Saturday, October 24, 2009

Catch up

I’m starting to slip into the same guilt trip I fell victim to in Tunisia, namely that every time I sit down to write an entry I feel guilty “wasting” time that could otherwise be invested in working. However, what that usually means is that I just poke around on the Internet, or fall asleep reading, or do something generally less productive than blogging. Whoops. Here’s a “catch up” post to make up for my absence as of late.

Last week I was visited by Andrea (from my study abroad in Nice) and her boyfriend, Brett, who wisely decided to avoid the recession and looming adulthood in the states by bumming around Europe for a few months. They were only to be in Paris for a day or do, but we found the time to go out for a delicious Greek dinner in the Latin quarter that came with free kir apperatifs, live music and rather less desirable free dancing lessons. We had planned to spend the next day playing tourist, but unfortunately our time ended up being consumed by a quest for antibiotics for Andrea’s UTI. We started out trying to use places that would be reimbursed by her American insurance, but after being turned down by a medical center and put off by the prices of the ER and the difficulty of communicating with the US company she decided to bite the bullet and just pay out of pocket for a French doctor. After a few calls I was able to track down a doctor that took walk-ins for 22 euro a session. The doctor didn’t have the equipment for an in-office pee test, so she tried to convince Andrea to go across the city to give a sample before beginning to take antibiotics. When Andrea explained that she was leaving the next day for a bus back to Germany followed by a flight home and didn’t have time for the 24hr test, the doctor recommended that she save a cup of pee un-tainted by antibiotics to submit for testing upon her return to the US. This got us joking about the potential difficulties of trying to get a 3 oz sample of infected pee through customs in a zip lock baggie, and also made me question the sanity of the doctor. At any rate, we got the prescription (20 euros) without too much more difficulty or expense. Huzzah, another victory for socialized healthcare.

I also went to a party last Friday at Pascal’s apartment. The party was a combined birthday/goodbye affair, as Pascal will be leaving in a few weeks for an internship in Romania. That’s him lying across everyone’s legs in the photo. Good food, chill people, and most importantly, a lot of good French conversation practice. I met a Tunisienne that I hope to meet up with again to practice some Arabic—the amount I’ve forgotten is appalling.

On the academic front: I'm being challenged by the in-class writing assignments in my medieval lit class. On the first one I sacrificed grammar for content, and on the second I made a real effort to get good grammar only to not quite finish in the time limit. I spoke with the prof after class who assured me that she’s just grading me as hard as my French peers and that I shouldn’t worry, which made me feel a little better. I’ve had two more big exposés and one paper in the last week. One of the exposées was the highlight of my time here—a chance for me to combine knowledge from the medieval program in Oxford, time at St. Mary’s and new research to present on feudalism, courtly love, and chivalry and how they all affect Chretien de Troyes’ “Yvain.” It was great practice in speaking and confidence, and for one of the first times in my life I thought to myself: “yeah, maybe I *could* be a professor.”

Except that would mean I need to start reapplying to PhD programs. Le sigh.

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