Friday, September 30, 2016

Monthly Rewind: September

All the photos in this post were taken by me and you can see even more photos of France on my Instagram.

3 Things About My Life This Month

1. Living in Provence is harder than I expected. I don't want this statement to be taken idly, or out of context--I know exactly how privileged I am to be studying in Aix, a wealthy town in the South of France, and living with a host family who feeds me well and is sharing their large home with me for the next few months. But, despite some of the absolutely wonderful experiences I've had this past month, immersing myself into French language and culture, learning to convey the entirety of my personality in a language I'm not fluent in, has been tough. Adjusting to the slow pace and the disorganization of the school system, watching as my friends in London make friends effortlessly while I struggle to reach out to French students, has been frustrating. I've become very close with the girls in my program and, slowly but steadily, I feel as if my life is getting into a routine, but certainly this past month has been harder in ways I never anticipated.

2. The Mediterranean Sea is my version of paradise. I visited Cassis, Cannes, Marseille, Nice, and Monaco this past month and the beach was the highlight of each of these beautiful towns. I've never swam in the ocean before this trip but it's nearly impossible to drag me out, now. Certainly, my biggest highlight of this past month has been exploring the South of France and enjoying the warm September temperature while doing so.

3. I didn't read a lot this month. At first, it was because I was in Paris, and then Aix, and then visiting different cities in Provence. And then, it was because the honeymoon period had ended and homesickness had set in and all I wanted to do every night was Skype my parents. Now, though, I'm slowly getting back into the groove of reading and I'm excited to knock some books off my TBR.

Best Book I Read This Month

I'm sure you've all at least seen this book around, if not heard of it, but it deserves all the hype it's been getting. Written as a letter from Coates to his son, this is a raw, honest, and revealing piece about black culture and oppression in America. Coates speaks from a position of privilege, as a black man whose voice is far-reaching and who has the means to give his son a good education, but his life has been dominated by police brutality and racism. It's a stark, unflinching story but one that I couldn't put down. I cried. But it's not just a good book, well-written and life-altering, but it demands to be read, especially in the political culture we live in today where a man like Donald Trump has the potential to be the president of America and violence against the black body has risen, too much. Just read it--I can't recommend it enough.

3 Most Popular Posts This Month

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Post I Wish Got a Little More Love

My review of Paula Stokes's Girl Against the Universe. I thought this book was brilliant for daring to approach mental illness in such an accessible manner. Stokes makes it easy to understand mental illness, not stigmatize it, and with mental illness becoming all the more prevalent among teens these days, it's so important for teens to be able to find themselves in stories and I'm glad Stokes is writing the books that haven't been written, for the audience that is waiting for them. Obviously, very highly recommended.

Posts I Starred in My Blog Reader This Month

Not Shaving Isn't Always a Choice for Women of Color by Paniz Khosroshahy: This article is so well-written and it really resonated with me, especially since Wellesley is a place where we women boast about not shaving and being liberated from the constraints put upon us by society, but so many of the people I know who don't shave look just the same as if they did shave. Anyhow, give this article a read because it's such a good look at white feminism and how one type of feminism doesn't apply to everyone.

Coming Home: Queer South Asians and the Politics of Family: This article was written by a friend of mine awhile back but the article above made me remember this one and go back and hunt it down to re-read because it's just SO GOOD. It's so hard to explain South Asian culture, in general, to anyone who isn't part of it already not because it's complicated, but because we have so many ideas of what it is in our mind. Repressive. Conservative. Sexist. So to discuss topics of feminism or queerness within the context of South Asian communities is a lot harder than it seems but this article is just perfect. It gets it all right and if you're going to read one article this year, let it be this one.

Obsession of the Month

I'd be lying if I didn't say this, so here goes: my obsession of the month has been the song "Cool Girl" by Tove Lo. I heard it in Nice for the first time and ever since, it's been the song that gets me up and awake every morning. Some of my friends may think I have a slight problem but...I disagree. ;)

3 Things I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

1. Going to Greece! So, this is happening to me right now, as you read this, but as it straddles September and October, I figured I'd post it here--after all, I cannot wait to land in Athens soon!! I have an aunt who lives in Athens and I've never even met her kids (my cousins!) but she's been incredibly sweet and invited me to spend the weekend with them and I'm so, so lucky and excited to be going. It's going to be a wonderful trip, I just know it.

2. Going to Lyon! Our program has organized a trip to Lyon, the third largest city in France, for us the second weekend of October and I'm really looking forward to traveling as a whole group again. I think one thing we all miss the most when living with a host family is the chance to socialize like we do in dorms, so this weekend is going to be a good time to just let loose and explore and enjoy ourselves so I'm very excited.

3. SEEING MY MOM! Okay, so I'm seeing my mom the LAST weekend of October, but it counts, and I am so ready. Living with a host family has made me miss my own family so much more than I thought it would, so I'm really excited that my mom is going to be coming to France to visit me! We have a rather epic trip planned for my fall break, but until all the flights and hotels and trains are booked, I don't want to spoil anything. But, suffice to say that I won't be in France for roughly a week--and I cannot wait.

How was your September? Any exciting plans for October? What books did I miss out on this past month that I need to add to my TBR? I'd love to hear in the comments below! :)


  1. I'm sorry you've had a bit of a rough transition, but I hope things get better soon! I can imagine that homesickness would be something to deal with. It's great that your mom is visiting soon and your other trips sound great too. Have fun in Greece! It would be great to visit there, I think.

    Also, I LOVE Tove Lo. I really need to get her new album - I think it's out...but yeah, her new song is great.


  2. I'm sorry it has been rough, but I'm glad you also see the positive as well. ((HUGS)) Oh and I totally added the book Between the World and Me on my for later list at the library. Great recommendation. I also love that song. Sounds like with everything you have here, you feel as I do about labels. "Once you label me you negate me." ~Soren Kierkegaard

    I do hope that your Oct. is brilliant!

  3. Hang in there!
    Still you are in France, at least there is that

  4. I'm sure you'll look back on this time with fondness even with the honeymoon over, Keertana! I can imagine it would be very disconcerting to try and adjust in a place where the language is a barrier, even though you do speak it, I think it takes years to get the nuances right. I think it would be isolating. I hope you have fun in Athens and when your mom comes out! We considered Lyon as a stop on our upcoming visit, but decided to go with Bordeaux (wine tasting!) and Loire Valley (castles) instead. Let me know what I missed out on in Lyon! Happy travels, and cyber hugs to you! :)

  5. I'm sorry it's been tough, Keertana. But at least you're finding ways to appreciate your position in life despite your struggles of missing your friends and family.

    Thank you for recommending Between The World and Me. Rest assured, it'll be added to my repertoire.

  6. Aww I can imagine how difficult it can be settling in being so far away from home, but I'm glad that things are finally settling down for you Keertana and that you've got to visit so many gorgeous places, I've been insanely jealous seeing all your photos on instagram. And I can't wait to see what you get up to with you mum! I hope you have a wonderful time! :)

  7. It’s hard to leave your family and friends and find yourself in a different country. I’m glad to hear you are finally adjusting despite the language barrier. I would be so homesick in your position. Is the school system very different from Wellesley? You’ve mentioned the slow pace. You had such exiting plans on October. I hope you’ll have a great time meeting with your aunt, visiting Lyon, and of course traveling with your mum!

    I still trying to catch up all I missed during my hiatus, so I haven’t real many of your latest reviews. Thanks for bringing Girl Against the Universe to my attention. I’ve seen this book around, but I’ll look at it more closely now.

  8. I can only imagine how hard it is meeting new people when you don't fully speak the language, and huge kudos for you for jumping on the experience and doing your best to make it work!

    I stayed with a host family in high school, but it was a 10-day student ambassador program in Ireland, so not quite the same. They spoke English which made it easier to get to know them and them me, but every other word out of my host mom's mouth was "Jesus Christ" or "oh fuck it", usually together. And said with that beautiful Irish lilt which just made me happy ;-) That's actually the thing I remember most about that trip, and I have no doubt that he best parts of your experience are yet to come!

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