Before I ever studied abroad, I thought “I’m not going to be one of those kids who only hangs out with Americans. I’m only going to have friends from the country I’m in. My ambitious attitude was silly. How do you make friends? Certainly not in class. No one talks! You make friends when you go out. Who do you go out with? People you know. Who do you know? Americans. You see… making foreign friends is easier said than done. Especially in France. The French are not really responsive to smiles and excitement about their culture. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and be proactive in my friend-making. French universities don’t have a campus life like an American school would have. I appreciate this about them actually. Coming from a school where football games, Greek life, and THON consume most people’s lives, it’s refreshing to be in a place where school is for school. However, they do have some on campus activities. I look through the Paul Valéry website and find the choir. Mondays 7:30-10pm. Perfect.
I went last Monday the 1rst. I arrived at the choir room at 7:15. No one was there and the door was locked. (The rest of campus was silent and empty for the evening, by the way.) 7:25, the choir professors came and unlocked the door. I asked to join the choir they said yes. At little bit after 7:30, people actually started to show up. The majority of people did not arrive until 7:45 ish, and everyone was in room by 8pm. In my experience, a university choir is composed of university students. Not so in France. There were a handful of university age members, but most of the people were middle aged/old. This would not be so disappointing if it were not MOST of the members. We did only 2 warm-ups starting at about 7:45. Then we ran though this God-awful song for an hour. The sopranos (me) broke off at 9 to a different room to work on songs from Mary Poppins. A middle-aged woman was so sweet to me; she even introduced me to the other sopranos and shared music with me.
But overall, the choir trial ended up thumbs down. The choir was not very good and it was not what I was looking for. I’m only here for 4 months and I can’t waste time on something I don’t really like. During choir practice, I was disappointed, but upon leaving I just thought “Oh Well! C’est pas grave.”
I walk to the front gates of the university to leave and they are locked! I can’t even scale a wall to climb over them, because the wall has bushes at the top of it. I run back to the room we had choir in and everyone had gone. It was about 10:20 at night and I was totally alone, locked in the university. Trying not to cry at such a disappointing evening, I call my friend Brittany who has been studying here since September. She directs me over the phone to a parking lot gate where there is a guard. The guard tries to make a joke, but I’m too close to crying to laugh. Thanking Brittany, I hang up and trek home in the dark and cold. There was not even a tranny in sight on my way home to brighten the night.
I got home at about 11:30 excited to see my cheerful hostmom who could lift my spirits. I walked in and she seemed a little cold. I started to explain what happened and it became obvious that she thought I had made friends in choir (ha) who took me out afterwards (ha ha), leaving her to wait up for me. After she found out what happened, she was fine.
At that point, I just wanted my ugg boots because then my feet wouldn’t be cold and blistered. I wanted a hot shower that I don’t have to hold above my head. And lastly, I wanted my own cat who would come sit on my lap and make me feel better.
Wa wa wa…. I’m over it now.