[France] Normally Foreign turned Ridiculously French

        I did something typically american today in walking out of a class at the university, one which I took today for the very first time. I define it american just because, in my standing up while the professor was in his mid-lecture, my nature was simply that of a student doing her course shopping. I had in mind the intention of trying out the course, yet since the professor, whose speed of speech outruns in all matters that of my comprehension, had fixed the course for 2 hours, I figured it absurd to continue pretending like I was studiously taking notes. It would have been much too awkward to just sit there, and reiterate the gibberish that I was hearing, while the french students around me, armed with their rulers, colored pens, and correction pen, composed the beautiful art that is their notebooks. And so, I set out to do the first thing that came to mind: escape and try out another course. Lucky for me, I had strategically placed myself in the middle of the very first row of seats so that my face can but create this obstacle-less, direct line with the fixed eyes of the verbose professor. By the end of the first hour, I found my hands slowly, as unnoticeable as possible, reaching for my jacket and in less time then I can recall, I closed my notebook, stashed it in the bag, stood up, my eyes stuck to to the ground as my feet had no other destination but the door. It can be compared to a pause of time, that short 30 seconds, as the professor who had talked continuously for the past hour actually stopped…
        No, I hardly think shopping for a course came to his mind the minute he saw me stand up, that would have been the american way of explaining things were it the first week of courses at MHC. Nevertheless, the french fashion of stand up, walk out, in mid-lecture, can only equate to none other but the ever-so familiar french word that is “la greve” – the strike. The university here has had its fair share of students on strike during the end of last semester due to Sarkozy’s plan of privatizing the education system. For over 9 weeks, students across different departments would stand up, and walk out of the classrooms. More radically, the scenes of desks and chairs stacked one upon another to bar off the door were part of the daily college life during this period. The campus bears still now, 2 months after, spray-painted threats of “a bucket of water over the head for each class that you go to” or “Join the strike, or else”…
        So, yes, now in rethinking the situation, I do understand the tension which my seemingly nonchalant action may have caused. I might as well have been lighting a school-wide strike fire for all that poor french professor knew. It would have been for a reasonable cause as last thursday, all government officials were on strike due to low salary. I was on my way to the fac (university) by tram passing Place du Commerce (Center of Nantes), which was flooded with an ocean of heads, accented by many-a anti-sarkoziniste banners, and flags. Our course started late as the person normally in charge of opening the door, was perhaps also in the crowd. Protests and strikes, like cheese and wine, like art and cuisine, I believe, are to the French indispensable aspects of life. You can have the Eiffel Tower as much as you can have a French man with a beret on his head, shouting “Revolution” with his mustache-covered mouth and waving a baguette with his hand to represent this romanticist country – romanticist in the very sense of art: there exists always the subject of oppression, of struggle and of hope in romanticism. Then again, I exaggerate a bit for I have hardly seen a beret the past 3 weeks I’ve been here.
            The picture above is similar to the many stickers I saw placed at different angles excessively at all bus stops. The sticker reads “Long live the Strike. They make profit. They fatten [with money]. They pollute. They lie to us. They exploit us. They despoil us. They give us nothing. They have given up. The strike is a tool for defense and for success. It’s a right“. In alleviating myself a bit from the guilt of disrupting the professor’s train of garrulousness, I have concluded that, my naturally, positively, normal, american action today was but a naturally, politically undefined, normal, french thing to do. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in France, protest as the Frenchman would (even if you don’t really mean it). I must keep guard for the next protest to arrive so that I may very well capture it in a photo for you to see – the side of French life that made my abnormality seem normal.
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2 thoughts on “[France] Normally Foreign turned Ridiculously French

  1. lolzzz i went to a 8 am(!yes, do you believe that ma cherie? 😦 ) class today at…9 am =)) [when i came all they did was trying a problem of convergence of ax+b=c—booooorrringgg] and then went around shopping for class as normal students in the us usually do 😉 😀

    seems like the french love strikes 😐 btw have you heard about a young trader at SocGen losing heaps of billion dollars and his positions even exceed the bank’s capital. its shocking the world, more like a joke lolz

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