I pull back the little ticker on my Hello Kitty first generation fish eye film camera. Shane is fidgeting in the corner, shuffling back and forth from one foot to the other, looking at notes on his miniature phone screen that is sure to give us all eye problems in a few decades. I walk up to the one of the two circle windows in the door. I wait for the woman distributing exam packets to turn around and look into the camera. Click.
An hour later, I’m listening to Sufjan Stevens outside those doors, fidgeting on my own, waiting for Shane to come out so we can go get a drink together.
Donnez un exemple de crise ou de tension politiques liées à des contestation de frontières. Vous en expliquerez le contexte et en présenterez les acteurs en une dizaine de lignes.
Dans un paragraphe argumenté d’une page recto environ, vous analyserez l’enracinement de l’islamisme jihadiste au Proche-Orient en éclairant la diversité des facteurs qui ont mené à la situation actuelle.
Did you understand that? Are you French? If the answers to both of those were no, then good. Because before this past weekend, and definitely this semester, I would have had no idea how to answer either of those essay questions that were on our Géopolitiques de la Méditerranée exam at Sciences Po. But in the past 24 hours, I’ve finally clicked everything together from this semester in this class, about water, petrol, oil, gas, Syria, Iran, Irak, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Kurdistan, Cypress, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Greece, the involvement of America, Russia, the UK. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the exam grading, I don’t know half of what there is to know about this, but I do know enough now to not feel spiteful towards the news channel. I know how to talk about terrorism, fear, violence and not speak out of my ass like Donald Trump. The only problem is that we learned it all in French.
For example, I think I might have been the only one who didn’t know for about a month and a half that Cisjordanie (which I thought I just didn’t know) is just The West Bank. Or that neither Shane or I knew that Chypre was Cypress. Or that alaouite, a minority branch of chiisme, is not à la huit (in the style of the eights?)
We got wine, and coffee, four of us, at our usual place, Happy Days. I have two more exams to go, but today was really the end of my academic time here in Aix. I said goodbye to one of my friends in the class, and have been avoiding seeing friends so as to avoid having to say goodbye to anyone. I’ve said goodbye to many things, and I am still not getting any better at it. I think about what we’ve learned in this class, about the flow of resources, the lack thereof, the flow of migrants and refugees, and what it must be like to learn how to say goodbye to so much more. It is a privilege to say goodbye knowing you can say hello again someday.
Four days left, and I think I’m going to ask my host mom to bring up my suitcases tonight so I can start packing. Funny how the act of packing is a distraction from thinking about leaving. I’m not leaving yet. I’m not leaving. I’m not.