Ah, December in Nantes! While the weather befits the architecture, Nantes winter isn’t very idyllic: just slightly colder rain and overcast. (Which is my kind of climate, don’t get me wrong!)
My birthday is on December 3rd, so we celebrated at my host parents’ house. At the same time, we also celebrated the birthday of Jeff (who was in the program years ago but had returned to France to teach English), but I don’t mind sharing! The party was very nice. We invited friends over and ate raclettes, which are kind of like personal-pan cheese fondue. I also helped to make the pineapple and coffee cakes that we had for dessert. It would have been nice to also celebrate another night with just my friends, but there was a lot going on at the the end of the semester and, on top of that, things were getting dicey in France!
I never witnessed it firsthand but the “yellow vest” protests were becoming increasingly difficult to control. While most of the violence was in Paris, some students in Nantes got closer than comfortable to police, tear gas, and flames. No one from our program was hurt! And I feel an obligation to say that, regardless of what you see in the headlines, the protests really weren’t that abnormal for France. For the most part, the bad side of the protests were contained to a very small section of Paris. The whole of Paris isn’t burning, and most of France is perfectly okay!
That being said, the protests certainly made getting home very tricky. The original plan of taking a train to Paris on the 15th for a flight that afternoon had to be scrapped because the trains weren’t running. I ended up flying to Paris from Nantes the day before, but even the flight was delayed an hour due to air traffic controllers going on strike! Not because of the protests, but as a final nail in the coffin of inconvenience, my luggage was left in Dublin after a frantic connection. It wasn’t the end of the world, but by the time I landed in Chicago, I had had enough of international travel!
It’s a shame that the last couple of weeks in France were messy: there was a lot of fun that was seemingly overshadowed by the negative. For one, the theatre students performed the play they had been working on all semester. The play had been adapted from stories which the students had written and it was weird—in a very good way! It was very artsy and it reminded me a little of the SNL avant-garde theatre sketches (I don’t mean that as a criticism). Bravo to all the hard work they put into it!
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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>