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Archive for the ‘Trips’ Category

Page44I had no idea I would suddenly be very busy, going from one thing to the next without much time for reflection; and I’m generally know to be the reflexive, rather than active type. Ignoring this tendency, last Friday I went to Germany, came back to Switzerland on Sunday, left for Paris on Tuesday, and arrived in England on Wednesday. That very same day, I learned a) that the School of English at Kent had recommended me to the Admissions office for a PhD, b) that the University of Geneva had rejected my application for an assistant position, and c) that the Admissions office had made an offer. Meanwhile, I’ve received a lower mark than usual for my unfortunate attempt at creative writing, which means that my 1st has become a 2.1 (non-English people: please don’t ask me what this means) and I’m trying to revise for the exam I have on Tuesday while worrying about getting a scholarship.

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Page43This week-end I was in Lüneburg, a charming town between Hamburg and Hannover where a symposium in Native American / First Nations studies took place. The funny thing about Germans is that for unclear reasons they love American Indians. They have popular novels with a character named Winitou and powwows across the country. Well, if I must be honest, the Swiss are not that different, what with Derib’s Yakari and, as it turns out, a few annual powwows too. But this was not the aim of my trip to this small-scale, sympathetic conference. I met several Americans, Canadians, lots of Germans and a couple of Austrians with whom I had a good time. I interviewed Drew Hayden Taylor, an Ojibway playwright who mostly writes comedies (including “The Berlin Blues”), and on Sunday visited an exhibition on Native Americans in Hamburg which also raised interesting questions, though of a nature that the guide wasn’t quite expecting.

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Page42Having been in Switzerland for a month, it was time for me to find some interest again in local stories. You may know that Suchard used to be made in Neuchâtel, and for a town this size it’s an important historical element. Which is why the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire and the university organized an exhibition which is very agreeable to visit, and I’m tempted to brag about the famous Neuchâtelois family business. Only, to be honest, I’ve never really been a Suchard person. I don’t like Milka, and apart from Suchard Express (and Sugus) I’m not very familiar with the products; I prefer Camille Bloch, Villars, Lindt, Caillers. But now I’ve fallen in love with some of Suchard’s retro ads, and that alone is interesting enough.

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page38My parents are visiting this week. We went to Bath for a couple of days and will drive back home to Switzerland tomorrow. It’s been a busy and enjoyable week, and I appreciated the transition between the end of term and the spring break. Parents can be tricky business, though. Take your eyes off them for one second and they’ll drop their iPhone in the river, stop the car on a roundabout, or let all the things you had carefully arranged in a box fall down the stairs. However, there are good times, and restaurant’s been on them this week, which allowed for a few tasty discoveries, so let’s not be too hard on them.

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page27On Wednesday I went snowshoeing for the first time, with my aunt, on the Chasseral in the Jura mountains. As it hasn’t snowed much since the 31st of December, there were many tracks there already, but it was more interesting when we made our own in the woods and really tested the snowshoes. I have to consider buying a pair next year, they’re great for people who like to hike, as it is very difficult to walk in deep snow. I’m back in Canterbury now, and each time the sun comes out of the clouds I imagine it’s spring. No snow here, nor mountains. I have to adjust and I know I will, but I’m looking forward to hiking in the Alps after Easter.

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The meat chronicles – 1

page26Seeing as I posted my New Year’s resolution on this blog, I’m going to write monthly articles on the subject to share my ideas with you. I went to the zoo in Basel the other day and saw the young hippopotamus with his mother. Farasi’s fate provoked a debate here when the zoo admitted that if no appropriate place is found for him elsewhere when time comes, Farasi will be put down and fed to the other animals. As bad as I feel for the poor little hippo, I’m not particularly shocked by this statment. What makes this animal more important than the cows usually bred for zoo carnivores? Don’t we eat animals? I think that what really matters is the life before the killing, and perhaps that’s where there should be a debate. The pigs we eat often live in terrible conditions, and they’re clever, social animals (and about the same size as Farasi). We tend to choose the wrong target.

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Pipe dream

page204I went to London on a study trip with my class in Native American studies last Wednesday. Given that the British Museum is so close to Covent Garden, and that Saint James Park is on the way back to Charing Cross, I thought I would be able to do some serious shopping after the visit to the museum, and that I would have the opportunity to see the Queen’s exotic birds: in short, have a decent London experience. I told myself that after three hours of daudling about the exposition, we would happily spread throughout the city and meet again in the train at the end of the day, but no! We arrived at the British Museum at 12, and spent endless hour talking to an anthropologist, roaming the library, and examining North American objects. We went out for a quick lunch then, grabbed Starbucks coffees, and went straight back in until we were thrown out at 5.30, then took the train back. Now I’m wondering what’s happening to me. Am I becoming too much of an academic?

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