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Friday, 20 December 2013

Exam week has finished and people are leaving

I spent more or less all of exam week tucked into bed, either sweating from a fever, blowing my nose or coughing in a vein attempt to regain full use of my vocal cords. I did all of my exams from the comfort of my bed. I only really left the house if there was a promise of food, or goodbyes were involved. Most goodbyes were said with a raspy witch voice, very little time and much hesitation. I usually prefer to sneak away quietly...

Looking back on this semester, it has truly been one of the best things I have done. I was a little apprehensive about coming initially, as I was also really happy where I was, but it was definitely a great decision. My original aim was to "improve my French and get good grades". I foresaw a semester of hard work, stress, and loneliness. Fun wasn't really part of the equation for me. My preconceptions were immediately challenged when I first arrived at the résidence, as you may see in one of my posts from early September. People were so unnecessarily altruistic. It was a huge relief. I immediately met people and formed friend networks. Due to my choice of courses, these were mainly other international students, though our main language is usually French. I also met a few French people, with whom I had interesting conversations and encounters, and bonded a little more with some people from my home University.

These friendships took me to different places, from the mountainous plateaus of charteuse and vercours to the warm Autumnal streets of Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. I tried out a via ferrata, tried paragliding for the first time, understood French films in the cinema without needing subtitles, ate plenty of new exciting foods, attempted laser tag, got absolutely plastered for the first time in years and enjoyed myself doing so, started learning Chinese characters, attended la fete des lumières in Lyon, saw the canals of Annecy and visited Geneva again after having been there 5 months ago. I watched all three seasons of Game of thrones again, started the walking dead, got to see the English versions of the Hobbit and the sequel to the Hunger Games in the cinema. I earned some pocket money teaching private English classes. I spent two months hiking around the local mountains before it got too cold, the rest of the time eating and constructing a layer of blubber to defend me against winter on this side of the channel. In terms of my original language goals, I completed 6 courses in French, attended an intensive evening language course in October and spoke a lot of French with other none-natives, and some French friends. I have also volunteered in a hospice where the job involved speaking a lot with patients and staff, and allowed conversations to start wherever I found myself, be it in a shop or on a tram. I also got through a few hurdles in my life, started happy and finished happy. I have met some really special people, leaving is really going to be a bit of a bugger.

So, I never did read loin de Mèdine. I am not going to beat myself up about it though, as I spent quite a lot of time on the exposé, studied quite a bit for the linguistique historique, Italien traduction, and Chinois, and did all that was asked from me for pratique de la langue française and Grammaire française. In the end, I think I had the best of both worlds. This semester has ended, all I have left to do is change my Academic transcript to show which course options I changed around, and then get my certificate of departure printed.

My mummy is coming tomorrow. We will have a slightly unconventional Christmas together, probably eating well (and discovering which mysterious French-speaking country I will be going to), drinking, soaking up the French "ambiance", skyping family and watching something on the telly.

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