Saturday, 20 April 2013

Awesome yet arduous April..

The St. Patrick's day festivities of mid-March were followed by an eventful few weeks to say the least, filled with stressful deadlines, hospital appointments, exhausting bar work and needless to say at this point, some excellent soirées and general good times.

The deadlines mentioned were predominantly two back to back exposés for my CM classes, essentially the classes where it's pretty much all native French people and me, slightly more challenging than the big lectures, which are somewhat optional most of the time anyw- I mean, obligatory at all times, what am I saying. Despite the last minute nature of certain aspects of both presentations, they went quite well, hopefully not just because I'm foreign and they were trying to be nice though, I'd be glad of people actually listened attentively to what I had to say, even if it is highly unlikely given the attention spans of twenty-five 19 year olds with computers in front of them.

I had further treatment for my wrist, in the form of an ultrasound at another hospital in the city. It was quite a bizarre experience, as I sat there feeling like a proud mother looking at my unborn wrist-baby, while they tried to figure out what the suspicious looking lump was at the bottom of my hand. I've since started physio with a very friendly curly haired man not too far away, and despite mistaking me for a knee patient one time and giving me a skateboard to exercise with, he's been very helpful. I had no idea how dull going to the physio actually was, as he tells you what to do, goes off to sort someone else out, leaving you to your own devices for however long the exercise requires. Luckily there were some serious tunes on the French radio station last time which kept me amused as I flexed my wrist muscles to the beat and tried not to sing too loudly. I've since been discharged from the hospital, where I have so many memories, most of them pain related so it won't really be missed.

On the subject of pain.. my heart was broken recently, not in the typical fashion involving actual humans, but more by certain unknown individuals in society, who I discovered recently have all but murdered my poor bike, Princess Sparkles. She has been tied up to the pole outside Dia since early December, and while I regret not doing more to alleviate her suffering, the lack of functioning oil and scarce availability of chainsaws (also the societal aspect involved with carrying one around), have prevented me from helping her up to now. I logged into Facebook a few weeks back to find a picture of her current condition.
WARNING - this next bit may contain disturbing and gruesome images.

So yes, very sad indeed. The world, I have realised, is a very bad place.

On a much happier note, Easter arrived at the end of March, and with it, a trip back to chez moi in Dublin ! It was a highly secretive affair between myself and my parents, and as such, my siblings were taken majorly by surprise when I sauntered into the Pro Cathedral on Thursday and sat down beside them. An excellent weekend was had, with lots of catch ups, Easter ceremonies and some quality time spent at home. I did have a horrible experience getting to Grenoble airport on the way over however, as my poorly functioning alarm made me late for the bus, leaving me with no other option other than taking a taxi from the station, costing me a whopper 80€. (Yes, I do my euro signs after the number now, the French have changed me).  Despite my wallet and my good humour being severely wounded, the few days at home made it all worth it, and I managed to get safely back to the mountains the following Monday, in time for the last few weeks of class.

What seemed to me like a few easy weeks after my exposés were just that, with birthday parties, Erasmus parties, party-for-no-particular-reason parties and of course bar-work dominating my schedule, however my false sense of security came back to give me quite a welt in my backside, as suddenly exam time was upon me. There was a French novel to read for French class, not exactly literary gold by any means, making the task somewhat more arduous, then a few intense nights of revision for "Histoire des Mentalités" which were followed by an exam question entitled "Mémoire et Identités". Such a ridiculously vague  title I can imagine as the equivalent of a history question reading something like "The 20th century. Discuss" or a science question saying "Explain biology". I did manage to philosophise for three hours and I think my equally vague essay was at least passable. That week continued in a stressful vein, with a presentation in my Europe class, where I accidentally referred to Margaret Thatcher as a socialist, and the following day a presentation on the Irish language where I ended up using the wrong powerpoint. Such is life.

Gcchhuuunooblhh played host to a very large amusement fair these last few weeks, and before it closed, we decided to head along to see what it could offer entertainment-wise. The first ride we went on, called Speed Dance or something to that effect, was, for want of a better explanation, absolutely mental. A dance at great speed, if you will. Or 'on speed' could work too. Never have I been thrown around upside down and inside out as much but yet it was strangely one of the most enjoyable aspects of my evening. The Fun House was up next, a really enjoyable tour through a little house that contained lots of surprises. Moving floors, nasty rope traps and a lethal conveyor belt were among the challenges we faced, and it put us all in good form. We then did the auto-tamponneuses, or bumper cars, which I had had reservations about from previous experiences, rightly too, as my tallness counted severely against me, leaving me to hobble home like a newborn calf with two dead legs and a sore neck. The passion-fruit flavoured candy floss did help slightly, before we all headed home after a very enjoyable evening.

The Jeunes Ambassadeurs Gala night was last Thursday, and the winners of the project competition were announced. Unfortunately I didn't manage to make much progress with mine in the end, however despite not being in the running, I had an enjoyable night of socialising, champagne and great food. I also got my certificate of participation in the programme, but depite the year being officially over, I have a number of contacts that I plan on keeping in touch with when I leave.

It was followed by a party in Résidence, which turned into a walking-home-at-4am affair after an excellent night. The weather for the last week or so in Gcchhuunooblhh has been nothing short of exquisite, with mid-20s every day for the last while. The Saturday was equally as beautiful, and ISI, the Erasmus group in Sciences Po, organised a day of fun and games in the sun near my Résidence. Primary school was revisited, with egg and spoon races and water fights, which after an hour or two, descended into an intense and very messy egg battle. All I can say is, egg works surprisingly well as a hair gel, as I came to realise. Yes, by the end of the afternoon, I was covered head to toe in the stuff, after an eggstremely eggciting day.

I don't remember much about the the next few days, as they were spent exclusively either in my room or the library as I desperately tried to finish (and start) my research topic for my Europe class, due for the Wednesday. Luckily we all got a two day extension, but after a sleepless few days and some extreme manipulation of bibliography sources, I finally finished my 10 page dossier on Ireland's relationship with the EU. No marks for originality, but I think I may have done alright. The subsequent test on the EU institutions went relatively well, as did a presentation in Italian the following day, and I suddenly found myself finished all my classes in Sciences Po. Scary scary times, as I like to believe that the Erasmus bubble will never pop..

To finish off the year, the student bodies at Sciences Po organised a Gala evening, but not just in some large hall or the summit of the Bastille. Looking out at the twinkling lights of the entire city at night time, while suited up and having the time of your life is a pretty special experience. I had a fantastic night, catching up with friends and dancing the night away at the top of the mountain, in an old army fortress... Not bad at all as soirées go.

The next few weeks will be jam packed with dossiers to write and exams to study for, but also hopefully a lot of very very nice weather and enjoyable Erasmus times. I'm thinking of possibly visiting the South of France a lttle bit, due to extremely attractive train prices so hopefully something can be arranged. I also managed to get the motivation to tidy my room yesterday, so here's hoping a similar attitude can be seen in other aspects of life. I also plan to update this sooner next time, so fear not, it won't be too long before my next few adventures will be etched into the world wide web for all eternity. Lots of time for people to read!

à tôt-bien !