Tuesday, March 29, 2005

March 25, 2005

Actually, in my mind it is still yesterday (it is only 12:38 am on Friday morning). What an interesting (yester)day I’ve had. I woke up in the morning, got a shower, threw my dirty laundry in a bag, and walked to the gate I usually use to exit Camille Vernet (the school is completely fenced in, with several different gates on can use.) When I reached the gate, I found that it had been padlocked. I walked to another gate. It, too, had been padlocked. Meanwhile, I saw several students climbing over the fence, both to get in the school and to leave the school. I also saw a handful of students walking past, beating on drums (which they had borrowed from the school). I finally found a gate that was locked, but which I could use my key on. I walked around to the front of the school and saw a massive group of students banging on things and chanting. They were not letting any other students into the school. (I also saw one very bored looking policeman sitting in his patrol car). Yup—those wacky French students were faireing la grève… (they were on strike). Today (actually, yesterday) was the day that the Minister of Education was going to sign some changes into effect. (As a side note, the train workers were also on strike… again.) Vive la grève.

Anyway, I headed on over chez Sophie. She is going to have her baby any minute now (or she may have had him in the last few hours—who knows!). Her husband was going to arrive from Morocco later on and she wanted to clean her apartment. I figure you can’t really reason with a pregnant woman and I didn’t want her to hurt herself, so I offered to help (as in, I wanted to be there to keep her from trying to do too much). Of course, there was something in it for me. Sophie had just bought a nice, new washing machine… hence me with my bag full of dirty laundry. Anyway, we ate breakfast together, put some clothes in the washing machine, and started to clean. After about an hour or so, Jo (the Brit) cam over and gave us a hand. We took a break and Sophie recounted how she and her husband, Hamid, had met. Très mignion.

Moving on. Tonight Natalia had decided that all the assistants who live at Camille Vernet should go out to a restaurant (which she, of course, picked. And made the reservations for). I was a little uncertain about how the evening would go and I wasn’t really looking forward to it—I really didn’t feel that I had the energy to cope with Natalia. And sure enough, the evening looked like it was going to be a trial. Natalia asked us all which wine we wanted, becoming annoyed if we said we didn’t really care. Then, she set about ignoring everything we had said and she chose for all of us the wine she wanted. (Which was a good wine). Then, she set about choosing the topics we were to discuss. First we had to go around the table and say what we had gained professionally from our stay in France (nothing in my case—well, something impressive to put on my resume). Then, we had to go around and say what we had gained personally. (A wariness of Argentinians). Then, she started speaking about her first memories and impressions of all of us. Someone (I don’t remember who—certainly not me) decided to ask her to tell each of us what she thought of us. Hmmm, this could be dangerous. At this point I had nightmare flashes of the violence and blood that would erupt inside Le Pere Joseph. Thankfully, everything went well. We stopped about halfway through, paid our bill (120 Euros—yipe!), and walked over to a bar. After Natalia finished, I went next. Here is (basically) what I told everyone:

To Natalia: You have a lot of energy. Sometimes too much, but you are always interesting to be around. I think my main memory of you will be when we were in Annecy back in October. I remember we were sitting on some steps and you said, “On y vas?” (shall we go) and I thought “en hiver? (in winter) What the hell?” I will always laugh about that.

To Dagmar: You are a very easy to get along with (I had to ask Jo for help translating that one into French). I am jealous of your ability to learn languages to quickly and well. You speak English and French very well—and I assume your German is fine too. I had a lot of fun traveling with you in Strasbourg—you are very easy to travel with. You are very reserved and don’t talk much about yourself so I sometimes feel that I need to ask a lot of questions to pull you out of your shell.

To Alessia: It has taken me a long time to get to know you, but the more time I spend with you, the more I like you. I have to say, quite frankly, that I never did like Jose. (At which point Alessia was like, “really?” and Natalia was like, “Uh, yeah. It was pretty obvious.”) I think that Jose was incredibly lucky to have found you and that he was an idiot to throw it all away.

To Jo: (Will continue later)

To Helena: (Will continue later)

Everybody mentioned my sense of humour. I am very proud of that. I mean, it is one thing to communicate in another language—but to make jokes? (And not fall back on the basic body function jokes?) And have other people from other cultures and languages find them funny? I am worlds impressed with myself.

Another thing that people mentioned to me (and which totally surprised me) was that, out of all of us, they figured that if someone was not going to be able to make it through to the end, it would be me. They seemed to think that I was having a really hard time of it and that, especially in the beginning, I was not happy. This was interesting to me because I had never seriously considered leaving early. I mean, there had been times when I was frustrated and had the idea run quickly through my head, but never for more than a few minutes. And I hadn’t really thought of any of it as being all the difficult. I mean, I have been through so much worse that, well, even the hardest parts of this were not even close to approaching the worst I have been through. In fact, I have found this experience to be actually easier than I thought it would be. (But maybe that is just because I was really, really worried before I actually came out to France—and that worry was actually based on my previous bad experiences). As I have mentioned before, I had a lot more riding on this than any of the other assistants, and I, as a result, gained more. Yea me!


Post a Comment

<< Home