Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ways to get a headache

Hey again!

So, to pick up where I left off, I arrived in France.  I am going to tell part of the story of the past week in terms of the ways it drove my brain and body bonkers, but I would like to insert a disclaimer that I have truly enjoyed every minute of it :)

Way to get a headache #1:  Stepping out of your comfort zone.  I decided when I got here that I was going to really truly speak French... and take care of all the important stuff I was supposed to do, and actually leave my apartment.  This all means I've been having a great time and exerted my independence nicely, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a shy, embarrassed, home-body part of me that lurks somewhere in my nervous system and makes me "très fatiguée" from all this initiative I'm taking.

Way to get a headache #2:  Jet lag.  I did everything I was supposed to when I got here to prevent jet lag, including staying up until at least 11-something p.m. before crashing in my gigantic bed in my posh apartment (with which I'm very pleased).  

More Bedroom

Part of the Entry-way... that fridge is as tall as me.

Kitchen: Complete with sinks, stove with cover to turn it into a
counter, oven, dishwasher, drain racks, washer dryer,
microwave, water heater, dishes, pots, pans, cooking
utensils, and a dining table off to the left with a
coffee maker and toaster!

Bathroom... it's an odd shape, and this makes it a
bit difficult to get a good picture, but I'm not

I'm also pseudo-living in the other, larger apartment shared by the other MIT students here... pictures of that to come.

Even so, I realized (although not until a few days later) that it totally made sense that I was having a hard time falling asleep at midnight and waking up at 8 am.  Being perpetually tired can give you a headache.

Way to get a headache #3:  Dehydration.  'nough said.  Anyone who knows me should know that sometimes I don't remember to drink enough water, and coming to France hasn't changed that at all.

Way to get a headache #4:  Second-hand smoke and pollution.  Bottom line, I ain't used to it, and especially smoke has always been a sure-fire way to land me with a headache.  Luckily, the campus itself, though nicely in the middle of Paris, has a much lower concentration of these things and I haven't been bothered at all during the week.
View from my apartment window onto campus.  Isn't it green and pretty?
My lab is the ivy-covered one in the middle.

I had a bit more of an issue on these outings:

with this cool dude:
This is not to say I didn't have fun, however, it was only a mild nuisance.  We saw some cool stuff, bought macarons, ate food, experienced a Paris thunderstorm while Rashed was stuck at my apartment waiting for a late-night taxi, went to the Musée D'Orsay for free, etc. but I'll leave the rest for him to tell when he gets internet :)

Way to get a headache #5:  Using your brain, for new material and in multiple languages.  As many of you may know, I'm not exactly an expert in fluid mechanics, so I've been trying to catch up quickly over the past week.  This has involved learning and reading about it in both French and English.  The people in my lab have for the most part decided that I speak French pretty well and are perfectly happy to talk to me exclusively in French unless I tell them I don't know a word.  It's working out pretty well; I can understand everything when I'm being directly addressed, and much of the conversations between other people.  Of course, I'm a little slow on the response time, and I realized today that it really is taking a lot more of my brain power to actively make those language connections on a daily basis than I ever devote to communicating in English.  I suppose I should have expected that, but gosh it's tiring.  Basically, my work is awesome, but there's a lot of thinking and new words galore.  There are also two other interns working under my supervisor now, and more to come.  It seems that the two I know already don't speak English as well as I speak French, so talking to them also requires my brain.  On top of this, I have decided that it would probably be worth it to work on my English vocab in my spare time to feel nice and prepared for the GRE.  Also, I miss having an absurdly large vocabulary for my age.  So yeah, my brain's gonna get real confused and I'm gonna start having grammar as bad as this in both of the languages I know ;)

On the bright side, I get to glue together my plexiglass SPLITT fractionation channel tomorrow, and my experimental apparatus is already set up!
Me and my lab bench
Apparatus on the left, my computer in the middle, and the particle counter and me on the right.
Way to make my body almost as sore as running a marathon:  Walking around Paris instead of taking the metro everywhere.  I like it though, I know how to get to a lot of places.

Notes:  Enjoying the food, grocery stores, sights, etc.  Getting to know the other Paris-based MISTI people is really cool.  I have not been offered wine in lab as of yet, haha, but I did get to see people get in trouble for drinking wine in front of the Tour Eiffel.  I got a card for the cafeteria system... yum, lots of cheap, good food.  I'm also enjoying the luxurious privilege of being able to buy personal-sized plain yogurt!

And lastly:



  1. Woah. I totally didn't recognize Rashed until you said "experienced a Paris thunderstorm while Rashed..."

    Totally thought you'd met some French man and were exploring the city with him.

  2. I can fully appreciate reasons #3 and #4. They've been quite prominent in Romania.

  3. Hahahaha #1 and 2. TOTALLY agree. I have been putting off going to a mobile carrier shop and an ATM, and I haven't been out of my apartment to go explore the city yet either... because I'm so tired all the time!

  4. j´étais ici depuis mardi et <> pour tous les cinqs! except instead of dehydration for three it´s malnutrition because I haven´t figured out how to put money on my resto card. aussi il faut qu´on ajoute des claviers francais.

    ps do you guys have travel plans for next weekend? parce que j´ai une idée.


  5. zut les <<<>>> ont mangés ma texte. je voulais dire que je suis completement en d´accord avec toi.

  6. This post and the comments made me miss all of you.

  7. Hi Erin! I loved getting that plain yogurt in the cafe everyday too...good stuff. I just went to leisure station with Adrienne, Shaun, Luis and my sister which was nice because I had been missing seeing people, but I'll be leaving soon which is sad. Dommage. Your place looks super nice btw!