Sometime ago I wandered into the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall because I wanted to see a movie in that great theater they have in the East Building. (they show interesting and free movies almost every day!) Although I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into when I sat down to see “Nostalgia for the Light”, it turned out to be fascinating. The documentary tells two stories in parallel, both set in Chile’s Atacama Desert. One is the story of archaeologists and astronomers who study in Atacama, which as the driest desert in the world, lends itself to fossil preservation and the clearest views of the stars in the world. Astronomers from all over put their names on a long list to eventually be able to visit some of the worlds highest observatories and largest telescopes.
ZZAPP!! With a violent buzz like a miniature thunder clap my eyes jerk up from my work to the window, where the waiter has pinned a fat fly under some sort of electronic tennis racket, and apparently, fried it. While I've never seen such an odd device for pest control that's not what's so jarring, nor the noise disturbing the ambient pulse of music: This is the fist time I have seen a bug killed in public since starting my study abroad. Other than my own furtive swatting when away from prying eyes, I haven't seen any bugs intentionally killed. All sentient beings, even bugs, are part of the chaotic cycle of samsara, and thus good Buddhists and Hindus are not supposed to kill them, and doing so around them is considered insensitive. I've heard a rumor that H.H. the Dalai Lama once disputed the cognizance of mosquitos, that they weren't really sentient and could probably be safely swatted, but I didn't have the guts to test this in public (and prefer to avoid the awkward wipe-off of the guts of insects). Even a cockroach making a steady climb up grandmother's back was knocked off and gently carried to a window. ...continue reading "Gangtok, Sikkim (India)"
For Russian women, there is no such thing as bare legs in public. They simply don't do it. Given that gender roles in Russian society are still traditional and still relatively conservative, it is unusual and wholly frowned-upon for a woman to walk the streets with bare legs without stockings. “Exposed” women will be mistaken for prostitutes. ...continue reading "Russian Faux Pas"
Italian Men Are Always Happy To See You
The stereotypical Italian man is a flirt. He’s swarthy and charming, insistent and forward. His name is Fabrizio or Giuseppe, or Vito, or Angelo, and he is always happy to see you. It isn’t his smile or the matching kisses he greets you with that clue you into his pleasure at seeing you, though. One need only to look…ever so slightly south of the belt buckle to see just how fond of you he really is. ...continue reading "Italian Men Are Always Happy To See You"
For the past few weeks I’ve been abroad. That’s what I’ve been thinking and doing and talking about this whole time but since I’ve been here a while it’s finally struck me that I’m actually STUDYING abroad. Like I have to do work. Meaning papers. And maybe take an entire day in a library to get through life. Maybe there will be a week straight where I’ll exist on Tesco Only Ham sandwiches and the sacred 30 pence chocolate bar. ...continue reading "An Explanation Of My Impending Breakdown"
Before coming to Egypt, I did my research and talked to people about how things operate here. I have therefore avoided most cultural faux pas. I can navigate taxis, mosques, restaurants, and classrooms without any trouble. I’ve learned, however, that it’s not good manners to worry too much. In my experience so far, appearing worried about things that are perceived as “no big deal” just makes you seem uptight and overly anxious- in other words, a killjoy. One should let things happen and not get upset if (and when) they go wrong. ...continue reading "Taking It Easy in Egypt… No, Really."
I cannot believe my first semester at NUS is coming to an end! We have about three more weeks of classes, then a reading week, followed by finals (my last final is on the 1st of December). We had midterms about three or four weeks ago, but a majority of my classes have a continuous amount of assignments and papers due throughout the semester.
My only official midterm I had was in Pre-Modern Japanese History. The professor gave us one hour to write three and a half pages answering a discussion topic. However, we were allowed to use three readings and nothing else. I have to admit that it was quite terrifying- I had never had an exam in Singapore, and the last exam I had that had a similar structure was in high school. To prepare for the test, the only thing I could do was read the articles and try to find a common theme. When the test started, I didn't even bother creating an outline or anything of that sort. I just began writing and hoped for the best. Luckily, it worked out in my favor. ...continue reading "FINALS."
It's been a busy week and weekend for me, as I suddenly find myself with lots of work to do. Midterms, presentations, general homework, plus scheduling classes for next semester (Yay FOFAC priority registration! Boo transferring into Columbian from Elliott and having to figure out all the new GCRs!) Heck, even writing this blog, while I don't want to call it a chore, still takes some time. And while my classes here are generally less intense than GW classes, it's still hard to get work done for them for a couple different reasons: ...continue reading "Week (I’m Not Even Counting Anymore): Midterms"
Studying for midterms in Madrid has been more difficult than I anticipated. It’s not because the classes I am taking are unusually demanding; in fact it’s quite to the contrary. I’ve been able to keep up with the papers I’ve had to write in Spanish. Despite accommodating professors and a variety in structure of the assessments, my mind wanders and concentrating my energy on studies in one of my new favorite cities is difficult. ...continue reading "Easier said than done…Midterms"
As you may be aware, dear reader, soccer (sorry, football) is much more popular in Europe than in the United States. In the Czech Republic in particular, football is probably about tied with ice hockey as the most popular sport. So it goes without saying that I wanted to attend a football game (sorry, match) during my stay in Europe. Thankfully, that's pretty easy to do here. I think that in this regard I've actually been pretty spoiled. AC Sparta Praha is historically the best team in the Czech Republic and one of the best in Central Europe. But unlike, say, Real Madrid or Manchester United, you don't have to pay hundreds of euros for a single ticket. The price of admission to a Sparta match is 240Kč, or about 12 US dollars. Not only that, the stadium is three tram stops from my dorm, so it was very easy for me to attend a match on a whim after class one Monday evening. And NOT ONLY THAT, but my 240Kč ticket? It bought me this view. Pitchside, midfield, hell yeah. Do you know how much that would cost you in Barcelona? I don't even know, and quite frankly don't want to. ...continue reading "Football! (As in soccer!)"