The Strike continues:
Classes are still blocked at Lyon 2, for the most part. Classes are still being held at some of the smaller universities in town, but as I go to the main one, no such luck. Others have gotten into the building through underground passageways, but class attendance in those cases is pretty low.
Today was the big nationwide demonstration. It marched right past my apartment - apparently it was at least a mile long! It started at around 11:30 and went on for a couple hours. According to my sources, the unions are supposed to meet with the prime minister soon. If he concedes on some points, we can expect an end to the blockades and demonstrations. If not, we can expect more of the same. Tomorrow there is an "assemblé générale"at noon for the students as well. Tomorrow will mark week 3 of classes being impossible to go to for me.
As for exams, the "make up weeks" are supposed to absorb those missed classes. I'm not sure what will happen to mine since half my classes are just papers/projects anyway. They say that we won't be leaving any later than expected, but who knows what will happen if it continues like this.
UVA's Plans for Lyon:
The University wants to set up an official program office here. This means that instead of our program directors working out of their home, they will have a separate office. They do deserve something like that for the amount of work they do for us.
However, UVA wants to expand it into a lot more than that. They want to do more handholding, set up more assistance for students who aren't as good in French: more international student classes, more English options. Frankly, if that's your case, you shouldn't be here for a semester. You're going to be one of those kids that gives study abroad a bad name. If that's you, take the summer program taught here by UVa professors. They also think we need a "common space" with a living room, kitchen, office. I disagree. We already hang out at each other's apartments with Americans. Secondly, I think we have all done fine getting all of our info together, so it doesn't need to be in a central spot. Granted, it was frustrating at first, but it's really not that hard to turn in a few papers or find an office. Builds character.
If UVA wants to encourage more students to study abroad, they should think about ways to decrease our program fees and encourage foreign immersion, not increase them by adding on offices and redundant hand-holding services that aren't worth the cost.
The Story Of An American Bagel In Lyon:
A group of us (2 Americans, 1 German, 1 Venezuelan, 1 Mexican) tried to check out this American-style bagel shop in town. Before you get all "that defeats the purpose" on me, it was sort of interesting to see how American cuisine is represented abroad anyway. unfortunately the store had closed 40 min before we got there. So, with all the other places in town closing or too expensive, we resorted to Plan Z, McDonald's. It was an American soiree after all. Hadn't been there in probably...a year? Who knows. The fries tasted a little different, less salty and oily. The burger had dijon mustard and no ketchup pre-squirted on it. There was the pomme-et-frites sauce that tasted like tartar sauce without the relish. It was a lot of food all at once, and I felt pretty gross afterwards. I can't imagine what it would have been like in the true American style with portions about twice the size.
We went to the weekly catholic prayer group afterwards. I had a lot of things to think about, especially after talking to the christian missionary guy at the hostel we stayed at this past weekend (oh yeah, it ended up being a christian hostel, randomly). i'm probably not the most religious person out there, but I think going once a week gives me a lot to think about, it's good.
At the hostel this weekend, I met a group of french exchange students from Anglophone countries. We had a nice little "french as a second language" conversation going on in French. They seemed to be having a lot of difficulties finding french students to talk to (Even more so than I do sometimes!), and it was pretty evident in their speaking style (Think "je ne sais pas" instead of "shè pas".) But it's nice to be able to make the effort with them and learn about their different experiences!
Ok, that's enough updating to hold my captive audience over for awhile. Time to get some sleep! Plenty to do tomorrow - checking out the AG, running some errands, seeing if I can get to my class building even, going to a bioethics lecture, are all on the agenda. Take care guys!