Wednesday, July 19, 2017

3.0 Tournus

As I'm writing this on my phone while sitting on a charmingly rustic balcony of my future Course 3 professor's château, I feel a little bit like a cheater. There's this wonderful view of a green countryside spread in front of me, and yet I'm taking breaks to stare face down on my digital screen and type up some thoughts. I think I'd prefer reading from my Agatha Christie book and enjoying the tranquility, but I don't want to wake up the guy sleeping downstairs right next to my backpack if I noisily ruffle through clothes and whatever else is stuffed in my book bag to inevitably find what I'm searching for last.

Also I was going to write about Paris and Lyon since those happened first, but I figure since I'm here I'll just write in the moment.

Old picture of old castle.

BACKSTORY: When I was still a freshman (now I've upgraded to rising sophomore I guess) I declared Course 3. Almost immediately, I heard rumors of a Course 3 professor having a French castle and inviting his students to stay in the castle during the summer. Somehow, I managed to get my name on the excel sheet in the Course 3 fb group and now I'm in Tournus, France with a couple of other Course 3 students.

[Sad. I can't add pictures with this blogger app. All the reviews were right.]

[Hmmmm... I'll probably just post this later with pictures. Blogs without pictures for me are just a bunch of words. I don't think I have the literary talent to make my words interesting enough alone.]

Back in the train station in Lyon, my friend A. ('20) asked me who the person I was looking for looked like. I responded no clue, but I had her profile pic on fb messenger. This gives you a sense of how much I did not know these Course 3 people at all.

Homemade rosemary ice cream.
But, they turned out to be pretty cool. Would I even say otherwise since I'm going to send this blog to them? Probably not, but in that case I wouldn't mention them at all. So these people were cool. Like I could imagine being in that Course 3 "frat" and hanging out and struggling through sophomore year with them or looking to upperclassmen for their wisdom.

The Course 3 professor was also the nicest host. Professor Carter treated us to a quaint, local French restaurant called Cassandre: La Table de Chapaize. I stress the "French" part because it seems that in Southern France near Italy, all the restaurants are Italian. That's not a bad thing: authentic Italian pizza, pasta, bread, and gelato are quite delicious. However, I was excited to try actual French cuisine in France. A true four course meal, paired with kir and red and white wine (for those over 21). Everything was fantastic, both taste and presentation-wise -- it was one of the most enjoyable meals I've probably ever had in my life.

The next day, we snacked on boulangerie bread spread with raspberry jam and a light, creamy cake for breakfast. Afterwards, the professor took us to the flea market on our way to sight-seeing in a small town with a stone church and amazing view. We bought local, historical trinkets like hundred-year-old postcards, aluminum absinthe spoons, and silver candlestick holders.

I should mention that in quiet, small, countryside towns, you need cars to travel. As there were nine students, someone else besides the professor had to drive; not only drive a stick shift, but also have the honor to drive a truly "grungy" old white van that was only the slightest bit sketchy. I will mention that the person driving the van (apparently also known as Mum) had incredible skills.

["Nature prefers low enthalpy at low temperatures and high entropy at high temperatures." Just the typical conversation that occurs between Course 3 MIT professors, students, and graduates.]

Everything about the French countryside is charming. Peaceful and tranquil. Beautiful.
It was quite the shock when I arrived coming from Paris, with its busy streets, constant stream of cars and people chattering, endless succession of opulent buildings and towers and museums.

Pregnant donkey.
The moment I arrived at the château in Tournus, I listened. Birds chattered. Wasps buzzed. I marveled at the silence of nature.

The scenery is rolling green fields, patches of white cows, golden squares from neatly arranged rows of wheat and corn crops. Instead of golden-tipped obelisks, there's richly green trees towering the roads.

In fact, I am extremely glad that I came to visit. Though I was quite tired from the (mis)adventures of the Paris fireworks of the night before, the quiet serenity of the countryside seemed to possess natural healing and restorative abilities. Although Professor Carter half-jokes (probably actually serious) that he will make our lives quite miserable in class, he seems to truly care about teaching.

Before this week, I told E. ('17) that I entirely don't feel like a Course 3 because I hadn't taken a single Course 3 class, not even 3.091, and somehow I'm going to spend two nights in a Course 3 professor's castle. She replied laughingly that I already sounded like a Course 3: the trick was to mention "Course 3" as much as possible.

In the end, I can't really tell if I chose the right major quite yet considering I haven't taken any classes. But I am at least more confident in the community. And whatever nightmares or terrors I hear from upperclassmen who tell the tales about sophomore year, at least I feel that these *miserable* classes will create tight and lasting friendships.

P.S. I'm too lazy to write down everything that happened, plus I don't really want to interrupt the natural flow of writing I've got, but it would be amiss to not include the following conversation that happened during our sight-seeing. We asked a man to take a group photo of us:

Man: *holds phone* "SEX!"
Course 3 people: *confusion*
Man: "Funny!"
Course 3 people: *laugh awkwardly* *smile uncomfortably*


"Maybe he only knew enough English to sound kind of creepy."
"No, sex still means sex in French."
"That was weird."

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