One Last Day

My first week spent in Tours felt like a year.  However, as I finished my last couple of weeks  it seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.  As I (admittedly) came in late to my last day of class with a pain au chocolat in hand (my guilty pleasure in France) I looked around and realized it would be the last time I would climb the creaky stairs to the third floor of the Institute and I started feeling nostalgic.  The friends I have made, the teachers I have had, and the amount I have learned makes me want to rewind my time to my very first day when I walked in and Lara (my first friend) and I took our oral exam together.

My time here in France has been characterized by meeting groups of people who I would never have the opportunity to meet who are all united by a desire to learn French but each having a different motivation.  My time in Tours has also been characterized by one incredibly important event- the World Cup.  After watching the first France game of the tournament in Place Plume I was hoping that France, a team that wasn’t supposed to go far, would somehow end up in the finals.  The World Cup became such a significant social activity for everyone in my friend group and for really everyone in Tours (and I suspect across Europe).  Having never been a fan of watching soccer I was shocked how captivated and invested I became in watching the tournament.  My friends and I would look forward to watching the games at 4pm and then going home for dinner and then coming back at 8pm to watch the game after that.  Our lives started to revolve around watching the World Cup games together.  One of my most fond memories from my time in Tours was when France was playing Uruguay in the quarter finals.  My friends and I knew we would have to get to a pub early to find a seat for the game so we decided to get there 1.5 hours early.  By the time the game started the pub that we were in was jam packed with people and everyone had abandoned the idea of sitting.  It was so hot in that room that when you turned around to look at the mirror it was so foggy that you couldn’t see out of it and when you put your hands on the cement walls there was water dripping down them.  Yet, no matter how hot and sweaty we were it felt like we were in some type of dream each time that France scored.  Everyone in the pub was chanting, singing, jumping, there were water guns being sprayed at people trying to cool them down and 18 year olds who were pouring water down each others necks.  When France won that same to go into the semi-finals the streets were jam packed with people wearing france jerseys, holding France flags above their heads, and singing “La Marseillaise” (the national anthem).

The city after France won!

Fast forward and France is in the finals against Croatia.  At this point I am in Paris and it is one of my last days in France.  That is a game I will never forget and an evening after that is even more ingrained in my brain.  After France won against Croatia to win the World Cup every single person in the city of Paris crowded the streets.  It seemed like all 7 million people who live in Paris and every single tourist that was there were taking up the characteristically narrow French roads.  The Champs-Élysées was jam packed with fire crackers going off, people driving in cars with passengers hanging out the windows and sitting on the tops of the cars, and  people walking in the road to give the car drivers high fives.  Nothing else in the city seemed to matter except for the fact that France won the World Cup!

If you had asked me six months ago if I cared about the World Cup I would have asked you when it was going on.  But, if you asked me today how I feel about the World Cup I would tell you it was the perfect reminder of the times I had in France during the summer of 2018. À toute à l’heure, France (& thank you for taking a piece of my heart)!