Wednesday, September 21, 2011

La rentrée

So this past weekend, I went out on Friday night, got absolutely shit-faced, cycled home in a blur, fell asleep, woke up at 3pm on Saturday, read for a few hours, then went out to an African themed party at the residence, with my new 'residence friends'. I got to try some African food, these spicy meatballs covered in what appeared to be some sort of mango chutney, along with these fried banana pieces in a sticky spice mixture. Absolutely delicious!
They put on some music, but I drew the line at dancing along to it. I'm fine thrashing away to typical white music, but there is no way in hell I'm going to get up there, swinging my distended skinny limbs around the place, when I'm surrounded by buxom, glossy-skinned African beauties with BOOTYS. As it happened, I was the only white girl there, which I thought was interesting: why? A guy came up to me, and was really concerned about something on my shoulder.
"Your shoulder, are you okay? What's wrong with it?"
Eh? You what, love?
I turned my head and tried to see. It was just your basic bog standard mysterious red blotch which those of you with pathetically transparent skin will understand. One of those things that appears for no good reason, and then disappears. I spent the next half hour reassuring him that I wasn't ill. That I was going to live.

On Monday, I had my first class. We started off with a meeting at 9am, to introduce us to the school and how things were gunna work 'round here. I had been woken at 6am by an incredibly intense dream, in which I lied to the police, my Mutti was panicking with me trying to hide me in the house. In the distance, I could hear the sirens, and suddenly, I was stung on the hand by an enormous wasp, and woke up feeling a serious pain in my palm. Turns out the siren was an actual ambulance going past in the street, and the wasp fantasy was just the fact that the motorbikes rushing past have that whiny insect sound. Nevertheless, I was awake, so I got up. Shoved some breakfast down my face, and headed out in good time.
The meeting was fairly interesting, and didn't last too long. I'm under the impression the head of department is English, but difficult to tell. We got given our timetables, and I have 16 hours in total, which is a massive step-up from my 'doing fuck all' life of yesteryear. That afternoon, I had my first class: French-English translation (as opposed to Eng-Fre of which I have 4 hours a week). The guy taking the class was English and seemed quite nice. The word I would use to describe him is: bumbling. I was on the edge of my seat half the time, nodding encouragingly, lifting my chin in anticipation, willing him on to finish the sentence. He latched on to me and this other girl as the only two anglophones in the class, which was quite sweet, if a little embarrassing. There was one guy in the class, a Romanian guy we shall hence forth call 'A', who was extremely endearing, and apparantly a bit eccentric. Very eager, and seems to have an almost photographic memory. The teacher would make a throwaway comment, eg:
"Interesting, you use the word 'cool'...I suppose I'm not au fait with the current British lingo anymore"
And in A would pop, with:
"In actual fact, the word 'cool' in its modern sense was coined in the early 20s. Due to an influx of....." and so he went on, whilst the rest of us watched on, mouths hanging open, intrigued. 'A' wears white polo t-shirts (is that what you call them?) with an ironed collar, over slacks and under jumpers in muted shades. His hair is parted. Brilliant!

So intrigued was I, that yesterday, as I sat outside the building waiting for my I.T. class (more on that little gem later), I saw him go in and called out to him. We chatted for a bit, and it turns out he lives up round my area - the ghetto, as other people seem to see it as, due to its outskirtish nature and mainly student population. Half way through our conversation, I asked him if he knows my name, because I don't remember his.
"Of course", he smiled. "[My first name.]. [First name] [Last name]"
Jesus Christ! The guy knows all the class lists and who's who! Unbelievable, and again, intriguing!
What's been interesting me lately, is how other people have the power to make you feel a certain way. Perhaps I am alone in this, but I feel like my whole being changes depending on who is around me. With some people, I feel like a strident maniac. Around others, I feel myself recoil, my voice becoming almost shy and unsure. Some people make me feel like I have to lead and be in charge. Some people make me feel girlish and superficial. Others make me feel butch. Some people make me feel stupid, others make me feel irritatingly pompous. Answer me this, readers: does this happen to you as well? There are very few people who I can be around, and feel, simply, myself. This A guy made me feel extremely comfortable and at ease, and he seemed to be a very generous and kind spirit. He came with me to collect my student card from the office, and as I was screwing around trying to open the enveloppe, he took my stuff off me so I could do it properly. I really appreciate little gestures like that. Then he was craning his neck trying to read the blurb, and had a few questions about how to register, how to get a French phone, etc. I just found him very touching.

We went back outside and waited for the IT teacher to arrive. Yes, you read correctly. We have 2 hours every other week, of learning to 'use word processing equipment properly'. What this means, as is later revealed, we are learning all the little hidden quirks of Word. I mean, fair enough. Like everyone else, I struggle with the thing at times, finding exactly what tool I want to use, and just learning to live with those fucking mystery occurances (for example, when you start typing, and out of nowhere, as you type, it starts eating up all the words you've already written. WHY?!). Sure, it's great if I can learn to stop all those things from happening (as we did in class the other day), but is it really ESSENTIAL? Anyhow, the teacher is a pretty wacky matter-of-fact woman, who I like. She has dyed red hair, with one side longer than the other, wears bright cardigans, has nail art, and is in her 50s. She uses a few cultural shockers, such as calling a type of quotation marks 'gillemets negre', which was a little odd, and then when talking about Microsoft Office packages versus Open Office, said:
"But I mean, if you like Open Office better, then go for it. I'm only racist by ignorance". Hmm. Interesting!

As we sat down at our computers, 'A' was in front of me, and his computer started beeping like one of those heart machines attached to a dying person. Nervously he looked around, and realized he had no mouse, so I whispered to him, "there's one at the back". I meant, 'just change computer mate', but no, he got up and disconnected the mouse from the other computer, came and sat back down, replugged it in, and the beeping continued. I felt especially bad when latecomers came in and sat at the back, and when we began actually using the machines started bleating 'Madame, someone has taken our mouse! We have no mouse!' Poor A just sank lower into his chair, and I felt as if I had caused the whole debacle, whilst simultaneously being amused by it. A reminded me of those characters in films who are held responsible for some horrible event, but are unable to express that their error was made in ignorance, not evillness, and so eventually get hunted down and murdered by the townspeople.

So I'm now half way through the working week. My next class is at 5.30pm (I know!) until 7.30pm, after which I shall retire to the student restaurant, and eat and drink my fill for a mere €3. I am enjoying it here!


  1. Eat and drink for 3euros?! Does that include wine? : )

    And next African party you go to - you should get your groove on!! I'd love to go to a party like that. Lucky you!

  2. LOL well as I see it knowing how stop the incredible word-eating essay-shrinking gizmo might be very relevant if you are 95% of the way through a 3,000 word assignment and it gets munched. Do you know all the Control+ shortcuts?

  3. @ not including the wine unfortunately!

    @mutti - I spose you're right, it's definitely more of a help than a hindrance, plus it's only once a fortnight so no worries there!

  4. Where have you been chickadee? I hope everything is ok. :)