Here I am, spending another Sunday afternoon doing my homework in a bar. This time I'm drinking some "thé fruits rouges," a tasty berry tea that comes with an equally tasty biscuit/cookie. The atmosphere of a bar is not very conducive to doing homework, so I decided updating my blog would be an equally worthy and productive endeavor. It's hard to do homework at all here. I've been working on preparing a presentation since the beginning of the semester, and so far all I've done is read a book and write a rough outline. Earlier this morning I completed the strenuous task of writing a 15-20 line "essay" on immigration laws. Phew. My brain is tirrred.
But really, now that I'm in the middle of classes and I've got the hang of them, I've started preparing for my eight exams and being a little more studious. Yeah that's right, eight exams. There's a high chance I will fail at least one of them and have to stay in France an extra month to make them up. (Good thing about IEP exams: if you fail, you can retake them. No biggie.) So, me "preparing" for exams = rereading my notes and trying to make some sense out of them. The countless arrows, holes, highlighted words, and franglais that made sense when i write them no longer resemble facts.
But enough of stressing about classes. That's a thoroughly American pastime that I don't want to continue when I come home. Although I'm studying more, I'm also trying to do more fun things. Aix isn't a huge town, so it's easy to fall into a routine, go to the same bars, eat at the same sandwich places, and talk to the same people (in English.) I don't particularly like this boring lifestyle, so I'm trying to switch it up more. Friday night my friend invited me to "Bar-b-Cuques" a BBQ/bonfire at the top of a big hill near Cuques, one of the dorms. Around ten o clock a few of us headed up the hill (in the dark) and arrived at a curious site: the French college student's version of a BBQ. An interesting mix of Italians, French, Spaniards, and some other nationalities had set up two toasty bonfires on the hill, which was a welcome site in the cold night. On one fire, however, they had placed an abandoned/stolen shopping cart. They then commenced cooking hot dogs and steak on the shopping cart. Concerned about the dubious origins of the shopping cart, I didn't eat anything,but it was fun to watch.
Standing around a campfire on the top of the hill and looking at the stars reminded me of summer in Michigan. And then I realized that I was speaking French. I had a great conversation from a student from Dakar, Senegal, and couldn't help wondering what my life would have been like if I'd chosen to study in Senegal this semester instead of France. I'm glad I chose to come here, though, because I'm learning French French, not Senegalese French. He had a really cool accent and flipped his "r's" differently, and it was bizarre to hear a whole new form of French.
Whenever I meet a new French person, it usually takes a few minutes for them to grasp the complexities of my name. "Erin" clearly is not a French name, and the "r" is particularly challenging. It often comes out as "Ehreen" until some clever person says, ohhhh, comme Erin Brockovich?? So now, instead of trying to spell out my name and get people to pronounce it right, I just say, "Salut, je m'appelle Erin, Erin Brockovich." (Telling them my last name usually leads to even more confusing conversation and questions about why my first name is Irish and my last name is German. What can I say? I'm American.)