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Bonjour à tous,

I feel like a super schmuck with a capital S for being away for so long. I’m still in my funk, but have the added bonus of making a movie! It’s a documentary that I’m making for my job. I’m really excited with the content I got and am feverishly working on it to make a final product for its due date of June 26th…which means that I am going to be super MIA for June. As writer, director, light and sound grips, and editor, I don’t have any free time for writing or the Twenty in Paris newsletter. Again, I know super schmuck, but I need a second me to be able to do all the things I used to do plus the new skills I’m learning.

So enough about me, how about Paris! Instead of featuring it in the newsletter, I’m bringing the Twenty in Paris newsletter section of “Ask a Pro” to you. Here’s my favorite American expat in Paris, Melissa from Prête-Moi Paris on the importance (and utter joy) of learning to speak French while you call France home.

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My number one advice for those who want to live in France, whether it’s for a few months or a few years, or more : make all attempts to speak the language. I can’t stress enough how mastering the language helps you integrate better and faster. Dare to speak, dare to sound like an idiot, dare to communicate, it is the best way to feel at home here. I also recommend making just a couple of really good French friends. No need for a whole crowd of them, because talking one-on-one with someone in French will be easier than trying to keep up with a group conversation at first, and creating a bond with someone on that level will be a better way to make a friendship that lasts. You’ll find yourself in situations often where you feel like a wallflower, or an ignorant sore thumb, or someone that everyone seems to treat like you don’t know anything; this is because you lack the language skills and cultural knowledge to contribute anything meaningful. Be a sponge, soak it all in, even though you have lost your sense of humor because of the language barrier. It will come back with practice! Never, ever miss an opportunity to integrate and learn more about this country you have chosen to live in. The rewards will be lifelong!

Don’t forget to follow Prete-moi Paris on all its SM sites!




Where’s Twenty in Paris?

by Andrea Bouchaud on May 15, 2015


(Top photo by lovebeingretired.com. All other photos by Andrea)

I’ve been MIA lately. Ok, let’s be honest, it’s been a lot more than lately. More like since January 1, 2015. So where has Twenty in Paris been? Everywhere, no where, and in between. 2015 has turned out to be an extremely odd and growing pain year for me. Out of respect for my company as well as not participating in the millennial trend of trash talking on the internet, I won’t go into all the details. But, let’s just say I was thrown a curveball in my annual performance review that profoundly and negatively impacted me for over 4 months. Coupled with that curveball, I’ve been absolutely clueless about how to keep all you TIPsters informed and interested in studying abroad. I am against posting merde which is why I’m not posting as much; it’s also felt really good to unlpug for such a long time. So what have I been doing? Brainstorming, beefing up my Adobe creating/editing skills, making friends, making directorial debuts, and enjoying being a homeowner. I hope that this internet/writing funk ends soon. But in the meantime, don’t hesitate to ask for a particular topic to be covered or video to be made via a tweet. I love to hear from you!

house1 (Here’s a picture of super huge snail I found in my jardin while déraciner une plante)

house 2(portrait d’un potager... or freshly washed veggies!)




(photo by www.scps.nyu.edu)

I’m a big Trekkie. Not so big that I’m willing to drop $5,000 to buy the Captain’s Chair weekend package for the annual Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, plus what I’d spend on a universe accurate costume, but big enough. What I love about Star Trek is that it paints a more optimistic future for the human race. One where there is no more poverty, starvation; where you can pursue any dream because there aren’t things like money or bigotry to keep you from being the best person you want to be (or at least on future Earth. Other planets are a different story). Plus there are some gorgeous alien men. The one thing that really bugs me about this adventurous, idyllic future for us terriens  is that no one has to learn a foreign language anymore. Why not? Because of a pesky thing called a universal translator.

IMG_20130330_112052_820(Proof of Trekki-ness. Here I am as Seven of Nine with Data)

The universal translator has gone through many versions. First, it was as a Hitachi Wand looking thing and part of the ship’s comm system. Then it was either an earpiece or an internal piece implanted in the brain (it isn’t too clear) à la Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Although I understand how useful it is when you meet a new species to be able to communicate with them immediately, but it always bugged me. The universal translator took away the need to learn a foreign language in the 24th century. For a foreign language junkie, this is incredibly stinky! It’s the one thing that I don’t like about the Star Trek universe. A language is so telling about a culture and it’s a key point in learning about another group of people. Using a machine to translate is never completely accurate. If you don’t believe me, try using Google Translate to see how it doesn’t work well; just make sure you don’t use it on your French homework.

trek(First incarnation of the universal translator. photo by filmjunk.com)

I’ve often wondered how many cultural nuances would be lost in translation by using a device such as the universal translator. I had almost given up on the joy of foreign language learning in the 24th century, until recently watching an episode of Enterprise. Enterprise is the last Star Trek TV series made that ran in the early 2000s. The show is supposed to be a prologue to the entire Star Trek universe. It traces the very first deep space assignment. What was a pleasant surprise in this otherwise dull show is a scene in the mess hall between the ship’s doctor and the communication officer. The communications officer (CO) was learning and practicing the doctor’s native language. He is a different species. It was a fantastic scene as she was not using the then brand new technology of the universal translator. This CO was actually speaking and making mistakes in a foreign language. It was such a joy to my inner language nerd to see this scene. It was in watching this scene that I realized why I enjoyed it so much. In the future, the solution to miscommunication is not better teaching techniques and access to native speakers, it’s to eliminate learning a foreign language altogether.

ds9crew(Different species means different language and cultures. photo by www.popcults.com)

As a foreign language enthusiast, I believe that a universal translator is a curse and not a gift to the future. I can only hope that this blog post somehow, someway gets into a database in the 22nd century and helps people realize the importance of foreign language learning in connecting with new alien people and cultures. To boldly go where no one has gone before doesn’t just refer to space travel; it can also refer to the experience of speaking new and alien languages.



Midnight in Paris

by Jordan Murphy on April 27, 2015

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(photo by imgkid.com)

For as long as I can remember, I have talked about visiting Paris. I actually surprised myself by venturing to other European cities first.

I had an indescribable love for this place I had never been to, inspiring the choice to take French in high school. I was going to be fluent in the language and go to Paris – that was the plan. But I have learned many a time, things do not always go as planned. And although it was a little later than I had originally planned, I made it.

I was surprisingly comfortable making my way around. The metro system is not complicated, leaving my directionally challenged self extremely satisfied each time we reached a new destination without much trouble. It was also nice to catch a break from walking everywhere in a hurry while still having a chance to see what we wanted to.

As the brisk Parisian air swirled around me, I strolled up to the Eiffel Tower. It was so much more massive than I had expected and lit up ever so perfectly. After only seeing photographs for so long, this glowing piece of history was finally in my presence. I peered through my lens, hoping to capture it all so I would never forget this feeling. I am not one to get emotional in such circumstances, but I found myself tearing up at the sheer sight of this golden, sparkling masterpiece. My green eyes attempted to focus through the saltiness, not wanting to miss a minute of its unique beauty. The combination of the darkness and the twinkling lights was one of my most magical moments.

I am a lover of the touristy things in life, so I also visited the Love Lock Bridges (yes, apparently there are two). Although I currently do not have the name of someone special to write next to mine, I chose to participate anyway. I am also a lover of the cheesy things in life, obviously. My love lock reads – “Love is worth the wait”. And once I do find that deserving someone, I am going to give him one of the keys.

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(photo by lovelockstory.eu)

The City of Love lives up to its name with the charming streets and picturesque views around every corner. Everything in Paris is simply more lavish and elegant than anywhere else I have been, making me feel a little extra romantic than usual.

Although I cannot form sentences in the language, I recognized a fair amount of words on buildings, menus, and overheard in conversations – more than I thought I would have. One of my roommates and I were out to dinner and I kindly asked the waiter for cheese. He acted as if he understood, walked away from our table, and held up Tabasco sauce. I shook my head in disapproval, but then it came to me. Fromage.

I guess French class paid off after all.


Jordan Murphy

Jordan is a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She is a Communication Studies major with a minor in Journalism. Jordan is passionate about writing, traveling, photography, and a lover of social media. She hopes all the thinking she does will take her places one day.