It seems like it's been a lot longer since my last post, but I suppose the past few days have just been that busy!
Saturday: I did laundry and then hung around home during the day, reflecting on silly judgments I make* then went to see the new National Treasure movie with Louise, an English exchange student. The movie was hilarious, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the first one sometime. I had a great time talking with Louise, who is a really interesting person-- she's lived all over the world, and pretty much grew up in France. On our walk back to the bus stops, we saw that the nifty-looking Asian grocery store was open (it was after ten, and most grocery stores in France close at eight at the latest, so I was shocked) so we explored for a while. Treasure trove, I'm telling you! Black mushrooms, bamboo, wonton wrappers, cheap ramen, shrimp chips, tapioca pearls... excellent stuff. Plus it was all really cheap, which is always welcome.
*My stupid judgments include: "I may be cold now, but I really don't need another blanket." Wrong, I should have just gotten the other blanket and been happier. Another common one is "Sure, I have time to sleep in, and I'm certainly not ready to get up. But I should get up anyway." Wrong, just sleep until you're awake, and then you'll be more productive during the day. Sometimes I surprise myself with my terrible logic.
Sunday: My landlord invited me to breakfast so that I could meet Riza, a new Japanese student who just moved in downstairs. She served crêpes with homemade jam, and it was quite good. The French, unlike most Americans, eat very sugary breakfasts with almost no protein. Then I went to Mass with her, since it was too late to take the bus to the cathedral. Her church, la Madeleine, is a lot younger, newer, and more modern than the huge Gothic cathedral I'm used to. It was even somewhat heated, which is probably why so many people were willing to bring their kids. The cantor was worse than mediocre, but he was energetic and his heart was in it, so I liked him better than a lot of the cathedral cantors. It was a nice mass, although I prefer going to "my church." Sunday afternoon I tackled a pile of homework, and in the course of that decided to drop one of my translation courses.
Monday: I went to the university around the usual time, but to check schedules and pick some more classes, not to go to translation. I can't sit through another one of those torturous translation classes; I'm only going to take the third year one. The classes I did have (English-French translation and Dutch) were good. So now I'm taking one translation course in each direction, plus Dutch and French for foreigners; I'm still in the didactics and civilisation course, and I've added English literature. I also added Enunciation and Pragmatics, but today (Wednesday) I de-added it. More about that in two paragraphs.
Tuesday: Didactics today was with the third of our three professors, who is teaching the linguistic aspect of the course. He's a descriptive linguist! Woohoo! France is very normative/prescriptive in linguistics, so it was nice to meet a "real" linguist. (My judgment, the normative ones can sort of be like real linguists too...) After class I walked to the downtown public library (there are libraries all over town, this is one of the bigger ones) and checked out guidebooks for Budapest and Dublin (I leave on Friday), two novels, and five CDs. I finally found a French science fiction author! Once I've read the book, I'll let you know what I think.
In choir we "finished" working on the Machaut Kyrie, which is probably the hardest piece I've ever sung, rhythmically. We started a Gluck motet, which I like, and a Liszt "Ave Verum Corpus" which puts me to sleep. Interesting remark from the director though: "Breathe better, and we won't have to go so fast. I'm directing you at a tempo that fits with the breathing from the phrases, so we can go slower if you can manage it. Tempo all depends on lung capacity... if this were being sung in England it would be a lot slower, and the French tend to take everything faster." Interesting, n'est-ce pas? Not sure if he meant to suggest that "the English have bigger lungs than we do" or not, but it's an interesting judgment nonetheless. It is true that the French take everything fast. An example to explain this to my choir buddies... the cathedral choir sang de Victoria's "O Magnum Mysterium," and it was directed in two rather than in four. Nearly double the speed I'd sung it in the States.
Tuesday night I washed the dishes for the first time in two days. There were a lot to wash, as you can imagine. I also started to pack for my winter break trip. I enjoy packing. Plus, I needed to count out clothes so that I won't have to do laundry until I get back.
Wednesday (Today): Today, after hitting snooze for half an hour and therefore having to get ready very hurriedly, I set off to go to the literature class. Apparently, though the sign by the exchange student schedules clearly says Les cours de L3 commencent à partir du 18 février (Third year classes start the week of February 18th), it really means "Third year courses started a few weeks ago, but the professor won't care if you start now because a lot of the French students just got back from their first semester exchanges, and therefore you won't be the only ones who missed the first few lectures." There are several courses that actually did start this week, but literature didn't happen to be one of them. The class is taught by an English professor (English as in nationality) who is absolutely wonderful. He never lost my attention for even a moment, during a two-hour lecture course. I hadn't even read either of the short stories. Plus, he speaks in normal academic English, he doesn't dumb it down or speak very slowly. So I hopefully won't have any trouble transferring the credit! (The only problem with the course is that, according to Anna, another exchange student in the course, the Monday half (which I also didn't know about) isn't as interesting.) At any rate, I'm really looking forward to this class, and since he teaches the translation class I'm starting tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to that too.
Enunciation and pragmatics however, is nothing like what I had hoped and expected. In linguistics, pragmatics is the study of meaning and language usage, at a level that can be as small as usage of individual words (semantics is a bit larger, and has logical and cognitive aspects). However, this class was far from being a French pragmatics class. First problem is that they analyse English words in small extracts of texts, and second problem is that they do it in the most boring of ways. As in going into ridiculous detail about the use of "each" in the noun phrase "each object." Yuck. Absolutely not what I was looking for, so I'm not going back. And by dropping it, I have time for lunch on Wednesdays again.
This afternoon I have French for foreigners (its real name is "French as a Foreign Language," but I refer to it differently: since I have two courses called FLE I mistranslate one) which should be about the same as usual. I'm not sure if I'd take it if it weren't required. But it's good for filling up my schedule.
Other: picked a roommate for next year at Truman, found and cooked tortellini, made one failed batch of tapioca pudding and one successful batch, figured out a lot of travel details (including buying plane tickets for Spring break... to Egypt!), wrote a short story (still a work in progress), cleaned my apartment, finished reading a James Bond novel in French, and continued keeping the doctor away by eating lots of apples.