Jul 21 2009

More like Yiddishland than Paris

by at 3:01 pm

I have walked into several boulangeries, cafes, supermarkets, and asked the rude-ish person attending in rather broken Yiddish for something or other several times this last week.  What can I say, when I am in Yiddish immersion most of the day, and everyone around me speaks Yiddish, I forget that in Paris, people speak French.  Also, I forget how to speak French.  Hmm.  I wish I could learn one language without erasing parts of another.

So Seth and I (or should I say Shmul un Blime?) have plopped into Yiddishland, located in the Yiddish center in Paris.  This means 4 hours of Yiddish classes per day, another 4-6 hours of lectures, films, workshops, extra help sessions, museum visits, etc, as one desires to attend, and then a few hours worth of  homework.  It is a bit odd because everyone has such different backgrounds and there are so many people in each of the classes that despite immersion and fast-pacedness, I still feel like I am learning at a slower rate than I might be.  In particular, I am between levels 2 and 3, 2 being boring and 3 being too hard, so I, along with 2 other students, are going to 2 hours of each level every day.  Which thus makes it less coherent, but better paced.  Ah well.  And the advantage of their being too many other students is that there are actually OTHER people with whom to speak Yiddish, who have different accents, different dialects, different abilities, etc.

While we’ve been mostly Yiddishing, we did get to Harry Potter yesterday (with French subtitles, not dubbed), and we’ve been able to meet up with 2 different Harvard friends, one of whom we just ran into on the street and is visiting Paris during her half year in Barcelona, and the other of whom is working for Let’s Go.  Turns out there are far more people we know who pass through Paris than who pass through Lausanne or Geneva.  We also went to one of few hills in Paris on Bastille Day to picnic and watch the fireworks shooting off the Eiffel Tower with one of Seth’s freshman roommates and a bunch Harvard people we did not know.  We have been enjoying the cheap fruit available at open markets (apricots, cherries, peaches, plums!!!), and the not-so-cheap-but-at-least-good food we can find in restaurants.  At some point, hopefully soon, I will be reuniting with my exchange friend from high school; we’ve kept in touch for 8 years now, and we’ve seen each other every few.  Then again, I find myself with another cold, so maybe not so soon.

So, we’ve been busy.  In a good way, but let’s just say Seth and I have not been working as much on our research projects as we’d hoped to do.  And in less than two weeks, we will be in the states!  Please check your calendars and write us in; more detailed information for your city to come by email (if you don’t get said email, send us an email…we can’t remember where all of our friends are currently living.  And if you live in Philly, can you come meet us in another city?).  Our current plan, susceptible to slight modifications in the northeast corridor:

  • 1-4: Seth in Evanston/Chicago, Jackie in NJ/NYC
  • 5-11: Evanston/Chicago (both of us)
  • 12-15: Seattle
  • 16-19: Hilton Head, South Carolina
  • 20-21: Washington, DC
  • 22-26: NJ/NYC
  • 27-28: Boston/Cambridge (if you’re lucky…we may not make this one)
  • 29-30: attending a family friend’s wedding in upstate NY
  • 31: Back to Geneva!

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