Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Magnifique March Madness

It feels like it's been a while, especially after my impressive 2 posts in a week last time (any hope of such diligence making a reappearance is unlikely at best). The last few weeks have been simply fantabulous. 

Despite that particular fact not being toooo out of the ordinary due to my enjoyment levels in general while here, this last while really has been great. My faith in humanity was also strengthened the other day as I accidentally left my clothes in the washing machine for over 26 hours, before dashing back to the laundry to discover to my pleasant surprise that everything was still as I had left it, despite me unintentionally hogging one of 10 machines that I share with over 1000 people for an entire day. I also like to think that it wasn't my clothes or my clothing style that deterred any potential thieves either. Hmm. 

Well, after my unforgettable bohemian shenanigans, Gcchhuuunooblhh welcomed me back for a short few days, before I got the train to la capitale, Paris (or Paaachh-ihhhh, for those wishing to gain an insight into French pronounciation. Might just stick with the 5 letter version though). So yeah, I went up to meet some friends I hadn't seen in a long long time from my Disneyland Paris working days, and a weekend of hilarious fun and merriment ensued as we soaked up the loveliness of quite possibly the Frenchest place in the world. After having severe phone issues, leading to a long and cold 2 hour wait in Paris Bercy station (quite depressing as waiting places go), we found each other and the festivities soon commenced. We stayed in a small, 2 star hotel (I was convinced someone had just forgotten the S in "hostel"), which was ordinary but decent considering the price we paid and how near we were to everything. 

The first night, we had all planned to suit up, and needless to say, my suit made the trip across France to live up to the occasion. We then went to Harry's New York Bar, a very famous cocktail spot (they invented the Bloody Mary apparently), and spent several hours catching up and sipping on incredibly strong and outrageously overpriced beverages. Bienvenue à Paris.. 

Having been in the Czech Republic 4 days earlier, where they almost pay YOU to buy drinks, this came as a bit of a shock. As did the Bloody Mary I might add, which I have to say tasted like a mixture of Heinz ketchup and some Super Valu own brand tomato soup. The Sazarac I had was nice though, and obviously has a cool name so that definitely helped the taste too. The experience was an excellent one though, despite the waiter not taking to our lively renditions of Molly Malone and the Wild Rover. It's obviously not very often that he would find a group of Portuguese, Swedish and Irish people all suited up in the middle of Paris singing ballads, and the occasion just got to him I think.

We proceeded to dance the night away at another expensive Parisian establishment, before walking to the Champs-Elysées for the obligatory suited-up-in-Paris shot, which did not disappoint. 

Despite our immensely ambitious breakfast plans for 9am, none of us had regained consciousness before about 2pm. I travelled over to St. Michel to meet one of my roommates from Disney 2011, again, who I hadn't seen since then. A fantastic few hours of catching up was in order, before I rejoined the others across town, stopping off to soak up the view of the Eiffel tower on the way. 

I quickly got the hang of the metro system again, and it never fails to amaze me how well it works. Then again I'm from Dublin so most things public transport related anywhere in the world would be impressive by comparison.. That night, after an enjoyable period spent chilling out in the ho(s)tel, we decided for old times sake to go to Disney Village, and the unforgettable and unchanging Billy Bob's. A very nostalgic few hours ensued, as we bumped into old friends and colleagues, still living the Disney dream. 

Unfortunately my time with my friends in Paris came to an end the following morning as I had to get the loooong 6 hour TER train back to Gcchhhuuunooblhh via Lyon. Another highlight of the year, in a list of highlights so long I now am quite worried about having to recount them all to people at home..

Life soon got back into it's rhythm, well, what little rhythm there can be in the life of an Erasmus student, and soon classes and academia began to once more enter into the extreme background of my daily life. The weather has recently been a bit mental, with flurries of snow being replaced by a week of  20 degree summer sunshine, to be then followed by torrential rain and more snow last weekend. Quite similar to your average Irish afternoon I noticed, maybe without the snow. The lovely people at Résidence have decided to construct  a few football courts just outside the buildings, so needless to say they have been used quite extensively, even if they're not fully completed.. A few very enjoyable birthday celebrations were had in the last week or two, which makes me impatient for my own in May, just at the end of the exams, so I discovered last week. Planning stage long since activated.

And the days rolled into weeks and suddenly St. Patrick's day was upon us, my first outside the Emerald Isle in my short 20 year life. It was by far my best to date. Courtesy of some wonderfully eager Canadians and their very generous family members, we had decorations galore, and we proceeded to start partying from the early afternoon onwards. A considerable number of people came to this wonderfully daytime party, which lasted right into the night. As one of two Irish people present in a group of over 20, I can safely say that I have a new found love for our national holiday. And also the colour green actually, never noticed before how nice and photogenic it is.

I have also got myself a job here in Gcchhuuunooblhh, since Friday evening ! In one of the studenty bars in town, with good music, great atmosphere and general fun to be had pretty much all of the time. Being the occasion that was in it, facepaints, leprechaun hats and novelty t-shirts were the order of the day among the staff. It's challenging French-wise, as while I understand generally everything normally, loud music added to mumbling French customers makes for one intense aural listening exam. My beginner status also meant I wasn't too familiar with the menu, but thankfully no huuuuge mistakes were made and the vast majority of people so far have been happy.

Saturday evening, having been told that I wasn't working in the end, I decided to accompany some friends to a Ska concert. I have learned since that this refers to a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and was a precursor to rocksteady and reggae (thanks wikipedia). The Wikipedia page also happens to mention that this music "is very popular with skinheads", and having read this after the event in question, I can affirm that this is indeed correct. 

After an hour and a half of some REALLY INTENSE rock/headbangingy/frantic tunes by some other band, the main act, Los Tres Puntos came on, and treated us to some more REALLY INTENSE rock/headbangingy/frantic tunes, but this time with saxophones, trumpets and trombones, which really made for a great sound. I'm all for taking experiences as they come, so it wasn't long before we were all thoroughly enjoying ourselves in the heart of the mosh-pit, surrounded by lots of bare-chested skinheads and other people with questionable piercings, strange clothing and generally quite odd mannerisms. 
It was quite evident about halfway through that the band were extremely anti-fascist, as was everyone in the room it seemed, judging by the way half of one particular song almost turned into a political demonstration. However I was humming the wild and energetic "Alerta, alerta, anti-fascista" song/chant to myself for the next day or so, as you do, strolling through the corridors of Sciences Po Gcchhuuunooblhh. 

(Unfortunately no pictures were taken at this amazing event, so I will have to leave the rest up to your imagination)

I now am embroiled in a week long battle with college work, with another exposé due tomorrow, following on from my first one today, in which all level-headed pacing techniques left me and I ended up bombing through it and finishing awkwardly 15 minutes too soon. Everyone had just settled down into the class, 10 minutes in, when suddenly...yeah... that', sooooooooooo...You live and learn I suppose. Hopefully the one tomorrow on European Regional systems will be better. Maybe everyone will fall asleep before they can notice any slip-ups.
It's upsetting me to think how little time I have left here in Gcchhuuunooblhh, only 2 more months !! But such thoughts, I have decided, are no longer welcome in my brain. Plenty more craic still to be had. 

A work filled week in both senses to come, but also plenty of soirées to be looking forward to, keeping up the Erasmus spirit.  Alors il faut en profiter !
That's all for now folks, à bientôt !