Archive for March, 2012

The Rhythm of Time

“That’s not good for your health,” my host father said, as I approached the breakfast table with my French exercise book in hand.  At first, I thought he was joking, as he often does.  However, he explained that “in France, doctors say that you either eat or you work, but not both at the same […]

Of War and Normandy

If you listen, you can hear the sea anywhere in the cemetery.  From Omaha Beach, a few dozen meters away, the water’s deep rushing breath is the undertone of the American Military Cemetery in Normandy, France.  Here lie the graves of almost 10,000 Americans who died during our entrance into World War II on D-Day. […]


I used to think the best way to disrupt France was to yell “strike” in a crowd.  Within hours, the entire country would be shut down, before anyone bothered asking what the strike was about.  It turns out, you can also just throw snow at them. (Ok, to be fair, it takes a lot more […]

Français? English? Oh, Catalan. Right.

According to the great cartographer of the modern era, Google, France and Spain are neighbors.  However, I became skeptical of this fact during my trip to Barcelona, when I found that almost no one spoke French and it also wasn’t on any signs. Besides the lack of French, I was also surprised to find that […]

Dining, Not Eating

According to the great philosopher Douglas Huff, where there are two words, there are two meanings.  Early in this French excursion, I encountered two words that clearly had two entirely different meanings for the French, but whose subtleties quite deftly escaped my baffled American brain. During one of our first French classes, one other student […]

Springtime in Alcalá

It’s springtime (Spanish: primavera) in Alcalá de Henares and the weather has finally warmed up (in case you didn’t know, Europe basically froze over in February). That means that people are spending a lot more time outside and the town has become a lot more beautiful because there are flowers everywhere. On Calle Mayor these trees have […]

Street Life

For anyone who got overly excited by this title, sorry, but I have not become a hip French street thug.  Instead, I am referring to the taste of walking around a city, the look of its citizens, and the thrum of its culture.  To get to know a place, you have to walk in the […]

La Suisse!

Now that it’s been quite some time since my last blog (my sincerest apologies), I’m finally sitting down to tell all of you what life has been like since settling into my new home in Nyon. My weeks are pretty much filled with lectures, excursions, and homework. We’ve had a few pretty cool outings to […]

The Bleaching of American History

Many people say that Europe has so much more history than the United States.  In fact, that was the subject of my last post.  I described the layers that currently exist in France: layers in land, language, people, and buildings. Not only do they have more history, but because of that richness, they put huge […]


“French cities just have a lot more layers,” I explained to my parents over skype. “You mean, the buildings are more stacked up than in the U.S?” my dad asked. That wasn’t what I had meant, although it is kind of true, if not vertically.  French cities are generally very old.  Most of them were […]