The last week is always bittersweet. Some of my friends had left before me and the goodbyes are always accompanied by this weird feeling/reminder that your own time is coming to an end soon. Classes proceeded as usual, except with a few exams thrown in. I maintained the same grades as I had in my previous course, so I was fairly pleased.
The previous weekend I had visited Paris and got to meet up with my best friend from high school, which was very nice. We wandered around Le Marais and Bastille areas, which were less crowded with tourists, but had a lot to offer for interesting things to do. We also visited the Notre Dame area, stopped by Shakespeare and Company, and sampled lots of desserts. To get back to Tours, I took a covoiturage, which was essentially a carpool with other people who are going the same places as you are. I was hoping to get some rest, but the whole 2.5 hour ride was an engaged discussion of French and American politics! It gave me a very good chance to practice conversational French, since that isn’t something I got to do much in the classroom. I was happy to note that I could understand what the others were saying by piecing together context clues. And I tried my best to give sufficient responses to their questions about the American political system and the current election. Our discussion also included some social justice topics, such as racism in France. The other passengers told me that there is a lot of racism towards immigrants, regardless of their skin color. This was interesting to hear, because historically, racism in the United States followed the same theme. Even nowadays, it seems, though, that racism in both the United States and France follow very similar themes. The Orlando massacre also shocked many of the French people that I spoke with it about, but many said that the same types of violence exist in France too.
As I mentioned in previous posts, there are current large demonstrations and strikes across France because of some new laws. Even walking home from the Institut, I would pass marches down Avenue de Grammont (one of two large roads going through Tours). Luckily, in Paris, I did not run into any issues with demonstrations, but I was definitely conscious about them the entire time.
Right now, I am back in the States, but I think back to my time in Tours a lot. I still am in touch with some friends from the Institut, and still get notifications from the Facebook groupchat by those who are still coordinating events and hangouts in Tours. My last night was very sweet, because my host mother decided to have a lengthy dinner, during which she shared some life stories with us. It was very endearing of her to share with us these magnificent stories of her travels in France and abroad. I hope to keep in touch with her as well.
My time in Tours was wonderful, and France is a country very rich in culture. I hope to carry these memories with me, as well as the friendships I made. I feel like I am more at ease with French-speaking situations now, especially if I focus intently on the conversation. It can get exhausting at times, but I can sense improvement. Thank you SLA!