Whenever I read one of my friends blogs, I feel the need to materialize my thoughts and read my voice. Basically I’m a copycat.

Just sat and had one of those conversations that seem to inject me with passion like a lightening bolt. It’s invigorating to sit with a group of complete strangers, bound by a harrowing book about another world. But it isn’t another world; it’s a country a few hundred (or thousand…I’m no math major) miles away filled with 21-year-old girls with the same inane and superficial questions that run through my mind all day. At least I would like to think. I guess one book on North Korean defectors doesn’t exactly make me an expert on the psyche of communist females, but my inner cosmopolitan would like to think that most 21 year olds with xx chromosomes innately contract a particular restlessness at this age. Do we all stress about why we are perpetually single? Do we all panic over what the fuck were going to do with our teeny tiny little lives to magnify them just a bit? Do we all want to go everywhere and nowhere at exactly the same time, 23 hours a day?  Culture makes these questions mean such different things, but sometimes you can make eye contact with a girl your age and in a quick second understand she feels you. Its comforting.

I also find comfort in talking to people who have the same (at times annoyingly deluded) save the world attitude as me. It’s nice to talk about the world, about people, with a set of like-minded individuals who haven’t given up on the hope that were going to be the ones who change something. Anything really. Every second that I get older, I become more aware of the potential cynic bubbling up inside of me, and I become highly more aware of the cynic seeping into the people around me in a way that can’t be wrung out. I know my optimism is child-like, contained, and (somewhat) undisturbed by the harsh realties of rejection, loss, sorrow, and general hardships. But when my sanguinity is reignited, on nights like tonight, its soothing like a lullaby and it puts my doubts and demons to sleep.

Also, I need to learn French. ALSO read NOTHING TO ENVY by Barbara Demick. Tomorrow.

I enjoy being a girl.

Happy International Women’s Day! Ironically, I spent a good two hours last night studying feminist theory in international relations. Maybe my teacher picked today to have our exam as a hint to what our essay is on. Here’s hoping!

When we studied feminism in class here at John Cabot University, I was blown away by the discourse that permeated our lecture. I’m finding that the small classes I’m taking in Rome, compared to my big lectures at Rutgers University, create an incredibly different learning environment for me personally. While I always thought I was an “absorb-my-professors-every-word-while-I-furiously-take-notes-and-keep-my-mouth-shut” type of learner, but I’m beginning to think otherwise.

This is due to the Italian girls in my class. I am beyond impressed with these females; they are intelligent, articulate, passionate, and daring. They know all about the world and how to take these abstract and outdated theories of world politics and apply them to present day topics with such fluidity. I hate to admit that maybe I had some preconceived notions about my Italian contemporaries. However these girls shine in class with a confidence that I aspire to emulate, and have began to adopt myself.

Gender discussions in the classroom ruffle peoples feathers without fail. The male student sitting next to me made a point, that its hard for women to get into politics because people are always going to judge her looks first and deem her intelligent or not based on these looks. I know when I think about famous women, or listen to women on the news, I am consciously and subconsciously evaluating her appearance. When I think about famous and influential men, I rarely mentally attach my thoughts on his appearance. This is a sad and unfortunately valid point that highlights societies flawed construction of gender and sexuality. We have made incredible strides as ladies, but I believe real progress will come with recreating what its means to be male or female in today’s world.

I think international women’s day is important beyond the fact that it observes the most kickass gender. The fact that its international women’s day makes me think about the billions of women all over the globe who probably don’t know that they’re being celebrated today. In honor of these women I will (try) and spend my waking hours thinking about the 3.5 billion women around the globe, who are doing the best they can to be a girl in a mans world. Instead of complaining about writing a paper or taking an exam, I will be grateful that I am in the % of girls who gets to receive a higher education. Instead of considering every female stranger as my competition, I will consider her my friend. J When I think about gender in countries like China and India that have attached a stigma to the 50% chance you have of having XX chromosomes, I realize how lucky I am.

Hope everyone has a fantastic women’s day, spend it with the ladies you love! Also, everyone should read this amazing poem today.

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“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” 
― Anaïs Nin

Everything they say about Paris is true

While I was in Paris, I got into the habit of writing things down in my journal (this adorable red moleskin my Dad got me for Christmas, might have been my favorite gift). Lauren mercilessly teased me, and I’ll admit I felt slightly pretentious sitting strolling through the gardens of Versailles and riding the Parisian subway while righting in my notebook. However I am extremely grateful right now for my act of affectation, because I can write about my trip here, with richer detail!

Anyone who knows me would quickly agree that I am not the most organized girl in the world. “Pre-planning” for Paris consisted of me booking my tickets, and spending the next three fantasizing about meeting a handsome descendent of the House of Bourbon who would whisk me off to Versailles and fed me crepes while wearing a beret.  I have an active imagination. Anyways, Ryanair (which is the cheapest airline in Europe) requires you print your ticket and check in online four hours in advance. Which I did not (that would require me to read the terms of agreement …). Also I got my wallet stolen two days earlier. Also I had five minutes to pay a huge fine/get through security/ deal with the raging bitch that was not fond of my face. Made it in the nick of time and five or so hours later we arrived at our adorable little hostel in the nineteenth district. We intended to check out a nightclub with Ryan, but the drama of earlier events zapped our will to party, so instead we had a beer at the bar downstairs. Met a nice Australian and New Zealander and learned to always assume someone with a “down-under” accent is from New Zealand.

The next morning, after a less than satisfying breakfast, we went out on a free tour of the city. Our tour guide was this hyperactive, bubbly, history nerd from New Zealand who radiated enthusiasm and positivity . We went to the Louvre, saw the pyramids (the scar on the face of Paris), and took cheesy tourist pictures. We saw the charming unassuming bridge where Carrie and Big had their romantic kiss in the season finale of SATC. We went to concord square, saw the petite palais and the grand palais, and had a lunch of snails and frogs legs! The snails were delicious, and Lauren was kind enough to splash some in my face. We left and found Kim, who had just arrived and continued on our own.  The climax of my weekend, and quite possibly my time in Europe, was after lunch when we climbed the Eiffel Tower. I am a dramatic basket case of emotions sometimes, but I was overcome with tears of awe and wonder when I looked out at Paris from the second tier. We spent two hours searching around, not talking just soaking in one of the most famous and life altering sites in the world. It was really awesome.

That night we went to a few bars near The Moulin Rouge. We met a couple of French guys who ended up being slimy  creeps, so our escape route was a table of inconspicuous gentlemen who ended up being super cool guys. I talked American politics with this uber intelligent guy from Belgium, not exatly bar banter but interesting.

The next day we went to the Palace of Versailles. Extravagance realized. We got a history lesson from our tour guide from the day before in four hours that could rival a year of AP European history senior year any day. If anyone has any questions about the life of Louis’ 14-16, do not hesitate to ask me. The highlight was easily the hall of mirrors, which was so elegant, lavish, and warm. The weather was overcast and misty, but oddly it accented the mysterious and bewitching vibe the palace has perfectly, especially in those incredible gardens. We trained back to Paris with a really sweet Australian girl who is backpacking around Europe for EIGHT months! Apparently it’s a cultural thing for young Australians to see the world while they’re young.

That night we did a bar crawl set up through our tour group that was fun. I caught someone pick pocketing me, which was very scary, but all he got was my mole skin, which I managed to snatch back within seconds. He promptly sprinted out of the bar when I began screaming. We met a group of British university students who were on a fieldtrip to Paris. Just your run of the mill casual field trip.

Our last day was dedicated to the Louvre. Two semester of Art History gave me some elementary knowledge of of the art, but with 35,000 pieces, I was in way over my head. Saw the Mona Lisa (obviously), and my personal favorite Liberty Leading the People. It was long, and at times tedious, but also quite amazing. There is a certain atmosphere about museums that makes me feel so calm and tranquil, and that atmosphere was incredibly amplified  in the world’s most famous museum. I left that night by myself and made it back to Rome at around midnight.

Paris gets an A in my grade book. It has everything a young traveler could ever want, unique cuisine, an incredible cultural vibe, and an entertaining nightlife.

Wednesday Night, Pre-Ireland, Procrastination

Sitting in the study lounge attempting to study for an International Relations final, write a 2500 word paper on religious slavery, and not pass out on top of my book seems like the perfect time to start a blog…right? My head is not in my studies, to say the least, and more centered around rolling green expanses, freckled faces, Irish accents, and beerslugging boys. Obviously I am more excited for the people than the landscapes. In 24 long painful hours I will be bound for the motherland, birthplace of the wonderfully quirky and stereotypical Morgan clan. Not that I will be searching any ancestors out, because according to my stoic Irish Catholic grandmother “we’re American”. Needless to say, after two months in Europe, I am well aware. It’s been an incredibly long week/weekend, so I am extremely excited to emerse myself in some celtic life as a reward.

This previous weekend was one of the last I’ll be spending in Rome, as the rest of March will take me to Ireland, Belgium, Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, and Scotland. This blog will be the best way for me to retain and comment on the mass of culture I’ll experience in full force and hyper speed!