I’ve been attending a language school for the sum total of three days. I’m repeating French words ad nauseum (at times not even full words), doing grammar exercises, writing a crime novel, creating a weather report for a radio station… and LOVING it.
The highlight of my time in France so far has not been the weather, nor the great food, nor even the beauty of arriving in a new city at the most stunning leaves-turning Autumn, nor has it been (sorry) meeting the people I’ll be working with – although all of that has been incredible, I hasten to add! The highlight of my time so far in France was an hour long lecture in a darkened room looking at slides (yes – SLIDES – as in the small individual plates of glass with pictures printed on them, not as in powerpoint) of Roman-built churches.
I began the lesson in confusion – what on earth did Roman churches have to do with French Culture (the name of the class), never mind my study of the French language? It doesn’t help that I’ve been put in a class who are already one month into their syllabus. However, half way through the lesson I found myself on the edge of my seat; eyes wide, nodding eagerly, smiling even with head buzzing and heart pounding – it was incredible.
For a second I saw myself through the eyes of my 19 year old student self, through the eyes of the majority of the undergraduate students around me – I was a Mature Student, ie a Nerd. Drinking in every word and idea that was being conveyed, turning it over in my mind, poking it and turning it and revelling in the process! Every so often the teacher would say “Its VERY interesting, isn’t it?” and I could hear my 19 year old self laughing – he was talking about how people used to build buildings for goodness sake! I almost rolled my eyes instinctively. And yet – and YET! – it WAS VERY INTERESTING!!! I was fascinated!!!!!
What captured me most, I think, was the passion with which the teacher spoke. The way in which he had evidently lived and breathed the architecture of the time, he spoke authoritatively but philosophically. He communicated with his whole body – I have never seen anyone perform a lesson in a such a way as to evoke the language of dance. I could hear my 19-year-old self laughing and mocking his eccentricity – he was a grown man pretending to be a wall for goodness sake! I almost nudged the person beside me instinctively. And yet – and YET! – I have never before left a class feeling so inspired and alive!!!!
To lower the tone slightly… The experience was made all the more special when I noticed he was wearing the kind of specs that rather than having legs which balance them on your ears, they were simply balanced on his nose. Brilliant.