The Power of Loneliness + PAUL SIMON

I’ve been in at least 2 situations where bouncers don’t bother to check my age while my companions get stopped- each of them older than me! Sorta cool.

Also, although I love being so distanced from America through boycotting a conventional smartphone texting service and its apps (snapchat, etc.) and facebook, I admit that that distance has left me feeling lonely more often than I like. Even 3 months in, it’s still sort of strange to rely on email, skype, this blog, and pretty much the post in order to contact friends and fam. However, I still think it’s worth it to stick it out until I return to the states. I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to majorly de-tech myself (OMG that was an AWESOME PUN. ((detach ~ de-tech)) ) in the future without many formidable consequences. But then I think, but this is just like how it used to be… weird.

pullingtheplug

pulling the plug

Loneliness isn’t the same as being alone. As an introvert, I thrive on alone time and rarely feel lonely during those periods. However, although I do have an abundance of independent Sophie time at college, much more than during high school, that amount pales in comparison to the amount at Queen Mary. It’s probably because of a multitude of factors: less in-class instruction time, fewer extracurriculars, fewer friends (it’s worked out well- there’s more to it than just a number, though), etc. And don’t get me wrong- it’s not like I didn’t have enough activities or ideas to fill it. But the fact is that, at least for me, studying abroad exposed me to possibly the most unstructured free time I’ve ever faced (maybe barring childhood summers.)

Predictably, it’s been both favorable and disappointing at times. I’ve relearned how to motivate myself to start essays 3 weeks before they’re due (an eon in college time) but have also confronted new (and accordingly, scary) levels of self-reliance. Going into this experience, I think I understood this partially, but by being in a wildly new place and situation, it’s going to be pretty important to like yourself. You’ll be your only companion, navigator, (mental) conversation partner, and much more during many, many minutes. The specificity of that “many, many” is of course dependent on the type of person you are, but nonetheless, it will probably still be atypically high.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a stable group of pals since I was little. At school, camps, and other programs I’d prioritize forming bonds with the other kids. But here, although I’ve met some great people, I’ve sought the social interaction I crave in a pretty different way. Or maybe it just feels that way. Here, I supplement my social quota by chatting with strangers also waiting for a haircut or for the concert to start, per se. Relatedly, I feel human connection when

Thousands of strangers squeezed into one arena are suspended in the same energy-charged ether emanating from not just the world-class performers on stage but each other… Hands reach to encircle their lover’s waists, eyes close to minimize distraction from the music, and an undeniable feeling of togetherness unites the pulsing crowd. Even though I’ve come to this concert by myself, there’s no chance of feeling alone.

So yeah, Paul Simon and Sting… you might think of them as peanut butter and pickles, musically. But after being physically tired out by the hit-after-hit, nearly three hour long extravaganza, I have no choice to report that this fusion was incredibly successful. Of course, Sting had a chance to do his rock’n’roll thing and Paul Simon unleashed some particularly mellow tunes on his own time, but when they did collaborate, it was harmonious (PSIMON PUN). I lost track, but I think they played something like three separate encores, each bowling over the audience more than the last- “Cecilia”, “Every Breath You Take”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”… A total of 36 whopping songs.

Favorite parts:

-When Paul Simon first came on stage, which unexpectedly left me with a face slick with tears. I think it was because I was so happy to see such an influential musician who provided me with stories and harmonies that kept me feeling grounded and comforted during intense times of growing up.

-“You Can Call Me Al” sent the entire audience into a dancing, clapping frenzy. Paul definitely proved his power as a performer.

-“Every Breath You Take”. It was magical. Sting has the voice of a young rockstar, still- the timelessness of his performance was spellbinding.

MUAH :-*

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So it’s reading week. We have no classes and the point is to use this time for individual study. Therefore, all the study abroad kids study catapult their notebooks as far away as possible and jet-set for the entire week.

This also means that I’ve made it halfway through the teaching semester (though not the halfway point of my stay.) It’s been almost a month and a half. It’s been a whirlwind to get this far. One thing I have to say to all you lovely readers is

Thank you for reading this blog. Being abroad with no real phone for communication and relying mostly on email, Skype, and this blog, I knew it’d be a challenge to stay in touch. However, so many of my friends and family have embraced this blog as my chosen way of communication, easing so much pressure to write long, detailed accounts of my well-being and activities to each one of you. (Although I still do sometimes because I enjoy it, but the point is that I’m not obligated to for every person I care about.) So, thank you! I genuinely appreciate it. xoxo


p.s. This is my first scheduled post! So although I should be without a computer in Prague when this is published, it’ll still be published! How cool.

Fast Times in Mammals & Evolution

It’s 12:38. We’re all developing a thin glaze over our eyes from nearly two hours of lecture about marsupials and mammals. But then, out of nowhere, my pony-tailed professor pulls out a

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HUMAN PLACENTA

caught between shock, disgust and intense curiosity

He’s got the sterile gloves on to prove its authenticity and deep amusement sparkles in his eyes. This guy is almost nuts, but not quite. An immortal soundbite: “Sadly it’s lost a bit of its colour…”

There’s a marked difference in the humor over here. I really like it. It’s cheekier, sassier, and enhanced by the contrasting reservation of stereotypical Brits.

Some of my favorite funnies since I’ve been here:

(On an ad for a humor festival with a picture of supermarket chickens):
Now is the winter of our discount hens.

This ad for Las Vegas: DSC01050

On a greeting card: How do you approach an angry Welsh cheese? Caerphilly.


Darwin Day is a celebration of all things evolution. It’s held on his birthday, February 12th, and places all over the world offer up lectures and activities to spread the joy of this phenomenon. This year, Richard Dawkins is speaking at the London event and I would LOVELOVELOVE to go but have concert tickets for that night. On that note, if you like music characterized by harmonies, folk, Bon Iver prodigies, and sisters (<3 hey Em!), check them out here!)


Also, since it seems that many still aren’t sure how to contact me, here’s a list of HOT OR NOT to let you know how I can be reached. Trust me, you don’t want to land on the latter list.

Hot:

-Wes email

-QM email (ask if you want it but it just forwards to my Wes one anyway)

-this blog

-texting (I have a UK number)

-calling (UK number)

-skype

-letter!

What’s not:

-Texting/calling my US phone

-any app (snapchat included)

Facebook


And finally, yesterday I used some pink water leftover from boiling my beets to make pink pancakes! They didn’t taste like beets but lovely little scarlet cloud puffs. Here there’s a tradition right before Lent (Shrove Tuesday) of using up your sweets or indulgent foods to make pancakes. It’s occurring the day before my birthday this year and there’s all kinds of celebrations. My flatmates are planning on pancaking all day and I might check out a pancake race!

pancakeme