#4 – Our First Days at Work!

Paris – 6/11/2018
Originally written on Friday, June 8th, 2018.

Hello everyone, it’s Kelly!  It is my turn to post!

First of all I want to comment on something I think is really funny about Europe so far.  Everything is really small!  The cars are small, the washing machines are small, the toilet seats are small, the refrigerators are small, the coffee cups are small, I could go on!  The apartment is really small so everything has to be miniature or really efficient.  There are stools instead of chairs so they can be stored away easily (there are also a lot of stools at work for this reason), and as Nick mentioned the pots and pans have attachable handles for easier storage, and the microwave is also an oven!  The benefit to this is that almost everything is in arms reach so that after a long day, we don’t even need to stand up to get something.  We are getting used to it!

This week Nick and I started work.  He works in Fontenay-aux-Roses and I work in Saclay.  I don’t know yet whether we are allowed to take pictures in the CEA site but this is the view from the bus stop at Saclay, facing the nearby schools.  I think they are constructing new buildings for Paris Saclay Universitaire, which my bus goes by each morning.

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Nick is also not sure if he can take pictures of his workplace, so he will describe it here:

Nick: Like Kelly said, I started this week as well, and everyone has been really nice! Every morning there are 10-15 people who say “Bonjour” as they come in (they say hi to everyone in the small building I’m in). Our building is just my team and the next team in the same group, so it’s a pretty close group of people. The food is pretty good (you get free bread at lunch!) and everyone stops to drink coffee a few times a day (usually right after lunch and again around 4 pm). My boss is super busy, but very nice and he’s already planning on sending me to a conference! I was also able to get my computer (mostly) set up so I can actually start working. It’s about a 35-60 minute commute, depends on if I make/miss certain trains/buses (and if they are late). 

We both have been enjoying our first few days, I have started doing experiments and learning where everything is located.  I think we both are a little overwhelmed by the fact that most of the day is conducted in French.  Which means there are conversations or directions that we just have no idea what is going on.  Occasionally if I ask someone if they parlez-vous anglais they will say, not really, but then they speak pretty well!  Frustratingly, the Human Resources people don’t speak any English, which made it hard for me to sign my contract.  I am sometimes able to say a few words, but it has really shown me that I need to learn French quickly!

This week I learned that I will be giving a seminar in a few weeks, that I will be going to important meetings for my project at other schools in Paris, and that I will be attending a conference in Nantes, France the first week in July!  I am already just as busy as I was at RPI!

Today was actually one of the important meetings.  We met at Institute Curie which is a prominent cancer hospital.  It was right next to the beautiful Pantheon.  The Pantheon is an 18th century mausoleum that functions as a secular mausoleum but has the remains of some prominent Parisians such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie.  It was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome.

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After the meeting I went to the bank which is near the Paris Opera.

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Finally after a really long week, spending a lot of time commuting, I got some great news!  My grant that I applied for will be funded!  This means we will have extra money to do more experiments, go to more conferences, and do more collaborations!  This is my first grant!

This weekend we will go to the Louvre and Versailles.  I can’t wait to take all the beauty in!  Love hearing from everyone!

3 thoughts on “#4 – Our First Days at Work!

  1. What a wonderful experience you both are having! We cannot wait to come and see all of the highlights of the city. Wow! A dual award! Well done! Dad/Dave and I are also working on our French. It doesn’t come so easy. Just keep swimming 🙂 Love you and miss you both, Mom and Dad

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    • We love hearing how you both are doing and feel like we get a private tour from your posts!!
      Congratulations on your grant and kudos to you both for getting around so well and being so open to all your new experiences. C’est la vie!!

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  2. Congratulations Kelly!! What great news. On the language front- I remembering when I spent about four months in Switzerland (the German speaking city of Berne) and boy did I bang my head against that language barrier! Hang in there and dont’ be afraid to practice even if you think you sound terrible! Loving the posts —

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