... so bring on the real stuff!
04.03.2015 - 15.03.2015 15 °C
In the wake of my trip to Prague, I have kept incredibly busy, but much less glamorously. I spent most of my first week back working on my next two presentations, both of which are thankfully over now. The first, a relatively easy one, was for my “French Perfectionment” class of international students. The assignment was to give a 5-minute presentation comparing an aspect of our culture with France. People have compared Mexican public transport, Brazilian dance, Italian Christmas, German cars, Chinese weddings, and other topics. They’re quite fun to sit through! For mine, I chose to compare high school extra-curricular activities. My main resource was my friend Théo, who explained to me that school-sponsored sports do not exist here at all, and, though they exist in most schools, social and academic clubs are nowhere near as big of a deal as they are in the US. In general, there just isn’t any form of inter-school competition. And a side effect of that is that there are no mascots, which is something that I had sort of subconsciously noted when I started at the University, but had not quite put my finger on. In all, the presentation went really well; people seemed interested (it’s not only France that has a system like this, so the system I was presenting was new to some students as well) and I got a really good grade!
So that presentation was an ego-boost to prepare me for the next scary one, the “analysis of the representation of hoplite warriors on ancient Greek ceramics” one. I spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for it, but that meant that I was pretty comfortable with the subject. It all started really well (this one was also a lot less scary than the first research presentation I gave because the class is only about 10 students) but then it got awkward when I started to present one of my comparison vases. The professor stopped me and asked if I had, by any chance, read the program of other exposés for the semester. I had, but like a month and a half ago, when I signed up for my presentation date. Because the subject of the next girl’s presentation was that vase. So that was kind of bad; I just had to sort of gloss over my analysis so as not to steal her thunder. Oops. And I probably won’t know my grade on that one until I get my grade for the course.
Probably the most exciting thing that I have done in the past week – and it was pretty fun – was to participate in an ESN event called the “Cultural Market”. It was the culmination of a big series of activities aimed to get highschoolers interested in studying abroad while they are in college. The event consisted of 10 or 12 of the countries represented in the group cooking up a bunch of traditional foods, to be served at a huge event to which whole high school classes were invited, but it was open to the university and the public as well. The other two Americans here this semester, from Tennessee and Boston, and I had a table where we served a super starchy selection of chicken pot pie, garlic-spinach mashed potatoes, potato salad, and rocky road.
I had been a little worried that people wouldn’t be very interested in our table, because American food has pretty effectively permeated global cuisine. But there was a constant line at our table, and all of the dishes were popular and seemed to widen some people’s perspectives of American food. And the rocky road was gone in about ten minutes…
A lot of students were really excited to test out a bit of their English with us (it’s mandatory here from middle school through high school, but for those who don’t really take an interest, it tends to be only slightly more effective than an American foreign language education). Though we were busy, I did get a chance to slip away and pile a plate with little bits of Syrian tabbouleh, Romanian stew, Italian spinachy pastry and chocolate balls, Greek semolina cake, Polish pierogis, Cyprian cheese, and Bolivian dumplings. A pretty successful night, I’d say.
Here’s an article from one of the local papers…it’s in French, but there is a slideshow with some good pictures at the top! http://www.estrepublicain.fr/loisirs/2015/03/13/besancon-erasmus-explique-aux-lyceens
My weekend got off to an interesting start when, yesterday, I woke up to find that a good portion of my floor was mysteriously wet. As my room is only 9 square meters, including the bathroom and closet, it didn’t take long to discover that the water was coming from the threshold between my bathroom and the rest of the room, as well as seeping up from between some of the floor tiles… So after I had exhausted my modest supply of dish towels trying to mop things up and packed my bag with a day’s worth of work, I went and reported my little flood to the woman at the front desk. Between my inability to explain the problem completely and succinctly, and the strange nature of the problem that I was trying to describe, I don’t think she really believed me. So she followed me to my room, and after a couple of “Ooh la las” and lots of head shaking, she said she’d report the problem to the maintenance man.
I just took the opportunity to take a nice springy walk downtown to spend the day working on park benches and in coffee shops. It turned out to be quite pleasant, as it was the first “Pedestrian Saturday” of the season. So practically every shop was wide open, there were multiple music groups playing in various locations, and it seemed like about a third of the city was out to just enjoy the day. It was all quite lovely and springy and I really wish I had thought to grab my camera!