It’s a Small World

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my Life of Pi class, my sole English course here. It turns out that there’s really no point in getting a grade for it, since 1 credit doesn’t help the six-hour literature requirement for my minor. So I emailed the professor, and now I don’t have to worry about a presentation, participation grade, or essay.

But I figured I might as well keep attending the class anyways, since it’s the closest thing I have to an R-MC course. As I waited for the class before us to wrap up, the professor appeared. I debated whether I should tell him I was the one who emailed him, because that’s the polite thing to do, but I couldn’t figure out how to start a conversation like that, because I’m shy and socially inept.

Luckily, he solved my dilemma by walking up to me and asking, “What’s your name?” (That’s not as weird as it sounds. This class only happens an hour a week, which is not a lot of time to learn a bunch of names.)

I replied, “Sarena. I’m the one who emailed you.”

“Oh, okay,” he said. “I thought it was you, but I just wanted to make sure.”

After some small talk, he eventually wanted to know what school I was from. That question always makes me pause, because, well, what are the chances of someone in France knowing what a Randolph-Macon College is? (I mean, there are people in Richmond who have no idea what or where it is. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it before I applied, and I only did so because a) R-MC emailed me a free streamlined application and b) I was rebelling against my parents, who were all “You have to apply and go to UVA because that’s where all the Asians are!”)

I ended up saying, “I’m actually from Virginia, and I go to Randolph-Macon College.”

I was not prepared for his response of “Randolph-Macon? I’ve been there before!”

Turns out he visited it in 1992—he was in Ontario, and then took the train from Michigan to Ashland. (I guess the scholarship exchange between R-MC and the University of Nice goes way back.) He went “around this time of the year,” and said that it was snowing, which doesn’t surprise me because Virginia weather is weird. After enthusing about how gorgeous the campus was, he remarked that we’re lucky to have generous alumni, seeing as the University of Nice is a public school and is lucky to even have electricity. (He’s right, R-MC folks. The entire campus is so much nicer than the school building here.)

Then he informed me that the only thing I’ve missed in Nice is a student strike—according to him, we’re long overdue for one. That’s a bummer. It’d be nice to participate in a movement against school.

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