Better late than never, right? I will be completely honest with you that, given all the other things to do in France, I was never very motivated to write these posts. Nevertheless, I said I would write them, and I intend to keep my word! So buckle up as we run through the last month and a half of my time in France.
Right at the end of October, we had our final exams. They all went well except for the test for my French language class. I’m not an expert in teaching foreign languages (so I know all of my criticisms come with their grain of salt) but I never much appreciated how French class was run. We spent too much time playing games and having class discussions (i.e. the kinds of practice we got everywhere else in Nantes) and not enough time doing the nuts-and-bolts grammar drilling that many of us felt we needed. Similarly, our assigned vocab was somewhat obscure (e.g. religion & political dialogue) which is useful to know, but we never really practiced using it. When the time came to take the test, I had over one hundred vocabulary words and a choice to make: do I devote hours to wrought memorization—only to forget the words a day later—or do something else and take a hit to my exam grade? Given my tone, you can probably guess that I chose not to make memorizing the words a priority. I ended up spending an hour reviewing the words, which certainly wasn’t enough for success, but like I said, from a pedagogical point of view, I felt I could better spend my time elsewhere.
In the end, I got a 13.5/20 on that test, which admittedly looks really bad. But the French grading system is very different from our own. (Funny enough, no one ever earns a 20/20. After all, perfection doesn’t exist!) While far from the best grade possible, my 13.5 roughly translates to a B-. I don’t feel like I earned a B-, but I guess I’ll take what I can get!
On a more upbeat note, Fall break was a lot of fun! I was very fortunate that my parents came to visit me in France. I showed them around Nantes, hitting all the favorites, like the Machines de l’Ile and the Château. We also had dinner twice (once at the house and then again at a restaurant) with my host family. It was very cool to introduce my parents to my host parents; however, I don’t have many memories from the dinners. Because of the language barrier, I was nonstop translating between French and English! I was so busy, I hardly had time to eat or speak for myself!
After our weekend in Nantes, my parents and I flew to Vienna, which is an amazing city! The German speaking Austrians and their food were a welcome change of pace after two months of French living. As I had been told on numerous occasions in France that I had a tête allemande, I felt at home surrounded by other “German heads”! All-in-all, Vienna was absolutely gorgeous. We went to a couple of highly acclaimed museums, but the buildings themselves were just as any exhibit therein! And as grand as Versailles is, the Hapsburg palaces dwarf their French counterparts in size and opulence. Fun fact about Austrian food: Frankfurter hotdogs are a pretty common light meal; however, you don’t get a bun. No, you just eat the hotdogs with your fingers! At first, we thought the server was joking with us, but it’s just what they do in Austria.
To finish off the break (and more importantly, to appease my father) we spent our last day together in Disneyland Paris, and boy was it crowded! It was super interesting to see the cultural intersections at the park. (You could tell there was a strong American influence because there were public drinking fountains, a practically nonexistent sight in France!) We didn’t get to do a whole lot chez Mickey, but we made the most of it and really enjoyed ourselves. I particularly liked the Star Wars themed Space Mountain, satiating my dream of being in a Star Wars film—if anyone’s looking for an X-Wing pilot, sign me up!
As I mentioned earlier, we’re doing rapid fire posting, so why not keep reading?!
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<p>At my school, Lawrence University, we use the word "multi-interested" to describe students who enjoy too many subjects to decide on a single major. Although I finally landed upon an English major coupled with secondary education teacher certification, I cannot think of a better word to describe myself! I have always been curious, and I love to explore topics, whether it is creative writing or mathematics or music or foreign languages. I cannot wait to experience everything Nantes, France, and Europe offer and to share it with you!</p>