One of the strangest things that I have found about France is that it has driven me to once again become the voracious reader that I was in elementary and middle school. Perhaps this is because I have more time. In general, I am only taking four classes. And more specifically, I find myself on the metro for at least an hour daily to get to those classes, so therefore reading is a practical way to pass the time.
Reading is also something that I like to do when I am not stressed out. Here, I don't feel the constant pressure to get on my bike for 30 miles, do reporting, write an article, write an essay, and do the 100ish pages of academic reading (NOT the kind of reading that I'm talking about here) that needs to be done in order for me to continue existing at Columbia.
While this is all true, I think that I've also found myself reading more because it's comfortable. In a world where know relatively few people, and like even less of them, reading allows me an escape into whatever culture and experience in which the plot happens to be set. It's not that I don't like it here, I love it. It seems that every time I walk outside something happens to me worth talking about. I've been storing them up for when I decide to write the next Great American (expariate) Novel. Even so, it's still uncomfortable to be in a foreign country with few friends. So I delve into Anglo-literature.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my Stylistic class really lost. There was just something about the text that we were reading that I simply couldn't connect with. I understood the meanings of each sentence, after working with it for a while, but I still didn't get the point of the article. It was like I saw five different points, but I didn't see how they connected to become a star.
In the middle of class, my professor began circling to hand back essays from the week before. When he handed me mine, and leaned in to begin discussing, my mind just went blank. And then I felt myself trying to fight back tears. All I could see were the marks on my paper, and the grade. The worst part of being in France is the grading of my French. For some reason Columbia will not allow a person to take any language class for a pass/fail grade. Not matter if you have fulfilled the language requirement, if you have no interest in the major, if you are just trying to learn for your own cultural interest. It is impossible for me just to want to learn French. I have to excel at French. Ca m'enerve.
So, when it gets too much for me, I read.