What It’s Like to Work for an NGO

I roll out of bed around 8:15–or 8:30, or 8:45, as the case may be. I get dressed, put some amount of makeup on, and schlep to the 2 or 3 train station–whichever one Google Maps tells me has a shorter wait. I try and guess which car will have less people so I can…

Does Language Immersion Work?

When I was a junior in high school, a former student visited my Spanish class to talk about his study abroad experience in Spain. He hadn’t taken a Spanish class or spoken the language in two years by the time he decided to go. He’d essentially lost any proficiency in Spanish his high school classes…

What It’s Like to Live with a Host Mom

In order to know what it was like to spend almost five months sharing an apartment with a woman who makes a living taking care of foreign twentysomethings a semester at a time, you need to know a little about my host mom, Pilar. Like a lot of the madres that worked with my program, Pilar is…

¡Estoy en Madrid!

Yes, I made it. I figured out the airport,1 the metro,2 and the door to my host mother’s apartment, and settled down in Madrid with all of my luggage and most of my wits about me. I’ve been here just over 24 hours3 (I think–who knows what happened when I crossed all those time zones)…

Why I Spent My Birthday at the Hospital

It had a lot to do with the fact that my doctor only performs surgeries on Mondays, and my birthday happened to fall on a Monday this year.1 It also had a lot to do with the chronic pain I’d been experiencing for the past year. Ever since the Fall Break of my sophomore year,…

Does My Lipstick Match My Identity?

Earlier this week I had to get a surgical procedure done (more on that later, I promise), and the nurse prepping me for it asked that I take my piercings out. I declined at first, insisting that I didn’t know how to take them out–which wasn’t exactly true. The truth is, I could take them…

Switching Focus

I find life overwhelming. Sometimes I simply cannot believe that the world exists, that it holds war and pollution in pain, people that die too young and people who don’t bring themselves to care, alongside activism and nature and love, people that write poems and people who help each other for no reason other than…

Can’t Fight This Feeling

I’ve felt off lately. Only this year, it’s not a scratchy throat and sniffly nose. It’s internal, a vast, cloudy feeling that’s been colonizing larger and larger tracts of my consciousness. Sometimes, it sends me on long walks through the glen or across empty fields, and other times, it leaves me lying in bed and…

Fragments

Poet, translator, essayist, and embodiment of my life goals Anne Carson is on campus this week, and yesterday I went to her Q&A. While talking about writing and inspiration, she described how she often has ideas of things she wants to write and then plays with form until she find their “home.” Some ideas are…

You Can Hold It Against Me: On Keeping Grudges

It’s a societal default to believe that grudges are bad. I’m not supposed to hold onto negativity. I’m supposed to remember that people change. That’s all well and good for small transgressions. The classmate that seemed rude may have just been shy. The friend that snapped at me may have just been tired. The boy…

I Should Drop My Routines Like a Bad Habit

Some people need help making routines; I need help breaking them. I have this nasty habit of seeing any aberration from my established schedule as a personal failure. For instance, last night I had to stay up late to finish an essay, and when I finally crawled into bed I set my alarm for later…

When a Small School Feels Smaller (and smaller, and smaller…)

Last year I wrote about how much I loved going to a small (~2000 student) college. And while I still love the intimate environment that is the Small Liberal Arts College Experience, like with any mature relationship, my love has grown more nuanced over time. Like the way a person starts to notice her partner’s…