So after we got back from the weekend trip, not very well rested or prepared like we normally try to be before large end of term exams (but then, when do things work out like we intend them to?). We’d been able to do some studying Sunday night for architecture, however a good portion of it turned out to be in vain, as the professor decided to use examples that were not part of the main visits or facets that we’d focused on in our studies. I don’t know why we thought it would be any different for the final exam, the same phenomenon occurred with all of his quizzes. Maybe we were just being hopeful. He’s a good teacher and really enjoys his subject but sometimes his delivery or manner of measuring what we knew was a bit different than we were used to from our American education programs. It was the same sort of issue with our Impressionism class.
We had a major test or project due every day that week. Tuesday was the presentation for Français Orale 303 on a subject within the Garden of Luxembourg (another place I would highly recommend for anyone who’s thinking of going to Paris anytime soon.) Jeremy was spectacular and when he finished, Valerie suggested a possible future career within museums giving tours to French tourists. Wednesday, we had our test in Français Ecrit 304, which we got back Thursday. Solid A’s for us all, so that was a nice way to end class. On Thursday, we had our Impressionism exam and I really have no idea what that’s going to come back as. I feel like I did good work, but we also have a habit in that class (all of us, not just me) of misunderstanding certain nuances in her directions or interpreting them differently. She has a very specific idea of what she wants us to talk about for certain pieces and if we differ than it’s usually much more difficult to score high with her. We remedied our trauma with aperos at our favorite bar.
The rest of the week we tried to make our rounds and say goodbye to the places we’d become fond of in our time spent there. We went back to Rachael’s Thai place in her arrondissement, the bar right around the other corner from school, the Portuguese place also in Rachael’s corner of Paris, and the galette place with the yummy crepe lunch deal in Saint Michel.
We weren’t able to go out so much aside from meals because of the need to study for exams and pack everything up, but we had Friday to take care of any last minute necessities. Thursday night, while I was packing up my big bag, I discovered that the wooden decorative lizard I bought at the Champs-Elysees Christmas market a while back was not going to fit in my suitcase, unless I chose to broke it. So I decided to see what I could do to ship it. That was a special foray to the post office and the land of packing. Pretty much, I was told that I needed to wrap that sucker up well in bubble wrap and then they could help me. So I did that with a healthy quantity of tape, and it is now in the French mail system, hopefully making its way to my house without much incident. That adventure took most of the morning. From there, I met Rachael at school so we could print out our boarding passes. The room we’d been planning on sneaking into to print from had students in it so we asked down at the front desk, and the lady was kind enough to give us her email so we could send her our passes and she could print them when she got off her shift in 20 minutes. So we hung around and printed them and expressed heaps of gratitude. She was a very nice lady and I’m glad we left Reid Hall on a good note. Then we went to eat lunch (at the galette place) with the other Katie and Robyn. That was a bit of a special moment because the credit on our French phones had run out so we didn’t have a way of contacting each other once we were out and about. By chance everyone made it to the restaurant at around the same time and we had a deliciously huge meal. Afterwards we went to the Christmas market again, to pick up those last stray gifts. Took care of that for the most part, although there were disappointments for both of us at a few opportunities missed. Then Katie and I went back with Rachael to help her pack. Katie left for dinner with Diala and Rachael and I lugged her suitcases back to my house, where for our last dinner, we made soup her mom had sent us and manged some croissants. Then we went back to the metro, Rachael to go home and me to meet Robyn so I could help her with her suitcases to my house, so we could all take the taxi together bright and early in the morning. That was an interesting experience. Both of them ended up having to buy an extra suitcase to accommodate all the presents and random items purchased throughout the semester.Friday night I stayed up late again, organizing my carry-on bag and writing out a Christmas card to my lady with the little gift I’d picked her up—a little candle shade with a winter scene and a happy snowman painted on the sides. In French, a snowman is called a “bonhomme de neige” which literally translates to good man of the snow.
We all woke up early and fought with bags. It was an interesting experience getting my large suitcase down the wooden tight spiral steps from my room to the main level. But no damage done to anything, so I consider it a grand success. The taxi arrived at 8 promptly, Rachael and Robyn arrived shortly after and with a few helping hands, we had all of our bags settled and ready to go. My lady had been so wonderful as to completely arrange and pay for the taxi and we had a moment as I was preparing to leave. She said that it had been a delight having me and that I was welcome back any time. And then that I was a beautiful person. And I nearly cried and thanked her a lot and we all piled in and were off.
Robyn split off almost immediately to catch her AirLingus flight connecting in Dublin and Rachael and I found ourselves going through the queues to check our bags, border control, and then security. It was actually a pretty funny moment with checking our bags because we hadn’t been able to get an exact weight on them when we were at our own maisons. So we weren’t sure what exactly was going to come up on their scale. Rachael had one bag that was around 22 kilograms (the limit is 23) and another that was 24. The lady looked at her and said, “you know normally we have to charge you for this, but it’s alright.” Her tone was light and kind of joking which was a relief because you never know what kind of personality you’re going to get with the people working the ques. Then I put my bag up and it was 23.9 kilograms. She looked at me and said, “Heavy, heavy, heavy.” So then I sort of laughed apologetically and told her we’d been studying abroad in Paris for the last three and a half months. That helped explain the situation to her I think, although altogether she wasn’t really that concerned.
We ended up walking directly onto our flight, which was surprisingly smooth despite the length of time we were in the air. The food was decent and we were able to occupy ourselves with movies and sleep a little. There was a moment where I really started to feel sick, but luckily Rachael had some Dramamine on her. By hour 5, it was starting to feel pretty surreal, like we hadn’t been on as long as we had but also like time had stopped moving.
We had to go back through customs and security which meant we had to grab our large bags again. That was difficult, with Rachael’s extra bag and our own cumbersome purses and carry-ons. At this moment, we parted ways, Rachael rushing through to catch her connecting flight to Charlotte. Katie and I eventually found each other again at the gate for Richmond and hung out, while Rachael got to sit on her plane for two hours, waiting for it to take off. So the final leg is up and we are almost home! We’re all pretty excited to see our people again and to be back in the United States.
Au revoir Paris and hello America!