If you are a Grinch, Paris in December is not the right place for you. Everywhere you go, there are festive, sometimes ugly, decorations. Even my university’s book store was eager to get a new look; admittedly a sad attempt but it says a lot about the general attitude in the City of Lights during Christmas. Something is always better than nothing.
Studying in Paris
That also happened to be my motto during finals week. I am joking, of course, but it is true that the workload was, as expected, heavy. With nine modules in total, I often spent more than twelve hours a day screening policy papers about security in the Sahel, reading academic papers on the concept of food sovereignty, or comparing income inequality in Hong Kong and Shanghai. This requires a lot of discipline but, in the end, it was worth it. While I did not manage to study some of the topics in depth (at least not as much as I would have liked to), I acquired a good grasp of development issues that were new to me. In fact, the idea of gaining inside knowledge in many different fields was one of the reasons for my decision to pursue a master’s in development. Next semester, I will, among other things, have two modules on sub-Saharan Africa. Within this regional focus, I aim to select diverse themes, ranging from environment via migration to women’s rights.
Studying in London
In London I will have fewer modules. This is ideal: after having obtained a broad overview of the most important issues in international affairs, I will be able to focus on the subjects that interest me most. Hopefully, by the end of my year in Paris, I will already have come up with an idea for my dissertation in London. Also, classes at King’s will be a bit smaller, and there will only be seminars and no more lectures.
My Trip to London
I went to London in November and it was great! It had been a while since I last visited London, so it felt good to be back. We naturally attracted some attention when we filmed there (after all there were two cameras involved), and bystanders kept roasting me when it took me five attempts to walk down the stairs in a way that did not make me look like a horse. I genuinely missed good banter with people I met five seconds ago. I did not miss having to pay more than seven quid for a sandwich (why, London?). Nor did I miss not knowing where my backpack ends and the belly of the person standing behind me on the tube begins (it was packed!). But sometimes sacrifices must be made. I can never be mad at London for too long.
I am on my way home as I type these words. I look forward to spending time with my mother and my friends, before going back to Paris to celebrate New Year’s Eve there. On 1 January I will be off to Bogotá, Colombia, where my best friend is studying. Because he is on a study break too, we are going to travel together. Can’t wait to tell you about my three weeks in Colombia! Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Loë
December 2018 | Loë Guthmann