Tuesday, March 29, 2011

France is the least of my concerns

Uggh internet do I want to do a Master's in speech pathology (lots of science, lots of phonology which wasn't always my favorite) or get my Master's/teaching credential in early childhood education?!?!?! TOO MANY CHOICES...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Amsterdam and Spring

My European life lately has been less of an adventure - save my trip to Amsterdam; see photos below - than a simple exercise in everyday life somewhere that is not my home. The past several weeks have seen losses and feeling lost, gains and regaining self, and countless small epiphanies. These are not really things fit for a blog, so this space has been a little neglected.

With spring, though, comes so much gratitude. Relief for the return of refreshing scents on the air, amazement at my good fortune despite all the bad luck I've seem to run into (life is never in short supply of that), and a sense of new beginnings around the corner. It seems, as usual, that I've only just begun my current adventure, and that it's nearing its end. I go home on May 2nd (in 40 days), and that's sort of hard to believe. So for now, I'm not going to try to figure that out, and instead present you with snapshots from Amsterdam.

Also, I've been studying my Japanese more lately, and I just want to say 日本語はとても楽しいです!

Canals and classic examples of old Dutch buildings

Inside Moeder's (Mother's) restaurant, which serves classic Dutch food, there are countless photos of patrons' moms

Greasy after an 8-hour bus ride and utterly unable to finish the heaps of food in front of me, which includes mashed potatoes with sauerkraut, sausage, bacon, meatballs and steak

Eating Dutch apple cake (!!!!!!) at Winkel

My favorite: cats

A little Dutch for you to try to decipher ;)

Left: Winkel; Right: Noordermarkt (open market)

The short red building is the narrowest in Amsterdam and thus, once upon a time, the cheapest.

Famed canal bridges

Me in front of some sloping buildings (caused by the squishy swamp foundation)


Me and Mark aka "I have killed many pigeons in my lifetime"

Monday, March 14, 2011


I love Amsterdam.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hospitals and Helpful Words

Today I had to get some blood drawn at a hospital about an hour and a half away (don't ask), and I actually realized I don't hate hospitals as much as I thought. In the past, including the very recent past when I had to go to a French emergency room for the cut on my hand, I've always broken down crying when I had to spend more than twenty minutes in hospitals. It always seems that bad things bring me there, and for this the hospital generally feels oppressive and dark.

And, admittedly, my first thoughts upon arriving at the hospital today were about how ugly it was, how unwelcoming and shabby. But as I looked around, I saw that actually it wasn't half bad, and moreover I felt safe there. It occurred to me that, despite my aversion to hospitals in the past, and the bad memories I have from them, they are there for my benefit. Almost every time I've had to get help or care in a hospital, the staff has been perfectly nice. And today I felt perfectly comfortable as my blood was drawn, because the French woman doing it was so pleasant. And get this: I was feeling lightheaded, so she brought me the traditional snacks and juice. There was a normal orange juice, but I also got a madeleine. I had to smile, because I mean, how quaint is that?

Like I said before, I am really grateful for the accessibility of healthcare to me here, and I almost think it would be worth it to stay in France if I actually had future plans here, because the healthcare is so good. As it is, the Republicans back home are doing ridiculous things like defunding Planned Parenthood, so who knows if I'll ever be as well protected in my home country as I have been here.

French nonsense of the day: here are a bunch of very common words and expressions that I never ever learned in a class, but should have. Hello, failings of modern education.

récupérer ʁekypeʁe — to pick up. As in, pick up your guitar from baggage claim, pick me up from the train station, pick up your forms.
c'est pas évident se pa evidɑ̃ — (familiar, false cognate) not necessarily, not so easy. As in, it's not so easy to just find a job anywhere, it's not so easy to live abroad.
ça y est? c'est bon? sa i e? se bõ? — how is everything/how is it? everything ok? (possible answers: ouais, ça y est, c'est bon). As in, "How is everything? You went to the hospital?"
mettre du temps à mɛtʁ dy tɑ̃ a — to take time to do. As in, it takes me thirty minutes to walk up the hill to my house (true story).
justement ʒystəmɑ̃— precisely, that's just it, that's the thing. As in, "Do you have your paperwork?" "That's the thing..."

(The ~ marks are nasalization marker fails.)