Friday, September 20, 2013

Yippi - i - yay!!!!!

Question: What can you get if you have a valid Irish passport, an advanced degree from an American university, a working credit card, and a willingness to charge roughly $2200 to that credit card?

Answer: You get to be a student at the Sorbonne!!!!

With a student ID card to prove it.

Je suis, comment le dire, un campeur heureux.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For all you art lovers out there.

Your average Whipping Cats reader is, I like to imagine, a cultured sort. All about gallery visits, long walks on the beach, and a big dollop of Merlot when all that culture gets to be too much. This link is for you, dear average Whipping Cats reader:

The Plain People of Ireland: Begob yes, sure we're all about the culture, provided there's none of that filth that you find all over the place these days. Didja ever see that wan picture, "Dogs Playing Poker". That's art for you right there, see?

Whipping Cats Management: For once and for all, will ye bloody well shut up? Ye know ye are not allowed in the main body of a post. Only in footnotes and comments, damn ye!

PPoI: Alright, alright, no need to lose yer calm. Just keep yer shirt on!

WCM: Le sigh gallique.

Sortie Pédagogique

This afternoon our sortie pédagogique took us on a tour of the covered arcades of Paris. Some of them are very beautiful:

But of course the best kind of sortie pédagogique is one where one gets to do a little shopping along the way:

A package from "A la Mére de Famille". Looks promising. What might be inside??

Delicious onion jam!
I will think of you, Betsy O' D., when I eat it, never fear!

In Other News

While wandering around the 5th arrondissement yesterday on my way to register at the Sorbonne, I did stumble across the Irish Cultural Center:

conveniently located on Rue des Irlandais:

I also discovered one of the hazards of the 5th (larcenous restaurant prices). After the interview with the academic counselor I figured it was time for lunch. A bite to eat would help put things in perspective and give me a chance to think about the advice I had been given. But I was a little bit distracted, so I didn't pay enough attention to the restaurant I picked. It didn't look particularly fancy, but once I had been seated and looked around I realized it was packed with obvious lawyer-types -- never a good sign. Let me just say that for 9 Euros, I would expect the tomatoes in my "heirloom tomato salad" to pack a lot more flavour than they actually did (they were ugly and gnarly as you would expect, but tasted pretty insipid, which was outrageous, considering the price). Also, Corsican bottled water tastes no better than San Pellegrino -- it just costs a lot more. But at least I kept dry during the slightly apocalyptic thunderstorm that started around 14:00.

After dinner I finally retrieved the suitcase I had left in the cave (storage basement) of my friends Nancy and Gabriella during the winter. It was a little bit like opening a time capsule, as I had no memory whatsoever of what I might have put in it. All kinds of little treasures came to light -- my foldable umbrella (I had been on the verge of buying a new one on Monday, but something held me back), my little booklet of arrondissement maps, not to mention these guys:

I just can't fathom how I got by without my little leprechaun-clock until now. The little guy on the bottom, aka as Chatty le Chat, was a present from my friend Paddy when she came to visit last year. He appears to have suffered a minor tail sprain while in storage, but not, luckily, an actual fracture.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Modified Rapture

You may be wondering "Why did David choose today to revive Whipping Cats, when he has already been back in Paris since September 6th?". Or you may find the title of this post a little puzzling. Bear with me, gentle reader, and everything will be made clear.

It's true that I have been back in Paris for almost a fortnight. But since this trip is supposed to be all about "Whipping Cats goes to the Sorbonne", I was holding off until today to do the inaugural post, as today is when registration opened for the winter semester at the Sorbonne. I think switching to a Q and A format may be helpful at this stage.

Was I there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with the necessary documents all ready in my hot little hand?
You bet I was.

Did my worry that a Ph.D. from UNC Chapel Hill might not prove to be adequate evidence of "the equivalent of the French Bac, or high school diploma" in the eyes of the French bureaucracy turn out to be unfounded?
Thankfully, yes it did.

Did I actually complete the registration process today?
Well no, not exactly, because that turns out to be a 3-step process, see.

Did I at least complete Step 1?
Yes, indeed; with the advice of the very helpful academic counselor I was able to zero in on an "appropriate" (but see below) choice of courses to take. This means I was given a little appointment slip to proceed to Step 2, which will be to show up on Friday at 15:00 with all relevant documents and - vitally - my VISA card, all ready for swiping, with the tuition amount pre-approved by the card-issuing bank. To be quite fair, I was given the option of proceeding to Step 2 this afternoon, but chose not to do so, because I wanted to think about the choice of courses some more before making a final decision.

Will "Step 2", on Friday, take care of things definitively?
Not in the least. Upon satisfactory completion of Step 2, I will be allowed to proceed to the final step, and given an appointment for a language placement test (to determine my level) to take place "some day next week". Eventually, once all applicants have gone through this final step, class groups will be formed and schedules assigned

Was this multi-step process annoying?
Not particularly. It actually seems pretty reasonable, and it was explained very clearly. The people I dealt with today could not have been more helpful, and they were very accommodating about trying to find a followup appointment time that worked for me. Basically, everything today went as smoothly as could reasonably be expected.

Well then, you bastard, why is this post titled "Modified Rapture" and not "Hurrah, I got in!!!" or something equally celebratory?
An excellent question -- glad you asked. It's because that conversation with the academic adviser left me feeling, frankly, underwhelmed. The warning signs were there from about five sentences in when she drew back, looked at me broodingly and said, in a slightly accusatory tone. "You're level C1. We almost never get students at your level. I worry that this course may not be challenging enough for you". She then rallied and corrected herself, but essentially kept circling around that same theme. When, at the end of our session, she concluded by looking me meaningfully in the eyes and reminding me that I didn't have to sign up for the full 12-week semester, there was always the option of the cheaper, abbreviated 8-week semester, she might just as well have said it straight out : "Save your money, bud!"

So I have some food for thought between now and Friday afternoon.

Dammit! All I want is somewhere to hang out 20 hours a week where people will talk French with me at my level and challenge my mind on a regular basis. Is that too much to ask for?

Whipping Cats est de retour !!!

Yes, folks!! After a winter of hibernation, and a shameful dalliance with the vile Zuckerbergian site which shall not be named (but let's be clear, I have never, even in my lowest hours, had any truck with le Twitter), I have decided that I owe it to you, my faithful readers, to revive "Whipping Cats".

The plain people of Ireland: hear, hear!! about time too!! (assorted other coarse cries of approval)
Whipping Cats Management: Silence, wretches!! Even if ye are just some kind of "meta" blogging device, that still doesn't mean ye're allowed in the main body of a post.

Where was I? Let's try adding a photo or four, that you may have missed if you are not on FB:

Arts et Métiers (my favorite metro station)

Delicious, low-carb snack

Happy students at Père Lachaise

Marianne, on a fine September evening