The Cold War Continues/ Thanksgiving Symbolique
by Zoe Hamilton
Word of the Day (per request): Dinde
So I only have time to write a quick post because this next week is essentially my finals week but I wanted to write about a few things including my most memorable Thanksgiving to date. But first: my adventures with the Russians. So I know it is a bit of a stereotype as an American to dislike Russians and honestly I had nothing against the country or her citizens before this past week. But let me tell you (on a personal level): the cold war continues. I have met three Russians since arriving in Paris. And I dislike all three. The first two are in my french class. They are two beautiful girls who I have been kind of been fascinated by all semester. Mostly because when they speak I cannot pick out even a single word. Piroshki anyone? Anyway last class we had our final exam which was unnecessarily hard in my opinion. The professor played a rapid fire radio clip and we had to write a summary of what it was about. Would have been simple enough if the professor hadn’t talked over the first bit and if it was about a subject I knew the word for (beekeeping. really? who knows the word for beekeeper?) Anyway I was frustrated with the test and grew distraught as I started to hear the two girls talking. Bad. Who does that in a final exam? Certainly nobody at Middlebury (where there is a very strong honor code that almost all students respect). But then to my growing horror I see they are looking up the clip on both their iphones and ipads. Reaching a pinnacle of outrage I realized nothing was going to happen. My spacey french professor was at the front of the room humming to himself and not even noticing! I may have “dropped” my pen a bit harder than usual in a vain attempt to get his attention but to no avail. The professor was off in switzerland (no offense) or some other neutral land completely oblivious to my plight. I guess I was just shocked by the total lack of academic integrity that I am normally surrounded by at places like Middlebury.
Ok the third Russian. For a group final paper I was paired with a french girl named Héléna (score) and we had chosen pretty early on to do the same subject as my thesis next year– a comparison of french and american laws about racist speech (double score). All was going well until one day about a month ago Héléna asked if the quite Russian guy in our class, Victor, could join our group. No problem! Less work right? Wrong. So naturally as students in this day and age we started a facebook thread to discuss the planning of our paper. Héléna and I had already come up with an outline so we were clarifying that, [no input from Victor] and eventually I offered to take part one and Héléna part two [no word from Victor]. Finally Victor chimed in and offered to take middle sections of both parts. Naturally we said no, that wouldn’t make sense for the research or the flow so he should take the introduction and conclusion. Héléna and I continue to write back and forth about the upcoming due date of the outline with no word from Victor. the day arrives and I see Victor on the way to class. “What outline?” Seriously? Like actually. So he didn’t do it. Even though two days before he said he would. Then what’s worse: this week the paper was due and HE STILL DIDN’T DO IT. I just don’t understand that. Héléna and I each wrote seven pages single spaced, he was supposed to write two. We talked to the professor and we will all be graded separately but I still have a total lack of understanding. In conclusion I have been having a miniature academic cold war with the old east. Wish me luck in avoiding nuclear bombs as I got fairly close this week at throwing a pen at all parties involved.
On to happier subjects: Thanksgiving!!
After a wonderful tri-continental skype with the fam (Nick in Korea, Hamilton family plus Gran and Grandad plus Heidi and Jim) and with dreams of turkey and stuffing I went to a Thanksgiving dinner at my school put on by the American club. It was pretty hilarious. As my American friends explained to the Australian friends what the holiday “was on about” (“you mean there are no presents? where is the fun in that” …no wait, materialism comes the next day on black friday) we waited in an enormous line for turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans. It was certainly not my mom’s cooking. But it was funny. We ate off paper plates that were about to collapse and sat on the floor. The food wasn’t great but we were thankful to have american food on our proud holiday.
Thanksgiving number 2 was a bit more symbolic if you will. So as I may have mentioned I have two close french friends. One is named Marie (see Breton Bliss) and the other is my friend Alice. Alice lived in DC for six years when she was in middle school so her english is flawless, no accent at all. She is in my law class and I absolutely laugh until my stomach hurts when we are together. Earlier this week we were discussing our mutual love of turkey so we decided to have our own thanksgiving on Friday (tonight). She went to a concert with friends (who we ate with) after but I came home to study (I seriously have so much work it’s not even funny). We met to go to an American specialty store appropriately called Thanksgiving to see what they had. We found instant stuffing mix (3.50 euro, a little steep but for a taste of america it was worth it). That was about all we wanted to spend at the ridiculously over priced store so we went around the corner to the supermarket for the rest. There we got a little creative. We deemed it “symbolique.” There was also the added challenge of the fact that Alice had 40 minutes before she needed to leave for the concert.
So we rushed into the store to pick up: sliced turkey, instant mashed potatoes, cranberry juice (just like sauce but liquid right?) and lemon tarts (we called them pumpkin pie). We rushed over to her friends apartment where we cooked everything in record time. True classy french girls that we are we heated the turkey slices up on a plate in the microwave. She made the instant potatoes while I made the gravy (figured it should be in my blood since Grandad and Mom do it so well). We laughed the whole time. And thankfully the two other guests had both experienced true thanksgivings in america so we didn’t ruin the holiday for them.
And here is the best part: it wasn’t that bad! I might go so far as to say it was better than the night before’s! Alice made us all go around and say what we were thankful for (almost like having you there Dad!) and I could honestly say I am soooo thankful for all the wonderful and hilarious people in my life both here in Paris and back home in Seattle (and all the way in the the land of ramen-noodles-for-dinner-on-thanksgiving). Though I did miss my mom’s stuffing and being around my real family in person and not just through a computer screen, the holiday was actually very fun to share with the wonderful new people in my life. Hope you enjoyed your Dinde days with loved ones!