Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yeah, I know, it's been a while

Not only have I been busy trying to catch up with reading and homeworks and whatever else, I have also been knocked out by some terrible stomach bug. Yuck. Of course the illness had to hit before my first biology exam on Wednesday and when I have a problem set due and a big lab write up.... My immune system is definitely not worth all the money I paid (and am still paying) for it. Can I get a refund?

Classes are... interesting. In biology at least we're learning stuff. Chemistry, on the other hand, is mind-numbingly boring because we're going over all of this super basic stuff that I still remember from high school extremely slowly. I think it's going to get more interesting once we get done with this chapter and move on.

I like chem lab, bio lab is a completely different story. My TA is not terribly intelligent. I mean, she must be because she's a grad student, so somehow she qualified to get into a grad program, but she makes lots of mistakes about the subject matter we're learning in class. I'm in the first-year biology class, learning the basics of bio that support the rest of the discipline! She should know this stuff! Or at least have reviewed it before recitation!

The kids in my classes are interesting. They apparently have problems reading the instructions for the labs, so a good portion of the class did the lab wrong this week. Most people are not interested in making friends, which is weird, and I feel like a freak for trying to make simple conversation. Honestly, when did talking to the other people in your class go out of style? I mean, there are a certain number of us in the room, we're there together a few times every week, can't we at least make polite conversation with each other?

And then there are the clothes. I haven't seen anyone in pajamas yet, but wow, it's weird to see how differently people dress in the States. Well, let's say "In Soleil's America," because I live in Michigan, and the Midwest has a certain reputation for being, well, not terribly fashionable. Of course there's the typical "camisole + tshirt" combination that doesn't exist at all in France. Layering is an art form among French women, but they don't do it the way we do it. Flip flops are huge here and non-existent in France. Big sweatshirts or t-shirts with the names of universities or your high school sports team or a professional sports team on them. I really don't get why the French don't wear big sweatshirts. They are comfortable and warm. SNEAKERS! Everyone wears sneakers, and again, I don't get why the French don't. When walking long distances I like my feet to be comfortable and not screaming in pain because my oh-so-stylish-very-expensive-boots are pinching my toes, or cursing as the heel of the boot gets caught yet again in between the cobblestones. Clearly Americans win the Smart Shoe contest, even if uncomfortable boots are extremely cute.

Then there's the "I just got out of x sports team practice and I couldn't be bothered to change my clothes but I did put on make up" look. I really don't get the jock-chic look. You know what I mean. The girls who come to class in gym shorts, t-shirts, hair in a ponytail with a cloth headband around the crown of their head, complete with perfectly applied mascara. There are a few possibilities here. One, they did just get out of gym class and stopped to put on mascara but not to shower or change their clothes. Two, they are going to gym class later and will have mascara running into their eyes once they start sweating. Or three, they dress like that because it's some sort of fashion statement. It's mostly the makeup that I object to, otherwise I have no problem with gym clothes in the classroom. Do you really need to wear full make up to go to soccer practice?

Not that I prefer French fashion, because frankly a lot of it is ridiculous and I saw plenty of fashion victims at the lycee where I lived. And I am certainly not at all fashionable. I can barely make myself presentable in the morning, let alone be in style. I just think the differences between the two countries are very interesting. Actually, the people here who dress the most like the French are the Muslim girls who cover their heads and dress modestly, which is funny when you think of the French attitude towards the foulard.


Anonymous said...

I wish that I had of gone to a US uni during term time and not during the summer! I want to see how people dress... it was mostly just casual-type grad students when I was in U.Buffalo. Scientists and computer science grads, so probably not representative at all!

I think you should take sneaky photos of the fashion for us.

I definitely get odd looks when I'm wearing my jandals (flipflops) in France, but they are so comfy. I love them!

Good luck with the experiments and classes, and getting to know the other students.

L said...

Ah, florescent white sneakers with knee high socks. My husband gets the biggest kick out of Americans who dress like that. He says the French view sneakers as what you wear when you're playing sports, end of story. If you're not out jogging or playing soccer, you don't wear sneakers. He does have about 10 pairs of Sketchers leather city shoes though, which are like sneakers except in dark leather with no reflective bands.
As for the sporty chic, I think it's the second choice. They want to still look good, even while working out, so they pile on the make-up and maybe half of it won't drip off. I knew a lot of girls too who considered heavy eye-liner and mascara as essential and multi-function, at the same level as brushing your teeth and your hair.

Eileen said...

lol Soleil, I remember the sporty mascara girls at UT all too well. It's so WEIRD. But I have to disagree on the sneakers--having sold shoes for two years I know that there are comfortable AND cute shoes out there, and if you're buying $50 sneakers, it's worth it to go for the good nice shoes too. They often have advantages that sneakers don't have. But people should certainly wear what they like.

Zhu said...

I really enjoy reading your experience at university. It mirrors mine so much, even though we are studying very different subject. But the way, why science? Just curious.

Anyway, I started a little "series" on my adventures at university. Keep on writing yours, I feel less...lonely in this weird place!