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.
This article was originally written for the Caravel, a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 →
At long last, find your mini-guide to mandatory Brussels eats below. Before we begin, I will confess to the grave sin of not having tried a lot of Belgian beer due in part to dietary restrictions and in part to my general dislike of beer. So, while I can’t speak to it personally, I’d say you should probably try the beer, too. Perhaps with your frites.
First and foremost, before you even drop off your bag, have a waffle…or ten. I guarantee you that you haven’t really tasted a true waffle until you’ve had one in Belgium. Before you run off on your waffle quest, allow me to impart some waffle wisdom. Did you know that there are, in fact, two types of waffle? Yeah, me neither. You have the Brussels waffle, a larger rectangular waffle with deep holes, made of lighter batter and the Liege waffle, a round-ish waffle, made of thicker batter mixed with pearl sugar to achieve a caramelized texture. The Brussels waffle is more plain and requires a topping for a complete waffle experience, whereas the Liege waffle can act as a standalone dessert, no toppings necessary. But where’s the fun in that? Every waffle shop in Brussels offers more toppings than the eye can see, so go forth and explore! I would recommend a classic strawberry-banana-whipped cream combination. And remember: ask for the Belgian hot chocolate, NOT Nutella. Trust me, my fellow Americans, the hot chocolate is superior. But if you really can’t betray your heritage, why not have two waffles and compare the taste? 😉 In terms of cost, I’ve found it to be similar across all waffle-serving establishments, starting at 2€ for a plain waffle and going up as high as 10€ for a truly sophisticated, multi-topping experience.
As I wrap up my 36-ish hours in Brussels, two words come to mind to sum up my experience: food and construction.
As food is perhaps the most crucial aspect of any journey, I will be making a separate mini-post with delicious highlights & recommendations tomorrow. And in regards to construction…well, it’s everywhere. To the point where I entered a museum this afternoon and found a man shamelessly drilling the floor as I and another unfortunate couple maxed out the volume on our audio guides. There is also an absurd amount of sidewalks and roads being redone in what appears to be a Brussels-wide frenzy to repair all surfaces touched by the human foot. It’s unclear whether such activity has anything to do with an upcoming EU summit…
Inconveniences aside, I had a full day of exploring Brussels today. In an effort to save some money by eating a supermarket yogurt for breakfast, I left the apartment bright and early to visit the Atomium, a structure originally constructed for the 1958 World’s Fair (Expo 58) held in Brussels. For a reduced student fare of 8€ I got access to the entire building, including both the permanent exhibits and a temporary “Atomium Meets Surrealism” exhibit featuring my all-time favorite artist René Magritte.