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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Study Abroad: Students bid festive farewell


"Je voudrais le boisson," I told the cafeteria lady, signaling for a drinking cup, not a dessert.

Then I proceeded to eat my last cafeteria lunch. James Cox took a pitcher from the cafeteria and inserted several weeks’ worth of meal tokens into the fountain drink machine, filling the pitcher to the brim with orange soda. Cox, Willie Wright and I began pouring from the abundance while Cox basked in his creativity, saying, "They’ve never seen something like this." Besides cafeteria food, we ate lunch at a great Thai restaurant near my house once.

During our final week, the people of Angers, France prepared for the F’te de la Musique on June 21. After talking to locals the Wednesday night before the first Angers kebab restaurant I ate at, I learned the F’te was a music festival and a huge yearly tradition for Angevins.

The next evening, we left class and prepared for the F’te. We walked to Foch Boulevard and realized the entire street was closed to traffic and had plenty of walking Angevins. We ate kebabs at T-Chips before walking across the street to Soft and joining the F’te. It featured young and old Angevins dancing to countless bands’ performances. Songs like The Fugees’ "Killing Me Softly" played from speakers, and this experience was rivaled only by hearing Nas’ "If I Ruled the World" ("Trips to Paris / give me one shot I’ll turn ‘trife life’ to lavish") at Club Mid-Star. After walking everywhere, we saw more Angevins than we’d ever seen in public, and James Cox guided us to a restaurant he nicknamed "the spiggity." The party continued here, and I even had my first shish kebab in France. After leaving, we encountered locals rapping in French. Cox took the microphone and rapped in English. The locals couldn’t understand Cox’ lyrics, but Wright and I listened, as video recorded this cultural exchange.

It’s safe to say everyone arrived to school tired Friday. We graduated with Certificats and bid farewell to l’Universite. Our final Saturday night included Cox and I eating kebabs at Abou-Sayed, a Tunisian restaurant on Bressigny Avenue. After telling the owner it was our last night, we received kebabs with cheese. After texting and phoning American friends about our return, lounging one last time at La Boucherie and Soft, and walking and talking to locals in the streets, we went home.

I went to sleep at 2:30 a.m., though I knew our class was meeting at 4:15 a.m. for the Paris-bound bus. After waking to see sunlight through my window, I knew I had overslept. It was indeed past 7 a.m., and my host-mom woke seconds later, informing me that she messed up the alarm clock. To make matters worse, after turning my phone on (which was off in order to save battery life), I saw my friends had tried waking me by calling and texting me. I called Program Director Claudine Giacchetti, who said everyone waited but eventually left and that I must buy a train ticket to Paris.

I enjoyed three days in Paris, which included being dared into performing karaoke at a Red Light District karaoke bar, then spent three days in London and enjoyed its landmarks thanks to guidance from Houston friend and UH business graduate Ali Flint and childhood Los Angeles friend Hanan Awel. And that concludes my travels in France.


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