What is culture? What is truth?

I hear it all too often, more than I can count actually: “What are the major differences between the United States and France?” To be quite honest, I get sick of hearing this question, feeling like a broken record, constantly on repeat. My first response to this question is always “In what aspects? What would you like to know about?” Of course, this tends to be met with an even more frustrating, “you know, like, the big differences.” What? haha.

It must be stated that any given culture (or two cultures) cannot necessarily be broken down in simply comparing the two in terms of two to four different aspects. As I was talking to my student about this earlier this evening, culture is a very complex thing, and talking about culture is even more complex because generalizing about culture can be a very dangerous thing that can lead to stereotypes, misunderstandings, and fragmented perceptions. However, on the other hand of that (and something that I have to keep in mind when I teach about culture in the conversation classes that I teach) is the fact that generalizing is almost a necessity when you begin any conversation about culture. You have to start somewhere, right? The complexities of studying and teaching culture. It’s a love/hate relationship.

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I need to ask for what from whom in which building on which floor?: how to navigate the French university system



I’m about three weeks into my second semester here in Paris, and I must admit that being able to call myself a student at the oldest university in Paris is a kind of magic that most people will never get to experience. Most people in the language world, especially in the French language world, know the prestige that comes along with the name of the Sorbonne. The Sorbonne is one of the top universities in all of France for the humanities, and it is known world-wide as well.

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What is this romantic Paris you speak of?

It snowed in Paris today, and as I was walking around the Latin Quarter to find a book for one of my literature classes and to head to the library at the university that I now attend (I switched to the Sorbonne for this semester), I couldn’t help but to be enchanted by the beauty of the quiet, chilled, and snow-filled air encompassing the historic buildings around me. It was magical. It was, dare I say it, romantic.

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home is beautiful, too: exploring cafés in my own backyard of Indianapolis

Born and raised in Indianapolis until I was about 7 years old and having spent many a weekend there during the latter half of my high school years and the years in-between undergraduate and graduate school, I consider it home. I really do. So much of my heart belongs in this below-the-radar city. Indianapolis is truly beautiful, and it’s an up and coming city, with new stores, museums, art scenes, breweries, restaurants, bookstores, and cafés opening up, not to mention that the famous author, John Green, is an Indianapolis native and still resides there. Indianapolis is also the city he uses as the setting in his two most recent books, The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down (So, Indianapolis has to be pretty stellar after all, right?). It’s truly a city worth visiting or spending more time in if you are a Hoosier native. Though I can’t really write about it much while I’m here in Paris (as I can’t really explore it while I’m across the ocean. haha), I definitely plan to write about it more in the future.

As for now though, I must absolutely share about two cafés in Indianapolis that are a must visit: the Nine Lives Cat Café and Sure Shot Coffee (okay the latter half isn’t really a café, just a coffee shop, but that’s besides the point).

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