This time I will list some of the daily differences between my Parisian and Glaswegian life (so far). First of all…
…the amount of people
This is an obvious one. Population of Glasgow is somewhere between 500 000 and 1 million, depending on how you count it. Population of Paris alone is 2,2 million – and it is estimated that around 10 million people live in the suburbs. Plus all the tourists. I come from a small Finnish town with a population of 70 000 people, so yes, Paris feels very busy and having so many people around me at all times can feel a little bit stressful. Luckily I live in the 15th arrondissement, which some people call boring – to me it is perfect, since it’s mainly a residential area, with much more peace than more touristy/central areas. Last weekend I took a trip to Ikea and got some small things (like candles and a plant… haha) to turn my room into a cozy hideout.
In Glasgow I would usually just walk everywhere. However, in Paris, sometimes I feel like I live in the metro… and the metro is usually boring. Sometimes small, funny things happen. I’ve also noticed that when I used the line 4 people would always read books. I’m now taking the line 12 and no one seems to read books! Line 1 and 2 are really nice and clean cause tourists tend to use them more, I assume.
When I first walked into a supermarket in Paris and saw all the cheese, I knew I was in heaven. I mean, I love Scotland but the cheese and especially bread there are just blah. Like everywhere, also in Paris the small shops can be really expensive but big supermarkets and food markets can be quite cheap. I’ve heard that meat is expensive, but since I only cook vegetarian (and tofu is quite cheap in Paris) it’s not really a problem… which brings me into…
First of all, it is not that much fun for vegetarians: in Paris, the options are definitely more limited than in Glasgow which is pretty much a heaven for vegetarians (think about Stereo, Hillhead Bookclub, 13th Note, Tchai Ovna… I’m getting homesick here). I know for most vegetarians this isn’t an option but personally I’ve become more of a flexetarian and have eaten some fish while here, and quite a few people are doing the same – however, I know there are many real vegetarians in Sciences Po as well, so it’s definitely not impossible. Most Indian and Italian restaurants have vegetarian options and there’s also a vegan restaurant called the Loving Hut which I can’t wait to try out. However, in the student restaurant CROUS (where you can get a proper lunch for 3,20 euros! Better than Tesco Meal Deal!) the only vegetarian option is usually a goat cheese pizza, and I am not even 100% sure whether the cheese they use is vegetarian (and I got a feeling that they don’t know any better either).
In Paris there are so many options to choose from! First of all, there are lots of free events that take place on the streets: last weekend it was Nuit Blanche, which meant pretty much that there were different kinds of light installations and shows all over Paris. This week there was Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre – which included wine (2 euros per cup or 4,50 for a bottle!), fireworks and a parade… so yeah, it seems there are fireworks going on like, almost every weekend. My favorite place for affordable happy hour drinks is the area around Bastille whereas Le Comptoir Général in the 10th is really cool for just chilling out. My flatmate recommended L’Alimentation Générale for live music, and I am looking forward to checking it out! So even though there is no Buff Club, the 78 or Balkanarama nights in Paris, I am sure I will manage 😉 (yeah… I don’t do Viper, but I’m sure there is a Viper equivalent in Paris as well)
This might be one of the biggest differences. Studying is very intense in Sciences Po – there is lots of work and classes are very interactive. And the classrooms are extremely international, which is really cool cause you get so many different perspectives! You get to do lots of presentations which really helps you to improve your communication skills. So I really, really enjoy it. But which things are better in Glasgow? First of all, it’s less stressful in Glasgow, so you have time for more non-academic stuff as well, and since there is less work, you can actually focus more on the quality of your work. In Sciences Po it feels like the ‘research’ you do is more like panic/express reading – you simply don’t have enough time to focus more deeply on one topic. I also think that the content we are assumed to learn in Glasgow is a bit more difficult than in Sciences Po, and so far I actually got better grades in Sciences Po than I did in Glasgow (this might change of course). But: I like the Sciences Po and Glasgow campuses equally – I love being surrounded by pretty things!
So, I guess that’s all for now. Things in Paris are different, but definitely not that different… and if you get really homesick you can always walk to a British style pub and order a pint of Magners (pints here are smaller though…) I will now continue writing my paper for Contemporary theories of Social Justice, which should be 10-12 pages long and so far I only got five… wish me luck!
PS. Only one week left until the fall break – then I’ll be off to Germany and Czech Republic! 🙂
PPS. I still haven’t found a place to volunteer in Paris, even though I’ve tried and contacted several people and organizations… so this is my ongoing mission here… we’ll see how it goes.