Well, I guess that should be a qualified terrible. The party last night exceeded my expectations of craziness… yesterday Jillian G., Jarrod G., Jessie and I were informed that we won the Chaise aux Photos and last night the security guard who helped us get a picture of a power generator gave us a bottle of homemade wine. It was also great to have more in-depth conversations with a few people, but…
The biggest problem I had with the party is that there wasn’t enough just sitting around and doing whatever (and having the opportunity to have those aforementioned conversations). We all pretty much had to get into party party party mode, and I kind of went that way kicking and screaming (I’m also still sick – this morning I felt like someone put a brick inside my sinuses). I definitely had a good time, but the expectations for the soirée anglaise were so ridiculously high that I couldn’t help but be massively disappointed. I also wasn’t one of the people making out on the dance floor, but I should know by now to expect that sort of discrepancy.
I also feel like I’m starting from scratch now. I have to think about so many things in English that I just hadn’t had the time to think about before. It’s a feeling I can’t even actually describe.
What else? Oh, my goodness – with French, there was so much more joie de vivre around here! Certain people (especially program staff) seem a lot less funny and a lot more serious in English. I’d gotten used to every second thing I hear being a stone riot of laughs. Worse for me, I’m not as funny in English! In French, I think I was sort of a little Confucius. I also developed a knack for timing and delivery that I just don’t have in English – at least not nearly so consistently. I see many many more conversations go off in directions I can’t participate in, and I’m starting to keep silent again. It was also easier to gauge conversational and social cues in French, since everything was slower – kind of like playing a video game in slow-motion. But now, as Monika put it, “we’re at game speed.”
A few of us are staying here for an additional three weeks, and I’m among them. We’ll probably have some fun once the initial sadness wears off. One of the guys I’ll be living with, Lee (very cool guy; he’s studied math and Chinese) and my professor were still drinking at noon (well, I’ll assume they slept for a few hours someplace). I’ll be working at the Freshmart, a small grocery store on the way to Saulnierville. When I say small, I don’t mean small like the Queen Street Sobeys in Halifax. I mean smaller than the old Montague SaveEasy. Nevertheless (and maybe even for that reason), I expect it’ll be fun. French will be encouraged, yet if a customer takes up with me in English, I’m free to speak English. We’ll also be able to speak English here amongst ourselves if we like, although Danielle will probably talk shop with us in French since we’re really still here to use the French we’ve just spent the last eternity learning.
Actually, I’m quite sure the eternity only applies to us. I’m quite certain that back in the real world, the only event of note was that the Ducks won the Stanley Cup.
Staying here is sad for other reasons; we’ve had to watch everybody leave, and witness and participate in numerous, sometimes tearful, goodbyes. The people who had it the easiest were probably the people who had to leave at 2am. (The university organized transportation to and from Halifax Stanfield for those who requested it.) For the most part, they were still drunk, and leaving on the earliest bus let them fondly imagine how good the rest of the party probably should have been – and they only had to say goodbye once.
In a piece of lukewarm news, I’m slated for an interview for that Japanese English-teaching internship when I get back to Halifax. The down side is that there’s almost no money in it, and the fact that it goes January – December 2008 means that it disrupts possible academic activities over two academic years. If it weren’t for those two things, I’d be really excited for the opportunity.
And who knows, I might still come back here. Despite my numerous misgivings, there are still many compelling reasons to come here. However, I cannot begin to express my disappointment at the discrepancy between how close I felt to everyone in French and how strange many people feel to me (and probably vice-versa) in English. I had totally not bargained for this huge crash at the end of 5 weeks, and the crash at the end of 4 or 8 months must be explosively disruptive. (Now I’m pretty sure the luckiest people were those who left just after their exams on Friday and completely missed the transition to English!)
Well, one thing I can do is indulge myself in a little pride, since many people have congratulated me for how much French I’ve learned. I’ve also picked up a new perspective on English that will help me write and speak with increased precision and elegance.
But now, I’m going to have a nap. In an hour we’ll be meeting in the computer lab to finish filling out the Young Canada Works forms in English.