Pete Robbins ’12 – The weather is finally warming up in Paris, so the black of overcoats is no longer the only color on the sidewalks. Although it was still great, Paris was surprisingly somber in the winter.
Now, however, the sun is out almost every day and it has hardly rained in a few weeks. Even better, in one of my classes, the professor had to go to Abu Dhabi for three weeks, so I’ve been able to take that much more advantage.
By now I’ve seen most of the big tourist sites and museums, although of course there’s always something left to see. What’s been especially interesting is the amount of diplomatic and political crises that have been going on since I arrived in January.
One French minister had to resign from her post after saying that the French government supported Ben Ali’s dictatorship in January (and it was revealed that she had flown in his private jet on numerous occasions). President Sarkozy is nearing the end of his term and it’s almost certain that he won’t be re-elected. The Japanese tsunami/overall disaster has spurred a serious nuclear energy debate in France, which receives 80% of its power from nuclear energy.
Also, this year is supposed to be some kind of special year between Mexico and France (I guess it was called the year of Mexico here). It’s kind of a weird concept, but anyway the celebration of all things Mexican has been tempered by the fact that Mexico is holding (and I think has sentenced) a French woman to prison for kidnapping, and the French think she didn’t do it. So Sarkozy said something to the effect of, “The year of Mexico can no longer be the same.”
And! former president Jacques Chirac is currently charged with serious allegations of embezzlement/fraud from when he was president in the 1990s. However, most people agree that while he’s probably guilty, he’ll never be tried, and some newspapers are now saying that he’s too old and senile and that everyone should just forget about it. Basically, imagine if Clinton’s scandal had been appealed and delayed for 15 years. Would we really still care?
So all that stuff has been very interesting, but the wine and the cheese and the bread are all the same, so everyone is able to cope and carry on normally with their lives.