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?
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.”
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.
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!