28 11 2012

My French Quest

“Giving Thanks in France in Aix-en-Provence”

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I took a trip to Aix-en-Provence, a city in the south of France which was founded in 123 BC.  The three hour train ride took me through the beautiful countryside of Provence complete with wine vineyards, rows of lilacs, medieval fortresses, rolling green hills bordered by hedgerows, and sunshine (which I don’t see much of in Paris!!) As the train pulled into Aix, I could see Montagne Sainte-Victoire, one of the famous landmarks which was also the favorite subject of Paul Cezanne’s works.

In the 4th century, when Aix was the capital of Provence, a Merovingian baptistery was built in what is now the Saint-Sauveur Cathedrale.  This baptistery is situated in an octagonal basin surrounded by marble columns and Roman frescos dating back to the 5th century.  On Sunday morning, I had my own private worship time complete…

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23 11 2012

My French Quest

” Voltaire in Paris”

One of my favorite books in French literature is Candide, a short humorous novel about an optimist, Candide, and his mentor, Pangloss, who travel the world and experience many tragedies, but maintain a sense of optimism throughout. Candide , written by Voltaire in 1762, is a work of historical fiction based on the actual world events such as: the Seven Years’ war, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and the resulting fires of All Saints Day.  After witnessing the brutal murder of his love, Cunégonde, Candide and Pangloss spend the next few years traveling to such places as Holland, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Paris, Constantinople, and Turkey. Finally when they return back home Candide  marries his love Cunégonde (she was actually not murdered) and ends the story still an optimist, telling Pangloss, “come we must cultivate our garden”!

The name Voltaire is actually the pen name of

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16 11 2012

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My French Quest

Second Language Acquisition

One of the reasons I am studying in Paris this fall is to experience life first-hand as a second language learner in an Immersion Program.  Of course, I love all things French as well, but part of my motivation is to improve my skills as a Second Language Instructor: the strengths and weakness of teaching students how to communicate effectively.

I am currently enrolled in 20 hours of French and am taking the following courses:  Grammar (2 hrs each day, 5 days a week), Phonetics (1 hr daily),  Art History (2 hrs week), French Literature (2 hrs week) and History of Paris (2 hrs week).  While this is an overwhelming schedule, being “immersed” in French has rapidly improved my language skills.   The following is my list of ten observations of being a second language learner of French:

1.   Be prepared for class each day by completing assignments…

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8 11 2012

My French Quest

Victor Hugo and the Notre Dame Cathedral

Last Sunday morning I attended a Gregorian mass with my friend Ashley in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This is one of the most beautiful churches in the world.  The vaulted ceilings, the colorful stained glass windows, the rose window depicting the life of Christ, and the echo of the chants filled this Cathedral with an air of reverence and an atmosphere of worship. There wasn’t an empty seat to be found as Parisians, Americans and tourists from all over the world came together to pray and recite scripture in Latin, French, and English.

This imposing cathedral was built in 1160 by the architect Maurice de Sully in the Gothic style that was popular during this time period in Europe and was essentially completed in 1345.  It was also one of the first buildings to use the “flying buttresses” to support the…

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1 11 2012

My French Quest

First Century Paris in my Backyard

On the first day of my Parisian journey, Kalie and I walked around my neighborhood to get acquainted with my new surroundings.  We found a nice little park around the corner with old statues and a beautiful garden and decided to have our lunch there.  Since then, whenever I have some time between classes and the weather is nice, I visit this park and read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. What a surprise to discover that on the other side of the hill, this nice little park happens to be des origines de Paris!

From 120 B.C. to 400 A.D., the Romans occupied Gaul (modern day France).  They constructed temples, thermal baths, theaters, aqueducts, arcs of triumph and arenas.  One of the main arenas that was constructed in Lutèce (modern day Paris) in the 1st century, was the Arènes de Lutèce, an…

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