romance languages

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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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Hello again!

I can’t believe it, I’ve been in Paris for 4 weeks already! I’m halfway through my Study Abroad program, which you can check out here; it’s wonderful, and the weather has finally brightened up in time for Paris Plages, where the city creates artificial beaches along the banks of the Seine. However, Paris has nothing on Nice when it comes to the beach…I would know, as I just returned from my amazing weekend in the South of France. As a bit of an update, here are some stories and pictures of one of the best weekends in my life.

My friend Anneli and I had decided a while ago that we wanted to go to the south of France, and chose Nice because her host family knew some people there with whom we could stay. The tickets were cheap (EasyJet) and the plane didn’t even remotely crash during our 1h10 flight, which left around 9pm from Orly. Nice by night is oh so much like California, along le Promenade d’Anglais with all the lights, palm trees, and new-ish hôtels lining the beach. Rollerbladers and cyclists oozed down their lane of the promenade, passing piétons as they strolled in the light of the humming lampposts. The air was warm and thicker than Paris, whose air is crisp and spoiled with pockets of cigarette smoke or exhaust. Our view from our room, above the bed (we thought we were going to sleep on the ground) and through the shuttered windows, breathed out onto the bay, which was lit by the colorful night hues, illuminating the neat lines and sailboats below. Panicky joy ensued.

The view from our window, Nice Harbor

 

In the morning,  we packed our daybags and walked out into Vielle Nice. My, how lovely it is. Imagine the streets of Boston, or of Paris. Not of New York, erase all of those grids from your mind. Now, cut each block in half with a road. And another, at a different angle. Sprinkle dead end alleyways where you wish. Alternatively, imagine the most rustic Italian quarter with burnt orange walls, which meander up towards terracotta roofs as they slide into open windows, flaking blue shutters thrown wide, inviting in an even brighter azure sky. The roads cut sharply at acute angles, creating houses as skinny as a cabinet that widen out to twenty times that size. Around the corner is a baby-pink church, its belltower peeking out over the surrounding buildings, as if it wished to glimpse the sea that it heard so often. The smell of bread and oregano wafts through an open window. And, somewhere, a thousand tourists fall in love with a city for the first time in their lives.

Vielle Nice

The majority of them can be found on the beach, where we happened to spend most of our day. It is incredibly crowded, incredibly sunny, and incredibly beautiful. Les cailloux are smooth, grey, and warm, not scalding like sand, nor are they as comfortable as their counterpart. They become smaller as they reach towards the water, where they dip, and rise, and dip again before plunging into the sea. It is deep almost immediately, a light salty blue closer to the shore and a brighter hue further out. The perfect temperature, it stretches on forever, embraced by Nice Côte d’Azur airport on one side and la colline, a fortressed hill, on the other. Nice-ville stretches in between, connected by the Promenade. After buying strawberries from an old lady who closely resembled a dandelion, and ice cream from a dim man on the street, Anneli and I walked back to the sea. I slurped up the fast-melting passionfruit scoop, took a lick of coffee, and finished by dipping my strawberries into the rich dark chocolate of my final scoop— and all for 4€. The sun was strong; we bought some sunscreen from a para-pharmacie. Eventually, we figured out how to use the VéloBlue, and spent the next two hours biking around, returning the creaky blue bikes to their stations before the 30 minutes were up and re-renting them to avoid any charge at all. After biking all the way to the airport, we decided that we’d bike to catch our flight at 5 am. Only then did I realize how burned I was, and after another swim in the evening with bronzed Russian children, we rinsed in the beach showers and returned back home to change, taking the long route via climbing the stairs of the fortified hill and weaving through the paths up there. It was silent, and for around 3 minutes I heard nothing but nature, something we both needed dearly. We gazed out at this marvelous town, thanking Harvard for all of the gifts it’s given us.

Nice Beach, one side of the hill

Me chillin’ on the other side of the hill

 

We finished our first day with smiles plastered onto our faces, and on Saturday  evening we decided to splurge on some dinner. Walking around Nice with the fantastic light charmed us until we returned to Place Girabaldi, where a restaurant with the same name awaited us. The catch? It had fresh pasta. Anneli ordered pesto gnocchi, and I ordered black truffle risotto. Both came with parmesan. Our waiter was terribly bizarre, but the food was phenomenal. I mourned the half of the risotto that I couldn’t eat, knowing that now, as I write this, I would be (and am) craving the delicious earthy flavor and richness of that plate. After eating, Anneli realized that all of the tables around us were full of Swedish people. She is Swedish, after all, and so a lengthy discussion with the portly man and his wife next to us ensued. I loved listening to it, but found myself automatically wanting to speak Italian afterwards, as Swedish is about as sing-songy as the other language I know, and is very different from French. It was hilarious to hear, and we eventually left after Anneli had had her heritage-full, spending the rest of the night on the beach in between tight circles of boys and night-fishermen, who actually caught fish in the warm Mediterranean.

My Risotto…dying

Now that I’m back, I can tell you that it was the best two-day vacation ever. Seriously. The Mediterranean has officially become my favorite ocean, and I know I must return to Nice. You know you’re spoiled when you don’t want to go back to Paris (:

Have a lovely summer, and incoming Freshmen, get excited!!! Harvard is the BEST!

Ciao begli!

-Reid

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Hello everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying your summers thoroughly, and that the lovely [scary hot] weather at home is giving you all great tans and instilling a bit of fear…it’s quite the opposite across the pond, where the weather for Paris is always predicted at 70 degrees with 60% chance of showers. Fortunately, the rain rarely comes and falls for about 5 minutes, the wind blows, the clouds move a tad, and suddenly there is sun, until the wind blows again and the weather changes. It seems that everywhere I live has mercurial weather, but that’s perhaps because I haven’t lived in California or Antarctica. Hélas.

Besides the weather, which I kind of like but kind of hate passionately, Paris is wonderful. The limestone buildings glow in the evening light, contrasting against the grey sky, and the language rolls into my ears like rivulets twisting over slippery rocks. My words aren’t quite as beautiful; were they rivulets, they would pool in shallow depressions and eventually gain enough momentum to run onwards, creating an almost-constant sound. But that is how language goes, n’est pas?

And now I’d like to share a few moments from Paris with you, if you don’t mind.

 

The Phone

“But, only Asians live on the sixth and seventh floor. Are you sure you’re in the right house?” she asked, perched in her doorway, her face a mix of confusion and worry. I wasn’t sure. I had no idea, in fact, if I was in the right building, because apartments 40-47 were all built by the same architect in 1914 and were like six peas in a pod, neatly lining the street near Pont de Versailles station. “Non, madame, je suis super desolée mais je sais pas, est-ce que je peux utiliser votre téléphone, s’il vous plaît? J’ai pas assez de crédit, et ….” The woman whose home I’d entered handed me her phone with concern, and I dialed Anneli’s number for the sixteenth time, my fingers shaking and my eyes blurring with prickling tears. I turned away from the woman for a moment, waited, and heard nothing but faint clicking. Anneli’s phone wasn’t working, and neither was Mandi’s. I called Steven again, and for some reason, it went through, again; the only problem was that his calls weren’t connecting to either of the girls, and we were both about to run out of credit. It was already 9:00, and I’d been trying to get into Anneli’s house for exactly an hour to eat dinner and plan our evening. Obviously, it wasn’t working. Distressed, I thanked the woman and left the apartment building, knowing I was in the wrong place and that there was no way Anneli could see me from her 7th story window. I walked to the métro, defeated, and was letting line 12 rock me to sleep when my Bollywood-esque ringtone jolted me upright. It was Mandi, who said that her phone wasn’t working and that she couldn’t get through to Anneli either, and that she had just failed to enter her building. I told her I was going to meet Steven instead, as I hadn’t eaten, and she said she’d probably do something else and maybe I’d see her later. Our hopes lowered, we ended the call and I sunk back into my chair, my eyes closed, counting the 15 stops until my next transfer.

 

 

 

Puma Social

It’s a’ one two three take my hand and come with me cause you look so fine that I really wanna make you mine. His eyes were more than halfway closed, his shirt buttoned incorrectly, but his feet grooved to the driving beat. We threw our heads up and down, tasting the humid air with our hanging tongues as if to quench our wild thirst, but only succeeding in looking absolutely insane. To put it frankly, I didn’t give a care; I was on a perfectly-crowded, perfectly-lit dance floor in Paris with two awesome girls and thirty-odd French guys just off of Rue Oberkampf at 3 in the morning.  I swung my wet hair out of my face, singing the words to Jet’s best song along with the rest of the club, the only difference being that mine were correct and not tilted sideways with the smooth French accent. The music went on. I was so glad to be wearing sneakers instead of flats. I could dance forever, and had been dancing for at least two hours among well-dressed, kind of skinny, faintly cigarette-smelling men and my ladies, stopping to refuel on cold water and ice cubes snatched from champagne buckets. Mandi and I had gone to the bathroom a few songs ago, which was a thin corridor of black-lights and white writing, contrasting slightly from the higher-lit rest of the club; I was glad that I only looked relatively insane (maybe just suffering from a personality disorder). Now, however, I could be sure of nothing about my appearance except for the fact that it felt like I’d been swimming in the tropics for the past twenty songs and that the guys here were pretty good dancers and, if they weren’t, they were at least fun to watch. Four five six come on and get your kicks now you don’t need money with a face like that do you honey? Nope. I don’t. Which is good, because I don’t have any more cash.

 

Brunch

My iPhone charger wasn’t plugged in so there was no alarm, but it’s a good thing I am fast at getting dressed, because I’m already a half-hour late to meet Anneli for brunch and I haven’t even left my flat. Exactly twenty-seven minutes later, I’m at Bastille again, this time for the pleasures of Sunday morning, also known as brunch and less tourists in the Marais. I see Anneli (orange dress, grey sweater) before she sees me (orange shirt, blue pants). We embrace in our démi-français half-english way, hugging and cheek-kissing all at once, and decide on Fontaine Café for the morning special of croissants, coffee, and wifi. As expected, all are slow, but we have plenty of time to spare and it’s best spent together before the afternoon clouds roll in. Over buttery, feathery pastries and café allongé (luckily not the expected tiny cup of espresso) we let delicate French words roll off our ever-studious tongues, weaving stories of childhood and countrysides that bind our friendship tighter. A firetruck passes by, the siren tearing at my eardrums, the contents of the packed-vehicle eyeing us like we’d just eyed our croissants. A little boy in a red striped shirt and mussed hair reminds us of Hanna Anderson, yet another thing we had in common growing up, and more stories fill up the hours of the morning. By the time the waiter comes with the check, it’s hard to stop talking and stand up. It’ll be even harder to cease speaking French and leave Paris, but I suppose we have some time.

 

Les Étrangers

There’s little else cooler than seeing someone you haven’t seen in more than a year pop out of the métro via the escalator, and Tess was no exception. Our roles had changed, she no longer a foreigner in my state, me no longer the one speaking a native tongue. Tess and I had graduated high school together last June and by some twist of fate I’d ended up in Paris for summer school when she’d just completed her Baccalauréat in the same city, with high honors nonetheless. She leaves tomorrow for the south of France, to Montpellier, and I come the center of Vermont, just near the capital with the same name. But today, we were having coffee and catching up. As she smoked her skinny Vogues and talked about her upcoming years of preparatory school for Les Grandes Écoles, I couldn’t help but feel excited and bizarre; this encounter reaffirmed how intertwined our lives become as get older and meet more people. I used to be afraid of growing up, but at least for now, I’m liking it.

 

 

About class, if you want to know:

I love class but hate how people slip into English so easily. We are only in Paris for 6 more weeks, babes. Let’s stick to the nation’s tongue like taste buds. The readings for class are kind of a lot, but really interesting, so I don’t mind reading them. I haven’t been able to always get through the readings, but I find that we discuss a variety of things throughout class and so it doesn’t always matter that much. Class is kind of like this:

  • Sprint to school (fast-walk, at least). Jiyae (my roommate) forgets where to turn which always makes me laugh, but Reid Hall is across from the cool hotel with painted tree shadows on its façade.
  • Go over les actualités, from newspapers such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Le New York Times/International Tribune.
  • Brief history and summary of the arrondissement we visited the day before. (Side note: I thought this was going to be a stupid order, because I like learning about things and then going out and visiting them, but this works really well because our discussions are more grounded in experience.)
  • Discussion of parts of the texts we read.
  • Launching of the broad philosophical questions of the day, also prepared by the students responsible for the arrondissement of the day before.
  • 10 minute break, where most people buy 45¢ espresso. (I finally bought some yesterday, and met these awesome girls from Barnard and Hamilton who showed me how to use the supah-high-tech machine. Coffee wasn’t strong but tasted really nice, even though there was slightly too muchsucre.)
  • Discussion of parts of the text within the context of philosophical questions.
  • Done at 13h00.
  • Lunch until 14h00
  • Afternoon excursions until 16h00 or later, frequently with theatre or movies or supplemental activities after the excursions. (I tend to go home unless it’s mandatory, as I want to rid myself of my backpack and take off my shoes.)

 

How does this relate to Harvard? Well, Harvard made it possible for me to go, from offering the program in the first place to graciously giving me funds once I’d applied for them. If you have any questions about Study Abroad, especially summer, let me know!

À bientôt!

-Reid

Just doing some learnin’ near the Pantheon, sporting my future University’s hat — La Sorbonne

 

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Ciao a tutti!

Shopping week for second semester is almost over, with Study Cards (an official list of the courses you’re taking) being due tomorrow. Luckily, I’ve figured out my semester. I’ll be taking Intensive Italian (Italian Acd), Advanced French Grammar II (French 50), Expository Writing 20 (Expos), and a Freshman Seminar called “Pressing the Page: Making Art With Letters, Paper & Ink.” I’m very excited about this semester, especially for my seminar and Italian. They’ve been amazing so far, with Italian flying by every day and my printmaking seminar seeming too short, though it’s two hours on M/W! So far I’ve made calling cards and monogrammed notecards. Check out my first creation thus far!

 

I <3 Art

Anyways, get ready for a lot more artsy stuff this semester, to add to my arts list from a previous post. Seriously, this is a Liberal Arts college and my goal is to find out why.

Though all Freshmen do not have to take seminars and two languages (well, there is a language requirement, but I definitely loaded up on Romance Languages), everybody who graduates from Harvard College must take Expository Writing. Shaun talks about it from the other side of the bridge, having taken it already, but I have yet to experience this wonderful essay course. Actually, most people don’t like it, but I really love writing, and all the courses I’ve signed up for have high Q ratings (which means they’re good) and are in very close proximity to my dorm! Sweet graphic here:

Wow, Check it out! Canaday has the best location for all things Freshmen.

 

Anyways, these are the Expos courses I’ve sectioned for. A lot of them haven’t been offered yet, and are brand new, so I thought I’d give them a chance, even though it is risky. Imagining Animals does sound pretty interesting, though.

Location, Location, Location. (Okay, and time/subject.)

If I get sectioned into a M/W 11:00-12:00 time slot, I’ll be having bagged lunch twice a week for the next semester! Good thing Harvard offers them for all students, all the time. Also, our dining services have become quite interesting, with HUDS reintroducing the Korean Barbecue night. Let me tell you, that Kimchi was spicy! After I enjoyed my Korean dinner today with my roommate, I met a few of my bandmates and headed up to the SOCH for our first practice of the second semester. We’re playing a few songs and a lot of transition material at Harvard Thinks Big, which is a very popular set of mini-lectures hosted in Sanders Theater. Last year’s information can be found here. It was awesome seeing everyone again, even though the rehearsal was short and the walk to the quad was a bit chilly. If you’ve forgotten about my band, check out this link! Being part of my amazing mini-community was definitely the best part of my first semester, because it helped me to transition into college life much more smoothly.

Whee!!! Random Picture of Cambridge!

 

Another super awesome thing in my life right now continues to be The Crimson! I realized that last semester was a ton of fun, and I had the best time taking photos of sports and arts, specifically for the Fifteen Minutes magazine. Over break, I took a lot of photos, and they have definitely improved, to the point where I am proud of my photography skills. Soon I will be monitoring compers as a Junior Editor, chillin’ with them as they experience that which I’ve just done. Tomorrow, I’m covering the Harvard-Yale hockey game, and my family is coming up to watch with me. I am also “schmoozing” with some peeps (editors/my superiors/great people) in order to be (hopefully) elected Arts Photo Exec. That basically means a lot of mini meetings in order to hold a higher position than my current status. I’ll update you when I hear back, but for now, cross your fingers for me!

Arts and Sports mixed together!

The weather has been uncannily warm as of late, which definitely freaks me out a little bit; climate change is upon us, and it’s been pretty evident here in Cambridge. Hopefully it cools down, so I can use the really great skating rink on the Science Center lawn. (What? Harvard has a free skating rink? Why yes, we do.) Most of the time though, I’m inside, doing my homework so that I don’t get behind. I definitely don’t want to make that mistake again, because it creates a lot of unnecessary stress.  I’ve been doing a bit of walking recently, because I’m auditioning through  Common Casting  for Legally Blonde and Hair (the musical), and I have to hike up to the Aggassiz Theater (also home of the visitor center), Loeb Theater, and Farkas Theater. I really missed auditioning, so this process has been a blast! But I should get back to the pile of work on my desk….

Busy busy

 

Okay! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post, and for those applying to Harvard, these next few months might be a little worrisome, but try to keep the admissions process in the back of your head and enjoy your last part of high school. You’ll end up wherever you need to be.

 

Signing off

-Reid

 

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