concentration

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Salut!

The last time I posted, I’d just returned from an incredible weekend in Nice, but I’ve been working away busily in Paris since then in the Harvard Summer in Paris program. Today was our last formal class, and something similar to Reading Period begins now so that we can have time to really crack down on our final projects. The projects themselves must be based around the idea of Revolutions, have a similar theme to one of our lessons, and of course be situated in Paris; as I love food, people, and history, I decided to focus on the open-air food markets of the city. I’ll be making a short film (around 15 minutes) on the lighter side of the market economy, using lots of vibrant colors and rich sounds from the incredibly varied markets, and will also have to write a lengthy research paper. (Mine will probably be 15-25 pages, depending on all of the historical information I find in the various libraries of Paris.) The real work starts now, and I have to motivate myself! This is the hardest part of any assignment…the daunting part. However, I’ve made myself some deadlines and checklists, so hopefully I’ll be all set come presentation time. Then, back to the States 🙁 / 🙂 …I want to go home, but summer is too short!

Back to Paris: what have I been up to, you may ask? I could tell you…but I’d rather show you. Check out some pictures below, with very descriptive captions.

 

I happened to catch the Tour de France, which was a total blast. It was a gorgeous day (rare for this summer), the crowd was wild, the racers were fast, and my man Wiggins won! It really was an experience that I’ll never forget.

 

My friend from Harvard/Germany, Jan, came to visit! Anneli (left) and Mandi (center) hung out with us during the beautiful few days in Paris.

 

I took Europe’s fastest elevator to the top of Tour de Montparnasse, the only skyscraper in Paris proper. There, you can see the Eiffel Tower, which I have yet to climb, and in the distance, La Defense, a district right on the other side of Paris’s border.

I ate Berthillon ice-cream! It’s the same price as all of the other [incredibly expensive] glace in Paris, but tastes so much better. Here we have Cassis, my favorite flavor.

I made it to Versailles with my friend, Anneli! It was a gorgeous excursion, and we decided not to go inside the Château, preferring to explore the sprawling grounds, which included a farm (much to my delight). It rained a bit, but hey, it’s Paris.

 

My friends and I spent the evening at “Au Lapin Agile,” a very famous cabaret in Montmartre. Picasso used to hang out there, at the very same tables as us!

 

For my project (and my pleasure) I went to the Marché Bio des Batignolles, an organic market near me. Check out this CHEESE!

 

So, I don’t exactly know these people, but they were my neighbors during one night’s screening of the Olympic Games. A giant screen and beanbag chairs were set up at Hôtel de Ville in the center of Paris, and we got to watch some swimming and handball for free! (Although I much prefer Equestrian.)

 

We went to La Maison La Rocher, an incredibly well-known modernist house created by Le Corbusier; little did we know, this amazing architect had built the Carpenter Center, which houses much of Harvard’s Visual and Environmental Studies building, and is the only North American building by Le Corbusier!

 

Mandi and I went kayaking at Paris Plages on the Canal St. Martin, in the 11th district. Though we ended up playing kayak-polo instead of going for a leisurely outing, it was really fun and worth the price…that is, it was free!

 

I went to Le Musée d’Orsay for the second time this summer. It used to be a train-station, hence the giant clock. As a student, we get free admission, so I am able to spend as little or as much time as I want per visit. I was only there for an hour and a half, and will go again to explore the 5th floor.

 

Okay, so this is the Musée d’Orsay again, but it’s my absolute favorite piece in the WORLD: the model of l’Opéra Garnier. Note the size (enormous) and the sign in the corner saying no pictures…whoops! (Also, this is where the Phantom of the Opera took place.)

 

While walking through the center of Paris, I heard the familiar sound of bagpipes (cornemuse in French). I happen to play the same instrument as these old fellows from Ontario, so we had a great little conversation about the lovely instrument.

 

In true Parisian fashion, I sported a black blazer and walked 400 steps to the top of Nôtre Dame Cathedral; sadly, I did not become a hunchback nor Victor Hugo.

 

Yes, I ate éscargots for dinner. No, they weren’t expensive; in fact, a supermarket that sells only frozen food is known for having the best snails in Paris! (Cross my heart.)

 

Though this may appear to be in the middle of a jungle, it’s actually at Buttes Chaumont, a park in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. The giant caves were a really cool surprise, and a lovely way to wrap up our final afternoon visit.

 

Well, that’s all about Paris. Although I’ve been mostly in the French mindset, I’ve started shopping {translation: looking for} courses for the fall, using this amazing website called Harvard Class. (Nope, I don’t know the people who made it, but I do know that it’s a heck of a lot prettier to look at than the my.harvard tool or the CS-50 standard tool.) I’m trying to figure out my concentration, which means I want to take 7+ classes, as my interests are very varied (hehehe say that outloud). It will take me a bit longer to decide, but it’s so exciting; this time last year, I was doing the exact same thing, obsessing over the coolest thing ever: school. (Synonym, Harvard.) So, incoming Freshmen, if you find yourself doing the same thing, be proud. Go onto your rooftops and sing your love of LS1B. Text your best friend the truth: that no, you’re not really going to Mike’s party tonight, but rather cozying up in your bed and making sure you have the prerequisites to take that Physics of Sailing freshmen seminar. (But go out eventually, please. And take a fun freshmen seminar, one that has no homework, or coursework for that matter.) Freshmen, GET PUMPED. Harvard is as overwhelming as it is amazing, and that’s saying something, as I slept for 3 days when I came home from my first semester. Congratulations again, and can’t wait to meet you once we get back on campus!

À plus tard!

-Reid

 

 

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Last year, as I sought to get my life in perspective, someone told me that yours choices after college are so hard because your whole life you were learning and increasing your areas of knowledge until after college you start whittling down you path narrower and narrower. I could immediately see why I was attracted to the secondary (also known as a “minor” in other schools) I ended up choosing, “Mind, Brain, Behavior”.

 

Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB) is a track program, which means that you can take classes from a number of related (and seemingly unrelated) departments and combine those classes into a concentration (major) or secondary. There’s a few other “track programs” such as this and it is great because it allows for exploration and a widening of knowledge that a single department concentration (e.g., government, English) often doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m concentrating in government myself, but the track program is a great opportunity to take advantage of and really offers a holistic education.

 

Consider the list of MBB departments that have integrated into the track program: Computer Science, History and Science, Human Evolutionary Biology, Linguistics, Neurobiology, Philosophy, and Psychology. The research in each department tends to tie into all the others anyway, so its great to integrate them through taking a variety of classes and utilizing the knowledge in a cohesive thesis (senior project).

 

Since I only did it as a secondary, my thesis was specific instead to my concentration. MBB as an integrated track program is a honors program, so that anyone who concentrates in it is required to do a thesis. But there are a number of other great track programs at Harvard to consider as well. One of the most popular, and my roommate’s, is Social Studies (also a honors program).

 

What sounds like a middle school history course is actually a great combination of the social sciences including government, economics, and statistics, among others. For your senior thesis, you even get to come up with an individualized focus field that you can then use to write about your thesis (“Inequality in the United States;” “Development in Africa”).

 

So if you are about to make your venture into college, embrace all the opportunities you can for exploration and widening your knowledge—you may be surprised at the cohesiveness of it all.

 

Hope you all have a great week!

 

PS. I thought since I didn’t have that many cool photos to go with this week’s post, I would supply you with a random photo from my week around Cambridge. Just walk down the street in this city and you come across the best things–for example, here, two Cambridge locals (Ben & Jerry’s and B.Good) giving out free donation-based ice cream & milkshakes).

~Natalie

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