I returned last night from an unforgettable two-week research trip to France and Germany. I spent the first ten and last one day at BULAC, the library of INALCO in Paris, and three more days in between participating in this year's annual Symposium in Yiddish Studies at the University of Trier in south west Germany. I was also joined by my S/O on her own expense.
This trip was unique professonally because this was the first time that the main purpose was not to participate in a conference, whether actively or passively, but to live the life of a scholar in residence, though only for 11 days. I've never spent my sabbatical abroad, but I imagine it must be like this one. It was so nice to work in a different, quiet workplace in a civilized environment away from all the noise. I simply visited no sites of tourist attraction in Paris except for a half-day excursion to the Jewish quarter and Monmartre, my two favorite places in Paris, when the library was closed. I also benefitted greatly from meetings with two colleagues of mine living in Paris - a researcher of Judeo-Arabic teaching at INALCO and a researcher of Jewish onomastics originally from Moscow.
The presence of my S/O enormously enhanced the private part of this trip. We met every evening after our respective work during the daytime and talked about many things without being distracted by anyone and anything else. One of the things I liked best is the fact that we speak Yiddish with each other! Since her French and German are better than mine, I spent these two weeks speaking mostly Yiddish. Except with her and the two colleagues and two good old friends I met (and spoke in English) I had few conversations with locals.
No less unforgettable was our participation in the above mentioned symposium in Trier. I benefitted from it very much, but here again the presence of my S/O who not only knows Yiddish but also specializes in its linguistics increased my intellectual benefit several times. With no relation to this specific academic event it's so nice that I share this and many other research interests with her. We even had brainstorming sessions for conducting joint research projects, which we find is a lot of fun not only intellectually but even emotionally.
PS: Here are three pictures of me dancing a traditional Ashkenazic folk dance, which I studied for quite some time in Jerusalem from one of the few specialists in the world, at a subway station in Paris. :-)