A day in the life of Molly Tucker
Economics and Violin Performance Major, Oberlin College and Conservatory
My days in Paris are varied in a way school has never been for me. With classes at different universities, and activities, libraries, concerts, and friends all over the city, even established routine has a way of morphing given the week. But let’s take Thursday. Quickly becoming one of my favorite days of the week, Thursday encompasses a lot of why this system, even though it is the opposite in a lot of ways from the education I am used to, has been right for me.
The day begins with petit déjeuner and some radio listening to catch up on the news. After breakfast, I dive into my morning practice, warming up and doing last-minute work before I jump on my favorite ligne 6 of the metro to my violin lesson. An hour later, I emerge from my professor’s apartment, brain teeming with ideas and goals for the next week and energized from whatever new revelation that lesson might have brought. Then, I grab some lunch at a nearby café and do some reading for my philosophy class. Off to CUPA’s headquarters where I will have a tutorat during which I can unload all the questions that have come up in the last week – vocabulary and grammar that I made little mental notes about in the moment and can now get some context for – and somehow the half hour passes way too quickly amidst readings turned philosophical discussions. Then I have a little time to do some work before I take the RER to the Université Paris-Nanterre for my Labor Economics class. I sit down in the amphitheater and prepare myself for my professor’s rapid stream of words, comforted by the focus he places on participation and synthesizing ideas, not just memorization, and the silly jokes he cracks during the break. Then, tired but full of thoughts, I head back to the apartment for a bit of repose, practice, and dinner with my host family. We share stories from our day, talk politics and music and France and culture, and we share our different perspectives on what is going on in the world. Then, I either settle in for a night of practice and homework, or I head out on the town for a jam session or a concert at the Philharmonie de Paris, or whatever that evening might bring.
Here, I feel I am always adjusting and moving into new and unfamiliar situations, which means working that much harder to find basic comfort levels. It also means constantly having a mind that is slightly more open, slightly more aware. With this comes the frustrating moments, when my brain is so tired I can’t think in any language let alone understand any spoken words, or the days of being a sardine on the metro at rush hour and feeling solitary shuttling through a world teeming with strangers. And then, the very next day, a sentence will roll off my tongue with a speed that surprises me. I’ll meet a new person and discover things in common, or play music with a stranger and find it click immediately. It is not as though I do not have these brilliant moments at home, but here where I am so far out of my comfort zone, it is these small victories that inspire waves of confidence and resilience. Seeking out connection, trying and failing and then trying again are all the necessary and complicated parts of this journey, and I find that, unbeknownst to me, this city full of character is coaxing out my own character all along the way.
As I settle into bed on Thursday night, I look ahead towards Friday. I don’t have classes on Friday and the emptiness of this day sometimes overwhelms me, as having a weekday without classes was new for me before this semester. Maybe I’ll take a train to another city or spend all day practicing and working through ideas I’d gotten the previous day or explore a museum with a friend…. who knows what the variety will bring. But, what is constant is knowing that I’ll be expanding in some direction or another.