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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Passport to Academia

Look at that little academic go...courtesy of the Dubrovnik Media Days conference.

Who knew academia would require a passport so often? As my first term of teaching in London comes to an end, I finally have time to sit back and recap some of the highlights. The best part, besides having an actual teaching gig, has been my mini European adventures that were all part of the job. Really, it was work. Seriously.

Research is a large part of my job, and I should publish papers and present at conferences to continue staying in the good graces of my university. This was the somewhat happy revelation when I signed my contract at the London College of Communication. At first this seemed daunting, but once I realized that I wrote a PhD dissertation in French, writing a few thousand words in English didn’t seem so bad. I’m getting into it now and I have a list of topics that I want to address in papers once I catch up with all of the marking and planning that I have to through first. I’m hammering away at it as quickly as possible.

Research, however, has its perks. Over the past few months, I was able to make three trips across Europe to present my projects at various conferences. I had done this before in Paris, Strasbourg, and even Beijing, but to do three in one term was a mini shock. It made me feel, well, like a real academic. I grabbed my French passport and a carry-on bag with a nice shirt and slacks and learned very quickly all about London’s airports on my way to the continent.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Real High in Amsterdam Over 42 Kilometers

The reason for it all...the bling.

So close to a personal record! The Amsterdam Marathon, despite not scoring my best time to date, was one of the more entertaining marathons I’ve ever run.

I decided way back in February to run Amsterdam this year, with some 16,000 runners taking part. After running Lyon years ago and feeling totally alone out on the course, I only want to run marathons surrounded by hordes of people. It’s a lot easier to feel motivated when you have thousands of runners chasing you from behind. 

After some spotty training that began as I was moving my life to London, I still felt ready. Amsterdam brought out the sun at Olympic Stadium on Sunday as we gathered at the starting line. As the invited and elite runners took off, a rush of energy came over me (as did the urge to pee once last time) as I took off with the other runners.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Learning London: Columbia Road Flower Market

The blooms.
I love anything from the 19th century. Who doesn’t, really? London suffers no lack of history, but World War II took its toll on the city. It’s not always easy to know when you’re revisiting history or something from the late 1970s. But I’m managing well, so far.

The Columbia Road Flower Market, I learned, is one such remnant from the 19th century. So naturally I fell in love. While clearly a draw for tourists, I have no problem visiting the weekly market, playing tourist myself. Imagine the scents of fresh flowers and black coffee mingling with the intoxicating smells of frying bacon – what could be a better Sunday morning experience?

Monday, July 18, 2016

London: First Impressions

Welcome to London Saint Pancras Station...
As the French attendant at the Gare du Nord checked our bags, she said with a raised eyebrow, “You have too much baggage, it’s two pieces per person.”

“Oh really?” I said in my most incredulous French. I had a backpack, a computer bag, two crammed pieces of luggage, and a tote filled with baguette sandwiches and pastries. It would have cost me half a year’s earnings to get that sort of baggage on RyanAir, but this was a train. Weight wasn’t as much of an issue I thought. “Well we’re moving to London so we had no choice.”

“OK, well, I’ll let you go this time, but you’ve been warned for next time,” she said.

I smiled that sort of satisfied smile that you see in movies when the hero or heroine is about to walk off into the sunset, happily ever after. “There won’t be a next time,” I said, and we walked through customs, onto the Eurostar, and all was right with the world.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cheerio Paris!

Surprise!



Every love affair has an end. Or at least takes a long break.

This time, it’s me and Paris. Though I never planned on creating a life in Paris, it appears that, well, I did. It’s been nearly eight years since I stepped off an Air India flight from New York – now discontinued – with two suitcases, a job, and absolutely no idea how to be an adult. 

Lessons were learned hard and fast in 2008, as I tried to get into my new apartment, only realizing that I was on the 5th floor and not the 4th, having counted the ground floor as “1” and not “0.” Rookie mistake. But many jobs and two degrees later, I find myself at the end of one spectacular journey and at the start of another.

I’ll be moving to land that is just as grey and expensive as Paris, but where, I hear, the scones and musical theater are much better.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Monkeying Around in Rocamadour

Come for the medieval village. Stay for the monkeys.

Ticking off bucket list items can be frustrating, because you always find new items to add. My France list included the pilgrimage town of Rocamadour, but it ended up including an encounter with some very unique French residents.

Rocamadour, known across France for its locally produced goat cheese, has been a pilgrimage site for over a thousand years. With churches, monastic buildings, and a medieval chateau overlooking it, the town clings to the rocks overlooking the valley below. Religious or not, travelers of all walks of life will have to pick up their jaws at one point.

Next door, however, we discovered the real show. While researching things to do around Rocamadour, I found what ended up being one of the kookiest experiences in France – and I’ve been seeking out weird stuff for eight years here.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Graduation Day at the Sorbonne

A diploma! Well, a fake one, but it looks good!

Defending a thesis in Paris is anticlimactic at best. When I became a full-fledged doctor in December, I celebrated with sparkling wine and cupcakes (courtesy of my pal Cat), but it lacked the pomp of my university graduation from NYU.

Granted, those ceremonies took place at Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium – I couldn’t expect the same thing from the Sorbonne. But not even a cap or gown? Come on now.

This year, however, for the first time, several schools within the Université Sorbonne Paris Cité system got together to celebrate Paris’s newest doctors. (I was channeling some major Love Actually: “And it’s the first time all the local schools have joined together, even Saint Basil’s.”) The result was a very, very good showing for the Sorbonne. I was extremely proud to be a part of it, and I consider it a worthy send-off after five years.