On the offchance anyone remembers I have been using a diary to make short points of what I’ve done each day so I can remember when it comes time to write a blog (and, you know, for life etc). Unfortunately I have been extremely slack and not written in this for about 3 weeks so it’s been a bit of a challenge! I guess this is good as it means there’s less chaff to sort through/ramble on about. Lesson learnt.
I finally have everything sorted for uni. I’m doing all the classes I mentioned last time, plus a French to English translation paper. I have this twice a week, once with an Anglophone and once with a Francophone. It’s pretty good except for the fact that this week the young Australian lady couldn’t understand my accent (I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt) and on Friday the French lecturer told me, no reservations at all, that I didn’t know how to speak my own language after I disputed the relevance of the term ‘nosegay’ in 21st century society. His class is at 8am; he should really try harder!
I won’t go into too much detail in this post but all of the courses are going pretty well. They’re all interesting and I’m understanding them well enough. The only problem is that they only have one assessment each, all more or less at the end of term. So while things are going well now I’m going to have a lot of work to do! A 30 minute speech on a modern designer for example. Any Dieter Rams fans out there? Help is much appreciated!
So, from what I can remember the past two weeks have just been la vie quotidienne with uni and not much else. I have been up to a few interesting things though!
As I mentioned last time I volunteered as tribute to host Waitangi Day (New Zealand’s national holiday) chez moi. Well this turned into quite the bash with 14 of us in total, two legs of lamb (one of them from NZ), three desserts and all the veges you need to make a classic Kiwi roast! The food was delicious if I do say so myself, the company was fantastic and the Kiwi music gave a nice taste of home. In the usual fashion it wrapped up around midnight when everyone had to disperse to get home. All in all, not a bad effort! Definitely the most momentous Waitangi Day I’ve ever had. To cut a long story extremely short, Waitangi Day is more controversial than celebratory (you can read about it here if interested) and there is certainly no tradition attached to it so it was nice to ‘reappropriate’ it as Kiwis overseas and make the most of our day!
This week Les Mis FINALLY came out in France and Jamie, Jess and I were there with bells on! Naturally, as with any social gathering it had to start with food. This time it was gourmet burgers followed by the tried and tested brownie concoction. Unfortunately this took longer to cook than anticipated so we had to gulp it down and run for the bus. Needless to say by the time we arrived we weren’t feeling too good. Unfortunately, even though we were all so excited to see the movie the whole cinematic experience was less than ideal. Brownie situation aside, we were all just about ready for bed when we had to leave (I for one had been going from 6:30am). We saw it in English with French subtitles which, although helpful at moments where I couldn’t actually make out the words they were singing, were on the whole very distracting and actually so bright they hurt my eyes.The absolute worst part of it was that the theatre got unbelievably hot and stuffy, to the point where I was sitting there in my singlet. There wasn’t so much I could do about my longjohns though. It was awful! After a certain point I think the three of us had all just had enough and were counting down until we could get out of there! Nonetheless I enjoyed the film but am definitely looking forward to seeing it in better circumstances. After that Jess and I walked home as we couldn’t be bothered waiting twelve minutes for the tram and we still needed to cool down. It was a really nice walk and another reminder that I still haven’t been on my night-time expedition to capture Lyon, ville illuminée. It’s very pretty with all the rivers and old buildings lit up! It’s on the to-do list…
The pièce de résistance for the past two weeks was spending the day in Dijon yesterday (Saturday) with eight of mes amies, most of us in the same French class. We were up at the crack of dawn to get the train at 7:16 and by 9:19 (precisely) we had arrived! We didn’t really have any plans but soon discovered it was pretty easy to see the main sights as there was a marked walking trail around the city. We started off by climbing all 46 metres of the Tour Philippe le Bon at the Palais des Ducs, the former seat of the Duchy of Burgundy and greater Burgundian territories. Just hearing the name ‘Philip the Good’ had the whole history of the Northern Renaissance which I studied in my last year at school come flooding back to me! This was probably one of the most exciting parts of the day. Nothing like a good brain workout! We then walked round some of the main sights in the same area before we found some lunch (a mission in itself).
After that we split up and my half of the group went to the Musée Mangin, a former townhouse which has been turned into a museum of its owners’ collection of 17th-19th century French, Italian and Netherlandish works as well as arts décoratifs. My one and only art history paper is on the decorative arts so this seemed appropriate, and as the Musée de Beaux Arts is closed for renovations this was the best I could do! It did have works from some big names and a few ‘copies’ of famous works which I didn’t quite get to the bottom of…if it looks exactly like the original, and is by the original artist, but you know it’s not the original because the original doesn’t live there…what is it? Case in point, Brueghel’s Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap. There was also a study (taking my own educated guess here, information was few and far between) of Paul Delaroche’s Execution of Lady Jane Grey which we studied extensively in ARTH222 last year so that was exciting. I also took the liberty of giving the rest of the group lessons which I’m sure they all loved. I let them off the pop quiz though! After stocking up on moutarde de Dijon and crême de cassis we headed back to get our train home, arriving around 7pm. I think we all crashed pretty soon after that!
Given I was going with such a big group I didn’t really do any research as I thought I would only be disappointed if I had my heart set on something and didn’t get to see it, and I think this was a good approach to take. Dijon was definitely a good destination for this sort of trip; it had enough on offer that you could definitely fill one or two days there, but if you only had limited time it was easy to at least see all the main sights. Even walking through the streets with the old wooden houses and toits bourguingons was enough to get a feel for Bourgogne et son patrimoine.
Anyway so that’s what I’ve been up to recently, not my best entry I know but I am operating on very few hours’ sleep! Next weekend I am heading to Spain for ten days so I think it’s safe to say the next entry will be one of the more exciting ones! It may be a few weeks till I get round to it. In the meantime I need to write a dissertation on Sophocles, a speech on inanimate objects and try and learn the rhyme and reason that (isn’t) French prepositions.
PS, some of you will be receiving postcards soon. You will find my address for your convenience below. I look forward to having a nice full letterbox when I get back from Spain ;)
PPS I forgot to mention that on both trains people casually had their dogs sitting on seats. This will never not be weird.