Quidditch…for Kids!

Today is Easter and I don’t have school tomorrow because France considers the day after Easter a national holiday. Since it’s Easter, I’m going to use that as an excuse not to do homework. I have tomorrow to do it, right?

 

After attending Easter Mass, I took a tram and a bus to a park in Nantes. The Secours Populaire (which, to my understanding, is like the Red Cross because they provide relief) hosts an annual egg hunt and other activities for kids on Easter. What other activities do they have? Well, they have potato sack races, music…and Quidditch! The Nantes Quidditch team kindly gives their time each year to the event.

 

At first, I was a little leery about the idea of Quidditch for kids. Kids running around with brooms, that can’t be good, can it? Actually, it’s great. The kids had so much fun. The rules are pretty easy to understand and they are very willing to try something new. Some of the older kids knew Harry Potter (or, as they say in France, ‘Arry Potter). And Quidditch, like the Harry Potter series, transcends age…the parents wanted to play too! So, we had grown men running around saying, “Look at me! I’m flying like Harry Potter!” and we had three year olds, who were too small to hold a broom. Some moms stood on the sidelines shouting like soccer moms, “No! Take the ball to the right…Get your defense tighter! Come on! Let’s go!

 

I think it’s fair to say that fun was had by all, especially by me. I was afraid at first of volunteering. I enjoy working with kids in America, but that’s because I speak English. The idea of working with kids in France in French? It scared me. However, I realized that I have the vocabulary and speaking capabilities of a small child. The kids and I had no language barriers. They don’t understand French grammar…I don’t understand French grammar. We got along great.

 

Also, the only thing you really need to know when working with kids is the imperative. I always say that I know the imperative in French the best because, from second grade until high school, my French teachers always used the imperative with me.

 

Kellene, stop talking. Kellene, put that down. Kellene, take a piece of paper. Kellene, do this. Kellene, don’t do that! Wait one minute…What is he…? Oh no! No, no…Johnny do NOT put that pencil in your nose.

 

Yes, I understand the imperative the best in French. It was the first tense I heard when I started learning French. I didn’t learn that it was called the imperative until much later in my French education. So, today, when two boys were hitting each other with brooms, I was able to confidently say, “Boys! Don’t do that! Stop.

 

Five hours later, I was headed back home. It was five hours of non-stop Quidditch. We had kids come and come and come and come. They didn’t stop coming! Some kids came back many times and it was so great to see kids interested in being active, in letting their imagination take them away.

 

Quidditch!

Quidditch!

Quidditch!

Quidditch!

Well, that’s all I have to say for now. By the way, I lied earlier. I’m going to work on some homework tonight.

 

P.S- The strange smell coming from the vents has stopped. Thank goodness. Also, I snapped this picture of the gray tabby (who looks like François). He lives by the university library and people tell me that the librarians take care of him. I call him Jean-Claude and I think he’s François’s cousin. Speaking of François, I have some good news. After talking with some other people in the dorm, I found out there was a Facebook page for the cat who lived in the lobby. The other students saw what I saw…a cat with a lot of love and no home. They came together to find him a home and get him the veterinary care he needed. I don’t know where he is now or what his real name is, but I know he’s being taken care of…and that gives me great pride and happiness. I’m so proud of my fellow students who cared enough to come together to find him a home.

Jean-Claude, the cat that lives by the university library

Jean-Claude, the cat that lives by the university library

Zigging to the Pendulum

Yesterday, I saw my first French theatre performance at the Université de Nantes Theatre (TU). It was called Zig et More. I had read an introduction to the play and it sounded interesting. I had wanted to see a theatre production at the university for a while now so it made sense to go.

 

The theatre was small and further research revealed that the play and the playwright aren’t very well-known. But that doesn’t mean anything. The writing was beautiful and the acting was spot on. I didn’t particularly like some lighting choices nor the idea of having two musicians on the stage at the same time as the actors, but the other technical choices I found to be appropriate.

 

Here’s the premise of the story. In a post-apocalyptic world, there are two tribes left. They are warring with each other. One day, a boy, eight years old, from one tribe steps on a landmine. That same day, a man from the other tribe is told to stand post at this region. The man stands at his post for duty. The boy stands on the mine, unable to move, for the sake of his life. At first, the man views the boy as a statistic. He doesn’t want to know his name, but the boy gives it to him. Zig. Zig asks the man for his name. He doesn’t give it to him. The day goes on, then another. The man takes pity on the boy and gives him an apple. The boy still doesn’t move. For fifteen days. How is it possible for a boy to stay that long on a mine without moving? Without sleeping?

 

Months pass. Years. Five years. Fifteen years. Zig, to the man’s knowledge, hasn’t moved…and they haven’t heard anyone in years. They hypothesize on what may have happened. Maybe the war is over, maybe the world stopped spinning. Regardless, the man will not leave his post because he is a solider and a solider always obeys his orders. But, throughout the years, the two become friends. A connection is made that suggests that humanity is greater than war, greater than difference.

 

But how could Zig have stayed on the mine for so long? The hour and a half mystery is revealed in the last few minutes of the play. I won’t spoil it for you, in case you ever watch it. But the play ends in an action packed last few minutes that leave you asking, what just happened? Nothing was as it seemed in the beginning. As your questions are answered, you are left with some other questions about the changes that man can bring about. I was impressed with the writing of the play. It was philosophical, but funny at the right moments. It was dark when it needed to be and it was easy to fall into this post-apocalyptic world.

 

This morning, I intended to go for a walk along the river and have a picnic with Kacy. But it was raining, as usual in Nantes (even though the weather forecast said it was a zero percent chance of precipitation). So, we had our picnic inside. In the afternoon, the rain let up a little. It was freezing cold, but it wasn’t down pouring so we decided to go ahead with our plans. We took a ferry from Nantes to Trentemoult, which is an ancient fishing village on the Loire River. With my monthly TAN pass, I can travel on the ferry for free. It’s only a six minute ferry ride, so it made for a nice little trip.

 

Trentemoult reminds me of the old fishing village I visited in Italy. Both had houses that were painted many different colors and both were pretty small. Kacy and I walked through Trentemoult in about an hour. There wasn’t much to see there, but it was pretty. I’m sure it would be even prettier in the summer, when it is warm. We also saw a strange sight…a pendulum on an abandoned piece of equipment. I came home and looked it up. If you’re interested in the meaning behind this strange sight, check this website out:

 

http://www.estuaire.info/012/html/en/artistes/signer.html

 

We took the ferry back to Nantes and I’ve been trying to work on homework and study for my first literature test, but…there was a fire alarm (again). I notice that the fire doors close about ten minutes before the alarms go off. I heard them close and I was thinking, Oh please. No. I don’t want to have to leave my room. Uhhh…But the alarm went off and I walked down the stairs and into the lobby. As I walked on to the first floor, I smelled something that could best be described as industrial glue and burnt plastic. It was coming from the vents.

 

The alarm shut off and, as I walked back to my room, a guy with a British accent turned to me. “Have you smelled the vents and heard them? It’s been like this for a few hours,” he said in English.

 

“Yeah…”

 

“It’s a little worrisome. Well, goodnight,” he said.

 

Gee, thanks for making me paranoid now. I hope that they fix the problem because it smells awful! I can’t even imagine what that smell is!

Ferry to Trentemoult

Ferry to Trentemoult

Pendulum in Trentemoult

Pendulum in Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Pirate flag in Trentemoult

Pirate flag in Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Trentemoult

Ferry to Trentemoult

Ferry to Trentemoult

I’m NOT Clowning Around…The Circus DID Come to Town

No really. I’m not clowning around. The circus really DID come to town.

 

I noticed the atmosphere change on campus last week. When I went to Quidditch practice, there were two caravans, parked ever so suspiciously with their tattered mustard drapes. The Quidditch captain told me it was because of the circus and I laughed, thinking she was kidding. She wasn’t. They really were there because of the circus.

 

Tuesday, as I innocently studied for my two tests which took place yesterday, I was interrupted by circus music and strangely costumed people, dancing about. “Come to the circus! We await your presence!” They shouted.

 

Tell that to my professors. I thought.

 

But, since I suffered through two tests yesterday and since Quidditch practice was cancelled because a giant circus tent was on our field, I decided to go to the circus. It only makes sense. What else do you do after a test and when you don’t have Quidditch practice? Besides, the circus was free. Who can say no to a free circus?

 

At eight o’clock, I went with two of my American friends to the tent which occupied the Quidditch field. It was red and yellow…and fiercely small. What kind of circus was this? Well, it was a free circus. And free circuses do not have elephants or lions nor do they have three rings or cotton candy. They had a stage with a curtain held up with string. They had an old armchair on stage and a desk lamp powered with power strips bought at the local store. It was an intimate scene and it was cozy.

 

I felt like I had been transported to an earlier time. A time before the circus was commercialized. A time when the circus was filled with magic, wonder, pickpockets, and working conditions that would make the author of Water for Elephants very unhappy.

 

The show said it started at eight, which in French time translates to eight-thirty. It began with a man, a single man on stage. He welcomed the audience and then began to tell a story. It became apparent that he was a fantastic actor, able to carry out an entire scene by himself, creating comedy and wonder. He first started out in the arm chair, snoozing away. He woke up, got dressed for work and then went to work, which consisted of a chair and a desk which he sat on his lap. He had a boring job, answering the phone attentively when the boss called, but playing around when he thought no one was looking. He began to tap his pencil against a cup, then against a lamp. He created a rhythm and invited the audience to join in, but when the boss called, he hushed us. But then he was fired.

 

Returning home (which, on a small stage, is difficult to do – this was done by the actor himself lighting different parts of the stage with lamps), he sat back on the arm chair, saying that since he was done with work, he could do something he truly enjoyed with his life. From the arm chair, bubbles were created by a bubble machine. He playfully chased them until, pop! He captured one (it was actually a glass ball, hidden somewhere, but he was so masterful that it looked like pure magic). He began to manipulate the clear glass ball and it looked like it was floating in space. I have seen other tricks like this, but those use a cloth which conceals the strings used to manipulate the ball. Here, the man had nothing but a clear ball and his hands. There was something in that moment that made you lose grip of reality and become a part of Jean-Claude’s dream world, a world where after being fired, you can find pure happiness in bubbles.

 

The next group was a trio that consisted of four people. They sang and played instruments, which was certainly different. It became apparent that the circus was more like a variety show. It was followed by a trapeze artist, singing as she hung upside down. This was certainly the most circus-like act of the night. There was a Latin American dance group, then another trapeze artist. One of my favorite acts of the night was a young man who had five rings, which he manipulated perfectly. He was able to walk across the stage while turning all five rings, which appeared to be fixed in place. It was apparent that he had very steady hands.

 

The last event of the night was an urban acrobatic group. They jumped and tumbled across the stage with a story. A man was struggling to connect in this urban world, where people were talking on their phones and when we are so self-absorbed. But, suddenly, he manages to breakthrough and they all begin this tumbling act which was quite incredible.

 

The circus was over before I knew it and, as I was leaving, someone told me, “Thank you for coming.”

 

In English. In a perfect American accent. There was no way that it was fake, so I replied, “Thank you.”

 

“Are you from America?” he asked.

 

“Are you?” I returned.

 

He was. A young man from San Francisco was now a part of the circus in France. Who knows where life will take you? I enjoyed my time at the circus. There is something about the circus that makes you forget about the daily grind we find ourselves in. The circus is someplace magical that allows you to hold on to the wonder of childhood.

At the circus!

At the circus!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I lazily rolled out of bed and took the first bus of the morning. No, it wasn’t six in the morning. Not seven o’clock. Not eight either. Not even nine o’clock. The first bus of the day was at 9:45 AM. This is France…and it’s Sunday.

 

Etienne, the French man with whom I cook, picked me up at the bus station near his house. Valentina (the Italian girl), Etienne and I returned to his house where we met up with Beatrice, his wife. Today, we were finally going to cook for the first time. The other two meetings we had eaten traditional French food. Today, we were going to eat traditional Italian and American food. Yes, American food. What plate did I chose for this honor?

 

Chocolate chip cookies.

 

Yes, I can repeat that for you. Chocolate chip cookies. Why on earth would I choose cookies? The choice is easy when you look at it this way. America doesn’t have many “traditional” dishes. The United States of America is a melting pot of culture and also a melting pot of food. It’s hard to find a dish that is unique to America…except hamburgers. However, I didn’t want to make hamburgers. So, I looked it up online and guess what? Chocolate chip cookies are truly an American creation. I like making cookies. I like eating cookies. Perfect.

 

But here’s the problem. In America, we measure with cups and teaspoons. In France and everywhere else in the world, they measure with grams. How do you covert cups to grams? Well, you can’t really. A cup of flour isn’t the same weight as a cup of butter or a cup of sugar. Also, the couple felt like the recipe made too many cookies and they wanted me to half the recipe. But I didn’t have a measuring cup with me.

 

They gave me a coffee cup and told me to pretend it was a cup. I tried, but ran into some pretty big problems. I had no way of measure a cup of butter. They don’t have sticks of butter in France so I couldn’t just add two sticks of butter (and then we were making less than the original recipe anyway so…I don’t know how much butter to add). I estimated all of it. They didn’t have vanilla extract so they added vanilla sugar. They didn’t have packed brown sugar, they had granulated brown sugar. I was using less than half a cup so I knew I needed less than half a teaspoon of baking soda so…I tried. I really did. But the cookies came out like a giant, flat sheet. I blame it entirely on the butter/baking soda/brown sugar. It wasn’t me.

 

I was embarrassed, to say the least. The cookies didn’t look anything like cookies, but they tasted okay. Valentina made a plate that is typical from Sardinia where she lives. It was a special type of pasta with sauce and meat. It was very good.

 

Our meal plan followed its usual course. We had appetizers before moving into the dining room. We started with Valentina’s plate and then moved on to a salad. After the salad, we had cheese and bread. After the cheese and bread, we had dessert, which was my chocolate chip sheet…I mean cookies. Right.

 

Moving on, we had coffee (I had tea). Then, it was time to go a free jazz concert. Beatrice knew someone in the jazz concert so we thought it would be a good idea to go. We piled into the car and got out and…found out that the concert actually starts in two hours. So, with our two hours, we drove through the French countryside. They showed us many vineyards and towns.

 

On our way back to Nantes, we stopped in Vertou and walked along a beautiful river. We returned to the jazz concert, at the right time, and I really enjoyed it. The singers were very good and, when calls came out for an encore, the choir returned and sang another song. It was wonderful.

 

The couple invited us to stay at their house for dinner, but it was already seven o’clock by then. I was thinking about my homework that I haven’t done yet. To be fair, it’s not due until Thursday, but you know me! I like the have my homework done early…especially since I have two tests on Wednesday! I need to do my homework, study, do laundry (some time)…I need to mop my floor too. I don’t have a mop, but a paper towel works fine. I should probably pay rent before the first of the month and I need to get my monthly transportation ticket before the first of the month. So much to do. Where should I start?

 

I think I’m going to eat a chocolate chip cookie now.

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A Home in a Hill and the Underground Castle

My day was filled with exploration. I went, with the international student organization, to a small village in France called Turquant. Never heard of it? Well, I hadn’t either…until I signed up for the trip! It is a town of only 560 inhabitants and it is located about two hours east of Nantes. What makes Turquant special?

 

Turquant is built into the rocks. All of the homes are cut into this massive hill. Turquant is considered an artisan town now. There are many craftsmen whose shops are part of the hill. They sell everything from jewelry to apple tarts to sculptures. However, since it was morning, most of the shops were closed. We received a tour of the city from a local guide and then were given time to explore the town on our own. I found a vineyard and an old windmill! And a home that looks like a hobbit hole (for those of you unfamiliar with J.R.R Tolkien’s works, I can only quote Tolkien himself, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort”)!

IMG_3810 IMG_3812 IMG_3813 IMG_3814 IMG_3815

Cat living in sculptor place

Cat living in sculptor place

Wind mill in background

Wind mill in background

Vineyard

Vineyard

Hobbit Hole

Hobbit Hole

IMG_3839

Wind mill

Wind mill

After getting slightly turned around, the bus driver drove us to Saumur. Saumur is well-known for their famous horseback riding school, but I didn’t get a chance to explore the city. We were there to eat lunch. I brought a lunch with me and sat with friends at the base of the Saumur Castle. After eating lunch quickly, we got back on the road to the Château de Brézé. This is my first château on the Loire River. I was very excited to see it. But what makes this château different? It isn’t just a castle. It’s a castle that also has an underground castle!

 

Saumur

Saumur

Château de Brézé

Château de Brézé

The Château de Brézé is currently owned by the descendants of the original owners. They reside in one part of the castle so we weren’t able to go there, but we were able to go underground. The underground portion included a jail, a defense system, stables, living rooms, a quarry, the wine cellars, and a boulangerie (a bakery where they still make bread today). I was amazed at the vast network of tunnels underground. It really was a castle underground. But why did they build such a network? Well, it was for defense. The castle had extremely tall walls to protect it, but they were still worried about attacks. So, in the event of an attack, they could survive underground for a long time!

IMG_3869

I finally found a door that is shorter than me!

I finally found a door that is shorter than me!

I was, and have always been, a princess.

I was, and have always been, a princess.

IMG_3879

You can see how tall the walls are here.

You can see how tall the walls are here.

Baking bread!

Baking bread!

IMG_3890

Above ground, we were able to see a few rooms of the castle. I was very impressed with the castle, which also had a vineyard on site and a pigeon coup. It was really cool to explore the underground tunnels. I loved it.

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We left to go to a wine tasting. First, the tour guide showed us the wine cellars which were quite interesting. I went to a wine tasting in Italy in a castle, but the wine process was never explained to us. Here, in France, I finally learned how wine is fermented. While I found that to be informative, I found the actually cellars themselves interesting. They were hand carved many centuries ago by some famous architecture. The last part of the wine tour was, of course, the actual tasting. Now, I am honestly the best person to bring to a wine tasting. Why am I the best person to bring if I don’t even drink wine? Well, that’s the point. My friends definitely benefit. They get more wine and I learn more about the cultural aspects of wine in France. Everyone wins.

 

I call this, Alter to Wine. It was very strange how they arranged the rocks and bottles here. Not sure why it's like this.

I call this, Alter to Wine. It was very strange how they arranged the rocks and bottles here. Not sure why it’s like this.

IMG_3922 IMG_3923

The day had passed swiftly and it was time to head home. As the countryside rolled by, I couldn’t help but be very content with this trip. It was great to see a different side of France. When I say I am studying abroad in France, everyone thinks of Paris, but Paris is only one part of France. Another part of France is the beautiful countryside. I saw grazing cows and lazy horses. I saw sheep and heard chickens. It was a very relaxing day and it almost made me want to move into the French countryside with a bunch of cats and live among the rocks…almost. I came back to reality quite quickly when I realized that homes in hills, prior to renovation, don’t have electricity!

 

 

When I returned to Nantes, I remembered that it was the braderie. What is that? It’s a huge sale that occurs in Nantes. All of the vendors place their goods on the streets and sell things for very, very cheap. The trams are stopped because vendors are on the tracks and there are food vendors and it’s madness. Of course, we were gone all day, so we returned to this.

IMG_3924

 

So much trash – everywhere! I hope Nantes cleans up its act – this doesn’t look like the European Green Capital anymore.

The Hand with Fingers

Today, I had my appointment with OFII. What is OFII? Office français de l’immigration et de l’intégration. Don’t speak French ? I’ll translate for you. Bureaucracy, that’s what it means. I had to go to OFII for a medical appointment to complete my “immigration” process and to get a special sticker in my visa. Basically, it completes my visa requirements and allows me to freely travel in the Schengen Area which is a really cool concept. It also gives me the option to extend my visa beyond six months.

 

OFII appointments are given to you. You cannot change them under ANY circumstance. My appointment was today at nine o’clock…and I had a class at ten o’clock. Let me tell you something about missing class…I don’t miss class. There are many things I don’t like in life – snakes and missing class are right at the top of my list. I hate being absent. You miss important information and I genuinely like going to class. Days absent in college to date? One.

 

I also hate being late to class. Here in France, it’s five minutes before class starts and I’m the only one in the classroom! I always arrive to class at least ten minutes early, if not more. In college, I don’t think I’ve ever been late to a class, although I cut it close once.

 

Unfortunately, the OFII office is in another city which is close to Nantes, but requires me to switch tram lines. Appointment at nine, class at ten? I can do it. I can do it. I will not miss class. I will not be late.

 

I arrived early to my appointment at OFII hoping they would take me earlier. They did. I was number three in line. I waited in a waiting room. And waited. And waited. The two girls ahead of me were waiting too. They had the first appointments of the day, at 8:30 AM, and they weren’t seen until 9:00 AM! This was not looking good.

 

At last, a radiologist came to meet me. She took me into the room and told me to take off my shirt and fkfdjsfsa. “Uh…quoi?” I asked nervously.

 

She pointed to her chest and I realized. Oh. Bra. That’s another word they don’t teach you in French class (or, if I learned it, I don’t remember it). She took an X-ray of my chest. In France, they have to check to make sure you’re not concealing democracy in your chest or anything dangerous like that. I’m kidding. I think it’s to make sure you don’t have TB. She told me to get dressed and to wait in the waiting room again.

 

After another long wait, I saw a nurse. She weighed me and measured me. “Do these numbers look right?” she asked.

 

My weight was in kilograms and my height was in meters. I know my weight and height in pounds and feet. Not kilograms and meters. “Uh…oui?” I answered.

The usual health questions followed, but they were all in French. The names of vaccinations aren’t always the same as in French and English, but I was able to figure out what she was asking me. She tested my vision (which I have no idea why they do that for immigration). She asked what I was studying at school and how long I would be staying. After these basic questions, she sent me back to the waiting room.

 

My final visit was with the doctor. She took my blood pressure and pulse. My pulse was the same, but my blood pressure was measured in a different way so I have no idea if it was usually what it is or not. She said it was normal and then showed me my X-ray.

 

This is your heart,” she said pointing to a big white thing.  

 

This is your left shoulder,” she said.

 

Oui.”

 

This is your right shoulder.”

 

Oui.”

 

These are your ribs.”

 

Okay, I have got to get to class. Yes, it’s cool to look at your own X-ray, but I really want to go to class. Please. Just let me know. Just give me the sticker and let me go.

 

These are your vertebrae.”

 

Oui.”

 

You have a small ribcage.”

 

Vraiment?” Really? Well, is that important? If not, let me go to class. Please.

 

Okay. Everything is normal. So, how do you like France?” she asked.

 

Pretty, very pretty.” Sign the papers! Please just sign the papers.

 

But it must be very different from America?” she continued.

 

Yes, very different. But what can I say? France is France,” I said.

 

She finally signed the papers. “Here you go. Take this paper to the secretary,” she said

 

I went to the secretary where I gave more paperwork and received more paperwork. She placed a stamp in my passport and then sent me on my way. It was 10:15. I was already late for class. I rushed on to the tram, then switched tram lines, then ran to class. I arrived at 10:50, almost an hour late to class! It was my oral comprehension class which is two hours long. They had already listened to a tape and were answering questions in class. Naturally, I couldn’t participate because I didn’t listen to the tape. But I smiled and nodded. Thankfully, at the end of class, my professor played the tape one last time for everyone (although it was my first time listening to it).

 

I won’t bore you with the details of my grammar class, but it happened. That is what is important. I then had my literature class which I love more and more with each passing day. My professor continues to use literature to surprise us. He sometimes leaves off the ending of a story or the title. He lets us make our own conclusions and never treats us like we are stupid. Yes, we are using simple terms, but that’s because we’re speaking a foreign language. We’re trying to communicate complex and college level ideas with a kid’s vocabulary. Work with us. Some people are not very patient with non-native speakers. In class today, we were analyzing a poem in which the speaker comments on the richness of a woman’s hands. Our professor asked us what we thought that meant. One girl was trying to find the word for ring and came up with this description, “You know, the hand…with fingers.” At which point, we all laughed because we knew what she was saying and my professor jokingly asked, “As opposed to the hand without fingers?” Other people might not be so understanding of our lack of vocabulary.

 

Beyond that, he encourages us to formulate our own theories. My favorite literature professors aren’t the ones who tell me what it all means, but are the ones who encourage me to think in other ways. What if you interpret the text in a sociological way? What if you view it from a feminist perspective? My literature professor here in Nantes encourages us to interpret the text whatever way we like, as long as we have evidence. For example, in class today, a girl said suddenly, “I think she [the main character] is a prostitute.”

 

We all laughed, but my professor took her very seriously. “Okay. Why?

 

The girl gave evidence. She pointed to the woman’s dress, the woman’s behavior. “All valid points, but that is not correct,” my professor said before giving her other evidence to show her why her theory wasn’t correct.

 

Sometimes, literature allows for multiple interpretations. Sometimes, it doesn’t. However, a good professor should always be willing to listen to all interpretations and be willing to accept them if they are supported by evidence. If they aren’t properly supported by evidence, then they’re not, but at least the student had the opportunity to formulate a theory, to critically analyze a text. I think that process of learning and interpreting, even if it is not always right, should always be encouraged. And that is why I respect my teachers and professors who have taught and encouraged me to do just that.

 

I went to Quidditch, but then realized I forgot to do my homework that is due tomorrow (in all fairness, it was assigned today). I left Quidditch early (which was sad) to do homework. Then I remembered that I should probably write a blog post. And I need to pay for cell phone service tomorrow. And I need to make photocopies of the stuff I received from OFII (always make photocopies in France). And I need to look over my lines for my play tomorrow. And I… I need to go to sleep. I’m tired.

Flamenco and Poudlard

I attended my first lecture today. At West Virginia University, there are many amazing lectures to attend such as the Festival of Ideas. I wondered if there were lectures here at the Université de Nantes, so I decided to investigate. Remember, no one tells you anything in France. You have to find it yourself. So, I found a list of lectures that would be free for students to attend. I checked my schedule and what do you know? I had time to attend the Flamenco lecture!

 

If only I could find it. The Université de Nantes has many campuses here in Nantes. I’m not even sure how many campuses there are since the university operates each piece almost completely separately. This lecture was in an amphitheater on the medical campus. I had to find the medical campus and then I had to find the lecture hall. I found it, but I was five minutes late. I walked in and five hundred pairs of eyes turned to me. I entered the hall from the front, not the back. And everyone was staring at me. I slinked to the back, embarrassed. Then I took a look around. There was literally no one under the age of 40 there! I was so surprised. I was the only student. And I tripped up the stairs while five hundred people stared at me. Yep. Classic Kellene move right there.

 

The lecturer talked about Flamenco, which is a style of Spanish dancing. However, here’s what you didn’t know about Flamenco (or maybe you did), it was born out of a literature movement! That’s right! Literature inspired the style of passionate dancing (Flamenco comes from the Spanish word for “flame,” which invokes an image of passion). It was a really interesting lecture and I was pleasantly surprised that, even though it was in French, I could understand most of what she said. Except when she spoke in Spanish. She started to read poems in Spanish and everyone was just staring at her. She would then say, “Oh. It’s so beautiful in Spanish, but I can’t seem to find a good translation in French, but it’s so beautiful.

 

Okay…but what does it mean? As she was speaking Spanish, I noticed the old lady in front of me pull out a huge book of cacti (I’m not kidding) and start looking at pictures of cacti. It was a little odd. An old man pulled out a magazine and started reading about the conflict in Mali. I guess they came prepared in case the lecture got boring! Who brings a book of cacti to a lecture on flamenco dancing?

 

See? Lots of old people. I wonder why students didn't show up. It was free.

See? Lots of old people. I wonder why students didn’t show up. It was free.

After the lecture, I decided to go on adventure. I wanted to find the public library. I knew it was near where I was on the medical campus, so I started walking. I walked and walked and I saw these stairs going into the ground. We have underground parking in Nantes, but it didn’t look like parking. We don’t have a metro. Where did the stairs go? Out of the sake of adventure, I went to find out. I walked down the stairs and I discovered the Abolishment of Slavery Memorial. Nantes was once a thriving port…for slavery. To acknowledge this dark past and to move forward, Nantes installed this memorial to the victims of slavery, past and modern. Their chart of slavery goes to current day and consists of slavery from around the world. There were many quotes on the wall, including “I Have a Dream.”

 

It looked a little scary at first.

It looked a little scary at first.

But then I saw this...

But then I saw this…

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I came out on the side where it tells you what it is.

I came out on the side where it tells you what it is.

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I eventually found the library which was cooler than I imagined it would be. It was pretty big and I’d love to have a library card, but I’d have to pay for one and I already have access to the university library. However, the public library is different because they have a music section (where there are hundreds of CD’s) and a DVD section (so many movies). The library also has a youth section, which is where I headed. I was in search of a special book. Harry Potter. I found it, but only the last book. I want to buy the books in French and read them because I know the series very well. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read the Harry Potter books, but it’s enough for my parents to question if it was healthy for me to reread a book so many times! I actually have some parts memorized. Anyway, I picked up the last Harry Potter book and started reading the last chapter (I already know what happens, so I’m not spoiling anything). As I read, though, it was apparent that Harry’s world in French was different from his world in English. For example, we all know that Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts (for you muggles, non-magic folk, Hogwarts is the wizard/witch school where young witches and wizards learn magic), right? Well, in French, Harry Potter goes to Poudlard. I don’t mind differences like that because, like I said, I know the series very well so I knew what they were talking about. I’m now a little curious about the Harry Potter films in French. Do they go to Poudlard too? Or does the French voiceover say Hogwarts?

 

By this time, it was almost dinner time at the cafeteria, but not quite. So, I walked on the trail which is near the campus. It’s like the Rail Trail in Morgantown because it follows a little river (which, today I discovered, leads to Erdre River). It’s was a nice walk, except it was raining in one spot of the forest, but after that, it was clear and relaxing. The trail is a very cool place and I love it.

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Then I ate dinner and my adventure was officially done for the day. A lecture on Flamenco, the abolishment of slavery memorial, the public library, Harry Potter, a nice walk… Not bad for one day. Oh, and I went to class too, of course!