August has been quite the month again this year. I've spent a lot of time with A, working on our respective projects (thesis, him; conference, me), visiting museums, and relaxing over Friends and Community. We've also tried a lot of new places to eat and done our fair share in the kitchen. I remember we would barely eat when we were together last summer, both too nervous and excited by the newness of everything, and now we're all about food. We spent a good five hours in the kitchen last night, making some of my grandma's dishes to serve at A's family's Sunday lunch today and then experimenting with a burger recipe (it had melty cheese in the center!) and sweet potato fries for ourselves. A does most of the work in the kitchen (I spent a good hour of that time typing up notes at the table while he was frying up eggplants), which is excellent both because it pleases me that it messes with gender expectations and because it's just really nice to have someone cook for you.
Otherwise, August has mostly been about getting back to work. I've slowly been getting back into things, reading quite a few articles and trying to jot down ideas. It's been more frustrating than rewarding so far though because despite all the good the last few months have done for me, the guilt of not having more to show for it than my improved mental health is starting to hit me. I feel much better and I have new ideas, but the old "produce! produce! produce!" mentality is hard to shake. I was brought up to believe that great success is the only option and that mediocrity might as well be failure, and replacing that with a healthier, more realistic mindset has me struggling despite my efforts. I'm consequently going between phases where I'm paralyzed by fears that I won't be "good enough" for academia anymore and others where I'm super motivated to prove myself. We'll see where this goes in the next few weeks as the conference draws nearer.
I also spent this past weekend in Neuchâtel, and A and I managed to go into town to visit one of his favorite museums yesterday, so I should have another post coming in the next few days about that!
We've just been hit with yet another heat wave in Geneva this week, with temperatures climbing to 90° and up. There isn't much to do to stay cool in such heat, especially when you're prone to migraines (and I'm dealing with quite a doozy of one right now). Rory and I came up with a nice solution last summer though, when it was regularly hitting 95° and up in June. We'd get nice cool drinks and climb up the hills to Old Town to sit in the shadows of the cathedral and plot the stories we were writing at the time.
We did the same late this afternoon and not only was it nice and cool, but it was the perfect way to spend time together before she leaves for Italy again. We chatted, plotted, and I left feeling inspired to go back to my writing. Let's see now if I manage to do anything with the inspiration...
A and I went to a museum on our second date, and museums have played an important role in our dating life since then. We've been to quite a few over the last year, in London, Paris, York, and Geneva, and we like to set days apart every now and then to explore others. A few Sundays ago, we decided to spend the day in Lausanne so A could show me some of his childhood favorites. We went to the Palais de Rumine, which houses quite a few small museums, and then made our way down to Ouchy after lunch to go to the Musée Olympique (and to have amazing gelato). Here are a few of our photos...
Academic Olivia is back! I've had a few moments in the last few weeks where I've had the stray "I miss writing essays?" thought or where I've reached for a highlighter or post-it while reading, but I didn't really feel the need to act on them until today.
I'm presenting at (my first ever) conference with a friend next month, and while we have most of what we need mapped out, I decided it was time I start doing extra readings. So I printed out Laura Mulvey's now-classic "Visual Pleasure and Narrative cinema" this morning and headed to the coffee shop for a study session. The article was only eighteen pages long and didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but it was still a good read. It's fascinating how things like "the male gaze" start out as groundbreaking claims when they're first conceptualized and then become part of our collective intelligence, isn't it? Who now doesn't know all about and criticize (at least in our circles) the way in which women are objectified in popular media to satisfy the male gaze? I do love reading articles that confirm things we already know though because yay citations. Plus, the article had the bonus of rewaking my anger towards 1980s psychoanalytical theory. All around win!
(If you're interested in reading the article, you can access it here.)
I was hesitating over whether I should keep The Cursed Child to write about for my department's literary magazine, but honestly, I don't think I'm capable of expressing myself with anything more elaborate than ?!!?!!! when it comes to this book. With that in mind, I'm going to present the rest of my thoughts in bullet point form:
With flowers and palm trees everywhere and island gardens on the lake, Lago Maggiore comes in as one of the most paradisiacal places I've ever visited. My first visit to the lake was three summers ago when my mother, grandmother, and I decided to take a holiday in June. We stayed at an old hotel on the outskirts of Baveno, a small town visited by Shelley, Wordsworth, and Queen Victoria, and spent two weeks relaxing and taking in the Italian sun and scenery (which in my case, meant hiding beneath a giant hat with my books). We've been back twice since and returned last month when my grandma insisted on a change of space.
As I mentioned in one of my "Life Lately" posts a couple of weeks ago, I went to visit A at his family home before they left for Scotland and we left for Italy and I actually managed to get A to put his books down and go for a walk. Of course I didn't get the pictures off my camera until this week, so I'm posting them much later than I would have liked.
There are stone houses and flowers everywhere in A's village, and they do a wonderful job with amping up the lovely Swiss aesthetic stereotypes.
I gave up with the camera about midway through our walk and handed it to A because he has far more fun with it, and I'm terrible at putting my phone camera away.
This is the little "castle" in their village. It's very cute and they take pride in it, but I'm not quite sure what I think of it architecturally...
And of course what little Swiss village would be complete without your random cows or goats?
One of the things that seems to happen when you move abroad as an American is that you suddenly crave these random things that you didn't frequently have back in the States. I rarely ate hamburgers when I was younger, but then fast forward to my move to Geneva six years ago, and I suddenly started to miss them. I've been on the hunt for good burgers ever since. I was constrained to veggie burgers for a long time, but the game changed after my doctor ordered me to start eating beef again.
Tonight, A and I decided to try someplace new and ended up at The Hamburger Foundation. Their trucks are unmissable if you live in Geneva, but as they only offer three different types of basic beef burgers (hamburgers, cheese burgers, and bacon cheese burgers), I couldn't really try them until now.
We first walked to their truck in the Parc des Bastions as they were there for Swiss National Day (Happy Swiss National Day!), but as the queue was at least fifty people long, we ended up walking across town to their restaurant in the Paquis instead. The restaurant was packed and we managed to arrive right after a tour group who was being told by their guide that they were at "one of the ten best burger places in the world," but we still got a table and didn't have to wait long.
While I wouldn't know about it being one of the ten best in the world, our THF hamburgers were some of the best we've had in Geneva. The meat was good (though still not as good as Inglewood, according to A), the cheese was plenty, and the burgers were well but simply garnished. I'd say where THF won though was with its presentation and with its fries. I love my fries fat, but THF managed to make theirs both skinny and meaty at the same time. They also served a simple but tasty salad to start, which is always a nice touch with burgers. We'll likely be back in the future (though maybe to one of the trucks as the restaurant is a bit out of our way).
Hello & Welcome!
I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.