The icicles came up tonight outside my downtown apartment, where they will linger for the better part of two months. Thankfully, this reflects merely the upcoming holidays and not the cold, although Amiens has been dropping into the lower single digits (Celsius, of course) recently. The real cold has not hit us yet, but that does not prevent the damp chill from leaking into my apartment room and warping my books.
As you might well understand, I have been much occupied by my Master d’anglais these past two months. Despite having a break of about two weeks in October, I am well into the season of papers and examinations. Or, I suppose I should say, I am finally into the season of papers and examinations. My particular program, and many French university classes in general, often demand little legwork during the first few weeks and much cramming for final exams, upon which most of your grade is based. Given that I have chosen a literary track, I am also expected to present several “exposés” (oral presentations) and write a few 5-10 page papers. Not super demanding, although I fear that I am either underestimating the difficulty of my particular program or overestimating my abilities. As of yet, I have only been graded on two different things: an oral presentation for a literature class concerning feminist American literature and an hour and a half examination translating a passage from English to French. I haven’t received either grade yet, so there is no way for me to gauge how I am doing.
I am finding that the autumn and winter are much more challenging seasons in regards to homesickness: there’s a slew of holidays (Eid-al-Adha this year, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) that I am used to celebrating with friends and family, family traditions and seasonal food, and the overall sense of changing temperatures that make me long for home. The last time I spent four months in France, I narrowly missed the snow and transitioned into a gorgeous (somewhat) sunny Spring. I can’t tell what feels different this time, why the homesick feeling is more tangible or persistent. Perhaps it’s the feeling of permanence to my decision to live in France, instead of the fleeting stay of a few months that a study abroad offers. Mostly I think it has to do with my inability to return home until I have a steady job, or any job at all for that matter. Without money, you inevitably feel much less mobile.
Last week I felt like I sleepwalked through my classes after coming back from a two-week vacation. I am simultaneously auditing the Master d’enseignement while attending my Master de recherche classes (the two Masters have most of their classes together, luckily for me), as I hope to transition into the Master d’enseignement next year. I feigned sick on Wednesday and Thursday in order to not have to attend these extra classes and recuperate a bit from a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Today I feel bright and chipper, but that probably has a lot to do with my only having had an hour of class. The professor who is both my directrice de recherche for my Master’s thesis and teaches a seminar on Great Britain’s children’s literature Monday mornings was sick. She also was unable to offer the last two hours of approches théoriques required for my Master de recherche, so I was effectively “liberated” from four hours of class today. The one hour was quite delightful, as I love my translation classes. The professor who teaches thème, that is, translating from French to English, is a very witty British man who tends to act out our false interpretations or applications of words in the text.
I’ve been rereading Kate Chopin’s The Awakening for that class on feminist literature. I had forgotten how much I love her writing. Since I started rereading it last night, I have been glued to my Nook, reading it on the bus to and from the fac (university), on my kitchen table, and snuggled up in my bed. I’ve never regretted studying literature, language, and reading books for school and enjoyment, but I just hope I can make a career out of it, teaching English here in France or elsewhere…Other photo updates: