I decided to start off this week’s entry with a quick extract of what I witness on my daily walks to the central Place Stan, the town square where the light show played every night once I had arrived. Now, the square has been transformed into a garden, for which I have included pictures.
Tuesday night, I came home for dinner to find a the young men’s church group in the dining room, discussing how an Eskimo, even when cut off from society and any church, could find his way to God. While the youngest boy in the family (who I call Po-Lo since the family told me it was his nickname and is much easier to pronounce) was not yet old enough to be a part of this dinner meeting, the three eldest boys and their fellow high school church-goers sat as the tall priest preached about the journey to find god and much more. He engaged the children and asked them questions about how they were to find God or asked how they had already experienced God’s will. I had a relatively unconventional meal that night since the family was split apart and no one appeared to be home besides those present in the congregation, who were engrossed in the discussion. I left that night after finally saying hello to the family before they sat down to eat dinner (I had been told to find my own food in the fridge if no one was home). I was going to meet my friends to talk and amuse ourselves in the boring hours of the evening (although school has some homework, there is only so much you can do because it is minute compared to the homework in the US).
On the way to meet the gang in the central square, I took a fifteen minute walk, one for which I have memorized the most beautiful route that takes me past the old entrance to the city, dating back to the Middle Ages, as well as the towering St. Epvre Church. The lights of the church square shine down on the busy cafés below where people sit under warm heat lamps, scarves wrapped around their necks. Even during the week nights, the people of Nancy come out to enjoy a glass of wine or beer at night it seems. A stone fountain in the middle of the square, complete with the vicious faces of lions spitting water from their mouths, trickles lightly as I pass a woman shouting, “Je t’aime!” to someone in an idling car. She slams the door and the low roar of the diesel engine carries the small car away. A Vespa driver delivering sushi struggles to get his vehicle on the sidewalk as I pass him in the street. A man shouts, “À Jeudi!” (See you Thursday!) as he parts with a tall blond woman. She smiles and turns her back to him before walking away down a dimly lit street, the sound of her wedged heels clacking on the cobblestones.
Of course, I smile every day as I walk around the city, jotting down a few words so that I can write it down here for all of you. It’s a part of the life here that I love and for some reason, I don’t think it can be found in the US in the same way. There’s far less sense of urgency here, yet at the same time, everything appears so bustling. This is a paradox that fits with me, I think.
This lack of a sense of urgency, however, also has its faults. When trying to find courses at the university that would accept foreign students, I went to speak to the teacher before class. Of course, I had to climb to the fifth floor of a building, appearing totally flustered once I finally stepped into the classroom. Thank god the classroom had only one student in it. I spoke to her and she explained that the course she was waiting for was linguistics. I was a bit confused since I had just checked with the information desk about the whereabouts of the class (entitled, the Literature and Civilization of the Middle Ages). I then waited in the well-lit hallway for the teacher to come (it turns out Mrs. Zunino also teaches linguistics). Finally, after ten minutes the woman arrives and I let her pass me. After a few seconds, I open the door as she is shutting the curtains of the room, her students staring at me from their desks. I asked if she was also the professor for the literature course I was looking for, and she responded affirmatively. Then I asked for an explanation as to why the literature course was not in the room at that moment. She quickly responded, “I switched them.”
Well how is that logical?
Anyway, despite that fact that NO ONE knows about this besides her and her students (keep in mind this is still during a period at the school when students are frequently changing classes), I wrote her and email and discovered another surprise. It turns out the course she’s teaching is actually a course on Dante’s Paradis. And it’s a Master’s level course. Regardless, I’ll be showing up Wednesday at 11 am to see what I can get out of it and if I like it, I’ll stick with it (after much difficult reading, I presume…).
I went to another day of swimming today. Rather, I was running and doing drylands with a small portion of the team, which is part of their normal weekly routine on Mondays. I was one of the best runners, which I attribute to the fact I come from Colorado and enjoy working out at altitude. I was asked to slow down for god sakes! I had no idea I was going so fast, but I guess it’s just the way it goes when you’re trying to stay in a group. Hey, at least they have someone to pace themselves off of! Tomorrow, we’ll do some real swimming, to which I look forward.
For the literature course I’m taking with DéFLE (translated to Department of French as a Foreign Language), we will be reading two books: Barbe Bleue by a contemporary Belgian author, who was in Nancy just last month for the huge book festival Live sur la Place. The second book will a book from the French enlightenment during the 18th Century. I might choose Rousseau or Voltaire… either way, I’ll be swamped with reading! I’m excited!
Last, I was asked to provide a list of the classes I’m taking. Below, you’ll find a list. Note that “DéFLE” is not a true university course that I take with other French students.
DéFLE – Civilization ( French government, politics, history, etc.)
DéFLE – Literature (as described above with the two books)
DéFLE – Social Sciences (in general, the vocabulary and everything)
DéFLE Group 8 Seminar (thrice per week)
Ancient History of the Near Orient
Literature Course on Dante’s Paradis
4 Hours per week @ Fromagerie (Internship at Cheese Shop): photos to come! I just started learning about the 7 different families of cheeses! This may be what I do my thesis on… “French gastronomy: the production of cheese”
Swimming (3-4 days per week plus competitions on certain Thursdays)
I hope you are all well! I’ve put some pictures in the loop this week from my trip to Strasbourg and other cities in Alsace (including a castle, a WWII museum, and, wine country), which is part of the L&C College abroad program (one that is top five in the US right now apparently!!!! Just thought I’d throw that in there!).