Thursday, September 29, 2011

You Know You're A Judo Player When ...

For those of you not lucky enough to have discovered the joys of having your backside used as a mop several times a week, here is my own version of You Know You're A Judo Player When, in no particular order.

You know you're a judo player when ...

* You can accurately guess any stranger's weight within 5 pounds, even when they're wearing lots of clothing.
* You have a tendency to foot-sweep doors when you open them.
* No matter how badly you trip, you will never fall.
* If you do fall, you do so spectacularly, and you will end up on your feet while everyone around you gapes and asks if you're okay.
* Watching MMA drives you nuts because your man needs to just throw him already it's not that hard!!!
* You can sprain your ankle, limp off the mat, tape it up, and be back in fighting position in under 30 seconds.
* You never, never bounce when you walk.
* You think nothing of regularly and voluntarily placing yourself in socially compromising positions with strangers of the opposite sex. That is, until your boyfriend/best friend/grandmother comes to watch practice one day ...
* Some days you resemble a leopard because of all the fingerprint bruises you have on your body. You don't notice them, or remember how they got there.
* You have been asked by a stranger if you are in an abusive relationship, for the same reason.
* You will, always and forever, cross your bathrobe left over right and properly tie the sash.
* You've been beaten up pretty thoroughly by a really old dude at least once in your life.
* You've sprained every joint in your body at least once.
* You know what every muscle in your body does, because they've all been sore enough to let you know exactly when and how you move them, for a few days on end.
* You always have, somewhere in your house, a collection of Ace bandages, sports tape, and joint braces. And maybe even a pair of crutches. Just in case.
* You just keep coming back, no matter how old/tired/busy/out of shape you are. It's in your blood.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Real Optimism Update

You need to go check out these photos. Immediately. Thank you for listening.

Not An Optimism Update

Okay, I crack. This will just be a regular-life update instead of an optimism update, because it's my third week away from home which is always the week I get really homesick, plus I feel a fibro-flare-up coming on.

I should actually be making lunch right now, because it's 2:30pm and being hungry makes me crankier. After this post.

I just got back from Oral French class. Disaster. Mainly because there were 50 or 60 people in the class, and there were three girls in my "small group" who immediately took over, did all the talking, decided what they were going to say during the presentation, didn't let anyone else get a word in edgewise, and the couple of times I was able to butt in and make a few suggestions, they just stared at me unsmilingly and immediately went back to what they were saying to each other. Think, basically, "worst group partners ever."

Intermediate 2 does seem to be my correct level for oral though; but I can't imagine I'll get very much out of it with only 1.5 hours of class per week and that many students. I came right home and signed up for a "tandem linguistique", which is a one-on-one language exchange with another person, via a website run by the university. Hopefully I can get something once or twice a week, with someone who knows what they're talking about and who can actually be helpful in teaching specifics of the language (a linguist, ideally).

That being said, my ability to understand lectures is fantastic; if I wasn't so horrified by my inability to express myself I'd be having the time of my life, academically. I think I might just audit the dry-as-bones, kindergarten-level intermediate 2 grammar and take the French linguistics class for credit. The grammar class has just enough important stuff that I feel like I should probably go, but I totally love linguistics and I miss doing it.

Part of my problem is that I'm generally a very articulate person, so I think that not being able to express myself exactly as I wish is possibly more frustrating for me than it is for most people.

Also, do you know how much work your triceps do every day? I didn't, until my left one decided to get insanely sore during practice last night. Wtf??

And judo will be cut down to twice a week, officially, because I'm going to start going to a choir on Thursday nights. They're putting on a Mozart Mass this weekend (which I will miss because I'll be in Zurich) so I assume (hope) they're pretty good. That's okay; I was already considering skipping out on Thursdays anyway because it's more beginner level and mainly just serves to tire me out for real practice on Friday.

Goal for .... eventually/soon: make it to the end of the full two hours of judo practice. I made it to an hour and a half last night, but that was with sitting out every other round of fighting. Doesn't count. Did better in my round with the sensei, though.

I'm giving an up-to-an-hour-long presentation in my British Revolutions class in one month, at the end of October, on the Irish rebellion of 1641. I am so screwed. I have one month to get comfortable enough speaking French that I can get over my extreme case of stage fright AND say something intelligent AND speak understandably to all the other students in the room. OMG OMG OMG OMG WIPEOUT 0_0

And to thank those of you who made it to the end of this crank-fest, I hope that the bizzare-ity of the next 50 seconds of your life will be upped significantly by watching this little video:

Not gonna lie, it just made my giggle, even after writing all that nonsense.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 1 and 3/4

It's Monday, the first day of classes (and also my brother Danny's 16th birthday!), and I've gotten through 3 of 4 successfully so far. The fourth one is French grammar, which I have in a little over an hour.

So far, so good. The first two classes (Latin, and early modern concepts of "liberty of conscience") went fine; I had no problem understanding anything and both seem like they will be very interesting. After four hours of class back to back, I went home for lunch (because it only takes me 10 minutes to walk home, hurrah!) and back for my third class. That was more difficult, because the prof has a very heavy American accent when he speaks, and so I have to think really hard in order to follow what he's saying.

Observations thus far:

* Apparently, it is the French/German tradition to start class actually 15 minutes later than it is scheduled for. So I showed up at 7:50am, all ready to settle into an 8am Latin class, only to be told that it started, actually, at 8:15, teehee aren't we cute and relaxed. And actually it ended up starting at 8:30 because that's what was printed in the theology school's program. So I was 40 minutes early to class this morning. Can't say I've ever had that happen before.

* I was learning Latin, in French, from a native German speaker. Which mean that when we started doing spontaneous translations out loud, I had to go Latin-English-French, or French-English-Latin. Ugh. Can't wait till I can bypass the English bit.

* I have an upwards-of-an-hour presentation on the Irish rebellions of 1641, in French, in one month. Gack!

* After four straight hours of lectures and learning in French, my brain hurt. A lot.

* I can't take notes in French because it takes me too long to write, but at least I'm at the point of instantaneous translation: The prof speaks in French and I scribble simultaneously in English, without having to think. This is a step in the right direction.

* Finally, unrelated to classes but important nonetheless: I've discovered that at about 5pm, the grocery store near my res starts slapping the "50% Off" stickers on the fresh items (salads, yogurts, sandwiches). So if I hold off until then, I can go and get myself a meal for about the same price as it would be if I were just buying regular groceries and cooking them myself, but this system has the varied perks of (a) I save money, (b) I'm getting way more fresh veggies in my diet than I would otherwise, (c) it's super quick, and (d) I don't have to use the wonky communal stove and the too-small pot and pan that I have.

French class is about to start - the last of the day. By the time it's done I will have been in class for 8 hours and around campus for 12. Sleep will be so wonderful tonight.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

7 Quick Takes - The Late Version

Okay, so I kind of missed the boat this week. I blame it on (circle all that apply) judo, class readings, unsuccessfully standing in line for train tickets, drinking Oktoberfest beers with a bunch of singing Scotsmen, the beautiful weather, being disorganized, and being abducted by aliens.

Not really on the last one, as far as I know. 

- 1 -

I got my care package from home yesterday. It was such a great feeling! It included hockey tape (which is really the only good tape for weak joints, as far as I see it), corn muffin mix, Goldfish crackers, and a couple of Ace bandages. Of course, listing it like that makes me sound like some kind of carb-aholic moron who's prone to hurting herself. Which I am, actually, come to think of it. And the package came not a moment too soon: I had almost run out of tape because I've been using it to keep the bandage on my burned finger (don't ask), so I brought one of the new rolls to practice last night. Which meant I had it on hand when I sprained my left ankle, again, for the third time in 5 weeks. Geez. Which means that next week, I'll be able to put the Ace bandages to good use, too! Oh goody! Oh hockey tape from Chucky's, how I love you. You improve my life a hundredfold.

- 2 -

French update: I've been doing my readings for my first class on Monday in French. It makes my head hurt, but it's getting easier. I now realize that part of the problem was that the first section I was reading just actually didn't make any sense; it wasn't just my language skills. It's a book from the early seventies that has huge run-on sentences and goes into excruciating detail about the requests for Masses that were bequeathed in the wills of French dudes in the 17th and 18th century. Yawn. That would be hard enough to concentrate on in English. But every time I sit down to do it, it gets easier, I read quicker, and I retain more of the information, so hopefully I can finish the last chapter and one more article today and have tomorrow pretty well free for other shenanigans. 

- 3 -

I'm going to visit a friend from Montreal in Zurich next weekend, which is why I need to go get myself a train pass. It should be a good time. I'm trying to read up in my travel book what to see in 2 days in Zurich! Any suggestions by the way? But it seems, size-wise, comparable to Geneva, so as long as I plan things out well I should be able to take in most of what I'd like to see. How do backpackers do it, spending a month "doing" Western Europe and all that sort of thing? Blows my mind.

- 4 -

Another French update: I was very pleased to see that, as a boursière, I am entitled to 2 free French classes per term. Hurrah! Which means that, if I include the second part of the grammar seminar, my courseload has almost doubled. So I don't think I'll include that, haha. I also don't think I'll be getting official credit for them because I won't be here during the exam period, which runs last week of January to third week in February. But whatever, that's not why I'm taking them. I just need to learn things like prepositions, conjunction words for complex sentences, and have someone correct the dumb things I say.

- 5 -

One thing I really like about Geneva is just how small it is. It has all of the cool stuff to do that Montreal had, but it basically takes me a max of 15 minutes to get anywhere. I haven't even bought a tram pass yet because I can literally just walk everywhere. Of course, it helps that my res is so well situated, but still - it's 1 minute to the grocery store, 2 minutes to judo and church, 10 minutes to school, the Old City is right next to school, and the lake is another 10 minutes past it. It's been quite an adjustment to not have to budget a lot of time into my day just to get from one place to another. But a good one. (I miss driving my truck though. Just saying.)

- 6 -

Along with judo three times a week (which I might cut down to twice a week because judo two nights in a row is kind of rough on the body), I've also been trying to get my butt out of bed and into the little "gym" we have in the basement. 20 minutes on the bike and 5 minutes rowing before breakfast. I probably burn like, 80 calories, but it feels good to get the heart rate up and put a little oomph into my morning. Of course, then I'm totally famished. I've had to break down and augment my "breakfast"/snack with a hardboiled egg and a yogurt, because if I don't have just a bit of protein in the morning I'm starving, exhausted, and grouchy for the rest of the day.

- 7 -

One small thing that I've noticed here: the women here wear basically no makeup. Maybe some mascara for the office ladies, but that's about it. I brought all kind of makeup with me in the expectation that it would be like Ireland, where all females starting at about age 10 absolutely smother their faces in makeup, to the point where you stand out if you don't have any on. It's refreshing not to have to do that, and saves me 15 minutes in the morning.

That's it for this week! Stop over to Jen's for a sampling of all the people who got their Quick Takes in on time!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bureaucracy - Swiss Style

Today I had the best bureaucratic experience of my life.

Okay, take your chins off the floor, and/or stop laughing.



I had to go register with the cantonal authorities this morning, in order to extend my visa beyond the original 3 months that was given to me in Montreal. Switzerland, like any self-respecting country, sees value in controlling who passes through its borders, for what reason, and for how long. So, aside from the minor inconvenience of having to skip my morning "workout", I had no problem with this.

Well. I have dealt with American bureaucracy (DMV, schools, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies), Canadian bureaucracy (student visas, work visas, immigration papers, postal service, border crossings) and Quebec bureaucracy (visas, visas, visas, immigration, health "care", driving license, schools, banks ... you name it). So when I was told I had a 9:15am appointment at this particular office out in the 'burbs this morning, and that I needed to bring my passport, my school attestation, and 237 francs, I expected something more along the lines of "show up at 8:45 because appointments don't mean anything, wait until 10:30 or so, get told you are missing documentation because you weren't actually told to bring it, have to make another appointment and/or pay extra money and/or go to another bureaucratic office box, argue with the person, be on the verge of tears because it's now past lunch and you've been up since 6am and you don't understand the language very well and you don't even want to be here anyway so who cares if my photograph is .03mm under the proscribed size???" Etc.

Anyone who's ever done anything in Canada or Quebec knows what I'm talking about. Especially if you had to do the same thing twice, one for each "nation" and each time slightly different and more expensive.

So what actually happened today? I got on the bus, which showed up on time. I was at my destination in 15 minutes because the buses here don't get stopped in traffic. I walked in and was told that since I had an appointment, I could go straight to the back. I showed them my documents, including absolutely everything that I've ever filled out for this place, just in case they needed something which they didn't warn me about, but all they wanted were the three things they had originally asked for. I paid my fee. I waited 3 minutes until 9:15, when I was let in the back to have my photo and fingerprints taken. The guy told me my papers should be in in a week or two. I left the building at 9:20am.

I still had enough time on my one-hour bus ticket to pay for the ride home. Huzzah.

There was the little hiccup that when my bus finally came, there was another at the stop letting on passengers, so the guy just wagged his finger at me as he drove by, while I gestured wildly. Whatever, I got on the next bus, got off two stops earlier than I would have on the correct bus, and had an extra 15 minutes added to my walk home.

I want to marry this city.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Andrea Chenier

Last night I went to the opera. Let me list the awesomeness, for fear that my words will otherwise get in the way:

* I went to the opera in Switzerland.
* I went to the opera in Geneva.
* I went to the opera for free!
* I sat in, literally, the best seats I have ever sat in at any show ever. We were 6th row from the stage on the floor, seats 1 and 2 - meaning exactly, exactly center.
* The heroine and the villain were amazing. The hero was good enough, but the other two had such chemistry, such expression, and such sparkling clear voices (and thanks to my synaesthesia, I do in fact literally mean sparkling) that I am still haunted by one scene that they had together towards the end.
* The Grand Théâtre - oh my goodness, I have no words for the extreme beauty and classical design of the interior - statues, trompe l'oeil, paintings, carvings, plaster work, gilding, everything. And like the biggest loser EVER I DIDN'T BRING MY CAMERA!!! I will forever kick myself for this, and try to remedy it by going to see a ballet there before I leave.
* I bought a glass of champagne at intermission. Just because I never have before and I don't know if I ever will again.
* The opera had a cast of about 80. This is because it was a professional production, which I have never seen live-and-in-front-of-me before. And the sets were incredible. So was the lighting. And the costumes. And the etc.
* Oh gosh, it was so wonderful.

Funny thing: Andrea Chenier is an opera about the French Revolution, but written in Italian. Which was funny, because, bring produced in Geneva where everyone speaks French, they'd be singing along in Italian and all the sudden drop a very Frenchly-pronounced French word or name, which made my listening-to-languages part of my brain have a hiccup. Then my brain would giggle. It tickled just a bit.

Everyone dies at the end. It's so romantic, lol.

The background to this story is simply that I am a part of an expats-in-Switzerland website called Glocals which basically works like Facebook, in that members join and create groups and host activities for which they send invites, etc. I've done a few things through them so far, including salsa dancing last week, and while it's cool to get out and do all sorts of different things, I am kind of uncomfortable with (a) hanging out with English-speaking expats, and (b) the idea that people need to look on the internet to do activities with strangers because they have no real-life friends. Which obviously simplifies it a lot, but I'm trying to make a point here. Point being: I'm uncomfortable with the internet. The end.

Back to the opera: this Japanese lady, who it turns out had lived in Montreal for two years a while ago, posted an event that said she had two tickets to an opera but the friend she had asked couldn't go, so were there any takers. Oh boy, I jumped all over that one. I didn't even realize it would be free until we emailed each other about the details. Huzzah! She was very nice and happy to have someone to accompany her, and I was like having conniption fits of joy over being a real live professional opera OMG, so it worked out really great.

The end. For real. The awesome, musical, sparkly end.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Ugh, I'm so not a writer. Maybe I shouldn't take weekends off from blogging, because it just makes it that much harder to start up again on Monday. It'll only get worse once classes start next week, I'm sure. Okay, I'll stop kvetching now.

I propose a new point to this blog: that I should try to use at least one Yiddish word per post. Yiddish makes everything spicier/clearer/funnier/crankier/truer. Discuss.

I'm kind of tired, so I think I'll save any real posting for tomorrow. I have to take a nap so I'm ready to go out to the opera tonight with some girl I've not yet met who had an extra free ticket that she won. Huzzah!

Friday, September 16, 2011

7 Quick Takes

Welcome to 7 Quick Takes! In my attempt to become a real blogger (har har), I'm going to try to keep this up each week. Oh wait, have I said that before? Go check out Jen's Takes at, as well as a list of real bloggers who really do this. For real.

- 1 - 

In an effort to improve my French comprehension and just get used to the (snooty-tooty) accent here, I'm been playing talk radio as background noise when I'm just puttering around my room and the interwebs. People who know me generally know about my complete inability to function with any background noise whatsoever, most especially when it involves stuff that involves my brain. Jazz music, classical music, TV, and talk radio are at the top of that list. (This is why, incidentally, I listen to country music or late 90's/early 2000's pop/rock when I'm driving - I would crash the car otherwise.) So, have French nattering going on constantly in the background grinds my nerves down like you wouldn't believe. However, I have noticed that it's been helping my comprehension - if I actually decide to listen to it, I can usually follow the conversation; and when I go out and have to deal with sales people or whatever who talk fast and/or mumble I'm having a much easier time understanding immediately and being able to respond. So, the radio will stay on. 

- 2 -

Jet lag update: nothing to report! Hurrah! I'm still not sleeping completely through the night, but last night I was not awake enough to bother getting up to read or do anything useful in the wee hours. I feel pretty normal and fully-functioning. I still have the urge to nap in the late morning but that's nothing unusual, and it certainly doesn't make me a zombie if I don't (and I usually don't). I think getting up at 4:30am to milk on and off during the summer helped a lot in terms of my body being able to adjust to a 5 hour time difference.

- 3 - 

One thing I miss already about general North American culture: breakfast. Like real, honest-to-goodness food in the morning. Here, breakfast consists of a demi-baguette with jam, and coffee (here at the res, where breakfast is included, we can also get tea instead of coffee, and a choice of butter or spreadable cheese to go with our bread and jam). Things I want right now: 2 eggs over easy, baked beans, bacon, hot buttered toast, orange juice and tea, coffee that's not espresso, fruit, and yogurt. Please, can someone give me that as a late Christmas present?

- 4 -

I have a bidet in my room. This was originally supposed to be its own post, but I thought that speaking about my porcelain facilities for an entire post might offend those with more delicate sensibilities. If this includes you, please go to #5 now. For those of you still interested but unfamiliar with a bidet, it looks like either a toilet with no tank or seat, and/or a too-short sink with no faucet. Basically, I'm American (which could, again, be an entire post on its own). I have no idea how to use the thing on a practical level, other than a general idea of what it's supposed to do. And judging from the peeks into open doors of the other rooms on this floor, no one else does either. Many girls seem to be using it for extra storage space - one girl had deposited her purse in it. Ha! I think that's enough on this subject. Be warned: bidet-related toilet humor may start to appear on this blog, if I ever become creative enough to think of "something funny + bidet".

- 5 - 

Okay, everyone's back with me? Good. On a semi-related note, you'll notice that I have not posted any pictures yet. This is for the very good reason that I am extremely lazy. I took some cool pics from the airplane as we flew over Lake Geneva before landing, and I took a couple of pictures of the lake up close. But other than that, I've been too busy doing other things/getting lost/discovering the cool stuff to take pictures of/forgetting to bring my camera. So, fear not! I will, one day, post some Geneva pictures. Once I have them.

- 6 - 

It's really humid here. Like, as bad as Montreal. It doesn't feel sticky like Montreal does, but I can tell how humid it is because (a) my bangs are trying to curl and (b) when I walk anywhere, even when it's 15 degrees, I get wicked sweaty. It doesn't help that the temperature change from night to day is about 15 degrees difference, so for instance, it was 11 degrees when I got dressed this morning but it's supposed to go up to 25-27 this afternoon. Basically, once the sun comes over the mountain it gets hot. It's beautiful and pleasant, but the mountains have been obscured by haze for a couple of days now so I kind of hope it rains soon so I can go get some nice clear pictures of the local scenery. For some reason I didn't expect it to be humid here and/or I forgot what it's like, so it's been kind of an adjustment, one that involves changing my clothes multiple times a day.

- 7 - 

I made my first real dish yesterday evening; hide-the-peas. In fact, it was the first dish that I made successfully in res when I first moved away seven years ago. It really is the perfect dorm-kitchen dish: it can be made with very little equipment, it keeps well, and has important food items such as meat, peas, and potatoes that an unambitious dorm-cook might not otherwise get. It's actually just my family's variation on shepherd's pie/pâté chinois: we use peas instead of corn, and I like to put onions in the meat when I brown it. I even found little aluminum cake pans that come with a lid, so I could just bake it and pop it right in my fridge for later. Hurrah! I'm going to go eat some right now!

Don't forget to hop over to Jen's for some more Quick Takes. See you next week!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Radio

Not related to anything, really: I'm listening to CFCY online (the PEI local country radio station which I always listen to at home, much to the disgust of my siblings) and just listened to the 4pm news update and the weather, which included the words "On this Thursday afternoon". It's 9pm here now, and I just felt for a moment like I was in my truck, driving past the bakery outlet on my way home from town and listening to the radio with the windows down and the sun shining, but a bit cool because it is autumn after all.

Geneva's pretty, but it ain't home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Days

I feel like I've been here two weeks. In lieu of a proper written post, here's a list of things I've done so far since landing in Geneva Monday morning:

* Moved into a dorm room - my first real dorm room ever
* Met several cute old French-speaking nuns who run the residence
* Slept through breakfast two days in a row
* Found a judo club
* Gone to judo class
* Found a church nearby
* Visited the basilica (PS - if any piece of art or decoration in your church requires the words "It can be interpreted as ..." in the description, someone needs to get fired. Like, for instance, the priest responsible.)
* Called my parents
* Registered at the university
* Met most of the members of my department
* Gotten my bursary
* Been refused a bank account
* Discovered that the post office handles common daily banking, not the banks
* Met two girls speaking English in my res
* Met a French speaking girl
* Gone food shopping twice
* Been shocked and awed at the prices of food to eat out here
* Walked so much my feet hurt
* Twisted my ankle again
* Not taken any pictures yet
* Seen the Alps ... from the plane
* Set up my internet
* Gone salsa dancing
* Spoken pretty much all French
* Had many people treat me like a moron because I either don't understand well or don't speak well
* Gotten a cell phone (+41 78 906 84 68)
* Emailed my friend in Paris
* Chosen my classes ... for the most part
* Had a minor panic attack
* Been homesick
* Bought Swiss chocolate
* Failed to buy cheap wine
* Eaten crap food like I haven't done in years ... hopefully that will settle down soon once I settle in
* Bought travel guides to Geneva and Switzerland
* Pet a dog
* Nearly gotten run over in traffic
* Took the wrong tram
* Asked for and received directions in French without a problem
* Saw the lake up close
* Paid my school fees
* Done much much better with the jetlag than last year

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Insomnia Update

The problem with waking up at 2:30am (it's currently 4:15am CEST) is that, not only am I tired the next day, but I also get really hungry and I have a hard time falling back asleep.

And it's hot in my room. An improvement over Ireland, for sure.

Just, you know, in case you were wondering.

Judo en Genève

30 hours in the city, and I've found my way onto a judo mat. 8 Hours in the city and I'd already found a club. It's like radar or something. Ju-dar.

It's a great club. I was nervous when I was checking around online because it says it's a "Judo-Jujitsu" club, and usually when a club has judo and jujitsu together it means jujitsu with the occasional throw. But I went last night to watch the practice, seeing as I stumbled upon it just 15 minutes before the adult class was to start, and checked it out. There were only 8 people last night, mainly teen boys, but they were doing real legit judo and they were all under control. Almost on a whim I went back tonight with my gi, since I was figuring I'd be too tired and jetlagged to do anything useful. But besides my alarm not going off so I slept through breakfast this morning, I've actually been fine all day.

Back to judo. Today there were a lot more people - I'd guess probably 40 by the end, with a good number of brown and black belts and even a few old guys (which is a good thing - it means they don't run out-of-shape lazybutts like me into the ground!). I didn't once have to work out with a kid. And judo is such a good way to practice the language - not that you spend a lot of time chatting or anything necessarily, but because you're trying to do something else you spend less time thinking about how to say what you want to say and more time just saying whatever pops into your head. My French improved a lot in Montreal once I started with judo there, because you had no time to figure out what language the other person spoke so more often than not you started out in French and the teaching was usually in French, at least for the most part. This is good, because I had a minor panic attack this afternoon over my language skills. It's just that they speak so fast here, and when it's with an accent that I'm still not totally sure of my brain has a hard time keeping up. I'm glad I came to Switzerland so early; hopefully by the time my classes start I'll be in better shape linguistically. As long as people speak a bit slowly I'm generally fine, except for a word or two that's different or new. Alas, if only real life came with subtitles.

Back to judo. Along with the vast array of people to work out with, they also have a sprung floor. How awesome! And Tuesdays and Thursdays after the one hour of practice, there's a second hour just of randori (sparring), and a lot of the black belts and adults show up just for that. I couldn't stay tonight, though I was able to get through 50 minutes of practices before pooping out, but hopefully by next week I'll be back in shape enough for at least a little bit. And also, the best part: this place is three blocks from my residence! I can walk there in like 2 minutes! I didn't even bother to change my pants before I went home tonight. No having to take the metro and bus feeling/smelling like a hazmat site, hurrah!

My muscles are going to be complaining tomorrow, but that's fine. In 48 hours they'll be working again. As long as I can get my joints to behave themselves. I think I'll be going through a lot of hockey tape this semester.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Welcome Back

Welcome back to the blog! Now that I'm no longer putzing around farmer-land, which I loved but which offered very little in the way of motivation for writing, I will do my best to respond to the request(s) of my loyal fan(s) to get this thing up and running again.

Why, you ask? Because I am in Geneva, my friend. Geneva, Switzerland. For the next four months. 

I'm here to take an advanced certificate in Reformation Studies at the Institut d'histoire de la Réformation at the Université de Genève. Yes, my classes will be in French. Yes, I speak it. Sort of. Yes, I am completely out of my mind.

More about that later.

There's lots to say, but since I got very little sleep the night before I left and even less on the plane last night, I'm going to keep this short. I'm hoping that running on next to no sleep for a few days in a row will allow me to beat my body clock into submission almost instantly and thereby avoid the horrible experience I had last year in Ireland, where I had a bad case of jetlag that lasted ten friggin days. No thanks, not again. Crossing my fingers on this one.

My residence is nice, and I've started to settle in a bit, but more on that later; and I found a judo club that is literally 3 short blocks from my front door and has practice 4 days a week!!! But more on that later.

But basically, I'm here, the blog is back, and I'm going to try to go to bed. I dunno what time it is where you are but here it's 9:35pm which means I've been up for too many days.

Details about all kinds of stuff to come in a later post, very soon, I promise.