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O Fim duma Viagem

The end of the week (not to be confused with the weekend)

FRANCE | Tuesday, 8 September 2015 | Views [244]

After finishing the test, I did not want to sit down. So I just started walking, with the vague plan of going until I got tired, and then maybe catching a metro back from wherever I ended up. I got hungry first, and stopped for lunch at a crepe stand with a long enough line to suggest that it was good. It was pretty good, and also cheap and capable of being eaten without sitting down, so overall good. After a bit I remembered my homework, and decided sitting again would be acceptable, so I went back to the office to finish it.

There were a number of people looking through binders for the other French universities. I had no desire to join them. I like the courses I’m registered and even if I wanted to take others, I’ve spent so much time at Paris 6 this week, and classes haven’t even started. If I needed to register at another university when I was already responsible for showing up at all my classes that I’d already registered for… I do not envy the people taking classes at multiple universities.

During Christine’s course, we went through about half the descriptions of the artwork, and then started looking up synonyms for to be, to have, to do, to see, to say, people, and things. Which is an exercise that will serve me very well… once I’m back at Carthage and taking a class with Isabel again. Other people might need to know synonyms to stop them from saying “he said” or “she wrote” twelve times in a single paragraph. I need to know set phrases like “let G be a set such that…” or “assume that… this contradicts our assumption, therefore.” (Though, if I write in French like I write in English, several distinct ways of saying “we note that” would not come amiss.)

After the course, I went back to my apartment and grabbed dinner, though I did not have time to prepare or eat it before I set off again to meet my landlady at FNAC. After a quick discussion with one of the salespeople and the promise that all I had to do was insert an included SIM card into a box and I’d be good to go, she bought a travel box for internet. Since there was no kind of contract with it, I assumed it must be pay as you go, but it seemed like it should be easy enough to recharge it, and by this point I was willing to pay myself just to not need to meet for another discussion about it.

We bought that, then went to a nearby cafe to finish going over the lease. I opened up the box to start looking for specific information about how much it cost. I couldn’t find it. I did find a sheet that was asking for information about the internet box and its owner, so I filled out the numbers and handed it over to Eunice to fill out. It became increasingly obvious that she had no idea what average internet usage looked like in terms of gigabytes, and she seemed to think that I was responsible for “topping it off,” meaning paying for more than the gigabyte that was included with the box. Fine. I had no intention of streaming the entirety of Grey’s Anatomy while I was in Paris, and if that changed, I’d just need to find a restaurant with free WiFi that wouldn’t mind if I spent every available hour there. I wanted stable internet, and I wanted to be able to make plans in the evening that didn’t involve my landlord and an SFR sales representative. That was all.

The meeting was finished, and the lease was signed. And we split up and went back. I ate dinner at a time no one but a Morrocan would have considered early, (Portuguese would have thought it was right on time, French would consider it late, and my fellow countrymen would have gone “that’s not dinner. I’m not sure what meal that is, but not dinner.”) and stared at the box. Then I ignored it and continued using the box Erin had given me that didn’t require I insert a SIM card.

Because I just couldn’t stand being away from university, or I needed practice getting used to spending most of my days there, or something like that, I went back to the university the next morning.. Or because there was an international student welcome that Stephanie had told us we didn’t need to go to, but that might be interesting. So Jaclyn, Ben, and I went.

There were two parts: the informational section that could have been stolen from a “don’t you want to come here?” meeting, and the administrative registration. The second we’d done, and the first was just kind of generic. Most amusing moment might have been when I was looking at their map of where their international students were from and realized that they’d grouped the US and Canada together. (Although I get why they might want to do that, the only times the US would do that would be when we’re trying to imply that we’ve taken over Canada and no one noticed.) They skipped over the slide where they talked about the major awards people associated with UPMC had won, but they talked about the marine stations elsewhere in France, and how many foreign students they had. I assume most of the information would have also been freely available on their website, but that might not be a fair assumption given some of my experiences with their website.

There was a brief interlude while someone got up to talk about the international club and other people circulated handing out flier after flier. Then an entire team of people got up to give preparatory instructions to the students who hadn’t yet registered. Instructions were given in French, English, German, Italian, and Spanish. There was some minor differences from language to language (when the Spanish interpreter was doing his introduction, he asked something like “who understands me?” because a couple of scattered people raised their hands. Similarly, when they were giving instructions on where to go based on native country geography, most people repeated all of the regions. The German interpreter said “if you understand me, go here” and called it a day.) None of it was relevant to us, and once the groups had split up, we made our quiet escape.

I went back to the room and inserted my SIM card into the box. It worked, so I packed up Erin’s box (ignoring the small voice in my head that told me I should hang onto it for the weekend, just to be sure) and used the connection to find me a linens store. Although I had sheets, none of them matched, and none of them seemed to be fitted or even well sized. (A few of them weren’t even hemmed.) So essentially, my bed was made up of a beige cloth draped over the mattress, a flowery pink blanket, and a blue pillow. That as the most coordinated I could get, and it was driving me crazy. So I bought a black, fitted sheet, (which was also more comfortable than the one I’d been using) a matching pillowcase, and, while I was at it, a more comfortable pillow from a very friendly shopowner of a nearby store. Once I was back, I made my bed and, to avoid the temptation to crawl into my new sheets and fall asleep, I went back to the office.

During the course with Christine, three more people presented their pictures, and we did a vocabulary exercise. Than she asked if anyone hadn’t done their personal exposition yet, (meaning me) but before I could say anything, one of the people who hadn’t yet talked about their art piece spoke up, and the rest of the class presented that. From there, we were pressed for time, so we launched straight into reading a scene in Le Faiseur (a play we’d been responsible for reading the last two weeks) out loud. And then the class was over, and Christine urged us to see her for help if we needed it and she could provide it.

I went back to my apartment and discovered that internet wasn’t working. One of the lights that should have been green (I believe the light indicating that it was seeing a cellular network) was red, and my web browser, when I tried using it, said the SIM card hadn’t been inserted properly. What? I tried fiddling with that, then gave up and bought plastic plates and silverware to bring to Clara’s.

Clara was hosting the entire group for dinner. She was making pasta, but told people to bring anything they wanted to eat or drink. Cambria brought fruit, Ruby brought bread, I brought things to eat off, and pretty much everyone else bought a bottle of wine. I think the most expensive bottle was 10 euros, and pretty much everyone admitted that they didn’t know what they were doing, but brought things they thought looked nice.

Dinner was good, though there was more pasta than we could eat. (At the end of the evening, Clara threatened to throw it out, and I said I’d take it if no one else wanted it. My father would be so proud.) It was a large group, and got pretty loud, but it was nice to all be together again, even after housing and less group activities had scattered us. Hopefully we’ll do more dinners like that after classes start and we see each other even less.

Tags: apartment, dinner, french, internet

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