I’m back, still alive! Over the past three weeks I gained, among other things, first-hand knowledge of the French healthcare system and some more book wisdom about military strategy. A couple of days after the latest blog post my throat started hurting, and soon I found myself nearly unable to swallow. Over the weekend, I got fever, just a day before the Mitterrand/Kohl presentation I had mentioned earlier.
That same weekend the “Week-end de rentrée” of JEF Paris was on, but I had to leave early because basic painkillers didn’t keep me in shape anymore. The fever lasted for a few days, and since Sciences Po’s absence policy is extremely strict (I’m still unsure if it’s “no absences whatsoever are accepted” or “all absences need to be justified with a medical certificate”), and the third strike means you’re out of the course, I went to school anyway. I hope my fellow students enjoyed hearing me poorly pronounce the words “Système européen de banques centrales” in a broken, barely audible voice while wearing a thick hoodie and visibly sweating in front of the class! (In the end I got 15/20 – which would correspond with a First in the UK -, the same as for a book summary for my “Vie politique, législative et parlementaire française” course earlier.)
I went to see a doctor, which turned out to be necessary because the diagnosis was tonsillitis (angina) caused by a bacterial infection, an illness that must be treated with antibiotics. The prescription was just long enough to kill it off and help me feel better. For a bit of too much information, the pills I took parallelly to keep my fever down left me sweating through my sheets on multiple nights. Thanks to Skylar for tolerating my hanging up soaking wet sheets daily! You know it’s bad when the window in your room is covered in vapour when you wake up.
Anyway, things got better in the end, and normal life continued. Last weekend I approached the new editorial team members for The New Federalist, and we’re just about to start our first team Skype call in half an hour as I write. It’s a good, qualified team ready to run an online magazine that’s a pleasure to read – now the task is to turn the potential into achievement! I’ve recently found myself constantly staring at article statistics on the website admin panel because that’s what I’m like, but at the same time it’s been channelled into something productive, too, in the form of four articles and three translations made in the past week or so. I’m happy that I’ve got a new laptop and a keyboard that isn’t conspiring against me!
Another thing in the past week has been the Strategic Studies take-home exam that has seen me read more about air force strategy than I probably did in the past 22 years combined. That was the last school deadline for the next couple of weeks!
To celebrate that, I went out for a long evening walk yesterday night, mainly to see the Eiffel Tower at night from up close. Certainly a trip worth making! It’s still summer weather in Paris, with daytime temperatures reaching 26 degrees and the sun shining. And it doesn’t get cold in the evening either! Oh yeah, and Markéta (a Czech friend of mine whom I originally met at the International Student Leadership Institute training while in high school back in 2013, and who became my classmate this autumn – small world) and I went to Le jardin du Luxembourg on Wednesday!
Today I continued the touristing by going to see Panthéon from the inside – another touristic activity well worth doing. Like I wrote earlier, much of the grandiose architecture in Paris is remarkably Greek, and it’s not a surprise that the Enlightenment-era building that directly draws its inspiration from Antiquity is one example of this. The crypt, with its tombs of the pantheonised historical figures, was a trip down history, with household names like Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Pierre and Marie Curie and Victor Hugo resting in front of you. For a convinced European like me, Jean Monnet and Simone Veil were obviously thrilling. Pantheonisation is an honour reserved for people who “embody the values of the nation”, so in a sense you could say that the heart of France is there – five minutes’ walk from where I live!