Days are passing by as if in a blur now, and at the end is that inevitability: the departure. It is perhaps somewhat telling that I think about the end of my program not as my “return” as many of my fellows have spoken of it, but that “departure.” I think very little of what I’m coming back too, and constantly of what I’m leaving behind. Continue reading
Your first instinct on seeing this title was, perhaps, to imagine the fun and popular party game limbo, in which competitors aim to shimmy beneath an increasingly lowered pole without falling. You maybe imagined some kind of allusion to how as time goes on and language skills get better I might be expected to perform more and more complicated linguistic hurdles as fluency improves. You hoped that maybe I’d make some kind of fun allegory out of the game to explain the continued and continuously harder approach to fluency. I’m sad to say this is more the “uncertain and pseudo-hellish waiting room” kind of limbo. (That first idea sounds better, huh? I think I made the wrong commitment on the direction for this entry.) Continue reading
My first final has come and gone here in Aix, and with it, a large portion of my stress. Because this week has been about the much-longed-for end of my grammar course, I haven’t had the time to do the same brand of over-the-top soul searching you’ve been subjected to in my last posts. I have, however, gotten to enjoy some significant developments and work through some rough spots, and hopefully, my sharing a few specific experiences from this week may enlighten any fellow students contemplating summer language programs and entertain those of you who are just here for the stories. Continue reading
Stateside, I think we all have a vague conception of Europe as ancient, steeped in history. It’s older than our toddler of a country can hope to understand, and exists in some kind of mythic, beautiful other world. We accept this romantic narrative of lazy Italian villas in the summer, the age-old tradition of fresh bread from a local baker, and the ruins of a city playing backdrop while pining, gorgeous locals clutch a goodbye letter from their American lover, bracing themselves for that final, cheesy meet-at-the-airport-gate scene. And you know what, to some extent, that’s right. Well, parts of it. Continue reading
I like to be good at things. I think I can safely say that everyone likes to be good at something or other. We often build a sense of identity around the things we’re good at, whether you would define yourself as athletic, artistic, intellectual, funny, hard working, or charming, there’s some part of your personality that you lay claim to, and when someone asks you who you are, that thing is what comes to mind (whether you feel confident enough to say it or not). It’s a comfort object, like that favorite toy you had as a kid, and you hold it quietly in your hand or your pocket to run your fingers over it and feel safe when things aren’t going so well. You might have messed up x, y, or z, but you tell yourself that’s just “not your thing” and in your thing? In that you are a rockstar.
But what do you do when that fragment of identity is questioned? What comfort do you have? Continue reading
It’s often said that the stories that stand the test of time are the ones that speak to us in relatable ways — they get right down into something gritty and human about our experiences, and this is why we keep them around. Now, I believe that’s a pretty accurate statement, but for the absolute life of me I’ve never understood how Homer’s Odyssey could make the list of “relatable” unless you’ve been in the very specific circumstance of returning from war and taking 20 years to do it (also recommended: fighting with at least one god and accidentally getting all your friends turned into pigs). Writing this blog, however, on the other side of a 3 day trip that, in its most practical form takes maybe 8 hours, I feel like I finally understand the primal humanity I share with Odysseus, the sorry guy who just wants to get where he’s going.