So, I think it's safe to say that my Study Abroad experience has definitely caused mood swings that didn't previously plague me. I'm not unhappy at all -- it's just that I guess it goes without saying that being in a foreign country for months at a time is bound to make anyone feel something new. I don't think people would be able to tell except from the fact that every other blog entry that I've written definitely has a negative tone. Sometimes I think about toning it down, but then I remember that this blog is supposed to document my experiences here -- and a big part of Studying Abroad is what I'm feeling about my experience, right? I just hope that I don't sound ungrateful, because I definitely feel extremely fortunate and grateful to be here.
That being said, I think it will be better to divide my blog entries into specific Good & Bad parts, because otherwise I tend to ramble. AGAIN: No matter how annoyed at something I am here, I AM grateful. Okay.
The Bad first.
Being here has given me no extra appreciation for the French language. In high school, when my friends and I took our first year of French, we were always throwing out random French words along with our English because knowing foreign words was so cool! But I honestly haven't had that feeling since then. Here, I'm happy when I remember words that I've just learned enough to use them again (!) but besides that I don't really like speaking or listening to French (blasphemy, I know). It's hard to try at something when you're not interested in it in the first place. I feel like there's something wrong with me, because I'm pretty sure that one isn't supposed to UN-like a language that they Study Abroad to learn. It's gotten to the point where, originally, I assumed that when I returned to UCI, I would take at least one more French class to be able to continue speaking it, except that now the idea of having to read/write/translate French when I get back sounds reallly unappealing. :(
Also, school SUCKS. Except for my Cicero class, where I AM learning stuff (AND WHERE WE STARTED WATCHING ROME IN FRENCH LAST CLASS!!!), my other classes are completely pointless for me. And they definitely aren't helping my French. I don't regret that I didn't enroll in the classes specifically meant for foreign students to learn French, because all of my friends in them seem to hate those too. So at least I know I'm not missing much. But when I combine the facts that 1) I can't sit still for 2 or 2.5 hours worth of French lecture at a time, 2) It's especially hard to pay attention for that long to something that I can't understand ANYWAY, and 3) for most of my classes, it's pretty much been established that since my homework is different because I'm a foreigner, I don't actually need to KNOW what's being taught in lecture.
Now combine those three things and it becomes very apparent why I hate school. And I admit that part of this probably my fault, because I'm sure that listening to French for so many hours a week can obviously help my comprehension skills eventually, so school could potentially have some value. But I really don't think it's human nature to be be able to take something like that --with SO MUCH working against it-- seriously. So at least I'm not beating myself up about it, it just sucks.
I miss learning things. I definitely have learned some interesting facts: I can now tell you who Saints Anne & Jerome are, about the different sections that make up an Ancient Roman legal document, as well as what days you wouldn't be able to get married on according to the French Catholic Church of the 18th Century. Oh, and that the three groups who weren't big fans of the Jesuits were the Jansenists, the Oratorians, and the philosophers. The only problem is that I can't put anything in context. Like, AT ALL, which is really bizarre. Also, the thing that I love about my upper-Div classes at UCI is that we don't just learn facts, there are obviously points of view and theories that we discuss. I don't know if it's that my classes here are too low-level, or that I'm just missing the message, but not having things like that to discuss is BORING.
I have an in-class test on Wednesday for my hardest class (Louis XV) that is supposed to last for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I know that I could technically use all of that time to write, but it worries me that the kids who ALREADY KNOW THE LANGUAGE are going to need that time too.....I honestly don't think that there's a point in going, except that neither the professor nor the UC Center will take much pity on my final grade if I don't even show up to this one. UGH. Two and a half hours of feeling clueless is going to be MISERABLE.
I don't think I could have handled being here for the full school year just because an additional semester in class would have killed me.
Okay, now the Good!
French friends are being accumulated! One night last week, some of us met up with one of my friends from UCI, who brought his (French) water polo friend with him. And earlier this week, this new French friend invited us for dinner at his apartment, so three of us went and it was really fun. He cooked for us, we spoke only French, and we played games. It was really good.
And today while I was waiting for someone in the cafeteria, a (French) friend of a friend who I had met once before came up to me and we started talking for a while too, and it felt really good to be speaking French with an actual French person. YAY.
ALso, it's suddenly BEAUTIFUL outside in Bordeaux. This is me on my first day NOT WEARING A COAT TO SCHOOL:
See? Even with my ranting, I AM in a good mood once in a while!