>Young protest

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Political activism is on the streets of France again. The French are known for publically expressing their opinions and this time it is the CPE law which allows for employers to hire young people (under 26) without employment security to set in which is the reason for upset.

Since Thursday most of the universities in Paris have been captured and demonstrating students and others, sometimes wild ones, have been protesting against the CPE-law. Police have been numerous and working hard to put an end to demonstrations with teargas and other tough and violent methods. On Thursday 120 000 students protested peacefully in Paris , however in the end of the day the protests became violent with rockthrowing and firebombs.

Still, while universities are closing down, a bookstore was burning, thousends of people were coming together to defend labor rights it was fairly easy to miss that there is a small revolution going on in Paris, since I don’t have a TV or radio. I only realised how big this was today when I spoke to a friend who live near Sorbonne and she told me about the demonstrations. She also said was accused of “tourisme revolutionaire” when she took a photo of the demonstrations there. So tomorrow when new demostrations are scheduled all over town maybe I will leave my camera at home when I experience the demonstrations… The chant for the 13.00 demonstrations at Pere Lachaise will be “Ne laissons pas faire!” – We won’t let them do it! according to IndymediaParis. LeMonde has made a good audio/visual presentation of Thursday’s demonstrations here.

It is an important question, labor rights for all, and BBC comments that ironically it is the generation of the ’68 barricades that now cannot promise their children the same rights they themselves fought for and enjoyed.

>Internet Celebs

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When I first found out I had been chosen for an internship in Paris, I wanted to learn more about Paris. So I googled, I visited sites and I read blogs. I have already told you about one of my favourite webcamsites where one can see the Eiffeltower and some other Paris sites, updated by the second (including a university computer room!?)

Anyway, I soon found a blog that left me wanting more and soon it was like I was following a quality soap. I had to log in to see what was new in “Petite Anglaise’s” life. Waiting for “the new episode” becomes quite thrilling when you know that the wait is real time. Every other day there will be a new entry, and judging from the number and content of comments I am not the only one that somehow feel I know Petite ( she calls herself more familiarily just “Petite” nowadays).

She produces quirky, funny and sometimes sad obeservations on everydaylife in Paris. To give you all an idea of the content and the style of her writing (and to keep my soap analogy going) the other characters “on the set” are “Tadpole” – young daughter, “Mr Frog” – Petite’s ex, and “Lover”.

Since mid-January, I have been following Petite’s whereabouts and I feel like I know her like I know a celebrity – some of her lovelife and thoughts, artistry and family. However, still much of her life is hidden in privacy/secrecy. Last week, I decided to make my first comment on her blog, which was caused by seeing this ad (above) in every street corner in Paris. Are the ad-makers loving her blog too?

She replied instantly. Her email read simply:

“do you fancy coming to the blog meet up thing too? Now you are here?”

But my heart jumped. When was the last time a celebrity wrote you? To ask you to come to a party? I am very excited, this weekend I am meeting an Internet Celebrity! As a plus, I get to meet up with other ex-pat bloggers in Paris – and globalization spins another turn…

>Alternative Sight-Seeing in Paris

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This weekend, my siblings came for a visit. We had some great moments in the chilly Paris springtime. My sister and two brothers turned out to be real experts on what I’d like to call “alternative sight-seeing” which they performed energetically, especially after noon. This means that conventional sights, like the Louvre or the Sacre Coeur Cathedral, was of little or no interest, but that other – and maybe even more typical Parisian things – caught their attention. Here is a little list, to inspire future Paris-visitors.

  • Take photos of the climb up the Montmartre Butte (trees, stairs, feet – no views or towers)
  • Ordering fabulous “planches” (plates of bread, cheese and meats) to be consumed with wine
  • Looking at Roadworks (common here, always surrounded by green metal fences)
  • Playing cards in a café with a Café Crème in one hand
  • Playing cards in a bar with a happy hour drink in one hand
  • Walking around with a baguette under one arm
  • Listening to live jazz
  • Singing in phonebooths
  • Trying on sunglasses (for some reason Parisians love their shades and put them on as soon as the sun comes out – is it because they are divas?)
  • Sleeping inbetween two sheets – where is the påslakan?
  • Spending hours writing postcards that has nothing to do with Paris

I haven’t had so much fun in a long time.

>Normandie!

>A lovely weekend with friends Kerstin, Camille, Louis och Felix and random people from Hospitality Club in northern France. Included in the weekend was sightseing in pittoresque Honfleur, party at a camping site in Le Havre, a layover at a French grandmother (!), a Feng Shui-seminar (!!)and exhilirating views from bridges and cliffs. I thought of you and took some pics.


>It is worldly matters…

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That is what my mother, wise as always, used to tell me when something broke down or was smashed to pieces. With tears in my eyes, standing in the middle of the mess I accidentially had created I would try to grasp her words…it doesn’t really matter… it is just materia, noting living…it is worldly matters. (My computer broke down again, and as you can see, I’m laughing about it, thanks to mom).

>A love story

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Some few months ago, I was living in the dark. I was unaware of the wonderful things life had in store for me. Aimlessly, I went around and bought my fix for money. I din’t know it could be for free, I didn’t know it could be so sweet, I didn’t know a call could be for free. Skype, I love you! You make life in exile so easy!

After five minutes, you were all mine and I can easiliy spend hours in your company. You are beautifully green, you are logical and have such great qualities. Also, you are generous and let me talk to and even see other people. (in 24 hours, I have talked to Berlin, Visby, Gothenburg, and I have talked to, sang with and even seen live images from Uppsala).

Skype, I wish everyone could get to know you. You are the best program I have ever had.

>Monday

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Today it was Monday and it was raining and the dog poo was running about the parisian streets. I was typically wearing my thin leather boots (the red ones with funny laces) which cannot take any rain and that only because of the fact that my heels are injured from wearing new shoes (ironically sneakers to spare my feet). Anyway, I was running late, in the rain, for my internship workplace since paying the rent turned out to be “très difficile” here in France.

PAYING BILLS IN FRANCE
1. Noone tells you when or how to pay, there is no bill
2. You get a note in your mailbox from “la Direction” which says that you are late with paying the rent
3. You try to pay it, but instead of telling you what to do the guy in the reception tells you “c’est pas grave”
4. As a Swede, you get nervous – will I now get kicked out?
5. A second guy in the reception informs you that you should pay to the secretary.
6. You work 9-18, the secretary works 9.30-15
7. The nice guy in the reception says you can leave the money €340, no reciept, in the reception at “you own risk” for the secretary
8.As a Swede, you choose not to
9. There is no account to which you can pay, you just have to be there 9.30-15

Anyway, today I thought, what the **, I can be late for work. I showered and went downstairs at 9.45 (wanted to give the secretary a break). I asked for the secretary.
– “Ah, non, elle ne travaille pas cette semaine…” She doesn’t work this week. However now the SAME GUY who couln’t give me a reciept last week, could give me a reciept. A bit relieved, I payed, got my reciept and then asked, how come you now can make me a reciept. He looked at me like I was stupid,
– “Because of that the secretary is on vacation”.

The Metro was packed, had to stand all the way (about 30 minutes) to the 16th arrondisement where I work. When I got there they had worried about me. “You know, you have to call when you will be late”. Ok, sorry. It was dark, still raining, as I left the office.

Today it was Monday, and did I say it was raining? I didnt think Mondays in Paris would become gray Mondays so soon. Today, I punished France by dining at McDonalds.

>Anniversaire

>Yesterday was my birthday and I didn’t want to spend it alone, so I invited the students who live down my hall for a small party in my room. Also, I invited some people I met at a friends apartment on Saturday…some of the people I have gotten to know here at Cité Universitaire and Kerstin that I met on the plane from Stockholm to Paris. They all came! And many of them brought a friend, in the end about 50 people attended my “fête”! I was exstatic and the party was still going on when I went to bed around 2 am.

Here are some pics.




And I have to tell you about an interesting birthday happening. For lunch on my birthday, I attended a meeting with an adjoining lunch at the Swedish embassy in Paris. I was seated next to a man who cheerfully said as I introduced myself “Oh, Kajsa, that is my wife’s name!”. Minutes later he told me that he almost didn’t make it to the program, because…today was his wife’s birthday! Of course Kajsa and I were introduced and after having eyed eachother in silence, the other birthday-girl-Kajsa exclaimed: “This is an amazing coincidence, I will have to write about it in my diary!”. For you who know me well, you can see how I had to utter “Me too!” for the second time that lunch.

Thank you to all of you who called/sent emails/sms!

>Noctilien

>Here comes a nightly report covering the public transports in Paris at night. After the Metro stops at around 1pm the night busses “Noctilien” start running. To my area ( Porte d’Orleans) a bus leaves every 15 minutes until the Metro starts again! Finding the bus was easy, the ride was smooth and fast. I felt safe as I walked the last block home. Hurray for functional public transport!

>Princess in Paris

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My whole life has changed. I now go to sleep in the 14th arrondissement in Paris, take the Metro pass the Eiffeltower to the Swedish delegation at the OECD and spend most of my hours there. Here, I reside in a beautiful GRAND BUREAU with a French balcony that gives me height freight and so far read information about the new organization that I now am a part of. I got my badge to enter to the headquarters today. On the badge, it says “Mlle Hallberg, Stagiaire” – Miss Hallberg, trainee. However, I feel more like a princess, than a trainee.

Maybe that is because of the French food?
Over the weekend, wonderful food markets popped up everywhere and offered fresh seafood, organic vegetables and fantastic olives to enthused Frenchmen queing up for the delicassies. Good food has to take time! The respect for the French specialities is also interesting. In the messiest supermarket the cheeses are in alphabetical order! I have had the best Brie ever. Good wine is cheap (around €3) and everybody really carries a newly baked baguette under their arm on the way home to dinner. Also the exotic cuisine is thriving in Paris, so far I have been offered boiled Pigs’ feet – Greek style, Senegalese stew, and Asian ginger wok for the Chinese new year.

Or do I feel like a princess because

of my new living situation?
A picture says more than a thousand words. I reside in a nice room on the second floor (prèmier étage) in La Fondation Hellénique, one of the 38 student houses at Cité Universitaire.
Or because of the French politeness?
– “Bonjour, Madame”
– “Passez un bonne journée, Madame”
– “Excusez-moi, Madame”
– “Au revoir, Madame et à bientôt”
Do I have to say I never carried my suitcase anywhere in Paris? The French(men) couldn’t stop themselves from helping me. For once, chivalry felt comfortable.

As you can read/see, I am very happy with my (soon to be) first week in the metropol, and the only thing I ask myself before I go to sleep, slightly intoxicated by a glass of Beaujolais, is “Why didn’t I come sooner?”