Monday, February 7, 2011

Ok, In my Defense, I have been busy. :)

Hello Again,

So I know it has been a while and I am very sorry! I am just going to write about everything that has happened since I arrived in Strasbourg. I am warning everyone, this is going to be a very LONG entry and possibly a little scattered...

Ok so to start off with, I have an awesome internship. It is at the Council of Europe which is based here in Strasbourg. I am working in the Congress -- Chamber of Local Authorities which works to preserve local democracy and promote grassroots movements. This can be on subjects relating from the environment to violence, immigration to voting. It is actually pretty cool. I am working on two projects there at the moment. Firstly, I am working on editing the Wikipedia page in English for the Chamber of Local Authorities because it is a little outdated and needs to be expanded (go look for yourself). The second is helping to work on organizing a conference in April for European Mayors to address the situation of Roma in Europe which is a very hot button issue at the moment, especially here in France thanks to Sarkozy and his extreme policies. This internship is 3 college credits which means its a pretty large time commitment but it is one of the only ones (or possibly the only one) that hopkins gives more than 1 credit for because there is a written paper component. I have my own little desk and computer. I feel so grown up! I also have my first ever personal work email address: So official isnt it? My officemate Cansu is really nice too and has been really helpful! Shes from Turkey and is taking a gap year before law school. She makes longer work stretches really fun and has shown me the ropes. She has also offered to introduce me to some other interns from the Council and show me some stuff about Strasbourg. I should also say that I have a picture badge that lets me through nearly all security gates/doors. Again, am I really old enough to have a photo ID just like my daddy? I remember when I was little looking at my daddy's compaq badge and thinking, wow, thats so cool and adult like. I guess I am now hitting that point in my life....

Onto the next subject, I also love classes! I am taking 12 credits worth of actual classes since i am getting 3 credits from the internship. The first class is France from WWI to the EU which is a history class in French. That class just makes me smile. Next class is Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe which looks at Eastern and Central Europe post WWII. This includes the Cold War, Balkans, etc. Very complicated but really interesting. Next class is Europe and the Arc of Crises. Another Poli Sci/History class but this one looks at the identity of the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa. We are studying political changes and even the current crises all over the region. Last class is another French (history) class called France Under the Occupation and it is with the director of the program. I say history in parenthesis because it is kind of a history class, kind of a literature class, kind of a everything interdisciplinary approach to looking at a (still) very painful time in France's history. I really like all of my classes and professors. The two french classes include a trip in March to a concentration camp in France (the only one since they considered Alsace to actually be German and by they I mean the Germans) and the Arc of Crises goes to Istanbul. Needless to say, I am very excited. Lastly, I am taking a not-for-credit german class at the Universite Populaire (night classes) on Monday nights which is pretty fun except for I think I am the youngest person by at least in a decade in there which is funny.

Ok next subject. I love my host family and am finally feeling at home in my room. It is a little weird getting used to things but I am falling into a groove. I have to be places at 9am everyday (and Ive only overslept once so far!) so I get up and have eaten breakfast everyday. For anyone who knows me very well on a daily basis, you know that I dont eat breakfast so this is progress for me. Anyways, I am also eating so many new things! I tried rabbit for the first time which was interesting. Tasted like chicken and pork at the same time if you can imagine it. It is now the other other white meat. I thought it would be a red meat but nope. I am also eating a crap-load or pork but I am growing to love it. Basically, I am eating a lot. Oddly enough though, I am eating more and somehow losing weight which makes me happy since those are two things I like to do: eat and get healthier.

Ok now onto another subject. I went to Switzerland last weekend (not like yesterday but the one prior). It was really odd to go back as an adult but I think I needed it. We went to Basel and Zurich and just walked around. While there, we of course hit every chocolatier on Bahnhofstrasse which about broke the bank but oh well, at least I got my Teuscher fish chocolate. For those of you unfamiliar with Teuscher, look it up because (a) it kicks lindt and sprungli's butts and (b) I do not have enough time to profess my deep and profound love for it. If I could marry food, I would marry Teuscher. Understand? :) Anyways, It was really nice to just walk around and show my friends some of my favorite places while also learning what it was like to be there as a 20-year-old. I even got to return to my happy place on the lake which was pretty except for a few clouds which made it impossible to see the Alps. :( Anyways, it was kind of a day for personal reflection which I know sounds odd but if you know me, I have a lot of those days because I overanalyze...

That Sunday, we had to be back in Strasbourg because there was a mandatory school field trip to tour Alsace. We visited a cute little village/church and bought really good baked goods (who can say no to a chocolate eclair? if you can, you have problems). After that we had an AMAZING lunch of wild boar and spaetzle. It was also all you can eat which is dangerous but yummy. After than we visited a pretty castle up in the Vosges where we saw snow and signs of German pompous behavior when they reacquired Alsace and Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War. That evening was the wine tasting trip, school sponsored wine tasting. :) I tried 5 4 different wines I believe and somehow managed to spill an entire glass down my front. But it was good and I ended up buying two bottles :).

Ok, another subject once more (I was not kidding about this being a very long entry). So Strasbourg. I love it here. I have been exploring and exploring and keep finding new places! I also love the trams and buses, they make life so much easier! We have found our favorite restaurants, bars, snack places, grocery stores, banks, etc. Our adventures so far have included climbing the cathedral tower (which is free the first friday of every month) so of course I did it, finding a French club, meeting some odd English dudes who are working on Sherlock Holmes II in a bar, exploring the set of the movie (because parts were filmed here and yes, robert downing jr was here) and somehow walking to germany, yes walking on foot from downtown Strasbourg. Many others of course but way too many to list!

Overall, I am loving life here. Next weekend I am going to Morocco with two friends (Eliza and Ariel) which should be a lot of fun. We will see what crazy adventures we get into or if I happen to kill Ari in the meantime. :) I think Eliza being there might save him. Anyways, until next time my dearies! And to the Kappas back at JHU, good luck with rush and I am thinking about you!! Let's get some new baby owlettes!!!! (sounds better than little keys...)