Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friday, July 20- Sunday, July 22, 2012


We have finally finished up our last week of work! While we were someone sad that it was over, we were ready for it. Now we can relax and enjoy Paris like we've been wanting to. The weather should be pretty ideal for us as well this upcoming week! We aren't really going to venture outside of Paris because there are so many things that we wanted to do that we didn't get the chance to because of working until 530/6 every day and then it being rainy afterwards. So here's the breakdown of our weekend:

Friday, July 20

At work our Sodexo contact treated us to lunch off site. We had great burgers, which are a rarity in Paris from what we've come to know. By the end of the day, she organized a get-together on my floor for a going away party. It was kind of sad to leave thinking that we may never see these people ever again.

After we left, we did not hesitate to get our first night of freedom started. We decided to go back to the Latin District and explore the streets. This is probably our favorite spot in all of Paris. It's so lively and there's so much to do. We walked around a bit and saw several musicians performing. One was a jazz band, which was really awesome. We ended up at a nice restaurant and sat there for two hours. The lifestyle is so relaxed here. We stayed for two hours and there were people who were there longer than us. The slow meals and just being able to sit and relax without feeling rushed is something I will definitely miss about Paris! It was pretty late by that point and we were still tired from the day so we decided to go back so we could sleep and be ready for a day of shopping on the Champs d'Elysees the next day.

Saturday, July 21

Shopping! We spent about four hours shopping on the Champs d'Elysees. We didn't really buy much, but the streets were crowded and lively that we just took it all in and hung out. I did buy my first Swatch watch, and I will absolutely be going back to buy more. They're significantly cheaper here than they are back home. Maybe $25-$30 cheaper depending on the watch. We patronized the Haagen Dasz restaurant. It was cool because they served you your ice cream. An interesting experience at the cost of EUR 3 extra per person, but worth it. 

After we were done on the Champs, we decided to go to the Latin district to finish up our night near the Seine. We bought baguettes, cheese, ham, and some drinks and went down to the river. On our walk down we found a nice looking bakery and purchased some macaroons for dessert. We hung out for about 3 hours and were completely content. Two men came with a guitar and amp and started playing. They were later joined by complete strangers with a drum and harmonica and they just started playing music on the spot together. It's so lively here. This will be something I miss as well: the night life.

Sunday, July 22
The Tour de France!! Such an interesting experience. We got there early and went back to Swatch because we couldn't stop thinking about the watches we left behind. After that we found a spot along the road and set up for the day. I bought a bag that contained all sorts of Tour souvenirs for relatively cheap. I was pretty impressed. We waited about two hours for the cyclists to come through. There was a parade before it which was pretty awesome. I guess they don't show that on TV, so that was pretty cool to see. Right about now should be the time where I add that I'm not a big bike-sport person, so this was all fairly new to me. When they finally came by, I was amazing at how fast they went. I barely had time to snap a photo! I give them so much credit. That has to be extremely hard. Enjoy the photos!

Monday, July 16- Thursday, July 19, 2012

This week was pretty fun. After Tuesday night, Shawon and I made a pact to not sit in the hotel at night anymore. Monday was cold and we were tired from the weekend, so we weren't really in the mood to go out. However, luckily the weather is looking to be clearing up for us, so that’s making it possible and more appealing. Otherwise, it just wasn’t fun to go out.


Tuesday, July 17

Quite the evening. We went into Paris at about 730 to the Eiffel Tower. We had decided we wanted to take a boat tour and really see everything down the River Seine. We indulged in some crepes while sitting on a wall along the Seine, and then we caught the 8:20pm boat. The tour was beautiful and we got to see things from a whole new perspective. Notre Dame Cathedral looked beautiful in the light of the sunset. We also saw hundreds of people sitting along the river picnicking and socializing. There were certain parts where they were playing music and people were dancing tango, salsa, swing, etc. It looked so much fun and we decided that would be our next adventure.

Wednesday, July 18

During the day I had a site visit for work. We went to restaurant Sogeres, which is an acquisition of Sodexo. The company was Sodexo France’s biggest food service competitor, so it was huge that we got the account. The place was amazing. Very modern, and the food was delicious. The company, Sogeres, maintained the building which hosted 3 other businesses, and they were in charge of food services and providing the employee with lunch. In France it’s the law that the employer must provide a place for the employee to eat and pay for a portion of their meal. A typical lunch is around 5 euro for an employee because of the discount, and that can include a salad, entrée, and dessert.
Driving to the place was an experience in its own. I didn’t drive, a coworker did. Many people drive Vespas and motorcycles here, and they weave in and out of traffic freely without a care in the world. It made me very nervous because we rarely have people who do that in good old NEPA. It was nice to be back in a car for the first time in 18 days. I’m pretty sure that’s the longest I’ve ever gone without being in one in my entire life. Trains and metro are the main source of transportation here, so many people don’t even own cars. All in all, the work day was educational and interesting. It was nice to see another place that Sodexo is in charge of.
By night Shawon and I went into Paris to go hang out along the Seine like the people we had seen the night before. We came up at this really cool area of the city and there were many street performers and bistros. We got a hotdog on the way, but we said we’d go back for dinner and sit down one night. When we arrived at the Seine, there were rollerbladers doing crazy stunts in the street off of a ramp, and there were also other types of performers (musicians, comedians, etc.). Paris is a very interesting place, and there is ALWAYS something going on. We walked along the Seine and found a place to sit where there were a bunch of random people performing together just jamming out and letting the music take them. There were people eating, drinking, laughing, talking, watching, and dancing everywhere. It was so eventful. It made us really wish we had things like that back home. We would never be bored. Where we were was a really big college area, and it made us wonder what it’d be like if Keystone were like that. Maybe we’ll start to do that. Buy a bunch of random percussion instruments and go out on the green ;) [heavy sarcasm]. Although it would be fun! We left at about 11:30 and made it back around 12:30 because we took our time getting back. The night never ends here!

Thursday, July 19

We are in love with the Latin District. We went back for dinner and to hang out for the night. I tried escargot for the first time and actually enjoyed it. Reminded me of clams. They have a mild taste and really just take on the flavor of the sauce you put them in. We had coffee at a bistro after dinner. We sat outside at a sidewalk table and there was a guitarist performing right in front of us across the street. Prime seating. It was awesome.

Saturday, July 14- Sunday, July 15, 2012

This was quite an eventful weekend. Friday We did not do anything because of the rain, but that did not bother us because Saturday and Sunday were jam-packed.

Saturday July 14, 2012

Bastille Day! Basically the French’s version of our 4th of July. Since I’ve been here, this has been a big topic of discussion amongst my coworkers. People get pretty excited about it, and the way they celebrate shows. In the morning Shawon and I went to the military parade. It was interesting. It wasn’t like the parades we’re used to back in the states when you have candy and promotional materials being chucked at your head as you watch fancy floats pass by. It was just the military marching and all the vehicles they drive. I’ll post pictures, because that’s the only way you will be able to understand the ceremony. It started with a fly-over. The first airplanes to pass left a stream of smoke in the French colors. It was beautiful, and the people were ecstatic to see it. I took a couple elbows to the head from people around me with their arms in the air taping and photographing the ordeal. We were jammed into this little gated area like sardines. Shawon and I started off with personal space, but within an hour of our arrival we quickly lost it. Since we arrived early (about 8:30), we stood for nearly 5 hours waiting for and watching the parade. It was an interesting experience, but I wouldn’t do it again. Leaving was the hardest part. Thousands of people were walking the sidewalks either towards the train, shopping, or eating. Luckily we passed a pizza parlour that was just opening and we ducked in and quickly got a seat. After that, we went back to the hotel to relax until fireworks that night.
The fireworks were absolutely amazing. Mind blowing. I’ve never seen anything like it. It really made me wish I could have my friends and family here to experience all of this with me. We were advised to go early, so we left at about 6:30pm. We were so early that we ended up getting a great spot right near the river in front of the Eiffel Tower. Soon after, the place started getting crowded; and again, we lost our personal space very quickly. Two American girls sat next to us, and it turns out they were from PA as well. Small world! We talked the whole time about home, school, traveling, etc. It was nice to find Americans, let alone fellow Pennsylvanians, in the mess of it all. The fireworks started at about 11 because that’s when it gets dark here. The theme this year was disco, so as the show was going on, music by artists such as Abba and the Village People played. You could hardly hear it over the fireworks; but when we heard the YMCA come on, we all went wild. At that point, we noticed how few Americans there were around us, because, aside from us, there weren’t many other people dancing along to the lyrics with their arms in the air. The show was well worth the hours spent sitting on the grassm and the experience was fun to begin with. People-watching is probably one of my favorite things to do here, and we had plenty of time to do so. Getting back was an adventure in itself. There were thousands of people flooding the streets of Paris around the Eiffel Tower. I heard someone in line say there were over 100,000 people at the parade. Shawon heard 300,000. We decided to walk the 30 minutes back to our hotel instead of taking the heavily packed subway. The walk was a bunch of fun in its own. Shawon nearly got run over by a person on a bike, but he narrowly escaped and just clipped his side. After that, we realized that people on bikes in Paris are ruthless. They WILL run you over, so get out of their way, or suffer the consequences... By the time we got back, it was late so we retired for the night.

Arc de Triomphe

Sunday July 15, 2012

Time to see some art! We headed out at about 1 to the Muse d’Orsay. This museum has works by artists such as Van Gogh and Monet. My personal favorite is Starry Night by Van Gogh. The museum was incredible and massive. Some of the paintings were the size of large walls and the artists must have required ladders to paint them! I don’t know very much about art, but I could still definitely appreciate the countless hours of work put into each piece.
After the museum, we spent the rest of our afternoon in the Tuileries Gardens sipping coffee at a table outside. Shawon and I get along very well and so it was very easy for us to sit there for over an hour people watching, relaxing, and taking in the experience. After our coffee, we went to the same carnival that we had gone to the first week. This time the experience was much different because it wasn’t raining or cold. People were everywhere. It was a fun experience and we ate a cheap (good!) dinner of pork kebabs and French fries. Dessert was freshly made Churros and chocolate sauce (just melted Nutella. They’re nuts about that stuff here!) We ate them near a fountain where there were tons of chairs and people. There were a lot of birds around and we shared our Churros. It was awesome because the birds would hop on your lap if you let them. I let them. This experience is unlike anything else I’ve ever done, and I couldn’t be more happy!

My new pigeon friend.
"Put a lock on the bridge and toss the key into the river. Toss love in the river."

 Outside the Muse d'Orsay

Entrance to the Muse d'Orsay inside


Random goat grazing in the gardens.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Monday, July 9- Thursday, July 12, 2012


This week was very rainy and uneventful because it was unpleasant to go out in the cold, so this post will be short. On Tuesday we decided to go to the 18th district. It was very hilly, but beautiful. It seems like a whole different world than what you get to know of Paris. We first visited the Place du Tertre. It's a little square on top of a huge hill where you can see various artists and musicians. This is a great place to go if you want your caricature done. The artists are amazing. Once you climb the hill and the stairs to get to the square, you can see an amazing view of Paris, it was incredible. We ate at a small cafe and then decided to move on after taking photos and relaxing. 

Where we were was very close to the Red Light district, so we decided to go and see what the talk was all about and take pictures of the Moulin Rouge. It was an interesting experience, to say the least, and not something I would say to bring the kids to for its "adult content." After that, we decided to go back to the hotel and call it a night.

Tuesday was an interesting experience, and one of the few days that it didn't rain throughout the week. The locals said it typically doesn't rain this much. We must just be lucky ;)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday, July 6- Sunday, July 8, 2012


It's been very hard to connect to the internet here. For some reason Shawon was able to connect, and I wasn't.

Friday, July 6, 2012
Working a Friday in France is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The French take “fun day Friday” to a whole new level. Upon my 9am arrival to the office, I was greeted with an assortment of baked goods that included croissants, baguettes, donut holes, crepes, and many other pastries that I couldn’t recognize. We were having a one hour long meet and greet party around the coffee lounge. Apparently there had been a lot of moves on my floor and they were having this for everyone to get to know each other. Immediately after that I had a meeting that lasted an hour. We discussed my project and what exactly my research would be used for. It was very exciting. Then I had one hour until lunch to work on my project. Shawon is on the 7th floor and almost everyone on his floor was out of the office for a day-long meeting, so I journeyed up from the 6th floor to keep him company and work. At lunch, my floor invited us out for Japanese, and we took a TWO HOUR lunch break! Shawon and I could not believe how relaxed Friday was around the office. We ended up leaving around 4:30/5pm because we got our work done and we had a full night planned.
 Later that night, Shawon and I ventured out to our first visit to the Eiffel Tower. It was absolutely beautiful and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When the sun set, the tower lit up and sparkled for about five minutes. When it began, all of the people cheered and clapped and the cameras came out. It was an amazing site. We walked around for a bit and ended up eating crepes for dinner. Banana and Nutella crepes are amazing, for the record. We spent our night walking around the streets surrounding the Eiffel Tower and then head back at about 11. We decided we did not want to go back to our hotel yet so we went to a restaurant for a few drinks and appetizers. It’s amazing how late France is up! We stayed out until 1am and people were still out having drinks and eating. It really made us wish our friends could visit so that we could share this amazing experience with them. We miss you guys back home!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012
Rain, rain go away! Today was a very rainy day in France. We had a bunch of things planned, but couldn’t really do any of them because it all involved walking around and being outside. We ended up staying in and relaxing at night. At about 12 we went out for bunch. We went to a restaurant that had sidewalk seating (which doesn’t really say much because most of the restaurants here offer this) and we tried to sit outside; but when we sat down, the people to both the left and right of us lit up cigarettes. We were told France has the highest smoking rate in the world, and after being here for a week we don’t doubt it. Everywhere you go there is someone smoking. It makes for an unpleasant dining experience. So we went inside where there is no smoking and got our meal. After that, we went to a bakery and got some baked goods. I got something called a drop. Its basically a flat, square croissant filled with chocolate chips and a sweet cream. They are delicious and cheap. Shawon got an éclair, which was filled with chocolate filling, not like a boston cream filling. After that, we just relaxed all day, cooked and ate dinner (pork chops with asparagus, and sliced potatoes, onions, and cherry tomatoes), and then planned for Sunday. We ate way too much bread and cheese for our own good as well. It’s a mystery to anyone who isn’t French how they manage to stay so thin with everything they eat and drink.

Sunday, July 8, 2012
Today was an awesome day. We set out at about one to go see the Catacombs. Since neither of us had eaten because we woke up late, we decided to get lunch before making the 1 hour line and doing the 1 hour tour. We went to a nice place and were very pleased with our meals. The pace of the meals is very slow here. After we ate, we sat for about 25 minutes until our check was brought to us. By that point it was already 3pm. We left and on our way to our destination ended up stopping for some gelato. The way they put it on the cone was so cool. It ended up being shaped like a flower. I got cake batter and coffee that had real espresso beans… It was delicious. By the time we hopped in line for the Catacombs, there were two workers standing there and they told us that the doors closed at 4 and we might not make it in. We decided to leave and go to the Cathedral of Notre Dame.  It was an absolutely incredible site to see. There were so many people that were clearly moved by the experience, and the feeling of being in there was very spiritual. After that, we walked around the area that we were in. We stopped for a coffee at a sidewalk café and stayed there for about an hour just hanging out. Doing that is completely acceptable here. When we left, we found an incredible little block that had café after café surrounding a giant fountain that had all sorts of artwork in it. Near there was the Pompidou, which is a building that was essentially built inside out. We had crepes again for dinner (no complaint there!), and then we decided to go back to the hotel. I’ve never seen anything like this city, and I am for certain falling in love with it. The summer weather is a bit chilly for my taste, but it’s definitely not a dealbreaker.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday, June 30- Thursday, July 5, 2012


Saturday, June 30, 2012

We left at about 11am to make it to the airport for our 4:30 flight. Traffic wasn't bad until we hit New York. That tied us up for about two hours. Traveling was exhausting. I was up for a little over 24 hours straight. I slept maybe 20 minutes here and there on the first 7hr flight, but it was not good sleep at all. When we got to France, we had to take multiple trains to get to our hotel. We arrived at the hotel at about 3:30pm the next day. France is 6 hours ahead from PA, so that'd be about 9:30 there. We slept for a few hours and then went out to dinner. We got back pretty early for work the next day.




Monday, July 2, 2012

First day of work! I was exhausted and so jetlagged. It took about 10 minutes to get to work by the train. The station is right outside our building, it's so convenient. It's also very cheap. I received my project and basically just got to know the place. I will be doing research on waste management, which will later be used to help develop Sodexo's "Better Tomorrow Plan." You can read more about the plan here: Better Tomorrow Plan. I left early to go back to my room and rest. Before I went back, I stopped at the store. Let me tell you, IT'S SO DIFFERENT! Even brands we have in America have different packaging. The cereals are mostly chocolate-based, and even Tony the Tiger looks different. I didn't know what a lot of things read, so I just guessed at what I was buying. Thankfully it all worked out pretty well. One thing I found crazy was that you could individually buy things that usually come in packages. For example: You can take ONE water bottle out of a package of 6 if you only wanted to purchase one. You could also buy half a baguette and rip it in half if you wanted. Makes me wonder how the French economy manages to somewhat function and not go belly-up if people are allowed to do what they want and possibly produce waste.

Euros. They remind me of Monopoly money. They're all different sizes.

Sodexo Global Headquarters, France
View from the 7th floor. That's the Eiffel Tower to the left.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Work was a lot better today than Monday in regard to how tired I was. I had straight espresso for the first time. It's so bitter and strong. I really dislike it, but it's what everyone drinks in the office. The French take so many coffee breaks. We have an automatic machine with 6 different coffee options: espresso, double espresso, coffee, mocha coffee, mocha and something else I haven't tried yet. We also have a 1 hour lunch break. There's also no set time you need to go into work or leave. You just go in and leave when you get your work for the day done basically. The work ethic is not as strong as Americans, and someone I work with told me that they love when Americans come to work because we actually get things done. The Sodexo Global headquarters is a very inspirational place. When Michel Landel took over, he decided that he wanted the office to be more diverse and not just French. Because of that, they started a language program that teaches employees that don't know the language how to speak French. There are SOOO many people that are working here that didn't know a word of French before they were hired. It's giving me ideas for the future and where I want to work and what I want to do. France is a beautiful place, and I would definitely live here temporarily for a few years of my life and work.

However, I'm still getting used to the new culture. It's not very hot, but it's somewhat humid. There is a lot of pollution in the air as well. I have a black coffee maker in my room and it gets dusty by the end of the day. Also, I have been needing to use RUBBING ALCOHOL on my face so that it does not break out because of all the dirt. The sun doesn't set until about 1030-11 either, so people eat late and are up late as well. The opposite of the American lifestyle. Shawon and I ended up walking around and got pizza at about 1030. He posted a video on his blog (Living Life ) of how the guy made it. It was very interesting! They also use swiss cheese instead of mozzarella! Living here is like living in a big city like New York. You don't need a car because public transportation gets you everywhere, and living spaces are very expensive and small. A woman I work with told me that every square meter is 20,000euros. That's about $25,000 today!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July! Not really a big deal here. How did I celebrate? Well, at lunch Shawon and I sat with 4 other Americans and talked about the states. By night we went over the house of woman who we work with and had a very French-style dinner with her and her husband (slightly ironic that we ate French food when it was the 4th of July). The dinner consisted of a platter of cheeses, lunch meat, foie gras (google it), baguettes, and wine. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed being there. The day was fun and relaxing, but we again didn't get back until late with work early the next day.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday was a great day. I had a very productive day at work and then after work Shawon and I had dinner then head out to see the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden and Palace. It was absolutely gorgeous and unlike anything I have ever seen before. There was also a carnival that was going on near the Louvre so we went. We rode the ferris wheel and it stopped at the top. The view was AMAZING! we saw the Eiffel Tower and so many other beautiful things. After that, we walked around a bit. There was a slushie stand with more slushies that I ever thought existed. There was also a candy stand that you picked your own candy and put it in a bag and weighed it at the end for your price. I ended up spending 20euros, but it was well worth it! I'm a bit of a candy gummy junky. I could describe everything that I did, but I think pictures will show it better!