Running spontaneous races: my experiences in the French classroom

If you were to look through my class notes, what you would find is a myriad of half written sentences and a handful of question marks in miscellaneous places. This completely epitomizes my experience of studying in a French university.

This year of studying abroad has been eye opening.

I thought I knew a decent amount about French schooling and the French university system. However, I’m not sure who I was kidding, as I had never actually studied in a French university before until this year.

Being in a French university is both easy and difficult. Half the time I have no idea what is going on, and the other half of the time I feel like I’m killing it. That’s the beauty of it. I always feel like I’m on my toes.

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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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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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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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