Blog Goes Abroad: First day of school


February 4th, 2013: First day of school on another continent.

Yes, I know it’s ridiculous that I’m starting school so late. I’ve been in Europe for almost a month, and this is the first time I have to set an alarm. I snooze it three times before I manage to get up from my bed. That’s when it hits me: so many things can go wrong today.

To calm my nerves, I made a list:

  1. I have no idea what the professor is saying to the class/me.
  2. I have no idea what the other students are saying to the professor/each other.
  3. I understand enough to know that I have a 15-page paper, oral presentation, midterm, and exam, on top of being in class with people I don’t understand.
  4. I took the train in the wrong direction, and I am now alone on the metro car with an old man yelling things at me that I don’t understand.

I put on my big girl pants, down an espresso, and text the only other Brown student that’s supposed to go to this class. I passive-aggressively tell her, “Leaving my apartment! Don’t be late.” But passive-aggressive texting is a dying art, and I’m left loitering in front of a building for 20 minutes. Thanks, friend. Continue Reading

Berkeley, je t’aime?

Why are French academics saying au revoir to the Sorbonne?

Rumblings within the French academic system are nothing new. Ditto prominent French intellectuals coming to the United States to teach.

But as a recent New York Times article discussed, academics now make up a disproportionate amount of French migrants to the United States, leaving France worrying about “brain drain.” Apparently shocked that anyone would ever want to leave a land known for valuing its intellectuals (not to mention the food), the NYT’s Room for Debate has helpfully surveyed scholars on both sides of the Atlantic, asking them about possible causes for the trend. Unsurprisingly, most point to money: American universities simply pay better (where do you think all that tuition goes, anyway?)

Still, the whole section is worth a read for some interesting musings about academic life in both countries, even if we’re still confused about what the author of French Women Don’t Get Fat is supposed to contribute to the discussion. Maybe she brought the champagne?