Life is perfect.