[PHOTOS] Northern France and the Atlantic coastline

Amid a nearly consistent existential crisis regarding my future, my employment prospects, and all the looming grad school applications, there is one thing I know for certain: I want to live near a body of water (the Hudson river does not count). So, despite the prospect of spending 45 minutes trapped in a car with small, whining children, I couldn’t decline my host family’s invitation to see the Atlantic coastline.

Locations: Cap Blanc-Nez, Cap Gris-Nez, Bologne-sur-Mer. The one place we didn’t make it to, regrettably, is the infamous (thanks Christopher Nolan!) Dunkirk. But worry not, you can see England from other points along the coast as well. Except on days where it’s too overcast to see. Like this Sunday.

All I can say is, you can’t leave France without seeing the beaches.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

Vocabulary definition of “bucolic”: this photo.
I’m not sure what it is with Europeans and installing Egyptian obelisks in the strangest of places.
The coastline is peppered with decommissioned, WW2-era German bunkers.
This plane is certainly an improvement on Allied bombers from 80 years ago.
Wild geese preparing to attack me not pictured.
One downside: the wind is absolutely terrible.
The coolest aquatic sport that I can get behind.
Most of these surfers were above the age of 50. Meanwhile, I can’t even run.



[REPOST: The Caravel] From Kazan, With Love

verticalThis article was originally written for the Caravela student-run international affairs newspaper affiliated with Georgetown University. To celebrate the World Cup 2018, I am reposting it here to share with all of you.

Read this short feature to learn about my native city of Kazan, one of the twelve Russian cities hosting the World Cup this year. It will host its first game–France vs Australia–on June 16th, be sure to check it out! 

Oh, and fun fact: This is the first article I ever wrote for a publication as a wee college freshman.

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In Vino Veritas: Little Sexist Tableside Truths

[5 minute read]

It truly amazes me just how subtle manifestations of sexism in allegedly progressive societies can be. We may not even notice them unless someone points it out to us. Although as women we experience subtle and not-so-subtle sexism on a daily basis, we often take societal norms for granted without pausing to think about their frequently problematic origins.

Take France for example. 96th percentile in women’s financial inclusion. 223 female lawmakers out of the 577 new deputies elected into the French Parliament in 2017, pushing the country from 64th to 17th place in female parliamentary representation globally.

Then, there’s the ever-present stereotype of the French woman, embracing her sensuality and demanding respect. French women themselves certainly find their brand of feminism to be as (if not more) successful than the American version, less aggressive yet effective.

In 1947, describing her visit to the United States, Simone de Beauvoir wrote: “Relations between men and women in America are one of permanent war.” That perception holds true today as the French, even in casual conversations, approach American feminist initiatives such as #MeToo cautiously, wary of potential excesses.

I first arrived to France with the image of French society as somehow freer, but also better-mannered and more refined. I assumed men here would respect me, as a woman, and I found the idea charming. And for the most part, they have. Alas, the devil is in the details.

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For All Your Summer Podcast Needs: Crazy/Genius

screen-shot-2018-06-11-at-10-36-16-e1528708520302.pngIn recent months, I’ve become increasingly fascinated by developments in the tech industry, particularly the way information is stored and transmitted online. This new interest may or may not have had something to do with Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress last month and the developing phenomenon of fake news. As a history major specializing in Russian and European politics, I am simultaneously terrified and excited by the fake news debacle. However, at one point I realized that I don’t actually understand how the Internet works, I only have a vague conception of what social media algorithms do, and I am generally incompetent in all things tech. Naturally, I went looking for a podcast.

I have been a big fan of The Atlantic’s newsletter for a while, so imagine my joy when it announced the release of a new podcast, Crazy/Genius, that explores the intersection of technology and culture. Crazy/Genius is hosted by Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, who seeks out experts on tech-related topics he understands little about to present them in an easily digestible way to the uninitiated tech noobs like me (and maybe you, too). I especially love the podcast’s format: Thompson picks a controversial tech question and finds two experts who hold the opposing points of view on it. Rather than hold a debate, however, he lets each guest convince him of their position individually, and then puts the two interviews together in a single episode. Unashamed about his total confusion, Thompson breaks down complicated concepts like Blockchain and monopolies for his listeners without putting you to sleep. The first episode,Why Can’t Facebook Tell the Truth?, is a timely exploration of Facebook’s recent PR and data leak struggles. Although I suggest you actually start with the latest episode on online dating to dip your toes in a less tech-heavy, light-hearted episode 5 appropriately titled Is Online Dating Destroying Romance? that explores the potential evils and benefits of Tinder, among other online dating platforms. Full disclosure: I firmly stand on the side of online dating haters.

There have been five episodes so far, so it won’t be difficult for you to catch up if you do commit to the podcast! New episodes are released every Thursday. You can listen to all available episodes on The Atlantic’s website.

***This is not a sponsored endorsement.***

Summer Internship and Never-Ending French Adventures

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my second week as an editorial intern at L’Indépendant, a local newspaper in Saint-Omer, France. Since my abrupt exit from the worlds of Instagram and Snapchat, there has been some confusion about where I’m currently located and what exactly I’m doing, so I invite you to read on to find out.

This summer, I am spending six weeks in the north of France, in a small town near the Belgian border (and I mean, small, total population about 15,000). I’m here as part of the John Carroll Summer Internship Program hosted by the Georgetown University French Department and the government of Saint-Omer every summer since 2016. The program brings interested Georgetown students to Saint-Omer and places them in local organizations that volunteer to take on American interns. The entire program is completely free, except for the round-trip ticket to/from Saint-Omer. We are all placed with host families, who also volunteer to welcome complete strangers into their homes for six weeks and receive nothing in return, which is perhaps the most incredible and generous thing I’ve ever encountered. Why Saint-Omer? As it turns out, Georgetown University’s founder John Carroll attended the Jesuit College here in the 1740s thanks to British prosecution of Jesuits on their territory, the American colonies included. A local history enthusiast rediscovered this unlikely connection between her town and Washington, D.C., and soon the program was born. How do I know all of this? The first article I wrote for L’Indépendant was about our program, so I am armed with fun facts about John Carroll.

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[REPOST: The Caravel] New French Education Policy Prompts Fair Access Debate

This article was originally written for the Caravela student-run international affairs newspaper affiliated with Georgetown University. With permission from the Caravel’s Publisher, I am reposting my article here to share with all of you.

I had the amazing opportunity to sit down a professor at Sciences Po Bordeaux to discuss the recent changes to French higher education and their impact on students. If you’re interested in exploring the differences between US and French higher education, I highly encourage you to give this a read!

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What’s There in Ghent?

Ever since I returned, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about “my trip to Brussels.” The problem is, I didn’t just go to Brussels. In fact, I made it a point not to go just to Brussels. So, to set the record straight and to do other parts of Belgium some justice, let’s talk about Ghent.

Views from the castle.

Ghent (or “Gent” in Dutch and “Gand” in French) is the largest city of Belgium’s East Flanders province. Spoiler alert: it’s not actually very large. But neither is Belgium. Ghent was one of the richest European commercial centers during the Middle Ages, specializing in wool production. Though lesser known than its touristier counterpart, Bruges, Ghent can boast just as many beautiful, quaint buildings found alongside the city’s canals. Continue reading