Friday, April 1

Start Again

I've been touring around for a few weeks now, spending a few nights in each province, but now I think it's time to settle down and start looking for another job.

I've been in Rennes for a day now, which is in the province Bretagne, in the north west of France. Ever since I left Marseilles, this was my ultimate destination. I've had a feeling that this would be a nice city to hole up in for a few months. And from what I've seen so far, my intuition was about right.

The architecture here is very beautiful, and the people here are all very nice, much more approachable than in the south. I'll give a few examples. Yesterday, I had a craving for a falafel sandwich, and went to the tourist information center for directions. One of the locals, an older lady, overheard me asking at the desk and offered to personally walk me to where it is, about five blocks away. Or today, at breakfast, it was just much easier to approach people staying at the hostel [most people that stay at hostels in France tend to be from not too far away, and are in town for a short time for either work or school]. All little stories, but things like this add up to an overall feeling of friendliness in a city. This seemed to be lacking in the south. Sometimes I'd ask someone for directions on the street and be completely ignored.

Still, on the way here, I was very tempted to stay in Bordeaux. I'd have to say that it was my favorite city that I've seen in France. Very pretty, clean, and more importantly (and subtly) it had a vibrancy that was lacking in most French towns. I really don't think that I can describe how the vibrancy feels, but most towns that I've been to give off an aura of fatigue, if not depression. Despite liking it very much, I was more curious to see the north, as I've spent virtually all my time in the south, both on this trip and my last. In the end, I don't regret having moved on.

It's strange, but writing this blog has gotten a bit trickier. Before, it more or less wrote itself, as I had more than enough zainy adventures to fill it two times over. Lately, though, things have gotten much more conventional. Not that I'm complaining. Quite the contrary, if things had kept going at the same pace as when I first got to Europe, I'd probably be completely nuts by now. Still, it's strange that the pace changed so much, as I tried to do things any differently.

So this means that I get to rant for a little while longer than I usually allow myself. Here's something that's been on my mind for a while...

Things that bug me about France:

a) This I find completely disgusting. There are WAY too many public washrooms in this country that don't have any soap in the sinks. To make matters worse, a lot of what people eat here is designed to be handled (ie crossants, chocolate breads, bagettes, etc). I'm sorry, but every time I touch a doorknob in a bathroom, I cringe. Am I neurotic? Probably. But for fuck sakes, a bar of soap costs 30 cents! Maybe I should buy some and leave a bar on the restaurant counter on general principle.

b) Every French city that I've been to has a political demonstration every freakin' day. Sometimes they only attract 50 people, but they still manage to close the main street to any traffic. And what they're protesting is usually so minor that I've stopped even asking why they're there. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to be politically active, but with things that rely on shock value, making them common place completely defeats the purpose. The Quebeckers are much more likely to do these sort of demonstrations than other Canadians. But they do them seldom enough that when you see people marching in the streets, it still attracts enough attention that you bother to think about their cause.

I'll ramble on about the things that I like in the next post. But having brought up protests, there's something that I've been reading in the news that confuses the hell out of me. In Qu├ębec, apparently most of the students are currently on strike. Now, that sentence just doesn't make any sense to me. Being a student, you have paid for your classes. Deciding to not go would seem to just be voluntarily wasting your money. The point of a strike (or at least from what I understand) is that by not working, you're showing society how important your job is, and thus that by being neglected by whoever, you're deciding to neglect society. As a student, you're not really doing a service to society. You're building up your own future earning potential, or in the purest case, pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Either way, it's a pursuit that's very much for your own benefit.

But what do I know? I'm probably just out of touch.

2 Comments:

Blogger governorgeneral said...

France, awesome! We should trade conventionals... I can always use a trip to France!

I never got student strikes either. McGill never got into them much back in our day, but I guess smoo's swung the other way since then. Whatever. Means (1) more space in cramped classrooms, but (2) easier for profs to pick you out and quiz you in the middle of class...

7:58 PM  
Blogger ian said...

not exactly sure who governorgeneral is, but hey, the more people reading this the better :)

6:24 AM  

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