After having my second class of Intro to Theater yesterday, I have now officially met all of my teachers. Every one of my teachers seems incredibly knowledgeable and invested in their students’ success. In Thermodynamics and Dynamics, I am thrilled to say that the words “Free Body Diagram” have now been used (whew!) and I am thankful for my past teachers and professors in physics that have given me a solid and advantageous baseline of knowledge coming in. My General Psychology class is my largest with 40 students and seems as though it will be pretty easy, as long as my professor stops flashing a picture of an enormous tarantula on the screen… In Intro to Theater, I have two professors – one to teach theory and read plays, and one to teach the art of acting. My acting professor established a no-nonsense personality within about 10 minutes that reminded me of another of my past teachers, Mr. Nichols. She effectively established unquestionable authority, and yet I have the impression that she would be delighted for me to ask any question and would do anything in her power to help me succeed, as long as I put the work in myself. Tomorrow I have my first Thermodynamics quiz, so I can confidently state that this semester is now well under way.
The weather in Antibes up until this weekend has been unfailingly fair, sunny, and gorgeous. Since then, we have had rain several days and the sea has been choppy. The waves remind me of learning to surf with my family and make me wish for that opportunity again. Albeit different, I find the city and sea in stormy weather just as beautiful.
I had the somewhat depressing realization Monday that MLK day is not a thing here in Europe. I am beginning to realize the rich commitment to history that the United States seems to have. There are no national holidays here comparable to MLK Day or Presidents Day or Memorial Day, and I feel slightly spoiled to have those in the states.
Probably the most exciting part of this past week was getting to learn to snow ski in the French Alps. We were blessed with perfect conditions on Saturday, as it snowed through the night and gave us a 3-inch blanket of smooth powder to experience. On Saturday morning, we went as a group to rent our skis and my friend Julie agreed to give me some tips and teach me how to ski. I made the poor choice of not purchasing snow pants before our trip, thinking that I would be able to rent them there, and so wore blue jeans for the day. On the way to the bunny slopes however, we somehow were turned around and ended up going halfway up the mountain on the ski lift. Upon arriving, we discovered that there were no green slopes or bunny slopes at the height and I had no choice but to learn trial-by-fire-style and start on blue. God bless Julie for sticking with me and patiently giving me pointers along the way! It took us about 3.5 hours to get down that blue slope as my movements were as follows: ski to one side of the lane, wipeout, turn around, ski to the other side of the lane, wipeout, turn around, repeat. I was so soaked from essentially falling down the mountain, that whenever I fell down or slid, I left a splotch of blue dye from my jeans in the snow behind me. After getting down the mountain, I called it a day for skiing, got a late (1:30pm) lunch, bought a much-needed pair of snow pants, and retired. I slept incredibly well that night and had some lovely bruises on my legs to commemorate the event.
The next day, I went out to the slopes on my own and went down the green/big bunny slope for a while until some of the other beginner skiers in my group showed up. We skied for a while and I slowly gained confidence, the limited ability to turn while skiing, and the ability to make it down the slope without wiping out more than once. After an hour or two, one of the guys said he wanted to go down the blue slope and asked if any of us would come with him. I was very against the idea because of my experience the previous day, but encouraged him in his endeavor. A couple of the experienced guys showed up to say hi and upon being asked, said they would come with us to go down the blue slope. Because of their agreement, I went along with the group and the 5 of us, 2 experienced and 3 beginners, went down the same blue slope that I had fallen down just the day before. It was nice to have the experienced guys along as they covered front and back of us beginners and offered advice on how to turn and control our speed. I am proud to say that I was the first newbie down the mountain and this second experience only took me about 30 minutes. I stopped halfway down the mountain and, of course, took a few selfies to remember the event. After completing blue and feeling very accomplished I skied the green slope for the rest of the day and really began to get the hang of it. Looking back, I was incredibly apprehensive of the idea of learning to ski with people I had only known for two weeks and almost didn’t go on the trip, but I am so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone. I made friends, learned a fun new sport, learned some things about myself, hurt my wallet more than a little bit, and had the time of my life.
In the next week, I will visit the Italian Riviera, see the Picasso Museum located here in Antibes, tour a lighthouse near here on the coast, and learn the basics of wine and cheese tasting. Oh yeah, I’ll also be taking my first 2 quizzes… yeah, the fun has to end somewhere…