Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Afternoon...

After a very short chat with my mother I headed to the law school to meet with one of my professors. I had arranged to discuss with him my paper I submitted for his review prior to handing it in for a grade, as well as my dissertation proposal. Prior to meeting with him I stopped at the local eye doctors to get new glasses. My current glasses are seven years old and one prescription behind. As it turns out my prescription from my last eye doctor appointment is exactly 10 days past its 'use by' date, thus forcing me to have another eye exam. Luckily for me they were able to fit me in right away and within 35 minutes of walking in I was walking out having had an eye exam and choosing two new pairs of glasses. I discovered that selecting glasses is a good way to test how vain you are. I apparently am more vain than I realized or care to admit.

I then went to the post office to mail something to a friend. I do not, and will never, understand why the English except and find it perfectly normal to wait in-line at the post office for far too long. On any given weekday and especially on weekends one will walk into the post office to find a line thirty people long, all seemingly totally accepting that they are waiting in line for what seems like a ridicules amount of time. I do not relish going to the post office. It is a task that must be done however. But when I am then forced to stand in a twenty minute line to mail something that isn't worth the postage Im putting on it...I get annoyed. The English on the other hand seemed to be unfazed by it all. After my annoying postal episode I went to Boots, a drug store, to get some new chap-stick. I tell you this mindless detail in order to be able to share with you the flavor of said chap-stick: playdo mixed with roses. This is at least what it reminds me of.

Upon finally making it to the law school I found that the last two weeks of classes had caused others to suddenly need equal amounts of reassurance that what they too had written was not complete crap. Upon finally making it into the professor's office I sat down with trepidation as to what I might be about to hear in regards to my paper and dissertation idea. We started with my dissertation. I briefly explained what my thesis is and threw out a few questions I had already come up with in an attempt to demonstrate I had actually thought the idea through. He looked over my proposal with out a single readable facial expression. He then looked up and with a half smile of sorts and said 'sounds very interesting, I think you have something here'. I let out a large sigh of relief, one down, one to go. I then asked if he had read the paper I had emailed him. No, he hadn't. He then printed out all 13 pages and began to silently read them right in front of me. The room was silent for what felt like a painful amount of time. I tried to read the covers of the varies international law books on his bookshelves and he read my paper entitled 'An Examination of How International Law Confronts the Policy of Mass Rape'. After reading it through he looked up at me and with the most serious face and a very posh English accent said "great contribution, I'd say its finished, really well written'. I was incapable of stifling the big grin that spread across my face. I was taken aback by his praise but thrilled to hear it. I have spent many hours pouring into this paper and was pleased with its end result, then to hear that I was in fact not delusional in my thinking that I had accomplished a decently well written paper was, well music to my ears.

That leaves me with one small paper and one longer (and may I add painfull, as I have no interest in its topic) paper to write before I am free...that is until I begin writing my dissertation.

For those who are curious the working title for my dissertation is thus:
A Comparative Examination of Civil Society's Influence on Uganda and Tanzania in Bringing Human Rights Awareness and Legislative Change Within Government on Women's Human Rights Issues.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I think I have fallen into the trap that I have so often warned others to avoid. I think very much in categories. I think in terms of the East/West divide and all that goes with it. I was just reading an article that warned of this very issue. I do it. I am aware of when other people make statements clearly showing their prejudice or …really it can just be habit without realizing it. But I too am guilty of this stereotyping and boxing of ‘them’ and ‘us’. It can be done in all aspects of anything really. After all there are ‘the saved’ and then there are ‘the unsaved’. There is the developed world, which is progressive and individual focused. Then there is the third world, which is backward and less self-centered. But really those are only stereotypes; categories we put ‘them’ and ‘us’ into to better organize the discourse. Watch out for this in your own conversations, analysis and general chatter in life. Watch out that you are not just making exceptions for yourself, removing yourself or the group you think you belong to or relate to, from ‘them’. Because really we are all ‘them’.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Well as it turns out, I in fact did not get the job I interviewed for in the most wonderful city in England. This came as a great disappointment to me. But my friends and family have rallied around me to encourage and snap me out of the ideal world and throw me back into the real world. I greatly recommend getting over disappointments in Switzerland. The Alps are beautiful, the wine is sweat and the chocolate is plenty. What else could one ask for? - besides a job that is.

Today I accompanied my aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousin and her family up into the mountains. The vistas were particularly amazing today. We ate lunch high on a mountain top in a revolving restaurant. The thing actually moved. After an hour and a half of eating and chatting we had come full circle, having seen everything surrounding us. Today being the last day of the 'winter season' we were fortunate enough to enjoy a bit of the snow mixed with sun and incredibly warm weather. Wearing only jeans and a t-shirt I frolicked in the snow, had a snowball fight and walked quite comfortably in the open air. This seemed to go against everything I had been taught. When there is snow on the ground one does not go out in only a t-shirt. Yet that is exactly what I did today- and loved it.

So now the job hunt continues...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I think Bristol has a distinct smell, or at least a smell that seemed familiar to me as I stepped out of Bristol International airport today. The 50 minute bus ride from the airport to Bristol Temple Meads Train Station allowed me to gaze at the somewhat ghetto Bristol with country side in the background. That is something I love about this area of Somerset, the city, with rolling green hills of the country never far away. I can not justly explain the beauty of this part of England. Canals wide their way through the rolling green hills, dotted with sheep. Pubs with names like ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘The Plough’ are found in every hamlet, village, town and city around here. Roman and Georgian architecture fill Bath creating its signature look. To the tourist it is a charming city. To its inhabitants it’s truly ideal.

As I write this I am sitting on the train to Bath Spa in eager anticipation. It is ironic how I now yearn to return to an area of the planet that at one time caused me to have copious amounts of bitterness, contempt and general misery. Returning on my own terms is quite different I must say. This trip out to Bath interrupts my Easter holiday and is not specifically for pleasure, although it will be well enjoyed. My two day trip back to England is so that I may have my very first ‘real world’ interview! I applied to a job a few weeks ago for an organization I have continuously prayed will want me to join their team, and who is willing to wait for me to begin working until well into June. Now I wait with bated breath as I walk the streets well known to me and venture into the real world of business suits and job interviews.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Spring Break Euro Style...

The past week has provided for a mixture of emotions and experiences.

Saturday: I had intended to productively spend the day working on papers and reading in quiet anticipation of the looming arrival of a dear friend. What I actually spent the day doing is emailing, surfing the web and watching movies. That is until my computer crashed. Upon freezing, I turned of the machine only to find that it would not boot-up. It was also around this time that I noticed for the first time a extremely small dent right about where my left wrist lies on the computer. To this day I still have no idea how it got there. After feverishly texting varies computer savvy members of my family across the Atlantic I got a call from my Dad with various suggestions. I ended the night early so stressed that my computer was still not functioning and in anxious anticipation of my friend's arrival the next morning.

Sunday: Before beginning the two hour trek across town to Heathrow airport I made one last attempt to start up my computer, to no avail. After waiting at Terminal 3 for about an hour I got a call on my cell from my friend saying she was infact at Terminal 2. Hugs and exclamations of joy and excitement were quickly shared between the two of us. We returned to my room in East London to allow her to shower and drop off her stuff before heading into Central London for the remainder of the day. I of course made a quick stop at the Apple Store to make an appointment to meet with a "Genius" to get my sick computer well again. The idea of having to rewrite the 5,000 word paper I had tremendous effort to finish weeks before its due date ran through my mind and caused me great pain and stress. After being assured my work was 'save' and making an appointment for Tuesday afternoon, we headed to Buckingham Palace and then Knightsbridge Tube stop.

Monday: We began our day with craned necks looking up at Big Ben, followed by a walk around Parliament. The majority of the day was spent walking around Leicester Square and lunch in Chinatown. We also hit up shops at Oxford Circus and made a quick stop in Harrods. Dinner was spent in a traditional English pub with fish and chips and a pint of cider, I hate beer. After two pints of cider one tends not to be in the mood for a lot of walking, so we decided to randomly jump on the next bus that came our way and see where it took us. Needless to say it was a late night.

Tuesday: Unfortunately for my travel companion much of the day was spent in the Apple Store, too much. I am greatly sorry to inform you that my hardrive on my less than a year old computer is kaput. I was able to make a cd copy of my work but was forced to buy an external hardrive from which I now run my computer off of. An internal hardrive replacement will have to wait until I am back in the States, where they can be purchased for cheaper....and by my father (hopefully). The evening was spent walking down Piccadilly Circus wondering through my two favorite book stores and practicing our fake English accents.

Wednesday: A hurried morning was spent packing bags before heading to the Tate Modern. After a world win tour of modern art we sped back to my room to collect our bags and head to Luton airport. This is when I got stressed. I do not handle travel time deadlines well. My friend spent hours convincing me we would indeed make our flight and I sat staring at my watch chewing my gum with ruthless gusto. We infact made our flight with mere minutes to spare. With the stress of travel behind us, we landed in Geneva airport with a sigh of relief and renewed joy and excitement. My cousin and my travel buddy spent hours talking middle school science teaching strategies while I sat making sarcastic comments in regard to their bizarre interest in a subject I have yet to find use for.

Thursday: Sleeping in is just not an option when your on a couch in a living room with a one year old pulling your hair and a three year old asking why you are 'still' sleeping at 7am. My travel buddy and I threw on some clothes and with bleary eyes walked down to the local grocery store for some provisions. After a shower and delish pastries we took the train into Geneva where we spent the day shopping and perfecting our British accents.

Good Friday: With the sun rising over the French Alps in the foreground, we sat eating pastries and sipping tea. Breakfast turned into a five hour affair as we chatted, laughed and marveled at the view on the balcony of my cousins condo. I now have my first European sunburn. By the time we were showered and walking through town it was well after 2pm. Only pausing to take pictures and declare how cute everything was we headed to the local creppery. We returned to the condo to bake brownies and have a few amaretto sours on the balcony before heading out to an evening event. After this the giggles began. The first episode of which revolved around trying to open a wine bottle. Now, I am no novice at this, much to my father's chagrin im sure. However, the corkscrew opener found in my cousin's kitchen seemed to be beyond my middle school science teaching friend and myself. We were finally forced to walk across the street head down in shame, wine bottle in hand to my aunt and uncles to ask that they open our bottle. Upon returning the evening festivities began. A selection of cheeses purchased the day before provided for intrigue, as we had no idea what exactly we had selecting. French is not our first nor second language, it is however to be found on all the food labels we had purchased. I hardly need add this adds an element of surprise to one's dining experience. As the evening progressed the wine bottle was finished, the cheeses sampled and the conversation progressed to full giggles surrounding any number of bizarre and intriguing questions and statements. As is common for any and all of our "study sessions", late night chatter and mid day analysis.

Saturday: The phrase of the day was "Euro chic". This also usually induced giggles. After an early morning scramble to get ready and a quick run to the train station we boarded the train to what I referred to as "Domoarigato". A two hour train ride found us in Italy. We spent the following three hours wondering small back roads, marveling at the surrounding Alps and living in the moment. For lunch we bought ourselves cheap boxed wine and a small pizza, after all, were in Italy. We found a piazza and anchored ourselves to a bench for vino tasting and people watching. Once sufficiently toasted we hooked arms for support and meandered the streets before taking the next train back to Switzerland. Just prior to leaving Italy however, I was overcome with the desire to pee. It was at this point that I found my first squatter in Europe. I do not recommend downing cheap wine and then attempting the feat of squatting while using the restroom. Needless to say the following train ride past quickly as we both slept our way to Bern. The day ended with dinner, amaretto sours and quiet reflection on the weeks interludes.