Sunday, November 23, 2008
Prague - that would be the rest of these pictures. It often felt like walking in a fairy tale. I was in beauty and the beast, the little mermaid when she becomes human, sleeping beauty - you get the idea. Dreamy dreamy place. The ones that give you a view of the whole city were taken from the top of the clock tower during our last night.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The election in Paris was an experience not to be missed. Europeans generally seem to be more interested in international politics than Americans. Perhaps interested isn't the best word, but at least better informed. When I turn on my radio here, I hear about what is happening all over the world. It has been something unique to follow my first election in another country. The night of (which incidentally commenced at around 1am because of the time difference) the election some fellow expats headed to an American bar in the latin quarter to watch the polls come in. There were big screen t.v.s and the bar brewed its own assortment of beers ranging a light ginger to something much heavier than guinness. Besides the bundles of American students there were also a surprising number of Parisians crowded into the pub. With each states tolls coming in the crowd reacted with cheers or boos. The French and vast majority of students are Obama supporters, so the place was alive and jovial. Anticipation was just hanging in the air. When the last poll came in to confirm Obama's victory the bar went wild and everyone started dancing around. Right after that it seemed, we were all shooed out because the bar legally had to close by 4 am. We rounded up the troops and embarked on a journey across town to a dinner called "Breakfast in America" so that we could watch the acceptance speech. It took at least an hour for us to get our act together and find this place. When we got there, we weren't allowed inside because it was already too crowded. So we stayed outside and watched the rest through the front windows with a bunch of other Breakfast in America rejectees. It was raining by this time mind you, and cold and miserable but somehow everyone was peacefully content. I thought that McCain gave an earnest sincere congragulatory speech. One of the best I've heard from him. Saddly though I was drawn home before I got to see Obama's because of a looming class presentation to give the following morning. I would have to wait for youtube the next day. I got home at 6:30 am. My presentation, thankfully well prepared, was painful to give at 12:30 that next morning. But it was for a politics class so I'm assuming that everyone, including the teacher was half asleep. I've never felt so tired in class in my life. At one point, I could not physically read my notes so I just winged the rest of the current event. I think it went quite well considering. Don't be alarmed though, I'm doing quite well in my classes so far. As far as midterms I received nothing less than an A-. Now onto another topic....
During my unoffical IES fall break I made a trip to Prague with Genna, Nick, Rose and Sammy. We stayed in a hotel in the center of town, which wasn't all that big so we could walk everywhere. The city itself was charming and majestic. I've never been somewhere that felt so old and rich with history. The buildings were all painted warm pastels, the squares had looming towers, the streets were winding and cobble stoned. The first night as we walked back from dinner I really felt as if I had fallen into some time portal and been thrown out the other side into the 17th century. Prague is great place to simply wander. It was quite accessable as an American tourist as well because everyone spoke english as a second language. It seems that Prague has a booming touristic economy right now. The food was hearty, as was the culture. A breath of fresh air from Paris. There was less emphasis on what you were wearing, how well-mannered you were etc. It was an interesting contrast between the people and the archtecture. We visited two museums, which were definitely some sort of novelties; the museum of communism and museum of mideval tourture devices. The first was a historical account of the spread of communism through the Czech Republique, the Russian rule uptill the Velvet Revolution. Very informative. I'm finding politiques and history to be my new found passions here between classes, the media, and pleasure reading in my spare time. The other museum, was exactly as it sounds. O man they're were some twisted creative people back in the mideval area. Our favorite, which I have since used as a treat, is the Spanish tickle tourture. Most of the rest were not so light. More on the creepy/sick! side.. It was crazy to think that these wild devises were actually once used on people! We also saw the charles bridge, the castle and jewish quarters. I will put pictures up soon to better explain that. I would totally recommend Prague. The trip ended up being rather in expensive too. You can stay in a really nice hotel double for around 50-100 euros a night. We got our flight on sale for 54 euros round trip and the restaurants and bars there were a welcome treat from the high prices of Paris.
Expect pictures very soon and more frequent updates. Midterms, exterior classes and visa issues were really stressing me out at the end of October/early November which rendered me a little on the lazy side. Thats all resolved now, so you'll hear from me again soon! And to everyone who has been keeping in touch, thank you so much. It is such a pleasant surprise to get letters or emails from family and friends. It really makes my day. I'm thinking of all of you often and wishing you the best.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Home - a small apartment, bigger than my freshman dorm but otherwise the smallest space I've ever lived in (which now feels perfectly adequate, wow Americans like a lot of space). There is no: dryer, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, TV, DVD player, wireless, or bathtub. Instead, I, listen to the radio a lot, go out to see movies, wash dishes by hand, cook everything on the stove, take french showers, hang my clothes to dry, and use the Ethernet every couple days.
School - the smallest school I've ever attended, about 150 students. Even my exterior course, I'm in a group of about 80 students that I take both my classes with. It's easier to meet people and form closer friendships. At IES I know all the staff on a first name basis. There is much much less homework. Reading for my classes, a lot of busy work for my language class and nothing for my exteriors. You read and study, that's it. Next week is mid-terms so I will be doing a lot of reviewing this weekend but thank the lord no huge assignments as of yet. I study politics, sociology, language and psychology. So weird my psych school is based in psychoanalytic, and to some extent - Freudian - thought!! They still believe that crap here ( sorry if I'm offending anyone but gahhh FREUD??? How about something remotely current and applicable?? reality is my anti-Freud) But to be fair I've never studied psychology from this perspective so its an experience. Teachers do not use a whole lot of outside media or supplementary material. No power points, videos, online homework etc. We have lectures, and we ask questions. This may sound boring to some but actually I've never studied half these subjects, let alone from a French perspective. So they are very interesting. You have to try and get your head into this other culture and understand it from their world view but I find myself constantly comparing things to my own culture. Which yes, is a whole new ball game.
Exercise - Haven't found anything yet. Any ideas?? At home I'm really active but here there is no opportunity. The gyms are expensive and private. There's nothing offered with the universities here. That just doesn't exist. For velib ( the city wide bike rental thing) you need an American Express Card or a European one with the microchip. I don't have either. What I've come up with is the occasional run outside (I hate running outdoors ; ) and workout videos that I hoard from the internet.
Work - Not sure if I can even get a work visa, but it feels really weird to have so much time to myself.
So what have I been doing with my excessive amounts of free time you ask? Well I study french a lot on my own. Constantly craving improvements in the language. And its amazing to have those extra couple hours a week to commit to it. Always looking up words and reviewing grammatical rules. I visit the plethora of art exhibits, museums, monuments and cinemas here. I spend a lot of time with my friends, or on my own reading books (especially in the beautiful parks). I cook or have lengthy dinners with my host mom. I commute on public transportation (how many hours have I already spent on the metro?? I'd rather not know..) I write letters and go to hear live music. And of course I take a lot of photos (my new passion) and write my blog.
So there you have it. Life abroad, deconstructed.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I thought this room was so cool. It was all based on the idea of living in an inflatable world. Various pieces of furniture and little shelters like the one below made of inflated plastic. There was this crazy documentary in this room too. It was a film from the sixties showing people playing in this huge plastic bubble/oval that was floating on a body of water. Sort of hard to explain... Reminds me of a kid's dream - to have a huge bubble fort. Maybe that was the point? Adressing that childhood fantasy... The adults in the doc, playing in the bubble - they seemed pretty gleeful.
Other pieces I found interesting for one reason or anther. Now this one below is just ridiculous! I was standing there laughing to myself while the curators peaked around the corner at me... Can they not see the humor in this? The little blue dude was against a huge background of foliage.
This was my favorite part of the permanent collection. It looked like a huge barrel from the outside, but when you looked in through the opening, it was actually a room. It gives me that feeling of a calm summer night out in the country, when you're laying in bed listening to the sound of summer. And that heavy humidity before a downpour. So cool!!
One of my favorite pieces from the exhibition. I believe the info for this is one of those top few plaques. Everything is a little jumbled...
Be sure to click on this one. From far away it didn't look like anything all that interesting. But the little white waves are actually made up of numbers written out. I wish there was more information on this one - Whats the signficance of these particular numbers?