Archive for the ‘Holy Cross’ Category

‘I can’t believe this thing flies!’

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

I am restless. I have already spent almost 22 hours aboard a plane squished in between my fellow economy passengers. The food is terrible and I am pretty sure that I have not made any friends with the flight attendants, who are irritated with my frequent questioning of “How much longer till we get there?” Luckily, we are almost in Melbourne. One six hour flight to California from Boston and another 15 hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia completed. Now, we are in the home stretch, the final hour flight to Melbourne.

I was thankful to have two friends, Friederike and Elizabeth, accompany me on the journey to “Oz” (Oz is Australia, according to Liz’s handy Aussie dictionary). We three were greeted by several other smiling Holy Cross students once in Sydney, and all took the last flight together, each one of us wired from lack of sleep, or in some cases too much sleep, and pure excitement.

Aboard the massive Boeing 747, we all eagerly peer out the window toward our new home, the magical land of Oz. “I can’t believe this thing flies!” screams a fellow student, excited by the wonder of the scenery from 13,000 feet above. Everyone keels over laughing, “Well it’s a plane! I hope it would!” responds another.

Flash forward one hour. Once off the plane we all realize we have made it. We survived terrible food, compromising sleeping positions, and fears that we would never reach our final destination. Dorothy had to follow a yellow brick road, we had to fly across the world. Regardless, we made it, we have reached Oz, and it is even more beautiful and amazing than we could have imagined.


Back to School

Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

Dear Université de Strasbourg,

I’m so glad to return to school finally! After a whole month here in your home country, I really looked forward to stepping back into the classroom. I want to thank you for letting me study at your school! It looks like it should be a good year.

I must say, though, you certainly didn’t make it too easy. Back in America, we sign up for classes on the Internet. We receive an electronic version of the course list that includes a comprehensive list of all the classes in each department. I will say I do appreciate the way your system works though too. I certainly worked off a lot of those bread and cheese calories walking to each individual department located in various buildings scattered across the city to pick up the paper copy of that subject’s course listings, and then returning the following week to stand in line so that I could register for the classes I wanted to take. (Out of breath after that sentence? So was I.) With a lot of help from our academic advisor over here (and good walking shoes), I finally completed my enrollment. I found some great art history classes and an interesting course on Guy de Maupassant.

Now, I never would have guessed how keen you were at keeping your students on their toes. I suppose all the schedule and classroom changes make back-to-school that much more exciting. I didn’t know you pushed back my French literature class one hour. But, I did learn a lot about the mathematics of literature when I sat in on that other course in the same classroom at the time my Maupassant lecture was supposed to start. I know you just want to expand my academic interests and deepen the profundity of my life experience. However, I do wish you had told me that my Renaissance discussion group had moved. My French is okay, but my ancient Greek has become a little shoddy recently. Can you give me a hint as to where I can find that Renaissance class? My Greek professor didn’t know.

Well, I’ve learned you like to do things a little differently than I am used to back home at Holy Cross. But despite these Jedi mind tricks, I actually am looking forward to the classes I’m going to be taking. My professors seem smart, nice, and they don’t speak too quickly. The students I talked to have been incredibly helpful and good-spirited. I might just get the hang of this after all.

With anticipation, curiosity, and newly-minted, yet particularly defined calf muscles, your friend and student,

Mark Weyland

It Ain’t Always Easy

Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

Stitched together, the colors of emotion I have felt here in Strasbourg create quite a technicolor quilt. Fear and fascination are mingling with anxiety and anticipation. Red roofs remind me I’m not in Worcester anymore. My humble pink house here hardly resembles my gray home back in Maryland. In the streets, streaming threads of brunettes and blondes, without a redhead in sight, poke at my Holy Cross heartstrings like a pin. No indeed: on Mount Saint James I am not. Yes: I miss my home and my Holy Cross.

But my homesick heartache blushes at the hope of the future. I have only just begun to weave my story abroad. Words lost in translation or stumbled over in French comprise but a patch of this experience. I am finding that I could not be with a warmer, cozier family who is here to help me create the most fantastic time in France. In simpler words (and in response to my last post), they don’t hate me, right-handed people, or kids who got sunburned once. They even have Wifi. If my family is any reflection on the kids I’m going to be meeting once class starts tomorrow, I might make it after all.

So what does this mean? I don’t think I ever could have anticipated the hurdles and challenges my fellow Crusaders and I have faced here. The culture, the language, and even the food are far more complex than at first glance. It is not possible to find your way perfectly from Gallia to Homme de Fer the first time without a little help and patience. You may have to ask what the difference between the tarte flambée and the galette is. But it’s like pulling a big blanket all the way above your head in bed at nighttime. At first it’s completely dark and lonely. But after a while, your eyes adjust, you get comfortable, and soon enough you have cozily settled into your own personal niche. Oh, and there’s your stuffed panda by your elbow. For right now though, let’s just say I’m only barely able to make out the stripe pattern a few inches in front of my face.

Chez Hubert in the European Parliament quarter of Strasbourg. A little close to the street for my personal comfort.

The very vintage key to my home, sitting next to some “fric” on my bureau. Fric is French slang for dolla dolla bills.