I traveled three thousand miles to fall in love with a city. Since I came back to Montpellier from vacation I have felt overwhelmed in the greatest way, and I realize why I chose this strange medium-ish city over Paris, or over any other program I could have snuck my way into. I wanted to know France, and while I won't pretend to be an expert in an entire culture or country after two months of living in it, I feel the start. My thinking and speaking muddle between English and French, leaving meaning somewhere in the middle, suspended like an insect in ancient amber (yeah, like the kind you saw in Jurassic Park).
The apartment buildings, the trains running on time a few blocks from my bedroom, the dog-shit covered streets, always being asked if I have a spare cigarette, taking the afternoon slowly in with a café au lait and making a mustache from the bubbly milk. For once, I have not wondered if there is something greater out there, something more I should be seeing. Right now, I will have to remind myself years down the road, I was a part of it. It exists. I can touch it. The moon shines through the skylight every night and I will be the first to admit that not every day is perfect, not every day is inspirational, but I am here and I am finding the experience very, very formidable.
[but there is home, too, the united states. geneseo. and this summer, an empty vessel which needs to be filled by this better self, The Self That Went to France. there are people I need to still wrap my arms around. it's not just the city - i need them, too.]
The university campus is barricaded by its own students as of today. I'm not entirely sure what the strike is about to explain it well, but it seems French students are very vocal and very ready to make their opinions known to the President, to protect their educational system. I can't imagine what would happen if Geneseo students mobilized and boycotted class for a day, but here it hardly makes news: France has a culture of grèves, after all. I guess we'll have to wait and see if this makes a difference or not. My classes are proceeding as usual, since I chose to take all of mine through the International Relations department (e.g. French professors but all American students. I was really nervous about my level of French two months ago), and those are still proceeding as normal, so I'm not personally affected. But it's really interesting to witness, in any case.
I don't have classes on Wednesdays anyway (seriously, my schedule here is way, way, laughably less jam-packed than at Geneseo) so today I wrote some cover letters for summer internships and went to see Milk, with Sean Penn. It was amazing, seriously breathtaking. It's interesting to watch films with the English soundtrack and French subtitles, because you can see how they chose to use certain words and phrases. And I learned things! Thanks to Milk, when you want to say "Don't hang up," on the phone to someone, it's "Ne quittez pas." Now you know.