Very little about the first few days back in Paris and my experiences here resemble the pattern of my days, in school or otherwise, of the first "semester" I spent here last fall. And that's just fine, because the new of Paris coming at me even after a few months living here reminds me that, really, I'm just a short-term visitor, trying to make the most of my days here.
For example, last Friday, when a fellow student told me about the large library in the Pompidou Center, I was confused. Of course, we all know about the contemporary art museum. I had no idea there was also a library. So I walked over (in the below-freezing temps) to check it out for myself.
The entrance is on the opposite side of the building from the museum's entrance with which most Paris visitors are familiar. The library itself is on a bit of the ground level and the entirety of the next two floors up. It's enormous, and there is media of every kind located there, including many internet terminals for public use, television sets tuned to broadcasts from various countries around the world, a large music department with CDs for listening and recorded performing art works for viewing, world periodicals, and books on academic as well as practical topics, such as finding jobs and living in Paris. And there are many, many communal tables for sitting, reading and studying. Food isn't permitted inside the library, except for a small cafeteria on one of its levels.
I'm told there is most often a long line to get into the library; hence, the rope maze out front resembles the waiting area for security clearance at an airport. But, perhaps because it was an unusually cold day, there was no one waiting outside when I visited. Inside, however, you do have to cue up to register to use a computer terminal.
It's a spare, open space, with large windows on all sides, sun streaming in on the rare sunny days, and with wonderful views of the neighborhood in which the Pompidou resides.
Much more information can be found on the BPI link here, such as hours, speakers and events. The museum is open to all and is worth a visit.