Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Toilet paper math is iffy

Note to self: do not let theoretical future future children learn math from toilet paper packaging...

I'm not in Georgia anymore...

Exhibit A

Verdict: Approve!

Exhibit B: there is no Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning in my grocery store. 

Verdict: Fail Connecticut, FAIL. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Calculus and coffee stains

Grad school round 2 has officially begun... Don't judge my math, calculus was a while ago!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The end of one great adventure and the beginning of another

Please excuse the inexcusably cheesy title, but that is exactly what I’m going through right now. My relatively short adventure on Reunion Island has ended, yes, but this is also the end of my great nomadic adventures of late. I’m starting a decidedly less mobile adventure, but one nonetheless—my PhD, during which (among other things) I’ll live in one town for at least four years, and this apartment for at least one.  Throughout the transition I’ve been alternating between being thrilled that I can finally settle down and panicking that I have to finally settle down. What if I don’t like something? I can’t just deal with it for a little while and then run away, never to return. I have to deal with it for a long time… 

But it was time to move on, so here we go! Sorry, there won’t be any more pictures of cool fruit for a while. I’ll have to figure out how to make this blog interesting while I’m doing less exotic stuff. For now though, I am happy to report that so far I love my apartment, neighborhood, school, and all the people I’ve met here. Let’s get a couple of weeks into school and see how I feel then!

In honor of the end of my great 3 year walkabout, a few things I won’t mind not having to constantly think about:

-the date format
-the time format (24 vs 12 hours)
-which paper format I need to use for this Word document (Europeans don’t use letter, obviously, because inches are evil. The use A4, which is just different enough to be annoying: 8.26 x 11.29 inches versus 8.5 x 11)
-The metric system. It makes more sense, yes, but converting between the two is not good for my brain. Or things I’m baking when I forget to convert and BURN THE EVERLOVING CRAP OUT OF THEM. I’ve also realized that I can only think about cold temperatures in Celsius and warm ones in Fahrenheit (growing up in Georgia versus Swedish winter?). I am a mess.  
- What a comma, space, or period means when writing numbers. Is it a decimal? A thousands separator? None of the above?
-Where the *?!/#& a given letter/symbol is on a French keyboard. Seriously, look at this thing. I would frequently need literally at least a minute to find something. And moving the As and Ms? That’s not ok, I use those a lot. On the other hand, I can type mu with one keystroke? Really? That's kinda cool... Useless, but cool. The fact that I can type a British pound symbol but not a Euro one, is less cool.
-‘Where is my passport??' Phrase guaranteed to cause a few seconds of panic, even if you absolutely know where it is.
-Getting/having a visa/residence permit
-Language! I love speaking French and do it well, but man it’s easier not to have to think about every single sentence that comes out of your mouth.
-Random questions about Texas (the world is utterly fascinated with Texas)
-The general love/hate relationship with the US. Endless accusing questions about wars and politics from the same people who go starry-eyed talking about visiting New York…
-“You know where Florida sticks out the bottom? It’s the one above that.”
-Making an entirely new set of friends every 3-6 months.
-The guilt of not doing anything one weekend. When I’m only in a country for a couple of months, I feel I MUST do/see something each weekend, which is exhausting. Here I have time. In fact, I should really slow down and relax and settle in and not see everything at once!

What several of these come down to is that I am ready to be in my own country for a while.  When abroad, you’re often The American, or more generally, A Foreigner. People hear your accent or origin and define you around that. You’re immediately and always “other” to a lot of people. Every time my boss on Reunion introduced me to someone, she started with “She’s American,” like that was my most important characteristic. That of course was not the case with close friends, but with many people you meet, me being American was the extent of the relationship. I am excited that I can finally be me, known for what actually matters about that.

Anyway, there you have my thoughts on the transition.  Stay tuned for the list that I’m sure is coming of things I miss about living in the US! The grass is always greener…