I was prompted to write this particular blog entry because I happened to take a glance at the calendar. It tells me that it is already February 19th. Two things occur to me; firstly, that it has been an appallingly long time since my last entry; secondly, time is trickling away at a more alarming pace than I care to admit.
As I predicted a few months ago, the moment has arrived where I have begun to panic at how little of my year abroad remains. Regrettably on my part, there has been much sulking, ranting, raving and generally wallowing in my own misery at the inefficiency of certain aspects of French life, the uninspiring three hour lessons with students that don’t care and delivered by teachers that care even less, and the rarity of shops which stock Heinz baked beans and Cadburys chocolate. As exasperated as I have been (and at times continue to be) there have been many glorious moments thus far on my year abroad. I have resolved to no longer shirk my duties of recording and sharing them, and I will try to bring you up to date through a series of separate blog entries, so as not to send you to sleep halfway through.
At the end of the glorious, food filled Christmas holidays and the beginning of another semester, the administrative drama of choosing new courses was once more upon us. I have learnt many a lesson from last semester, many of which should have been blindingly obvious to me from the beginning. For a start, avoid at all costs any classes which begin at 8am. Tuesday morning translation turned me into a Monday night hermit as I began to realise the importance of getting an early night. This meant that I tragically missed Monday nights and happy hour at Montpellier’s famous Australian Bar, a mistake I was not keen to repeat.
Despite the fact that I am a student of French and English Literature, I also learnt that any literature courses should be avoided like the plague. Too long had I endured hours of listening to lectures which appeared to be delivered off the cuff with no structure whatsoever, tutorials which entailed absolutely no discussion, or even books for that matter, and exams which took subjectivity to a whole new level. All this combined with a seemingly arbitrary marking system which results in mediocre grades across the board made me think that attending classes which destroy my love of literature and learning simultaneously would not be the best use of my time.
Instead, I have opted for the absolute minimum of courses possible. I’m carrying on with translation, though it’s not nearly as fun without Myers’s sardonic wisecracks or Vincent Dussol’s uncontainable enthusiasm. I’m also taking a contemporary history course on the history of wine in Languedoc-Roussillon. Many Erasmus students, myself included, were fooled into thinking this would be an ideal opportunity to devote even more of our time to the ‘study’ of alcohol, though I feel we would probably learn more from stocking up on every variety of wine on the shelves at Carrefour and having an enormous ‘tasting’ session. Last and definitely least, in order to achieve my final five credits, I opted for ‘Histoire de la Langue’. It is easily the driest subject with the dustiest teacher in the entire university, which, believe me, is certainly saying something.
Still, careful and strategic planning has rewarded me with a mere nine hours of classes, a four day weekend and bags of time to spend pursuing far more worthy pursuits. These include; attending the weekly pub quiz at The Shakespeare (where our Erasmus team ‘Quizteama Aguilera’ rank consistently at the top end of the scoreboard), lunching at the exquisite Maison des Pains, and many a raucous (and often spontaneous) night out.
In addition, thanks to our carefully timetabled long weekends, a group of us were able to plan a trip to Barcelona, which is only four to five hours away by coach. Needless to say, this was an amazing experience, though I was struck down by Erasmus envy towards those who are lucky enough to be spending their year abroad in this stunning city. Keep an eye out for my next blog for tales and plenty of gorgeous pictures of my adventures in España.