Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So overwhelmed.

So today has so far been a horrible day.
I got an essay back that I had worked super hard on, even had my host-dad help me proof read, only for the teacher to say, quite literally, that despite the fact that the writing was better, she was 'surprised' it was so bad...I really thought I had done well on that essay and it bothered me to do so poorly.

This teacher really doesn't like me.  I don't disrupt class at all, I contribute to discussions without talking too much, and I always do my homework. But she literally shuts down everything I say.  We were talking about the differences between the French and American university systems, and I commented on how even though American universities cost more, some of the more 'prestigious' schools have amazing financial aid (like going to Harvard or Brown or any of the other Ivies for free if your parents make under 60k/year), and she said 'no that's not really true, you can still only go if you're rich'.  It just bothers me because sometimes it feels like she just decided she wasn't going to like me from day 1, and that there's nothing I can do to get on her good side.  It also seems like I'm the only person she does this to consistently, and while I know that could be my own point of view, it's frustrating to feel.

And then I was planning on getting home as fast as possible so that I could take a nap and eat lunch, and I took the metro in the wrong direction and didn't realize it until 6 stops later.

And now I have to commute 45mins-1 hour to my babysitting job, in the rain, get back just in time for dinner, and then do homework for 3 hours, go to bed, and start the whole process over again.

I wish I had a break from work for winter break, but I don't. I have a 10 page essay due 2 days after I get back, a 2 page essay due the same day, and many other assignments that are just as long due in the weeks following.  I just want a break!

Monday, November 22, 2010


       I never quite realized how much I'd miss Thanksgiving!  The only other time I missed it, when I was at Bearwood in 2006, I don't think it bothered me as much.  Maybe that's because living in a boarding house, I was surrounded by people all the time and had less alone time to contemplate the fact that I was missing my favorite holiday.
      Yes, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  That's because Thanksgiving has a bit of a buildup, and then AS SOON AS Thanksgiving is over, it's the Christmas season!  So it's like a holiday that lasts an entire month!  I love how family-centric Thanksgiving is.  I love when my family used to go up to our cottage in New Hampshire and cook tasty food and eat it with my aunts and (sometimes) cousins.  I loved how more often than not, it would snow at least once during those New Hampshire trips.  I loved driving home through Boston two days later, listening to Christmas music and looking at all the lights of the city.

      This year, I'm stuck in a country where cranberries don't even exist (they aren't even imported here).  Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy to be abroad and to have this opportunity, but I hate hate hate that I'm missing Thanksgiving.  I just want to go to New Hampshire and have a snowball fight and take a walk down to the lake and watch Harry Potter DVDs.

      Tufts is taking us (plus two invitees each) out to 'Thanksgiving dinner' at some random restaurant on Thursday, but from what previous Tufts-in-Paris people have told me, it's the French take on turkey and potatoes...not a 'true' Thanksgiving meal.  I want cornbread!  Green bean casserole! Cranberry sauce! Pumpkin pie!
     I've decided to bake a pumpkin pie for my host family, so that they can taste the wonder.  I love pumpkin pie so much, instead of having cake on my birthday, I ask my mom to cook pumpkin pie (it's not too out of season- my birthday is December 21).
     A girl in our program is having a Thanksgiving dinner this coming Saturday, but I do not know if there will be turkey.  I hope so, but as long as there's cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie I'll be (relatively) satisfied.

It'll be hard trying to cram in all the Traditions that I don't want to miss out on, into the two weeks that I'm home. I want to go to New Hampshire when it's cold, go sledding (I hope it snows!!!), go into Boston at night (maybe for First Night), see my best friends, eat pie, drink legally (turning 21 yayy), go to New York City before Christmas, see the Christmas pageant at church, and have quality family time.

That on top of all the essays I'll be working on at that time...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 12, 2010

So much to do, so little time!

Life is crazy!  My main dilemma right now is how to balance
1. keeping up with friends from home
2. keeping up with my family
3. having a semblance of a social life here
4. earning money

My two best friends...I guess I wasn't prepared for how much I'd notice the absence of their presence in my life this semester.

It's hard to condense a weeks worth of activity into a 10 minute phone call with the Boy...I miss getting breakfast/lunch at Dewick and having all the time in the world (or until our next class) to talk about our days/weeks/lives.  I miss grilling!  And how he brings me back down to earth when I get all worked up about something.  Phone calls/skype just can't replicate in-person face time.  I'm so glad I'll get to see him when I come home for Christmas, but then after that it's 5 more months until I'll see him in person and I'm not a fan of that.  I miss you!

And skyping with Best Friend....I miss our monday night dinners...skype just can't replace cooking with your best friend.  Or snuggle time at 3pm watching Law and Order/Fringe.  Or just walking around the Cambridgeside Galleria and getting chocolate-fruit kebabs.  Or 'studying' in Tisch or Eaton aka ordering food and listening to music...or going to Eaton at 4am to sing a 'carol' to the Boy and his study partner "Twinkle twinkle you're doing homework, while we were out getting hammered. It is such an unfair world, that you're stuck here without a girl, Twinkle twinkle you're doing homework, while we were out getting hammered"
I miss you!

So here's a look at why I haven't been keeping up my posting:
6-7 page essay due Tuesday DONE
6-7 page essay due Thursday DONE
8-10 page essay due Nov 24 DONE
2-3 page essay due Nov 24 DONE
Midterm Nov 25 DONE
Midterm Nov 30 DONE
Presentation Dec 2 DONE
6-8 page essay due Dec 9 DONE
Debate due Dec 9 DONE
Revised essay due Dec 9 DONE
8-10 page essay due Jan 5 DONE
2-3 page essay due Jan 5 DONE
6-8 page essay due Jan 11 DONE
4 2-page essays due Jan 11 DONE
Oral exam (language) Jan 13 DONE
Final exam (litterature) Jan 13 DONE
2 7-page essays due Jan 20 DONE


I shouldn't even be posting now, I should be working! And that is what I'll do!

A tout!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Samhuinn post-finally!

I can't believe it has already been a week since I was in Edinburgh, it doesn't feel like it!


       SO we saw this amazing procession/performance/celebration in a square right off of the Royal Mile (a mile of street that starts at the castle and descends down the hill into the city).  Samhuinn is an ancient Celtic holiday that celebrates the changing of seasons from summer to winter.  There was the Winter King and his court who would soon defeat the Summer King and his court.  Here's some backstory about the festival.
      The performers were all in costume, naturally, but the style of costume is what mattered to me.  Amongst all the face paint, all of the masks, all of the fabric, nothing looked modern.  There wasn't a piece of plastic or polyester in sight. As I stood there, watching the Red Men dance or the Beasties play their drums, I couldn't help but imagine that had I been transported back in time hundreds of years, I would be witnessing the exact same procession.  The primal beat of the drums and the screeching and yelping of the people dressed as wolves (part of the Winter King's court) called to me somehow...I think it really drove home the point that this is a land of my ancestors, and that hundreds of years ago, my ancestors were probably celebrating in the same manner.
        I think, as a generic white American, it's hard to think of myself as having 'ancestors' of a specific culture, but  I'm only third-generation, and they had to come from somewhere!  My mother's mom was born in Scotland, her paternal grandparents were Jews from Eastern Europe (Belarus perhaps, all we know is that they immigrated from Minsk), my dad's maternal grandparents were from Sweden and his paternal grandparents were from Ireland (so he's lucky enough to be eligible for Irish citizenship).  Back to the point, I think that watching this festival (and spending the day searching for MacGregor paraphernalia) made me realize 'yes, Amy, you do have ancestors and they weren't just nameless/faceless/culture-less white people.  They were Celts, Vikings, and Hebrews who for hundreds of years were involved in their own culture and who's descendants decided to move to a country where the culture was just beginning to become established. But they had their own set of festivals, religion, dress, etc...

Back to Samhuinn:  This shit was unbelievable.  And there's one in the spring, called Bealltainn that I hope to go to as well.  Here are some photos: video trailer for Bealltainn , photosmore photos .

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

Found the lyrics to the hymn that basically defines Christianity for me.  Thought I'd post it.


Taken from the website:
"This hymn is over 30 years old, but it could have been written this morning. I love what it says: we'll be recognized as Christians -- true disciples of Jesus -- not by our rhetoric or our politics or even the soundness of our theology, but by our love.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each one's dignity and save each one's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

This basically sums up what it means to me to be a Christian.  One can clearly see that the basis of Christianity is "Christ", meaning Jesus (the religious-and historical- figure).  The main point the sets Christianity apart from Judaism and Islam is the belief that Jesus was Christ, or the Messiah.  
But it isn't enough to just hold that as a belief.  The point, in my mind, of Christianity, is to live as much like Christ as possible.  This means reaching out to those on the fringes of society - the lepers, the prostitutes, the samaritans, the tax collectors, etc.- and to show kindness to all whom you encounter.  Jesus never turned anyone away, and that is the point of Christianity.  

I don't care if others follow my religion, I don't want to convert anyone; you'll never see me spouting religious dogma, to anyone.  I want people to know I'm a Christian not by a cross around my neck or a bible in my bookshelf or by my church attendance, but by my love.  

Best Weekend EVER (aka Edinburgh 2010)

       This past weekend I visited my super awesome friend Amelia, who is studying at the University of Edinburgh for the fall semester.  I had some trouble getting there (my flight was cancelled due to the French strikes and so I had to buy a new flight the following day), but from the minute I arrived I was in heaven.

Edinburgh is one of the most awesome cities I've ever been to.  It has much more green space than Paris, wider streets, darker stone buildings (they're all beige/light grey here), and HILLS!  How I missed having a vertically interesting landscape to look at!  Also, Edinburgh is much more casual (and less pretentious, in my opinion) than Paris.  People wear sweatpants/work-out clothes/t-shirts on the street and no-one gives them a second glance.  In that regard, I think it's much more like Boston/Davis Sq/Harvard Sq/a giant college town.

Arthur's Seat:
View of Arthur's Seat from Edinburgh Castle

One of the things that I really wanted to do in Edinburgh was climb Arthur's Seat.  It's this giant hill-type thing, which sounded to me like it'd be a nice little hike to the top.  We took the short/hard way up, which basically consisted of a steep stairway made of rock that wound and zig-zagged it's way up the hill.  The last 1/4th of the hike you had to scramble up the rocks as the staircase was no more, and it was all craggly rocks, mud, and pebbles.

View from 1/3rd of the way up

Same level, different view

The top was small, windy, and rocky.  There were two little 'markers' at the highest points, where people were taking pictures and writing their names/messages on the stones.  The climb up was hard for me (even though I have to climb 6 flights of stairs every day to get to my room, I'm out of shape), so I was super happy to reach the top, and I felt really accomplished.  Climbing Arthur's seat was the one thing that I thought I'd really regret leaving Edinburgh without doing, and I did it!  It was one of my favorite experiences this semester.  

     Amelia and I cooked SO much tasty food!  Friday night she had already prepared a delicious stuffed squash with beans, onions, garlic, almonds, and cheese (and who knows what else), which was actually the first time that I ever had squash (aside from summer squash).  
        Saturday for lunch we went to an amazing fish and chips place at the Newington Traditional Fish Bar, and I'm pretty sure the chips (fries) were the best I've ever had.  They were just crispy enough on the outside, soft on the inside, greasy, salty, and vinigar-y.  Saturday night we cooked a spinach/onion/cheese quiche with a rice crust, which we gobbled down in a matter of minutes.
       Sunday for lunch Amelia made potato-onion soup, with cheddar cheese and sour cream added in.  It was comfort incarnate.  Warm and just thick enough, packed with flavor and love.  For dinner, we cooked past and vegetables, and made pumpkin pie for dessert (wanted to show her flatmates what all the fuss was about).
       For breakfast every morning I had scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, which hopefully will enable me to go without until I come home in December.  

          I had written up a huge long section about Samhuinn and then for some reason it didn't get saved. So I'll stop here for now and write the Samhuinn post later today.