I wanted to entitle this post ‘Ennui’ because I feel that way right now, but that would not be doing justice to the last week, so I shall refrain.
So, last week was my first full week of classes. Allow me to say: exhausting. I have counted, and, officially, I have 26.5 hours of class per week. Now, that number is slowly decreasing in that, according to one of my literature TD (effectively, discussion section) profs, we don’t have to go to the CM (lecture), so that knocks out two hours. Also, French kids just don’t go to class most of the time, and, as we learned today, when they do, they often just spend the whole time talking. So I suspect that my hours will get shorter over time.
The thing about the French school system is that you don’t have much in the way of homework. There are a few major papers/presentations/exams/whatever, and that’s basically your grade. Of course they want you to be in class and participate too, so that probably helps as well. However, the way this system works makes it really easy for people to not want to do work, and, well, therefore not do it, because there really isn’t much at any given time. Except I have this sneaking suspicion that all of my major things are going to converge in the same week or two, and I will briefly hate my life. And so it goes. Will keep you posted.
I’m currently in the midst of devoting all my free time today to reading Ruy Blas, a play by Victor Hugo, for class tomorrow. It’s going faster than I expected, and it’s quite entertaining. Per the suggestion of our literature methodology prof, I’m reading it once through, then reading it in English, and then rereading it in French. We’ll see if I get to the rereading, but that’s my current intention.
So, the exciting stuff these days; or, rather, the exciting thing:
Jojo visited this weekend! Because I have the most amazing family ever, she stayed with us, and we had the greatest weekend ever! If anything, this should be incentive for you all to come visit. We traipsed all over this city, and I swear walked more in two days than I have in a while, because it was just worth it to enjoy the weather and see the city. We had lots of crêpes, and coffee at many cafés; we had fondue, and hit up bars all over the city, and got back at 4:30 Sunday morning (though, Virginie got back at 6, so I guess it was an early night ;-) ); we had a wonderful American brunch of pancakes, and re-lived last semester at the Musée d’Orsay; we pulled out my hair-cutting scissors and I now have bangs :-D; we hung out with those of my friends who were here and they all got on fabulously. Oh and? We watched Grey’s Anatomy. :-D
Yes, Grey’s Anatomy deserves a point of its own. I introduced Virginie to it some time ago, since they were showing season 2 on TV here. But last Monday and Tuesday, they went into marathon mode and showed the last 6 episodes in two nights. Amazing. But then I needed to see season 3. So Lauren and I have been on a venture to obtain the new episodes. I spent last week with episodes 1 and 2, and Lauren had 3 already, and then on Saturday, when she got the 4th, the three of us and Liz hung out in my room for a couples hours and watched. It’s a tough life not being able to get your favorite shows easily…
In another instance of the difficulties of not being in the US, I’d like to take a moment to remember the 2006 Oakland Athletics. It was a pretty amazing season, guys. I’m sorry it had to end the way it did, and that I couldn’t be there for any of the games, but it was nice to see the ones I could, and the ALDS was awesome, so props there. I hope not too many people leave, because there’s so much potential for next year. But best of luck to those who do leave. You will be missed.
Back to France.
Sometimes there are advantages here: Last week, I saw Marie Antoinette! It was and wasn’t what I expected, but ultimately, I enjoyed it. It’s beautiful. And I’m not a Kirsten Dunst fan, but I thought she did a good job with the character. She’s a sympathetic character without being black and white, a charicature, or a good person. And if the French criticized it for making her too sympathetic, well, I am of the belief that we need to be able to understand the people we don’t necessarily like. Understanding malevolent dictators is just as important as understanding benevolent leaders. People like that are so often viewed from one way or another, and that’s it, when there was so much more to them as people. And that’s what’s fundamentally important about them: their humanity. So props to anyone who has the courage to debunk myths of any sort.
That said, my host family all loved the movie, so really, we can’t lump the French into one category. But we knew that. ;-)
Funny story of last week: So, I walk into Sociology class at the Institut Catholique and sit down with the other Sweet Briar people. Someone sits down behind me, and says, “Oh my God, Kate!” I turn around and who is it but Sophia! For the non-Casti among you, she’s a friend from high school, and we’d been meaning to get together and had just never gotten around to it. It was amazing. The funny thing is that this is very much a small city, both physically and in terms of people. Do you have any idea how many foreign students there are here? Yeah.
In other randomness, it’s amazing to think how little time there is left until Christmas and the winter holidays. The semester people will be leaving. They will be sorely missed, I assure you. But it’s really weird to think how fast this year is moving. It is really a hiatus from real life, as I’ve said before. But it is so amazingly worth it. Even when I’m exhausted as I am now. I was reminded of it this weekend, with Jojo here, when we were talking about studying abroad. It’s not what we expected, but neither of us can pinpoint it. It’s this strange mix of adventure and mundality. I know I’m changing but I feel the same, and sometimes I feel like I’m less interesting here. Hard to explain. And when Jojo met my family, I realized just how extraordinary this experience is, how wonderful this all is, how lucky I am. But it doesn’t necessarily feel real.
If anyone wants to send me packages, I know there was something I wanted, but I can’t remember now. Send anyway!