30 April 2008

Last Week, in List Form

Moving forward! Now that I've finished writing about what happened a week and a half ago, I can write about last week's adventures.

Last week I had the lovely privilege of going to Nantes ($10 of train ride away) for a medical visit. The main purpose of this is to determine if people applying for residency have tuberculosis, before they're given permission to stay in France. There are, naturally, a few problems with their system:
1) I'm already here.
2) If I had TB, I would have been spreading it all over Europe for the past... oh... eight months.
3) I already have my residency card.
4) I leave France in a month, Europe in seven weeks. Glad to see that their system allows students to jump through diplomatic hoops in such a timely fashion.

Nevertheless, I decided I should go anyway, just to be a good foreigner. They wanted me to bring a bunch of things:
1) My passport. Check!
2) My temporary residency card. They took that when they gave me the fancy laminated one. Good enough: check!
3) The letter in which they told me all this stuff. Check!
4) My recent chest x-rays. I'd never had any done. No check.
5) My glasses. Check!
6) Records of recent hospitalization. I've never been hospitalized. Check!
7) My immunization records. Uh oh. A few problems here: first, I have only a cheaty form of immunization records, since my files were lost when the doctor's office went bankrupt (or something like that) and we have the dates that we could piece together, plus recent information. I don't have a way of receiving faxes, so my mom e-mailed me the dates and I wrote them down on a piece of paper. Half-hearted "check?"

I had decided to put some faith in my navigational abilities, and take pretty much the last train that would get me to Nantes on time. However, I missed the bus and nearly missed this train. The bus system was in total disarray last week (and is now in only partial disarray) because:
1) They changed all the bus routes in the downtown area.
2) Consequently, all the schedules have changed.
3) The bus drivers are rarely on time anyway.
4) Last week the elementary schools were on vacation, so the Saturday schedules were in effect instead of the weekday schedule.
I knew about numbers one and two, and three is a given, but four was a surprise. So I missed the bus, ended up speed-walking from the bus stop to the train station, and getting to the platform with about one minute to spare.

In Nantes, I got to the medical place with time to spare. I thought I was quite early, since when I got there (half an hour before my 1:30 appointment) there were already several people waiting. But it turned out that they were really really early: as in, one was an hour early and one was two hours early. Asian exchange students are hard core. Seriously, go visit the castle or something, why show up so early?
Anyway, the medical visit followed the following format:
1) Sit in waiting room for one minute.
2) Go talk with doctor. Chat for fifteen minutes or so about travel, language, linguistics, and the cerebral advantages of being multilingual. Recommend books to each other.
3) Talk about medical stuff with the doctor. Confirm that you've been immunized for everything you should have been (he doesn't even need to see the dates, phew!), answer lots of yes/no questions. Get blood pressure taken.
4) Go get a chest x-ray.
5) Go have vision tested and say that you don't need a lecture on safe sex.
6) Get chest x-ray back from doctor, who confirms that you don't have tuberculosis.
7) Collect some official looking documents, then go on your merry way!
It was completely pleasant. I got some great book recommendations, and a souvenir chest x-ray. I'm supposed to keep it just in case I need it, but I'm not exactly sure how this will be practical: you're not supposed to roll them, or fold them, or keep them in a hot place (like my backpack when I'm traveling) or a cold place (like the baggage hold of a plane). And the thing is gigantic, it's about fifteen by twenty inches. I think it would make a cool book cover, if my doctor doesn't want it.

I took an earlier train back to Angers than I'd expected, and had some time to go eat lunch before going to class. After class was the international dinner. Those are always fun! I made samoas, which are the Girl Scout cookie also known as Caramel Delites. They're very easy to make, though it takes a good amount of time.
1) Melt about a pound of chewy caramels in the microwave with about three tablespoons of milk. Stir every thirty seconds or so to keep it from burning or growing feet or something... not sure what would happen. Just stir.
2) Mix in a cup or so of shredded coconut.
3) Using a plastic knife, spread a layer of this mixture on top of relatively thin vanilla cookies. You could make them, or just buy them. (I used relatively small cookies, and made 80.)
4) Melt about three bars of dark chocolate in the microwave.
5) Put spoonfuls of the melted chocolate onto parchment paper, then put a cookie on top. This is an easy way to coat the bottom of the cookie in chocolate without getting really messy-- the alternative is to dip the cookies into the chocolate, but that's tricky and messy and wastes chocolate.
6) Put your leftover chocolate into a piping bag (or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off-- snip only a tiny bit!) and pipe a zig zag of chocolate over the cookies. You may need to melt more chocolate, depending on how many cookies you're making.
7) Let the cookies sit until the chocolate is solid and the caramel feels sticky, but not goopy. It doesn't hurt to leave them overnight before you box them up.
I'd expected to be bringing home leftovers, since I brought 75 cookies to the international dinner (about 40 people there), but they all got eaten.
Since this was the last dinner, there was a raffle, and I won a cookbook! I know it's not something you can have a talent for, but I'm good at raffles. It's a neat cookbook, I'm looking forward to making some of the recipes!

The rest of the week was eventful too, since on Friday I left to go to Germany for the weekend. The tale of that adventure will come soon. With more photos than lists :)
This week has been busy too, but not in the "write about" kind of way. I have some sort of laryngitis/cold/flu/allergies sickness, which has been really annoying. Monday I had my Dutch exam, and it went decently. Today I had my French exam, and it went abysmally. I studied in the wrong direction. At least everyone says they did badly, perhaps my mediocrity was average!

1) affection and
2) smiles,

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