travel notebook: alone in italia, day two

Cinque Terre teems with tourists. Scattered about the rocks like camera-happy penguins, people are: sinking into squats for the photo angle showing their 'best side' crunching on fried things served in cones dripping gelato (and offering bites to their dogs) brandishing walking sticks like weapons, the hallmark of the serious hiker carrying hot cardboard boxes …

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no shortcuts: on making friends in France

One thing that makes the experience of short-term teaching in France complicated is the simple fact that it's short-term. And the French are not. As an American, I'm accustomed to a sense of easy, immediate friendship. When I look back at my college years, sometimes I ache for the simplicity. How easy it was, the …

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la culture populaire for the couch potato: lessons in french tv

I can't stand advertisements. I don't like being told what to tell my doctor. I roll my eyes at deus ex machina plot lines and groan at laugh tracks. I am a TV cynic. It's nothing noble. It's just that I would really really really rather read. I am grateful that my parents encouraged the …

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the goldfish bowl

Just when I felt pretty comfortable with my role teaching English classes to French primary school children, life (or rather, the French Ministry of Education) handed me something new: a job at a maternelle in les banlieues of Cannes. My new students range from barely three to six years old. The oldest are wonderfully curious, asking questions that inspire …

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