This time around, my study abroad program expects us to use French libraries for our research papers. I guess that's one of those differences between undergrad and graduate studies...
You might be thinking, oh cool, a French library, doing it like a real etudiante francaise, plus, it looks pretty nice in there (Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve at left), with its gorgeous 19th century interior, what's so bad about that? Well I'll tell you.
First, there's no air conditioning, quelle surprise. When it's 90 degrees outside, it gets a little toasty, making it hard to concentrate--not to mention stay awake. According to my professor, an air-conditioned library is in fact "execrable."
So why don't you just take the books outside, to a nice park, to an air-conditioned Starbucks, or even your room where you can use the fan? you may ask. Ha ha. Silly Americans. That would be because you can't check books out! Many libraries here only allow on-site consultation. As far as I know, only the small municipal libraries allow you to borrow books, and the chances those will have what you need for an academic paper--especially one on women and colonialism--are pretty slim. And last but not least, limited hours and closed on Sundays. Thus, for the next few weekends, I'll be passing several hot hours in this beautiful library, nodding off in front of the laptop I have to lug halfway across town.
So if you have been wondering about something I prefer in the US, voila, there you have it. It even makes me nostalgic for YRL library at UCLA, and for my fellow Bruins out there, you know that's saying something.