Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coming Up Roses

There were brief patches of blue sky today and yesterday, punching through the normally gray winter skies. I can't wait for the Spring to arrive so I can walk through the streets and gardens of Paris without coats and umbrellas, mittens and scarves.

The weather reminded me of something Mr. Piazza (the younger) said once in high school. After having been in bleak, dreary Oxford, for a few months, Piazza took a flight to Spain and coming up above the cloud line he remembered seeing the sun, yellow and golden, and realized that for the last few months he "had been divorced from color." At the time, I laughed at the expression, finding it overblown and pompous (much like I found him), but after weeks and weeks of dulling gray, I do see the appeal of the warm sun and blue skies. Only a few months until Croatia!

As for school and classes, my class at the Université Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne did not go well. The first 45 minutes, the professor lectured as to why he is on strike, only yielding the floor to a representative of the student labor union. After all that, a student went up and gave a presentation and I realized that the course started not in February, but in September. They were already through half the course packet. I won't be taking it.

As a replacement, Tufts offers a course on France and the European Union since 1945 (taught in French). Although I would have preferred a course on the French Revolution, to learn about contemporary French politics and the changing role of the European Union will be useful reading French newspapers and around the dinner table.

My class on the Third Republic is going extremely well. I've banded together with a group of Germans and a few French students making comprehension easier. One thing I've noticed so far is the terrible quality of French student oral presentations. Every class requires them, but French students know little about dynamic presentations. No visual aides, no PowerPoint. They sit at the front of the classroom and read off a sheet of paper. I'm actually relishing the chance to get to do my own expose and bring in a well-done PowerPoint to show them how to actually present on a topic.

I did stay up to watch the US Men's National Team take down Mexico 2-0. A good start to 2010 and South Africa. Anyone else catch the game? Loving Baby Bradley's brace?

Highlights for those who missed the match:

Hope all is well with everyone back home and keep in touch!

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