Friday, December 16, 2011

"Have a Good Life"

I can't believe it--c'est impossible!!!  For many American students, it is already the end of the semester.  Unfortunately for us (or maybe it's just me), during the Fall semester, our time here in France is cut even shorter than if we would come in the Spring.  With the end of 2011 closing in faster and faster, many American students are given a choice before coming to Angers whether a) they will take their end-of-term finals at the beginning of December in order to go home early, or b) either fly home for a short stay during the Holidays or crash in Angers until the semester is officially over on January 31st, 2012.  I had to pick the former over the latter, since UNC-Asheville's Spring semester begins in January, and if I were to wait until the end of the semester in Angers, I would be set back another semester back in North Carolina.

Many students choose to take their finals of the CIDEF program, then bust out of France in a blaze of glory right afterward.  Considering the fact that I wanted, but financially couldn't, stay in Angers for an entire year, I planned ahead and didn't schedule my flight back until January 5th.  This does put me in France during the Holidays, but I figured I would find something French-y to do with my time while I am here.  Besides, how often can you say that you passed New Year's Eve in FRANCE???

After a gruelling week of Finals--for future Study Abroad-ers, make sure to point out that Studying Abroad is NOT a vacation if it involves an entire week of Finals in a foreign language!!!!--we were allowed to have a party day (which actually turned into two party days) during our last classes in our principal Language course.  By the way, the French like to make the torture of test-taking last as LONG AS POSSIBLE--they usually make the students wait until the END OF CLASS to take their tests (including exams).  Even worse, they sometimes schedule their exams and Finals on SATURDAYS!!!  What is that all about anyway!?!?!  Of course, means that much food needs to be involved in order to bring our spirits up from the French education system's way of beating our self confidence into the ground!

During the first afternoon, everyone brought in something that ended up being French.  In the U.S., when someone is having an end-of-semester party or picnic, usually this entails a bunch of strangely-flavored-potato-chip base with a hefty degree of soda (pop for you Northeners out there) and something super-sugary, like doughnuts or cookies or brownies or candy or all of the above.  Apparently, the French way of ending a semester is with a picnic of baguettes, cheese, madeleines, tarts, my own American twist of nacho chips and salsa, and even booze.

Yep, I totally said booze.
The next morning, we continued the party by bringing in leftovers (sans booze) from yesterday's original party, and in addition had breakfast pastries and instant espresso brought in by our teacher, Mr. Morin.  He even brought in an electric kettle for hot water!  This is obviously a theme for Europeans; I have seen an electric kettle in all of the homes I've been to in France, including my own host family's, as well as an elusive kettle in my own apartment, which I share with a Hungarian roommate, even though I have never seen him use it.  It must be the European version of a toaster, I guess--it's barely used, but you better have one in your house!

Mr. Morin also brought in his acoustic guitar and lyrics to some songs, which he played for us along with another classmate, Alexey (see boozed-up-student photo above).

Whereas the first day's celebrations (which was the last attended class by many) ended with many hugs and peace signs thrown at cameras, but the second day was somber and more bittersweet.  I met up for a quick goodbye and photo-op with my friend, Ross (who hails from Ohio as well) before he caught his plane back to the States that morning, and it dawned on me how, for many of us, it was already over.
You can tell how both of us were exhausted after the whilwind of the semester flew by!

Not only was French class over, but our French experience was coming to an end as well.  Although I understood why many of my classmates wanted to, or had to, return to their home countries so quickly after the end of the semester, I, in true three-year-old fashion, mentally kicked and screamed at the thought of returning.  It wasn't that I didn't want to come back to the States; it was that I didn't want the fun of the semester to end.  The fact that our time together, in that short burst of three months, was already over, broke my heart.  In a crash of Chinese, English, Korean, Russian, and (even) French languages, it was over.  The class was done.

Our teacher even pointed out to me how much he would also miss our class, our collective presence.  In so many words, Mr. Morin stated that he could tell at the beginning of the semester if a class will get along well or not, and I remembered his decade worth of teaching experience to reinforce his statement.  But our class, he said, was different.  Our class was special.  Rarely has he seen a class get along so well as a whole, bonding together in such a way that everyone can, and did, befriend each other.

And by "Special", Mr. Morin meant "Epic"!!  Le Cours de Français 313 :)

With this reflection still fresh in my mind, Mr. Morin put the last nail in the coffin of my memory of French Language Course 313 when our final class ended.  Putting his hand on my shoulder, he leaned in, and with a true use of French wit, he said frankly, "Staci, have a good life". 

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