Argentines are no strangers to holidays. There has been about 5 days off from school/work since I have been here, even yesterday for example. A lot of them are new. As in the government will declare a holiday and then everyone has the day off from work. Like a snow day! With a lot more wine and a lot less snow. It’s pretty great. It’s hard to get a clear idea of what they all celebrate. But no one is complaining. “Friends Day” is a personal favorite.
As the token American in certain circles of friends, people here asked me about Thanksgiving and I told them the old Pilgrim - Native American tale (leaving out the true parts, of course) and they got it right away. We take a day off to remind ourselves to be thankful for the things in our lives that we may take for granted, and as an excuse to get the family together and take a little time off. Because why not. Spending more time together as a family certainly isn’t something that needs to be explained to the people here. Many get together for lunch on Sundays with the entire extended family. ...continue reading "Another Holiday To Be Thankful For"
Remember a few weeks ago when I had this sort of plan where I was going to gradually do every assignment so I wouldn’t be crushed under five essays due in two weeks?
So that didn’t happen. Nor did I ever really think it would. It was a horrible idea not to but life is life and the internet exists along with entire seasons of Louie. I’ve gone days without sleeping not because of essays but because of life and the internet.
I’ve procrastinated everything and I want to die.
My remedy is to just TRY to manage my time so I don’t want to die COMPLETELY. ...continue reading "I Am A Horrible Academic"
I had not expected much out of a Thanksgiving in Paris. And then one of my friends I made here in Paris, invited me to hers.
The place was decadent. Not in the overwhelming white linen table cloths, five or more pieces of silverware kind of way. But in the way where every candlestick somehow has charm. The ceilings were painted, like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. And the whole room was vast but somehow quiet, and warm. It was a welcome reprieve from the bitter Parisian winds and I took my place at this long table full of family members I did not know, but who welcomed me like an old friend. ...continue reading "Thanksgiving"
I'm currently in the middle of finals at NUS, so I figured it probably would be fitting to talk about how academics at NUS work. Through discussion with local students, I found out that NUS is an extremely competitive school. Students that wishes to attend NUS has to take competitive exams known as A-levels that basically determine if one can get admission to the university and what faculty (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law, arts and sciences, business etc.) they may enter. Apparently, top scorers on A-levels who are also well-rounded in terms of extra-curricular activities may potentially gain acceptance to medicine/law/dentistry (which are considered to be top faculties by some of the locals I talked to). ...continue reading "Academics at NUS"
It was emphasized from the beginning that the Russian approach to academia is startlingly different from the American approach. If we decided to study in Russia, they preached, it’d be the source of a great and thorough culture shock.
I’ve found that yes, it’s different, but the Russian way is nothing a student can’t get used to.
I’ll frame the idea like this: the American and Russian styles mimic the respective societal traditions of individualism and collectivism. An individualist society (America, Western Europe) operates in a way that propels the individual to behave and think independently, like a mini autonomy. Contrarily, the fabric of collectivist society is in the group, in co-dependence of individual members who work towards one common goal (pretty much everywhere else in the world, Russia included). ...continue reading "The American Individual vs. The Russian Collective"
I met Fabio back in August just a few days after I first came to Florence. I didn’t speak much Italian. He told me it didn’t matter and that he spoke English just fine. He’d known Americans before, he said. He liked them. I was impressed He was young—maybe in his early 30s or so, and from Rome.
“I’m a Ph.D. student,” He explained that first afternoon in that hot, stuffy room. “Intercultural communication.”
Something about the way he said the word intercultural set my teeth on edge. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it—his accent, his pronunciation—he was practically playing with the word as he spoke.
I’ve met with him twice a week every week since then. He’s taught me things. He’s my professor. I ’m having an NSA relationship with my Italian professor, and frankly? I’m over it.
...continue reading "No Strings Attached"
Most people will tell you academics tend to be secondary when studying abroad; secondary to traveling, to learning the language by practicing, to meeting people from the region you are staying, and to generally being immersed outside the classroom. This is all definitely true. I’ve learned more about Spanish customs from sitting down for meals with my host family and friends than from classes. ...continue reading "On academics and professors"
I am lucky enough to be in Cairo with M.A., my best friend at GW. We’ve helped each other through almost three months in Egypt. But I’ve had to figure lots of things out myself, by experience or by trial and error.
It’s often said that students like to slack off while abroad, but I think being here has made me a better student. I have the responsibility of getting all my work done well and on time. That seems like an obvious statement, but it’s something I’ve had to work on. It’s hard to stay on task when someone’s always going to a party or trying a new restaurant, so sometimes I have to take a pass on fun. But whether it’s through field trips or all the real-life applications of class material, the distinction between school and fun is blurred anyways. I’m very invested in my classes here. Wanting to do well in them- to work as hard as I know my professors are working- is what keeps me focused. It’s worth it when I see a temple and know exactly what pharaoh built it, or when I get to use new vocabulary in conversation. ...continue reading "True Life: Egypt Made Me Grow Up"