Cultural Guilt

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After almost 11 weeks in Paris, one of the things I’ve struggled with the most is the guilt of not making the most of my time here. When I’m relaxing after university, eating tinned soup and even when I’m studying I have the feeling that I could be using my time to see and experience more of Paris.

This feeling was growing towards the end of October as I’d spent a lot of the month worrying about and sorting wifi, my bank account and then even more so when I had a mid-term exam for each of my modules. Mid-terms at my host university count for about 20% of the module mark and normally take place between 18:00 and 20:00 in the evening. This is probably my peak procrastination time so really isn’t when I’d choose to take a relatively important test.  This meant staying in and studying for these, taking more time due to the language difference and resulting in more guilt. The other side of this is guilt for not studying. I was in a bit of a vicious cycle, yet to find a balance between everything.

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I will admit to a quick visit to Le Musée de l’Orangerie when I should have been studying.

However, with midterms over and everything finally sorted, I’m planning to assuage my guilt by getting some more cultural activities under my belt. The next week is looking hopeful with plans to visit the Catacombs of Paris as well as an organised run through the heart of Paris and a birthday party with lots of other Erasmus students.

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At the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

This past weekend also allowed me to experience some fantastic food and discover what there is to do in Paris other than visiting museums. Despite being vegetarian and most menus listing only meat and fish based meals, asking for a vegetarian alternative normally results in some delicious food. On top of the incredible food, a highlight of my weekend was seeing a classical music performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. This was a brand new experience for me and was such an exciting opportunity to get dressed up and discover something a bit different. With tickets as cheap as 5 € I think I’ll go again!

Finally, I was lucky enough to be invited for a meal in the Eiffel Tower, by far the coolest thing I’ve ever done. This was an experience of a lifetime made all the better by exceptional food, breath taking views and great company. While we were up on the second floor, the weather changed from rain to fog and then cleared to give an amazing sunset. This gave us some dreamy photos (see below) which I’ll be showing to people for a long time to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Moments in Salamanca

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As my time in Salamanca comes to an end, it’s time to look back on the blissful highs and hilariously tragic lows of my first semester abroad in Spain. Exams, losing just a few of my personal belongings, frustration at Spanish bureaucracy, language barriers and homesickness aside, the innumerable highlights by far outweigh the lows. Since there were so many memories to choose from, I decided to pick moments and trips I hadn’t mentioned in previous posts! Continue reading

Top 10 Moments (so far)

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15000762_1170867532969204_8375154948438180072_o-1Hello again fabulous readers!

As the semester is coming to a close (it’s the last week, where has the time gone?!) I thought it would be nice to go through my highlights of the semester. There is an unreal amount of great moments but I miraculously managed to narrow it down to 10 so you won’t get overwhelmed by how much fun I’ve had. Here goes…don’t forget to scroll over images! Continue reading

On Food. Or, the beginning of an entirely inadequate summary of culinary fun in Hong Kong.

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All I had hoped for and more is true: ‘Hong Kong’ can confidently be labelled as synonymous with ‘good food’. The melting pot of cultures, styles and traditions means that you can’t walk more than a hundred metres without passing a veritable melange of international eateries. My claim – that if you want to eat well, you should be here in Hong Kong – is a big one, but I’m confident that I can justify it based on only two weeks of experience and the limitations of a student’s budget. Continue reading

Just Food

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I was drafting a post about the week after exams. My friend, Fiona, came and stayed with me for 46 hours (we only had to buy one transport ticket, bonus) and we visited the entirety of Rome in that time. I also ate more pizza than I ever thought possible, but it’s Italy so why waste the opportunity!? However, I was flicking through my camera roll the other day and I came across quite a few photos I’ve taken of food. So, for a bit of variety and sparkle, this post will be dedicated to some memorable meals I’ve eaten. Continue reading

Amman: Observations of a Country Boy

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It occurred to me a couple of days ago that most of my posts – discounting the rambling ones – are anecdotal more than informative. You lucky folks at Durham Students Abroad get the edited highlights, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster over at the mothership (https://barnabasabroad.wordpress.com/). But that’s only natural; you can’t spin a good story out of a constant streak of facts. And I tend to let my heart bleed all over my writing, so to speak, for good or ill. So I thought I might give you something factual for a change. It’s a little run-of-the-mill as topics go, but I can’t help but feel a few detailed observations on what life is like in Amman might not be such a bad idea. It’s the kind of thing I was trawling the internet for in the weeks leading up to my arrival here, now over a month and a half go. Obviously, we’re talking about a city, and a capital city at that; such places are very much what you make of them. If you’re prepared to go out and make a good time for yourself, you’ll probably find it. That’s as may be. At any rate, that takes a stronger will than mine. Continue reading

Drowning in Hummus

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The guy behind the desk at the Ali Baba Cafe must have the easiest job in the world right now. It’s just gone half-past three in the afternoon and the cafe is buzzing. Anywhere else on a lovely summer’s day like today, there’d be half-finished cups of coffee on every table and the smell of something baked to perfection in a back room, and the guy behind the counter would be buzzing about like a bluebottle trying to balance the lunchtime rush hour. But I’m in Jordan, it’s the height of Ramadan, and my stomach will vouch for the total absence of anything resembling food. And still the guy sits behind the counter, watching what I can only assume to be Youtube video after Youtube video to pass the time (R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet would be a good shout). Basically, he’s getting paid to do what most students do every night. Like I said, the easiest job in the world – which is more than can be said for being an Arabist. Continue reading