No holds barred, it has been quite an intense week. Thing started to feel a bit too normal so I amped it up this week and took on some things. My timetable is finally finalised and I have phenomenally few hours in university; thursday is well hectic and I have 8 hours of classes, I end up looking (and feeling) like a startled, caffeinated hedgehog, hair all on end and a wild look in my eye, so much concentration is required just to understand what’s happening around me. The flipside of this is that I have one class on both wednesday and friday, and the rest of the week is free. When I start work on my “dissertation” this will be taken up with reading fairy tales (I hope) but for the moment I have a serious amount of rumination time.
SO I have finally made it to capoeira. Two days in a row infact, so that since then I have had trouble walking, limpy limpy just because my muscles are so surprised to have done some work, I love it really although it makes the stairs a Challenge. Mestre Sorriso is INTENSE. He is “short and fast” (as described by Hiena, my teacher in Edinburgh) and takes exactly no shit. If you do the thing wrong he looks very serious and shakes his head and says “ faites EXACTEMENT ce que je fais” and sometimes simply puts your limbs in the right place. and at the end of the class he sits us all down and gives life advices which are also capoeira advices, for example that you must always always look what you are doing, he did a well cute mime of someone going clothes shopping, looking carefully at the displays and the being all friendly and open with the shopkeeper. I feel like a goon basically all the time at the moment, because I can’t communicate as clearly as I am used to, but I have accepted the goon in me and am smiling a lot to make up for it. At capoeira I was kind of clumsy, a month out of training definitely shows, but I am excited to get really involved and get my hardcore self back, and more. After two classes I already feel stronger. Sorriso also shouts a lot of French all over the place and looks genuinely angry though in the next second he will beam into the most beautiful childlike smile, so it balances out.
Alice and I took a trip to the Hammam on Wednesday night, shuffling through the unexpected rain (strange how fast we’ve acclimatised to the weather here; we felt baffled and disgruntled at this sudden rainfall) to a tiny white and blue tiled building where we were given flipflops and directed downstairs to the cellar, which was a stone-tiled steamroom and showers, also various plinths upon which one lies to be scrubbed and lathered. It was a strange and luxurious experience, and we emerged softskinned and sleepy with the taste of mint tea on our tongues, to shamble back the way we came and collapse into our respective beds.
Thursday was school trip day, the Occitane culture class I’m taking put on a trip to learn about Max Roquette, who is a French writer, he wrote in occitan (which is a language spoken in parts of France, Italy and Spain, and also in Monaco. it sounds to me like FrenchItalianSpanish, I can understand it a little but it hurts my head) and was a big advocate of occitane culture. He was also well into plants, or so the botanist who came with us on the trip seemed to think. We heard about a serious amount of trees and flowers, and the botanist lady rrrrrrelished saying things like how Max Rrrrrrrrrroquet had referred to a specific type of tree and she had worked out which actual tree it was, since we were in his home village (Argelliers, super cute). I didn’t understand most of what she was saying, so it got quite tiresome having to stop by so many “énorme”, “formidable”, “exquis” trees. The weirdest moment of the day was on the coach, when the prof (Jean-Claude) took up the microphone and started singing occitane songs in a gentle voice, and all the French students joined in, absolutely willingly and without irony. I was gobsmacked, to put it delicately. That would simply Never Happen on any school trip in the UK, the cynicism and self-consciousness levels of teenagers are just too high. What’s more, the cool kids at the back of the coach carried on singing after Jean-Claude was done, filling the air with sincere refrains in perfect harmony. In the ruined castle all the profs stood in a line and sang more gentle occitane songs, accompanied by a guitar, accordian and recorder. I was really amazed. The main difference I have observed between French and British people so far is the level of confidence over here, it simply oozes out of their tanned toned skin. I tried a course on theatre (very briefly) in which the students discussed Moliere’s ‘Tartuffe’ voraciously and heartily for three hours, without cease. At one point they took up the script and acted out a scene in the aisle. Again, gobsmacked.
University is odd here, we are subordinate to the profs’ personality in a way that I thought was over when I left school, being treated like children again is very strange. Today a perfect example happened when our translation prof said “One of my personal obsessions in the Antarctic, which you are probably not interested in, but I am going to impose it on you”, he then proceeded to tell us facts about the South Pole, “indulging” himself for near on five minutes.
In other news, I fell asleep at Ffion’s last night, and apparently when she turned out the light I made a little speech in my sleep, in French! She couldn’t tell what I was saying, garbled sleep French, nonetheless I am Very Pleased.
SO, the first month-and-a-day has passed well, I miss home love intensely but have launched myself into a lot of things and am feeling excited and whole, most of then time. RealbigHUGElove to everyone.