Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CHRISTMAS MUSIC, ANYONE? (September 29th)

Once again, feel free to scorn me. Most likely your deductions based on this post’s title are correct. I have, in fact, already started listening to my Christmas music on my iTunes AND transferred some of my most highly preferred songs to my iPod. Does that make me a bad person? No, I do not believe so. Does it make me stupid? Yes, quite possibly, but I guess that would have to be determined at a later date. For example, if listening to these carols earlier than usual causes detrimental side affects (such as my ears falling off), then I was stupid. However, I do feel it is important to point out that I didn’t start listening to the sounds of Christmas on a complete and utter whim. On the contrary, I gave the idea a lot of consideration and have plenty of rational reasons for already beginning the Christmas music craziness. Don’t think you can believe me? Read on, my dears.

First of all, the way I’ve been viewing time in Lyon is different than my usual perspective. You see, time moves in mysterious ways here. At Franklin Pierce, I view time on an hourly scale and use vacations (such as Columbus Day) to see things in the long-term. I feel as though I see my day in accomplishments there. The more things I can accomplish off of my “To Do” list, the shorter the day gets. For example, getting through all of my morning classes alive is an accomplishment that shortens my day. Finishing my homework or a paper before dinner is also an accomplishment that helps to push time onward. And, finally, the completion of any/all daily extracurricular activities puts the capstone I need on time to prove to me that it is still pushing forward. Of course, this means that days that have more substance to them (classes, activities, etc.) are sensed by the mind and body as being longer, but I can easily accept that feeling because it all evens out with the lighter days I’m also lucky to experience (such as weekends). When it comes to the long term, I tend to focus on vacations. That is the time when I get to leave campus, go home, and actually relax. I judge all long-term assignments on vacations as well because I REFUSE to work on any of them over a period that I deem “vacation.” Therefore, they must be completed beforehand or afterward, and they are worked into my daily schedules with that idea in mind.

In Lyon, this set up doesn’t really make sense. How do I explain it? Okay… let me try this: Before I choose to study abroad, I probably gave the idea a lot more consideration and attention than the people around me realized. As I’ve said before, academics are extremely important to me, and I feared that such a drastic change in lifestyle would have devastating affects on my GPA or ability to think critically, write solid papers, juggle the work of multiple professors, etcetera. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to be successful in such a different setting. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to adjust to it properly. However, I ultimately realized it was an experience that I couldn’t pass up. I had already promised myself to seize as many of the college opportunities presented to me as possible, and if I didn’t seize this one, I wouldn’t have been able to truthfully state that I did so. Not to mention, being able to effortlessly adjust to different settings, situations, and occurrences is a life skill. We can’t control everything, but if we can learn how to be flexible, fluid beings, we can be that indispensable person in every/any situation. We can maintain our balance no matter what, and personally, I feel like those kinds of people would be the most useful in leadership positions. Therefore, I had to study abroad in order to prove how versatile I could be.

As far as time goes, I don’t have a full syllabus for any of my classes while I’m here, so I can’t plan out projects very far in advance. We don’t get a full weekend off (only Sundays… sometimes), so I don’t have clear days of work and leisure. Although we do get weekly schedules outlining our mandatory activities and classes, they are so spread out throughout the day (and you have to factor in travel time, which is usually an extra half-hour to forty-five minutes before and after the activity), that a day’s events could very easily flow right from 9:00AM until 9:00PM that evening without any real sense of full accomplishment until 9:00PM. Knowing this, it’s got to be apparent why my normal view of time here is skewed. In Lyon, I tend to view time in days and weeks and I see the long-term in terms of November 29th (the day we go home). For example, I know I’ve started a day when I take my daily vitamin, and I know I’ve ended a day when I can cross it off the calendar hanging on the wall in my room. Each day’s end brings me closer to the end of the week, and each week’s end leaves me one week closer to leaving Lyon. I’m not really viewing time in terms of months because the idea of three whole months in a foreign country can either be extremely scary (three whole months before I get to see ANY of my loved ones again? = Separate anxiety) or upsetting (I only get THREE months to explore a whole other lifestyle and culture? = Not good enough).

Of course, this isn’t to say that we don’t have some similarities to the Franklin Pierce schedule. For example, we do have a vacation week here scheduled at some point in November, but since I’m not planning on going anywhere crazy or being visited by any family or friends, it just doesn’t seem that important to me. In fact, I would be just as content if we didn’t have a vacation week. Not to mention, it’s at the end of our trip, so it wouldn’t provide much comfort for now, and it wouldn’t provide much comfort afterward because I’d rather view time as approaching the 29th instead of leaving the week of predetermined “vacation.”

NOW, knowing all of this, can you not see how Christmas and the like would seem closer than usual? I’m viewing time in weeks, and as far as I’m concerned, as soon as I step off the plane in Logan airport, I’m on Winter Break. Winter Break = Christmas time. It’s that simple. Isn’t it?

Okay, now I’ll go onto reason number two (even though it really doesn’t compare): I’ve already started seeing Christmas advertisements in the Metro stations. In fact, the ones I’ve seen actually feature Santa Claus. It doesn’t get more Christmas-y than that. Plus, I have to mention that the music in France isn’t all in French. In fact, more often than not it appears that they tend to be listening to American artists. Don’t believe me? I dare you to get onto any tram in Lyon, and you’ll hear American music blasting (the French don’t seem to have an issue with playing their preferred music through speakers when in public locations). Plus, even their ring tones are American! I believe I’ve heard “Forever” by Chris Brown a few times. Anyway, the Metro stations and such have already started playing “Last Christmas” and the like. They tuned my brain to Christmas musical-ness! I couldn’t resist it.

In conclusion, that’s the end of this post. I don’t have anything else to say… except one simple phrase that’s been said many times, many ways: Merry Christmas to you.

Avec l'Amour,
G

1 comment:

Chinako said...

Merry Christmas to you too! The department stores are already in the spirit with lit and decorated Christmas trees, as well as a few ornaments for sale. It's almost sickening that they would skip over Halloween and Thanksgiving for super early Christmas sales.

I've been listening to Christmas tunes since May, I think. Something about them just brings my spirits up and makes me happy. It's already getting colder here and with my short haircut, I'm feeling like Christmas every day!

Enjoy your tunes! I've already got the BEST Chrismas gift for you, EVER (yes, even better than the NANA picture I painted for you last year)!