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Michelle: Les Soirées

February 11, 2011

For those of you who know me well, night clubs and bars are probably the last places you would expect to find me on any given night. That being said, it seems strange that I would write that I spent last Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night at a bar or night club.

On Wednesday night, the program’s social assistants organized an outing for us to Cargo, a night club near the center of Montpellier. The night started with a competition of Name-That-Tune, French vs. Foreigners. I think we might have had a bit of an advantage because most of the songs were American. Despite that advantage, a team of French guys won. During the rest of the night, we danced to primarily American songs including some old(er) ones like Get This Party Started (P!nk) and Mambo No. 5 (Lou Bega). Again, those of you who know me well are probably laughing at the image of me trying to dance, so it probably won’t surprise you that my favorite part of the night was right at the end. I was waiting outside the club with Casey and Eric while we waited for some people who live close to us to walk back together when a group of French guys started talking to us. I talked everything from travel, to sports, to public transportation reform in the US with one of those guys. It was a funny mix of Franglais (French and English) because I wanted to speak French, but he wanted to practice his English. During the course of an hour, I think we were still able to communicate pretty effectively.

The next day (Thusday Night), one of the guys from Cargo invited me and Casey out to a bar called Charlie’s. There, we met a bunch of their friends and learned how to play billiards. Between the music and the fact that people our age tend to talk very rapidly, it was kind of hard to understand anything. Nevertheless, we had a good time talking and listening to old British/American music with the occasional classic (I’m told) French song.

Friday night was a girls night out to Barberousse (Red Beard), a pirate themed bar. At the end of the week, it’s very refreshing to hear English again. It’s even more refreshing when you’re hearing it in the belly of a pirate ship.

Saturday night I returned to Charlie’s with Casey (blonde) and her host sister, Anaïs’ friends. Throughout the night friends and friends of friends of Anaïs passed by and talked to us. At one point, five different nationalities were represented: France, USA, Sweden, Japan, and Scotland. Imagine all the accents that were there. Despite the varying levels of French there, we were all able to communicate pretty effectively through gestures and, at times, pictures. Charades seems to be the international mode of communication.

Another international language, funnily enough, is science. Anaïs’ friend, Sebastian, was trying to tell us something, I think it might have been funny the first time, but we just didn’t understand him. Finally, he took out his iPhone and typed PV=nRT and pointed to the “n.” Suddenly the light bulb came on and I understood. Granted, he was talking about mixed drinks, but that got the idea across. Casey made fun of me for recognizing the Ideal Gas Law and being able to apply the concept of a mole to the conversation, but in the end, I was able to understand him. Who knew being a science nerd would help me understand French?

At the end of the night, Charlie’s played New York, New York – Frank Sinatra and Casey and I headed home with Anaïs. Although its true that bars are not generally my scene, I’m really glad I went. If not, I wouldn’t have been able to have these great experiences.

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