As the semester comes to a close I sit in a small Parisian cafe with a friend I've made over the course of the past months speaking in a mix of French and English. We listen to the sounds of the other patrons - French, something more guttural, German, another language I can't identify, Chinese - while the sweet aromatic tendrils of coffee seep into our clothes. I look forward to saving the smell for later. It always reminds me, this cafe, of the idealistic Paris I'd envisioned and have, in some small part, gotten to know.
This past weekend I was in Lyon, for Fete des Lumieres. A festival of lights commemorating the day that Mary saved the town from the plague. They'd all prayed for her protection and put lights in their windows, as if they could send their prayers to heaven's gates through flame. I watched a young girl and her mother light candles from a balcony's window, and it was easy to imagine in that old, small town, a different generation from centuries earlier doing exactly the same. ...continue reading "Paris, til we meet again"
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 touch down onto the tarmac wearing a scarf, hooded winter coat, and underneath it all a thick woven sweater. Now I'm hot. I think about all of the cold weather clothes that I packed with me and know I'm an idiot. I'm in Tunisia for christ's sake. I breathe in and can taste Africa on my lips.
Tunis smells like dust and sunshine and salt, like the sea. The breezes that blow through the trees carry with them tendrils of cigarette smoke and something much sweeter, shisha. I can hear the clanking of tongs not so far off even though the chairs I'm sitting in are much more comfortable than the Cairo ahua-style plastic seats that have become so familiar to me. Interlaced in this melee is also a soft murmur that flutters through everything. The language is complex at first, being a rapid-fire hybrid of Arabic and French, the two languages that I know separately, but never together. Never together. The words become easier to tear apart as time goes on, and the part of my brain that has worked so hard to compartmentalize languages by Wednesday has dissolved, like a rubber band released. I can now type in English what the members of these meetings are saying in French and sometimes Arabic at a nearly fluid rate and I feel good and proud and as if I have actually earned my living wage. ...continue reading "Ana bahib Tunis barsha barsha"
I'm on a plane to Tunisia. Nervous jitters keep me suspended between a fine line between calm and chaos. I’m missing a week of school to interpret for a woman who works for the OECD. My boyfriend came this past weekend to Paris to visit me. It’s been a whirlwind. I miss him. I’m excited for the future. Wish I could remain suspended in the past. Of all the things I’ve ever done this feels of the most important. Something that could help me get a job after I graduate. Aside from drowning and cockroaches, being unemployed is my third biggest fear. This is the transition between student and real person. I just signed my first real person professional contract. I’ll be making money doing work that I anticipate actually being challenging. The trip is paid for. It feels surreal that this opportunity fell in my lap, like being thrust abruptly into a dream. ...continue reading "Tunis Awaits"
So being an International Affairs major has its perks and pitfalls. I can pretty much study whatever I want: security, development, the Middle East, Turkish, Russian, Chinese, diplomacy, history, the US and every other government. I can study abroad three semesters with no problem. I can afford to take more art classes than an art major without stressing. I can learn from the best and the brightest professors that GWU has to offer.
But. ...continue reading "Oh Where Oh Where is my Stagiaire?"
Some days are moche. Other days are exellente. As I last wrote my stage, or internship, with Medecins Sans Frontieres isn’t going ideally. But this Wedenesday last, I got lucky.
So I’ve been trying this new thing called “networking”. I don’t really like people too much so for years this is something I’ve been trying to avoid. Under the scrutinizing pressure of my awesome German-American boyfriend, who now has more friends in Geneva after living there for two weeks than I probably will throughout the duration of this lifetime—and the next—I gave the whole networking trend a try. ...continue reading "The Whole “Networking” Thing."
I didn't initially want to take two art classes but each was only worth one and a half credits so I had to take two in order to get them to count for anything. Bon chance, to me. I'd forgotten since my freshman year sculpture class how good it feels to work with your hands and create something out of nothing. This evening, from seven to ten, I made something out of dirt.
I sculpted from terre, or earth, my own rendition of the girl who posed nude for the class. It was shocking at first, watching her strip down to nothing, but after only a few minutes I eased into the effortless comfortability that the rest of the class had been in the whole time. And to be fair she was an easy muse to work from. She was beautiful.
...continue reading "Plaster of Paris"
Its hard to know where to start. If you have brown skin and have been just about anywhere you will know why. Its different for everyone abroad and for everyone abroad the interactions you have may be better or worse depending on those taboo topics like your gender, the gender of the people you date, your religion, the color of your hair, skin, and eyes.
...continue reading "Being Brown Abroad"
The plan of the Parisian metro is insane. Undeniably the craziest thing I've ever seen. But remarkably effective...
During the day:
I stood on the metro yesterday, as it was packed. Per usual. A woman was hellbent on staring at my leg and finally after a few minutes leans over and asks me what my tattoo says. I explain to her that its a poem by an author she probably won't know and she insists that I tell her more about it. After trying to dodge this bullet with words, picture this: she gets down on hands and knees and reads it. Then asks me to translate it for her. Sorry but I don't remember the words for sighing or longing, but I improvise. Definitely one of the weirdest things thus far to happen to me.
But at night:
...continue reading "Metros and Taxis. Ugg."
Le Marais. An ode to the hipster bible. Bobo. The word for hipster. I spent the day wandering down the narrow crowded streets, jumping from one vintage store to the other. This district is known for Jews and gays and may be my favorite place I've visited thus far. And simultaneously my least favorite place because of one fact: there is nothing I don't like in Le Marais and this is a heavy burden for my wallet.
...continue reading "Shopaholics Anonymous"