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Maria Sklodowska's Studies in Paris

Read about Marie's adolescence in Poland in the earlier article.  

After the finish of love affair with Casimir Zorawski and due to better financial situation in Sklodowski's household Manya was able to buy a 3rd class train ticket, pack up lots of belonging - cloths, food and even a quilt and take a 3-days trip to Paris in Fall 1891.

Since the very beginning Manya took her scientific studies at the Sorbonne University very seriously. She was always sitting in the first row during Physics classes to be able to listen and understand as much as she could. Still, it was not easy start. She had to get used to study in a different country, in different language and culture. She was one of the very few women - there were only 23 women among 1,800 students in Faculty of Science, so naturally she attracted lots of attention. Besides, she was a foreigner from a Slavic country, with beautiful ash-blond hair. But the boys were the last thing on Maria's mind in that moment. She had to study a lot to compensate for lack in some education fields from her Russian only female gymnasium many years ago. She took also laboratories courses. They were not easy, but the fact that she was able to conduct some experiments at The Museum of Industry and Agriculture which was run by Joseph Buguski, her cousin, helped her to get her some technical experience before starting the university studies in Paris.

Initially Maria lived with her sister and her brother in law - Bronya and Casimir Dluski. Dluskis, especially Casimir, was very active in a social life of Polish immigrants. Their apartment was always full of people. Casimir insisted that Maria would participate in all the events in their house and that she would also go out with them. Thanks to Dluskis, Maria saw Ignacy Paderewski's concert before he became a famous pianist. In a long run, this lifestyle was too time-consuming and distracting for Maria, especially since it took her an hour to commute to the university.

She decided to move out and found a cheap attics room for 40 rubles per month. It was a very primitive place, without heat, lighting and water. It only had a stove where Maria kept a kettle with tea cups, just in case somebody would come to visit her. Maria spent very little time there trying to save on lighting the petroleum lamp and a stove heat. In that time she did not really know how to cook and she did not care for it.

She started looking very anemic. When she fainted due to a lack of proper food, Casimir and Bronya had to take her back to their home to make sure that she gets appropriate nutrition and sleep at least for some time.  

Still, the only purpose for Maria was to get the university degree - not one, but at least two. She passed as first in the "licence" (equal to master's) examination in Physics in 1893, and she was only second in the master's in mathematics in 1894.

Marie's bonds with Poland were still very strong. Every summer she returned home to Warsaw to her father and family. Maria planned to come back to Poland eventually. Still, she wanted to study and learn more. In 1893 after Maria accomplished her Physics studies she did not really have any more money to go back to France. Mlle Dybinska, her Polish friend, convinced of Maria's great talent, helped her to obtain a 600 ruble Alexandrovitch scholarship to return to France and accomplish studies in math. According to Eve Curie, "Madame Curie" biography - "this scholarship became providential since when she came back to France she met Pierre Curie, her famous husband and started working with the equipment and the project which would mark their future scientific career.

Read about Maria's slove and marriage with Pierre Curie.

Baba Jaga Corner 

References: Eve Curie Madame Curie, Sarah Dry Curie



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