meus intuitus

Archive for July 2011

the hitchhiker

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This month in France has filled in the gaps left by my last trip to Europe.  Despite my modest efforts, I was mostly a “tourist” during my last trip to Europe.  This time, greatly facilitated by wonderful hosts and one eccentric exchange-mate, I have achieved the status of “traveler.”

Now, I have couchhosted once, couchsurfed several times, and hitchhiked some 12-24 cumulative hours over some 500 kilometers.  I love hitchhiking.

Hitchhiking takes a bland sightseeing itinerary and turns it into a true adventure.  Sure, there are places in this world where hitchhiking may be inadvisable, but one thing I’ve learned is that in most places (even more so in developed nations), people are nice.

Think about the local and regional roads you frequent—going to the supermarket, driving to your parents’ house, driving to school:  What kind of people drive on your roads?  Parents, uncles, middle-managers, carpenters, university students; what I’m getting at is that the vast majority of people on the road are decent human beings.  The world is full of good people—and when they see me, the quirky hitchhiker, they will honk in support, laugh in good humor, throw up their hands up wishing they were adventurous enough to pick me up, or…  they will pick me up.  The people who pick up hitchhikers are among the nicest—but not only that, they are sharp and confident people.

Interestingly, more women picked myself and my female traveling companion up than men.  The men that pick us up are nice, but these women—they are smart and confident women; they have good sense and they are not the type to tolerate a bullshit or malicious hitchhiker.  However, just like these people who pick up hitchhikers, hitchhikers themselves also tend to be good, smart, and world-wise people.

Now, I’m not advocating recklessness—everyone should know how to get out of questionable situations if they want to hitchhike.  I just want to note that, in my dozen pick-ups, I have never felt threatened—and of the dozen hitchhikers I have met, none have ever been assaulted by their drivers.

With this trip to France, I have gained fond memories, great friends, and improved perspective.  However, the best thing I have gained (or regained) is my faith in humanity.

Power can do nasty things, corporatism can systemically ruin whole populations, but humans…  Humans are good.  Couchsurfing, hitchhiking—I’ll never forget the time I’ve spent traveling on nothing more than the kindness of strangers.

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July 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

unpresumptuosity

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I absolutely love how here in France rich wines and cheeses are usual.  Yesterday for lunch, my lab mentor went out and bought baguettes, pate, wine, and cheese for the lab—a “little picnic” he said.  Such a lunch would be guffawed at in the states as dandy-ness.  However, there was absolutely nothing dandy about our picnic arrangement:  We ripped bread out of their brown paper bags, we had great cheeses right out of their plastic wrappers, and we drank 10 year old Bordeaux Superieur from plastic cups.  It’s not about the high-brow elegance or sophistication.  It’s about the simple quality, richness, and experience of the food itself.

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July 29, 2011 at 1:30 am

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termine

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I fly home in a few days.  What an amazing trip it has been!  What a well-spent summer this was.  I now remind my near-future self to be happy and content with what has been and to transition gracefully into another year of medical school.

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July 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm

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moldy goodness

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Throughout this month in France, I have been struggling to acquire a taste for French bleu cheeses.  I like bleu cheese in America, but my experience with bleu cheese has not been authentic at all.  Unlike what I had been accustomed to, French bleu cheeses come not in destroyed little bits laced lightly with hints of blue, but in massive blocs replete with furry blue-indigo craters.  It’s intimidating—the mold on these cheeses is apparent, not merely understood.  As such, it has taken me the better part of a month (until this day at lunch) for me to learn to appreciate the French bleus.  In the end, it came down to de-alienizing my experience by relating what I was tasting to the bleu-esque cheeses I’ve had previously in America.  Once I realized the foundational similarities between the French bleus and the plebean bleus I was accustomed to, I began to appreciate how much richer and more interesting true bleus like Roquefort are.

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July 28, 2011 at 3:23 am

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iron horse

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Adding to my bucket list:  Buying a Harley and riding across America—staying with couchsurfers, eating in diners, and doing all the things a bourgeois vagabond might do.

 

 

 

 

 

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July 27, 2011 at 2:12 am

Posted in expression, Freedom

American smiles

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A common complaint I hear from Europeans who have been to America is how fake some Americans are.  There are Americans who, upon introduction, become your best pal—look down at your watch to check the time then look up and they have forgotten your existence. Such troublesome manners can be of a malicious-fake type (as classically seen in some American women) and other times an oblivious-fickle type.

Europeans, on the other hand, may be less amicable initially—but their smiles come in more measured and predicable appreciations as you get to know them better.

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July 25, 2011 at 5:37 am

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people

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People:  Two very off-the-grid-type polish girls, a tight-lipped couchsurfing ambassador, odd Ukranian guy, and the coolest Turkish political science major.

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July 25, 2011 at 5:24 am

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