My first school day, following class, found me at Gibert Joseph on the Boulevard Saint Michel. This is where the teacher said to go to buy certain textbooks and school supplies with very particular specifications.
If you've ever walked around the Latin Quarter, you've certainly seen these storefronts with the bright blue and yellow awnings, in a row one after another on the boulevard heading south from Boulevard Saint Germain. I often wondered in passing what they were, but I never walked in. They are large, well-stocked book and school supply stores that serve the students and teachers of the many universities in the area.
It was such a kick to buy school supplies again (for myself, that is), and after doing so for my kids for so many years at Staples, I can say with confidence that this is no Staples shopping experience. There are so many different types of everything! When I was searching for a lined spiral notebook, but with perforated pages AND holes punched in a certain way in order to accommodate the teacher's requirements, I had to ask for help and was directed to exactly the available alternatives - and there were many. (Sorbonne teachers are particular, and they're not apologetic about it.)
This got me to looking at everything the store had, and to watching what the shoppers were shopping for. And that brought me to the pen/pencil cases. The full wall display always had someone - male and female - picking through them.
Interesting, I thought briefly. But then, when I attended my first phonetics class last week, the teacher walked in, placed on her desk her large bag, lifted a brightly colored pencil bag from it and plunked it down on the desk. This she did every day, and it appeared to me that she probably did this at the start of every class she's ever taught.
As I began to gather various writing instruments for the courses, in various colors (red, blue, brown) and types (highlighters, thin tip, pencil), plus an eraser (for obvious reasons), it was becoming clear to me that I needed one of these, too.
So there is, my bright red pencil case. Ah, if becoming a French speaker would only be as easy as owning a French pencil case...