It’s been a busy week, especially for extra-curricular activities. Tuesday night was the first meeting of the Film Club. We watched the French romantic comedy Hors de Prix and I can confirm that rom-coms are as predictable in French as they are in English. Tonight a small group of us gathered to talk about health, policy, and development issues in Africa. (You can take the girl out of PIH…).
But last night was the highlight of the week – pétanque! I have to admit we didn’t learn much about the history of the game, but we had a lot of fun. One of our instructors, Julian, organized the event at a local pétanque club and gave us a quick lesson on the rules.
Julian is also the instructor who leads most of the “seance pratique” sessions at the Institut. These are practical lessons in cultural norms, phone etiquette, and such. Basically Julian is trying to prevent us from embarrassing ourselves in social situations. He does this primarily by embarrassing us in the seance pratique. I’m sure the instructors could write a book about all of the unintentionally hysterical and suggestive things that their students say. (Edited to add a recent example: When invited to someone else’s home, it’s customary to ask if you can bring something [apporter quelque chose]. Except we came up with: “Est-ce que je peux porter quelque chose?”, which is basically asking if you need to wear any clothes.)
Anyway, back to pétanque! After a bit of practice, we formed teams of three and were assigned a country name, and then the tournament began. Given the size of the group we played only to 5 points, instead of the usual 13 points. I am proud to say that my team, Angleterre, was victorious! We won the whole tournament, beating Vietnam in the finals, by a score of 7-0. I’m considering hitting the pro circuit. (At the very least, I may need to check out the Boston Pétanque Club…)
The best thing about the event was the opportunity to socialize with everyone in the program. There are 8 classes in total, but most activities, like lunch, are done in groups of 4 classes. Our meals, breaks, and practice sessions are with 3 other classes (in my case, Intermediate 3 and Advanced 1 and 2). As a result, there’s a large number of students that I rarely see. The pétanque tournament and the great meal that followed gave us all a chance to chat (en français, of course!) and share our experiences. We were all a little slower-moving today, since the pétanque party went well into the evening. And as we learned from our hosts, pétanque pairs beautifully with a nice rosé.