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Earlier in November, I submitted a proposal and was selected as one of 16 speakers at a conference in Paris, along with four other girls from IAU. My topic was one that I had been assigned in my French Civilization class: Religious Beliefs and Practices in France. I had given this presentation in French, but fortunately I was allowed to present in English at the conference.

At 4:30am on Friday the 14th, I awoke in a panic to the sound of my alarm. I was immediately disoriented when I looked at the time, but I was, in fact, supposed to be awake.  I quickly showered and got ready in the darkness of my apartment. An hour later, my wonderful, generous host mom woke up and drove me to meet up with the director of our program, IAU.  The other girls and I piled into his car and drove to the TGV station in Aix where we caught our 6:30am train to Paris.  We talked at first but it wasn’t long before I fell back asleep.

We got to the school in Paris, CEA, just past 10 in the morning.  It was cold, raining, and gray but despite the weather, I was excited to be in Paris again (for the third time this semester).   The morning was filled with various presentations and I was relieved that mine went fine.  After lunch at the school, we made our way to Centre Pompidou to see the Salvador Dali exhibit. 

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This museum is possibly one of the strangest looking museums I’ve ever seen.  When it was built, all of the pipes and whatnot were placed on the outside of the building.  It was the first time I’d been to the museum since my first visit to Paris in high school, but this time I actually got to go inside. After waiting in many long lines, we entered the exhibit.  It was beautiful, creepy, bizarre, impressive, and confusing all at once.  Many of the paintings seem to have completely different styles and there is, of course, a great deal of symbolism in them which I struggled to understand.  My favorite painting is called “Aube, midi, coucher de soleil et crepuscule” – meaning dawn, noon, sunset, and dusk – and it depicts five images of the same woman. 

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After walking around the exhibit, we went to a restaurant called Nectarine in the Place des Vosges. I had the most delicious hot chocolate ever – it was almost as thick as pudding and we ate it with a spoon. We were all exhausted by this point so we sat and chatted for a while before going to grab sandwiches for dinner and catch the TGV back to Aix. Once again, I fell asleep for the majority of the train ride back home. Although it was a tiring day and I had to study for finals when I got home, it was a great experience to be part of the conference and to see the city for a bit! 





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