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Archive for the ‘Canterbury’ Category

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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page35Caroline and I went to the free art class at Coffee & Corks in town. I had made the decision that I would do something different this time: spread generous amounts of paint, use bold colours. The theme we were given was “self-portrait”, only without using physical features. Instead, there were large picture books on China we could draw inspiration from. Well, I’m not sure what kind of self-portrait this is, but I’ve managed to go a long way from my usual sketching, and I enjoyed the experience. Usually, I’m really a routine person. I introduce something new, assess the result, and either keep it religiously or discard it without much regret. I’m not sure yet which of these categories the art class will belong to. Who knows, I might even create a new one.

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page32Ever since I arrived in Canterbury I’ve been looking for cafés where I can relax quietly away from campus while eating great food. With Café St Pierre I’m certainly getting closer to my aim. If you want to have French pastries with tea in the afternoon and a laid-back atmosphere to help you enjoy them (and you’re not afraid of butter), then this is the ideal place to go. I’ve been there with friends and I’ve been there on my own, and it turns out to be the kind of place where you can have a lively conversation, or open a book and read very comfortably. Even though I really like cafés with a more local touch, when it comes to true sophistication, French is the way to go!

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page30In January I decided to start an experiment. During the spring term, I’m not going to buy any meat from a supermarket (except if it’s organic). The idea is to explore alternatives more regularly, learn about the origin of meat, and see if the butcher really costs that much. So far, this system has worked vers well. I buy cheap cuts at the Farmer’s Market and get better meat with good value. I don’t eat huge quantities, only about 3-400 grams a week, and there I can buy just the amount I need. However, I have made two exceptions at Tesco. The first one was when I didn’t find the organic chicken stock I usually buy and chose another brand, and the second was a tin of anchovies I bought there (I didn’t want fresh anchovies). Other than that, I’m a Tesco vegetarian. Overall it’s an interesting experience: I’ve been eating healthy foods from the Goods Shed, which is also eco-friendly (local, no packaging), often tastes better, and doesn’t cost more in the end.

New Year’s resolution

January

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Life versus cupcakes

page29As has become clear to me lately, life is not pink, it’s not particularly sweet, and it doesn’t have much glitter. That’s why I’ve been eating quite a few of these cupcakes, and generally indulging in more tangible pleasures. When I go to Boho, I appreciate the immediate, and quite radical, change of atmosphere which helps me get away from some of the February greyness. Here, you feel like you’re lost somewhere between the 60s and Neverland, or perhaps in an old cabin with a very palpable bohemian touch. With statues of both Jesus and an Indian chief on the window sill, you let the outside world become vague and iconic as you decide wether you’re up for the big, heavy, creamy chocolate cupcake, or would prefer the smaller, brighter, sweeter icing version. The cupcake is not merely a matter of taste, but a question of style, and dare I say it, a statement on life.

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The walk

page28I’ve been back in Canterbury for almost two weeks but I find it harder to decide what to draw and what to say than I did during my first stay. Nothing looks all that new anymore, and winter weather doesn’t make things appear particularly exciting. But one thing has changed: I now take a daily walk from the house to the little church which overlooks the campus from a hill in the north. My short incursions into the countryside allow me to keep at least some of my sanity and forces me to deserve a small portion of the food I swallow each day. I like to walk across the churchyard on my way back and see the old tombstones. They all look very gothic, tilted among moss and ivy, some of them almost hidden by the grass. You rarely see this in Switzerland where after a few decades new tombs replace the ancient ones.

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Midterm crisis

page151Midterm blues is the stroke felt by all students when paths become muddy and paved with puddles, when the wind is so strong that it tears umbrellas to shreds, when dusk takes over at four, and essay deadlines make us feel more guilty than usual for not filling our very short days with studious hours. Midterm crisis hits you when you realize that this term, again, your lecturers will fail to be amazed by your brilliant papers, recognize your genius, and secure you academic fame. In spite of what the University of Kent leaflets promised me, this is not so much a life-changing experience as an additional year of studies. Never mind, I can deal with this. I just need a few creamy drinks, a handful of good novels, and a warm place to wait for Christmas.

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