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

 

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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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Settled with being unsettled but also not settled with being unsettled

“Good, for the most part. It feels nice to be back in the sense that I feel like I still have a lot that I need to accomplish here, but I also feel like I’m having a slight existential crisis. like I feel like my life here isn’t real, like it’s just this bubble of a life that I live floating about away from the real world.” These were my exact words when a friend asked me how it felt to be back in Paris and jet lag was kicking my ass, (It’s still kicking my ass.) so 2am thoughts became real, real quick.

I also had someone ask me the following question while I was home in the States: “If you absolutely had to choose right now between living in the United States and living in Europe permanently forever, which would you choose? If money wasn’t an issue?” I cannot properly express to you the amount of anxiety that I experienced because of this question. Even though I said Europe, the truth is, I have no fucking clue. I really, truly don’t.

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Somewhere in the middle: contemplating my expatriation with Thanksgiving and such

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I must admit that my lack of consistency on this blog derives mostly from the fact that I’ve become quite unsure about the direction that I want this blog to go in. I love writing, and I love telling my story, especially in regards to traveling and living as an expat. However, I eventually want it to be something more than that, more solidified. So, it thus why writing on here has been much more sporadic than in the past.

Regardless of that, however, I feel it necessary to express my thoughts and feelings on my current situation.

The truth about my life in Paris is that it’s both difficult and easy.

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