The very first day of our program! We were led through the labyrinth of Paris metro by the seasoned veterans (= FIPDes second year students), who came back for the
food intro week. Since we
tried to move around 25 people at once, we were - naturally - late, though a
train accident, non-working ticket machines and long queues for the working
ones played a role in that as well. Upon our arrival at the AgroParisTech
Montparnasse building, instead of being scolded, we got delicious breakfast and
were introduced to the program, coordinators, universities and other
classmates. We got a lovely FIPDes notebook, too. I have to say that now I’m
even more torn between applying for Lund or Paris for my 3rd
OK, I think I need to work on my gesticulation...
After equally delicious lunch, we took a gazillion of funny pictures (you didn’t expect us to act like serious scholars, did you?) and then, being the cheapos of the blackest dye, we contemplated bringing the leftovers for dinner, which we eventually did, with the blessing of our coordinators. I mean, it would be a waste to throw it away, right?
Packing the left overs...
With Mihajlo - he's unfortunately on a whole different level than me...
...approximately by 20 cm.
In the afternoon, we listened to a super cool presentation about Erasmus Mundus Association (for which I absolutely need to register) - a place to meet other EM scholars, offer and receive help to each other, do fun stuff, travel etc. Then we got help with filling out tons of bureaucratic paperwork a la francaise, and had a French placement test (a test on the first day of school? Come on!)
In the evening, I went to fetch pictures from Gerald (followed by the horrible realization that non-photogenic doesn’t come even near the word that would describe how I come out in photos), then became speechless after reading Steve Jobs’ Commencement address (1 - I can actually shut up, yes; 2 - I’m probably the last person on the planet to have read it, yes; 3 - Surprisingly enough, I actually don’t feel like writing about serious things (such as my feelings after reading it) here o____o).And of course, we had yet another picnic combined with silly games, guitar playing and story telling (apparently, one of our seniors has proposed big-budget romantic movie style).
Skirt worn as dress: Liz Lisa lucky pack, Shibuya109
Belt: Colosseum, Germany
Headband: off brand
On Tuesday, we learnt some more information about our first two semesters and also some details about the possibilities for second year. We got pretty freaked out by some of the subjects, especially the engineering and data analysis. I suppose the FIPDes consortium expected that, so they prepared comfort food - the countries buffet with delicacies from the countries participating in FIPDes. I think the pictures and our happy faces are pretty self-explanatory, right?
Our macarons from Ladurée:
I got one with mint.
Liz caricaturing my usual pose (aka Vita-style)
Gerald being himself (Liz: He's one to talk, he only has two expressions - closed mouth and open mouth)
Me looking retarded as usual
My stylish classmates - Chrisant and Liz
In the afternoon, we went shopping with Anette, Liz and Gerald around Montparnasse near APT (AgroParisTech’s abbreviation), I got just white lacey tights (2 E) and a gift for my friend in Japan.
Then we headed to Notre Dame and then we headed for our evening FIPDes program, which was a cruise on Seine. We saw all of the main monuments along the river, beautifully lit by the setting sun; we took lots of pictures and shared our
love heartbreak stories.
Afterwards, we headed for an APT party which takes place every month - I’ve never been to a university party before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But I think that the welcome I got would be too much even for experienced party beasts:
I was going through the room right behind my friends when two girls I’ve never seen before started talking to me in French - then they switched to Frenglish and apparently, they were trying to persuade me we met before at a McDonalds (I’m fairly sure I haven’t been to any McD store in Paris for at least 10 years). I tried to free myself be lying that “oh yes, I remember now”, but instead, one of the girls whispered into my ear that her friend was really sexy (unfortunately I can’t neither confirm nor deny it as I’m not the right person to judge female sexiness) but I have to be careful since her boyfriend is jealous (uh, OK). Then the sexy girl got dangerously close and said about her friend she was a slut, which was the moment when I decided I needed to disappear before things that would make me blush anytime “I kissed a girl” would be on air happened. Surprisingly, “I’ll just get a drink and catch up with you later” worked.
Actually, given my shy personality (well, OK, slightly shy) and the length and ruthlessness of the queue, it was Liz and Gerald who got me a drink, a hotdog and a plastic crown.
Wednesday was the first day when we actually had the first taste of lectures. In the morning, professor Birlouez, an independent sociologist, had a lecture about the context of food in our lives - everything from biology to anthropology, culture, religion and sociology of food. It was very interesting, the professor talked really well and the topic was not very hard since the things made a lot of sense, so it was very enjoyable.
Dress: Don Don Down on Wednesday
Skirt: Zara (Paris)
Brooch: I Am
Before lunch, we played a couple of silly games as a part of the team building session.
Whoever designed this bathroom which is shared between guys and girls must have been a real pervert. Yes, you can see everything from the guys' part in the mirror. No, there's no door separating the mirror and the toilettes.
After lunch, we had the highly anticipated Molecular gastronomy & molecular cooking & note by note cooking workshop with - guess who - Hervé This himself. You may not agree with all of his opinions, but it’s undeniable that he is very charismatic, smart, hard working, innovative, a very good speaker, very witty and slightly obsessed with quantum mechanics. I would never have thought that the Eψ = Ĥψ from the Chemistry Olympiad would come in handy three years later while making ice cream from orange juice and liquid nitrogen.
He invited his friend, a talented chef (David Desplanques) to help him with the workshop, so we got to see two experts in action (lots of it, as you can see in the photos). I have to say that I was really impressed with the (at least seemingly) endless possibilities of MG. Being in my early 20s; I found the motto of the lecture a bit depressing:
“Food can change only through the young people, so you need to target them. The old people will die, you don’t care.”
FYI, the time span is 0 - 20: Young, 20 - 100: Old
Well, I naively hope that you can teach an old dog new tricks, so I wouldn’t give up on the 20-somethings (and our elders) just yet. Anyways, it was an amazing experience, and we got a lot of material to think about, such as whether note by note cooking could solve the problem of our current production not being able to feed the fast-growing human population in a couple of decades.
I was told to put this picture online since it's false advertising, so beware!
Thursday was the FIPDes day - basically a mini conference of the FIPDes program and its partners. We listened to short presentations about research (FIPDes batch 1 MSc thesis, caffeine), innovation (from different perspectives - American, European, Asian and FIPDesian) and marketing. I learnt lots of new things, gathered tips for my future presentations and I was rendered speechless but how amazing the projects carried out by our older classmates were. The bar is set very very high, if we want to reach their level of awesomeness. On top of that, both our seniors and the professionals & professors were very friendly, answered every single question we had and really seemed to care a lot about FIPDes. I already said we were like one big family, but it is really amazing how everyone is capable, smart, hard working and yet so friendly, welcoming and willing to share everything. After today, I’d rather die than go back to Prague - this is just so exciting, I feel like our opportunities during and after FIPDes are almost endless.
Do I sound too dreamy? Might be a result of a sugar overdose.
Skirt worn as dress: Liz Lisa LP, Tokyo
Bag: L'Intemporelle, Angers
Then at around 10 PM, we headed to some club where there was an Erasmus party. I am not a party person, and this visit just confirmed it. With every drum beat of the music, a little shock went through my body from head to the toes (which already hurt a bit because of the shoes I wore). With every single person putting his (less often her) hand on my back and pushing me out of the way my hand had an urge to slap that person, and with every half-drunk guy hitting on me or my friends, I was thinking of doing even worse things (of course, in reality it was more of a retreat than attack). Also, my ability to dance is limited to move hips -> move arms awkwardly -> move legs -> repeat. Don’t look too annoyed, since people tend to notice. The best part was a performance of two Brazilian go-go dancers that wore carnival outfits and were super awesome. OK, in general, I didn’t really regret going, since I was there with my friends, but, well, I’m not a party person.
P.S. If your roommate plans to come back late, please don’t use the manual lock to lock the door. Please.
P.P.S. Thank god that people with two-bed rooms and non-existent roommates exist in this world.
On Friday, the only official program was the graduation ceremony of batch 1 in the afternoon. I planned to catch up sleep, but this plan was slightly disturbed by my savior’s weird alarm clock timing and melody. I really thought there was a giant military parade at 5 AM in Paris. And that it went right below our windows every 20 minutes.
So, after getting finally inside my own room and making myself look more or less human, I headed for a big shopping adventure to China town - I got some boring groceries (mainly to make a thank-you lemon tart for the knight with weird alarm clock taste) in Casino and then explored Amasia (food from all over Asia and Korean cosmetics - I didn’t have my camera, but I remember that Etude House eye cream was 12.50 E, sleeping pack 15 E and they even had make-up and some other brands), where they accept credit cards over 12 E (but mine weren’t working - I just hope the money won’t be taken from my account three times). I got the remaining stuff in Euroasia or how was it - it’s right opposite.
Also, an interesting fact - in Casino, they will tie the zippers on your backpack together so you can’t steal anything. Therefore, when you want to put the stuff you bought in there, you have to put everything on the belt, run back to the security guy, make him cut it off and run back. No, the cashier person cannot have scissors. Also, in the Asian grocery stores, you may be asked to leave your shopping bags at the front - you’ll get a tag saying it’s yours, don’t worry.
Cake (the green part tastes vanilla too, so I guess it's not matcha TT___TT), noodles, coriander, tofu pates, rice, soy sauce, lotus roots - from Euroasia or how is it called again.
Dried and salted baby prawns (yum!), veggie mix with sauce, fruit jelly, normal prawns (3.5 E/500 g), udon - from Amasia
And here's what I did with it:
Afterwards, I proved that you can bake pastries in the MIAA oven (particularly in the one that resides at the 1st floor, the one on the 2nd kinda doesn’t work) and found out that munching on a fresh chili pepper is a bad idea (aka putting veggies in your soup may not always bring desirable results).
And in the evening, we all headed to the graduation ceremony of the first batch. The feelings we had are really hard to convey to non-FIPDes people. My batch has been together for a week, and we already feel like a family. Everyone is away from home - some won’t see their friends and family for the whole two years - so we feel really close to each other. And suddenly we see the memorial presentation of the graduates - how they started just like us, did lots of fun and amazing things, and then received the FIPDes MSc, but also had to say goodbye to each other. Most of us felt like crying for them. Also, the ceremony was much more moving than the average empty talk you hear - FIPDes is a small program, and it was clear the students were really close not only to each other, but also to the professors, coordinators and associate partners. It was crystal clear that all the FIPDes staff members were sincerely happy for the successful completion of the program for the first crew, but they were also sad to let them go. *Sobs*
Yours truly excited