It’s not the culture difference, it’s your own disorganization. Or is it ?

I returned to the library not more than a half-hour ago in a frustrated huff after yet another (attempted) visit to the Centre de Mobilité internationale. I walked in, dropped my bag and coat on a chair, and turned to a German friend of mine. “I need coffee. Coming?” It was less asking a  question than an exclamation that I needed to rant.

I had planned to return to the CMI today after I received an email informing me to come retrieve my new récépissé this week. I decided Wednesday would be ideal due to my class schedule and I jotted down the opening hours of the centre.

After having lunch today, I began walking to the centre. Considering the weather had been unusually bright and sunny, I wasn’t at all annoyed by taking this time out of my day to make the journey downtown. As I approached the Centre, just a few minutes before 1pm, a strange sense of foreboding came over me. Was I sure it opened at one… or was it one-thirty ?

No matter, I thought as I stopped on a bridge over the Vilaine river, I have it written in my agenda. I pull out my agenda and, to my dismay and frustration, realize that I was in fact a half-hour too early. Disappointed and not wanting to head all the way back to school or to sit on the side of the road for a half-hour, I paced around until I realized that I needed to pick up some cards from a store downtown.

10 minutes later, I found myself approaching Place de Bretagne and an excellent shop specializing in cards, notebooks, pens, and the like. As I approached, it slowly dawned on me that this was not turning out to be a lucky day. The shop was closed.

Resolving to do something productive and not get too discouraged before heading back to the CMI, I turned the corner and found another store where I found precisely what I had hoped to find. My purchase complete and the sun beating ahead, I headed back along the river to the CMI, concentrating on getting myself back into a mood that was worthy of the weather.

Think! This may be one of the last times you’ll have to come here, everything is coming together, I told myself as I climbed the stairs to the office. I quickly rehearsed what I would say to the receptionist as I reached out and grabbed the door handle.

*Clunk* I may have pulled it about 2 millimetres before the lock slammed into the side of its hole in the doorframe. You’ve got to be kidding me. I blink slowly and look towards the hours posted beside the door. Yep, it’s open after one-thirty, and it’s almost two right now….

…and it’s closed on Wednesdays. I wanted to jump into the river.

After I returned to the library and began telling my story, I realized two things. First, as I explained to my friend, I have begun to understand why there’s a stereotype abut Western Europeans being efficient and organized. You can’t simply do a random ‘drop-in’ at most places, even if invited, unless you know the weekly schedule of said place.

“In Canada, it’s not like that! Unlike here, for example, banks are open 6 days a week and they don’t close for a bloody lunch break! You can just run errands with your only worry being that you might have to line up to wait!”

She laughed. “Oh, I don’t believe you… I’ll see if that’s true when I go over there.”

The second realization that had come to mind was about the email I had been sent. I racked my brain and, though I knew the opening hours had been listed there, I was sure there was no mention of Wednesday being special for any reason. Naturally, I went back to check this out.

Votre récépissé est disponible au CMI, merci de venir le récupérer  pendant les heures d’ouverture : Du lundi au vendredi de 9h30 à 12h30 ou de 13h30 à 17h00.

No mention, and yet, I still feel like this is my fault. Oh well. Somehow I’m sure this is a lesson learned, and one day I’ll figure out what exactly that lesson might be. I got some exercise, profited from the sunshine, and ran a necessary errand. Despite it all taking a ridiculous amount of time, I’m past it.

And, in an excellent example of pathetic fallacy for your protagonist here, whilst I was writing this post, the weather changed from sunny to raining, and now the sun is shining again. This has been quite a normal day… weather-wise.

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About Drew

A student at the bilingual Glendon Campus of York University in Toronto, Canada, I also work as an eAmbassador in Student Recruitment and Applicant Relations. Currently studying Political Science as an international Bachelor of Arts, with a Certificate of Law and Social Thought. Last year, I was on exchange in Rennes, France studying at l'Institut d'études politiques.
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