Panda in Paris

new frontier

Posted in France by parisianpanda on February 16, 2010
Tags: , , ,

The past couple of days I have been sort of homesick, which is a pretty big deal because I am a person who has moved around a lot and I don’t feel homesick all that frequently.

A while back I met a guy from Oregon who is here studying at the HEC (a pretty well-to-do business school) who said while he likes Europe, as an American he misses the concept of “a frontier”. I remember at the time thinking this was a pretentious and slightly narrow-minded thing to say, but thinking about it the past couple of days there is some metaphorical truth to it.

My students here already have large parts of their future decided for them. They are smart, they will take this type of baccalaureate which will get them into this kind of “grande ecole” and they will be successful. They’re not so smart, they will take this type of baccalaureate and be a nurse’s assistant or a paper-pusher.

And all people have been saying about getting a Master’s in France is that it’s grueling and soul-destroying and unemployment is high, high, high. And for all the aspersions that can be cast about Evergreen and the employ-ability of its graduates, I really did feel like I was learning and being productive and building myself a future when I was there. As much as I would have to pay for a Master’s in the states, maybe that’s a really important element.

The field behind my house in Minnesota, December 2006

I know the idea of a meritocracy and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and there is always hope on the horizon and blah blah blah that America likes to sell is largely smoke and mirrors, championing stories of certain lucky people to make the exception look like the rule. But regardless, America DOES manage to sell that image. It sells the feeling. Feeling hopeful is equally or more important than hope actually existing, isn’t it?

Mostly I just had a disappointing weekend and I will probably still be submitting everything to everywhere and keeping all my options open, but I should probably start doing more sleeping and less thinking.


2 Responses to 'new frontier'

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  1. Sarah said,

    Just come to San Diego and we can live together… I’m lonely and we’d make perfect roommates!

  2. anne filburn said,

    Talk about homesick! I think i was homesick the first 10 yrs or so when we moved away, and it was only 224 miles! I was 21 and now 20 (giv or take a few) years later i think i may adjust soon.I admire your courage to challenge yourself in so many ways. You should know from all the traveling (and moving!) you and your family did that any where you went it was always home because of the love, and the people, and…your mom does have a flare for decorating!.Im certainly not going to say, “home is where you hang your heart” oh, shit! i said it, but your such an intelligent woman, you know where im going with this, i sure hope so, cause i know idea what im talking about its 6:30 am and i only have a half cup of coffee in me. What i do know is you are most definanately, one of my favorite people i know, and im not just saying that because we share some of the same dna, and your so damn good looking, i love all of you! are you still a lil homesick?

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