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Archive for June, 2009

Page50In case you were wondering what I’ve been doing since I came back to my native country, let me tell you I have not been working on my thesis, nor have I looked for a job. If anything, I’ve been working towards getting perfect town status in Animal Crossing in order to get the golden watering can, and have thus been planting digital flowers and trees to make Pleujouz a magical place. For my defense, my friends are still labouring over exams and I’ve decided to indulge in whatever I feel like doing for a while, so if it turns out that collecting fish and insects made of colourful pixels is my new passion, then so be it. My DS and I are merely witnessing a surge of determinism.

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Page49Lucy didn’t have a mummy, Lucy didn’t have a daddy. I found Lucy in the kitchen drawer and immediately recognized this lost child’s subtle charm. Her Korean origins, which show in the engravings, set her apart and gave her the special place she will always have in my heart. I baptized her, gave her shelter in my cupboard, shared all my meals with her and learned to love her. I defended her against weirdos who tried to force-feed her bad food but always won her back, even that terrible time when she disappeared without a trace. The empty spot in her favourite place made me call her name throughout the house in utter dispair, but she didn’t come back until the next day. I could hardly suppress my overwhelming glee when she reappeared suddenly with a new shiny engraving. Now I only hope that we’ll get to share our joys and sorrows for years to come as we grow old together.

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Shipping costs

Page48On the day before I left, I sent a parcel full of books to myself because there was way too much in my room for me to carry home. I had to go to town to buy the box at the Post office, then go back to campus, pack my books and secure the parcel, then call a taxi to drive me to another Post office where I could send it. These operations had a cost, so I walked back to campus without the help of the taxi driver. The parcel took a whole week to arrive in Switzerland, and it was a bit strange to see it again. Firstly, because customs had very obviously ripped it open to check the contents and taped it again. And secondly, because with the two addresses on it – same name, different countries – it represents my coming home better than anything else.

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Sense of place

Page47What I like when I go somewhere new is to develop a sense of place. It means meet people from there, learn to predict what happens in that environment, walk around, eat some of the food, adopt your own habits. You don’t usually miss particular events, but rather everyday occurrences. I’m going to miss the friends I’ve made, my favourite caf├ęs in town, places I often visited on campus, even the ones I found unwelcoming. I’ll miss scones with clotted cream and the Blackwell cup I used all the time, the oak tree in front of my window and my favourite activity: student watching. I’m home now hoping I’ll be able to go back next term and see more.

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Page46I have found that a cricket match is an effective metaphor for cultural gaps: when you don’t know the rules, it doesn’t make any sense at all. It suddenly becomes difficult to draw from what you know; if you thought that every team sport works in a way similar with football, you have to let go of your preconceptions. With cricket, it takes a while only to discern who’s playing against who as they all wear the same clothes. You fail to see the reasons motivating the players’ behaviour. With time and observation, though, everything becomes clearer. There are batters, bowlers, wicket-keepers, catchers, and fielders. The game is organized, civilized even. It may have taken time, but it finally makes sense. I have reached that state now as I’m planning my final trip back home. Just when I was starting to understand cricket!

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