Graduation Goggles

Laura Schneider
December 6, 2015

At each change in our lives, we subconsciously adopt a perspective, known to some as “graduation goggles”, where nostalgia creeps on you and forces you to see everything you are about to leave in a brighter light than usual.

Unfortunately, graduation goggles don’t apply to everything. I am appalled at the fact that a lot of social issues here are often defended by the fact that they are a part of “France’s culture”. I appreciate how progressive France is in many ways, but when dealing with sexism and racism in particular, it’s pretty behind. Every time we discuss or complain about the difficulties we have when dealing with these issues, we are told to just accept the fact that this is how it is and to deal with it. Every country has its own problems, but if we keep saying that it’s part of the “culture”, nothing’s going to get done. Also, living in a city has its downsides: I’m much more aware of how ignorant people are in crowded areas – bumping into each other and not apologizing, and sitting next to vacant bus seats, making it incredibly awkward for others to access them.

Thankfully, though, the pros greatly outweigh the cons - although I am counting down the days (less than two weeks!) until I get to spend winter break in Oxford and next semester in my beloved college, this won’t be an easy transition:

  • I am so incredibly lucky to have met such amazingly crazy people here. I have made great IES Abroad friends outside of Wooster and also friends with Woosterites with whom I wasn’t very close or didn't even know at all.
  • I am struck by all the amazing opportunities that don't show themselves very often. These past two weeks I have learned how to make pasta, kouign-amann, shell scallops, torch crème brûlée, and make croissants.
  • For Thanksgiving, we all went to a restaurant for dinner, which didn't exactly remind me of Thanksgiving at all. The food was nothing to write home about - or blog about - but nevertheless I had a wonderful night. I sang 'Hallelujah' a cappella as part of the talent show, and out of all the times I've sung it, this was by far the most fulfilling and heartwarming. After the chorus preceding the second stanza and each one after that, almost everyone in the room chimed in. I felt like I was singing for France, after the rough month we’ve had, and it made my week to see and hear everyone singing along.  
  • I am going to miss walking by the seafood market, the boulangerie – and occasionally stopping to buy a croissant or baguette – and the museum of Natural History on my way to class. And don’t get me started on all the other food (queue the tears).
  • It’s difficult to not get into the holiday spirit with all the adorable markets and twinkle lights. I love walking around all the huts selling food, knick knacks, and my favorite: châtaignes grillées (roasted chestnuts).  
  • I am going to miss my art history class taught at the university of Nantes. My teacher is so passionate and takes his time on each subject instead of rushing through each piece of art covered in class.

Obviously there are so many other reasons I will miss this beautiful city. I think back to the first month we were here and am in awe every time when I realize that we went on our orientation trips less than two months ago. We have done so much in such a short time! I’ve definitely said this before, but I don’t think I will ever get over how much you can do when you set your mind to it.

Also - Happy Hanukkah!!  

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Laura Schneider

<p>Bonjour! I&#39;m Laura Schneider, a junior at the cozy College of Wooster, majoring in vocal performance and minoring in French. Apart from immersing myself in these two fields, I enjoy baking - while occasionally tweaking recipes, riding my bike, reading (especially outside), and playing (and watching) tennis. I lived in Bath, England with my parents my sophomore year of high school, and am so thrilled to be abroad on my own this time! After college, I am hoping to further my studies in performance somewhere in Chicago!</p>

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