Week 4

So my scholarship money finally arrived on Wednesday—meaning that, at last, I could eat at the university restaurant and cafeterias. While I did have to make lunch for myself and sometimes my brother during the summer, the refrigerator was always stocked with food. I’m not at all used to having to live on my own and cook almost every meal. 22 days isn’t that long, but it felt like forever. Granted, being able to choose what I eat is still much better than trying to pick out the most edible-looking Estes food, but I missed the convenience of not having to worry about cooking/cobbling together every meal, if that makes sense?

The university has three places you can eat: a tiny cafeteria attached to the actual academic building, and a cafeteria and restaurant inside a separate building called Restaurant Carlone. I ventured into Restaurant Carlone an hour and thirty minutes before class started, and since the line for the restaurant was ridiculous, I headed over to the cafeteria. After maybe half an hour of waiting, I finally got to pick out my food. The cafeteria here is completely different from Estes in the sense that it’s not an all-you-can-eat sort of thing (although I can’t imagine anyone would be excited about eating everything in Estes). Instead, all the food, from drinks to salad to fries, is charged separately. From what I could tell, you can choose pasta, savory tarts, rice, vegetables, desserts (slices of cake or pie, or packaged beignets and cookies), fruit, yogurt, and dishes like hamburgers and fries. I just ended up grabbing a 3.20 euro salad because I’m a slow eater, although I got a free piece of bread too.

The salad was artfully arranged, and had corn, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, and thin white strips that I originally mistook for noodles. I’m still not sure what they were—potatoes, perhaps? I couldn’t really tell since they were covered in some sort of sauce. But the salad was actually fresh—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wandered over to Estes’s salad bar in a desperate attempt to forage for healthy food, only to discover that half of the options were wilted or very obviously not fresh. The downside of actual edible food is that the restaurant and cafeterias aren’t open at night, or on the weekends, meaning that I still have to cook for myself. So while I’m lamenting the remnants of my adolescence, I’ll also welcome the opportunity to learn how to cook things that aren’t pasta or stir-fry.

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Thursdays are simultaneously my favorite and least favorite part of the week: after suffering through five hours of class (or seven hours every other week), I’m finally free to enjoy my three day weekend.

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On Friday, I ordered a sandwich américain from the cafeteria, which consisted of an actual sandwich complete with lettuce, tomatoes, and meat, along with a side of fries. The meat (I think it was beef? I don’t eat beef very often) was a bit dry, but the bread was delicious. Food is definitely lighter, and fresher, than the grease-slathered, butter-heavy, frozen, canned, or “Asian-flavored” stuff you get at Estes, or the passable burgers and subs at the Commons.

After eating, I went to the other cafeteria, where I ordered a turkey panini to stash in my fridge until dinnertime. Then I walked to the city, where I finally bought my bus pass—I’m never walking up that massive hill after buying groceries again. I then tried to find places to buy SIM cards, since there was this whole mess about my bank and my SIM card—I ordered a free SIM card online, but online banking kept telling me I needed to give them a cell phone number, except I couldn’t put any money on my SIM card because I couldn’t make any online payments. When I walked into FNAC, a store that sells electronics, school supplies, and books, I got a bit distracted from my SIM card mission, because books. I spent some time wondering if I should buy the fifth Percy Jackson book in French for 6.90 euros (I eventually decided not to, because I needed room in my purse for groceries), and after browsing the English section, I attempted to read Attack on Titan in French. Eventually, I forced myself away from the books and went into Monoprix, where I managed to find a card that I could use to top up my SIM card.

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Saturday’s mission: find a cutting board. It took a lot longer than expected, mostly because I first visited an Asian supermarket and then the library. At Asiana Supermarché, I almost cried at the sight of delicious, familiar foods. I resisted the urge to buy half the store and picked out a bottle of oyster sauce and a package of instant pho.

Then, I fully intended to go to Monoprix to find a cutting board, except I got sidetracked when I walked past the Louis Nucera Library. I spent a while ogling the French versions of my favorite books and skimming through some of them, and now I need to get a library card ASAP so that I can reread a bunch of my favorite books and hopefully improve my French.

Finding a cutting board in Monoprix took a ridiculous amount of time, mostly because I wandered the entire downstairs before giving up and going upstairs, which was falsely labeled “fashion.” The second story had clothes, school supplies, and bathroom and kitchen supplies, so I guess Monoprix is like the French equivalent of Wal-Mart or Target? Anyways, that’s about the extent of the weekend’s excitement (I was going to visit a bunch of museums on Sunday, except I must have slept funny because my right foot hurt whenever I walked down stairs, so there went that idea).

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