Despite the fact that I am in Europe, and technically should be taking a little break from all things school-related (well, other than classes here), I have been giving some definite thought to graduate school. After much contemplation, I've decided that I really do want to go to graduate school. It's difficult to get a good job with just a bachelor's in biology, and I really want to follow a research-oriented track that normally takes higher education.
Recently, I've actually been checking out graduate schools. Another big thing I have to decide now is which type of degree I'd like to earn. In undergraduate, I'm going for a straight biology degree. However, in graduate school, I'd like to specialize in a topic that I find interesting. As I've written previously, I love just about every field of biology, so I'm having a really hard time deciding what to specialize in. So far, I've been able to narrow my scope down a little; I want to study some sort of ecology or conservation route. I also have to decide if I want to get a master's first, then a PhD, or if I want to go straight for the PhD.
I'm just not quite sure what I want to do. I found a really neat program for a master's in Conservation and Sustainable Development, which I'm really interested in. The only kicker is that it's in Georgia . . . and can I really move all the way across the country?
First of all, I am happy to report that I've been to over 35 museums in the little-over two months I've been here. And that is 35 different museums, not 35 different visits. If we're counting separate visits, then I'm well over 50 museum visits and counting. I think I have the record for most museum visits of all the kids in my program.
Second, I visited the Van Gogh museum. He's great and wonderful, but I didn't enjoy his exhibit because I had a homework assignment to do. My art teacher assigned us a big project: we have to catalogue the dominant colors, genre, and painting style of each exhibited piece of artwork. Additionally, I had to note whether or not the work was signed or dated, and (this is the killer) I had to critique the frames. I didn't just have to describe them, I had to decide whether or not the frames were contemporary with the work. I also had to rate them as good, bad, or ugly, and give my reasoning.
This isn't the artwork I had to critique. The frames. Oh, the inhumanity. So, today, I spent a good four hours in the Van Gogh museum. Granted, I did have lunch with Amy and Martijn during that time, and I did go thru the Rosetti exhibit (more to come on that later), but I still spent a good deal of time analyzing Van Goghs, and I didn't even finish.
I love art just as much as the next person. In fact, I chose to study abroad in the Netherlands purely based on the fact that I happened to really love two Flemish paintings (The Marriage at Cana, by Jheronimus Bosch, and something I can't remember about Mary, Queen of Heaven) I saw in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. during a Model United Nations trip I took my senior year. I am crazy for Dutch art; it's just got a beautiful quality, the variety is great, and it's all so well done. But, really, is it completely necessary for me to critique every frame in the Van Gogh museum's holdings?
The best part of doing all this Van Gogh work were the great looks Amy and I got from everyone around us. Of course, we had to go on a Saturday, so the museum was packed. Amy and I blocked paintings, examined signatures, and debated brush strokes -- "is that medium-thick-bold or thin-thick-bold?" -- as people looked on admiringly. Worse, for us, is that our discussion prevented us from truly enjoying many of the works. This is highly ironic, as one of the main articles in our reader (and, I might add, this is an article that I had to expound upon during our recent midterm) tells us not to be critics of art but to merely absorb and enjoy art. The article called upon us to like whatever we may like, understand why we dislike certain works, and not be a snob who looks at the title, mumbles "brilliant chiaroscuro," and moves on. (chiaroscuro: \Chia`ro*scu"ro\, Chiaro-oscuro \Chi*a"ro-os*cu"ro\, n. [It., clear dark.] (a) The arrangement of light and dark parts in a work of art, such as a drawing or painting, whether in monochrome or in color. (b) The art or practice of so arranging the light and dark parts as to produce a harmonious effect. Caravaggio style lighting, often seen in Rembrant works, basically the technique of spotlighting a figure. it's cool) So, like I said, highly ironic that Amy and I wandered around mumbling "dominant color blue; thick, broad, bold brushstrokes; landscape."
Rosetti was the unexpected delight of the day; a special exhibit full of paintings, sonnets, and drawings. I am entranced. I'll let you look him up. His full name is Dante Gabriel Rosetti (originally Gabriel Dante Rosetti), and he is wonderful. You truly have to see his works for yourself. Try and find his sonnet about Lillith. Oh, am I glad I detoured into his exhibit to give myself a break from Van Gogh. I am getting close to being museumed-out. It will be nice to come back to the States and go hiking in "nature's museum" instead of seeing art. I love art, but there's only so many museums one can take in fourth months' time.
My Quest for French Onion Soup
brought to you by the Genius of Josh
Our day starts at the early hour of 9 in the morning after I shamefully passed out at 9 o’clock the evening before from a combination of jet-lag and traveler’s exhaustion, emasculating myself and severely hurting my own self-image as a night-owl/veteran traveler in the process. Suffice it to say my pillow was not fully dry as the ramifications of such an early sleep set in, but I had scarcely the time to begin sobbing like a small child before sleep overcame me. Don’t worry, I kid…or do I? But anyway, I digress. As I was saying, we awoke at the previously unknown to me on a weekend hour of 9 o’clock in order to prep ourselves for a lovely day in the town of Brugge, Belgium. We had heard tell of a wonderful brewery tour that was a must, but only if one attended the tour at 10 o’clock, lest the poor helpless traveler was to be forced to feign understanding and nod knowingly as the tour guide explained the process of creating beer in French. Apparently, the entire town of Brugge was much like me and the 9 o’clock hour on a weekend was something unheard of to them as well as we wandered through the empty streets of Brugge with our arms outstretched, tightly clutching a tourist map, attempting to find the brewery.
So, I've had a couple people ask how class is going here, or if I even go to class here. I know I don't mention it a lot, so I thought I'd say something now.
I have class four days a week. On Monday, I have 3 hours of the Netherlands and its European Context. Tuesday gives me two hours of Dutch Art & Architecture lecture, and on Wednesday I have 3 hours of photography. Thursday is my fieldtrip day for Dutch A&A, and we go to museums in the afternoon. That's my easy-piesy class schedule here.
I only wish I were learning a little bit more. I adore photography, and I wish I could have tons more of that. It's been wonderful to have:
(1) a teacher who encourages me to do weird stuff with my camera, just to see what happens
(2) practice with slide film, which I've never used before
(3) time to take whatever photos I want to take, just because
(4) and also time to try and take photos to fill a purposely vague assignment title, like "take pictures of something that is the same but different in every country you go to" (I'm doing these things that separate sidewalks from the road -- I'll post a pic up soon perhaps).
I am so glad I came here because of the photography class. I also like Dutch Art & Architecture, but it's a ton of information for me to process.
NEC drives me crazy. It's supposed to be about the Netherlands and Europe, but it should really be called "Comparative USA NL studies" because of how much we talk about the US. I think my country report I'm doing on Spain will actually teach me as much as the entire class will. I must say tho, the class did make me go to a soccer game and to several towns already, which is good. I'll think about it and post more later, because I'm running out of web time at the cafe, and I want to make sure this posts. But I will say that this is definitely not the most academic semester I've had in my life. Still, I am learning tons about living on my own in an entirely new place where people don't always speak my language.
There´s now a bunch of controversy as to who is behind the attack. A fringe group of Al-Qaeda has taken blame, but the government has not come to a conclusion. The government still suspects the ETA, a Basque Separatist group, but it hasn´t ruled out al-qaeda.
I´d appreciate if people could just say a quick prayer for me. I´m not worried about heading up to Madrid, but a prayer can´t hurt. My family has two main maxims we live by, the first being ¨no news is good news¨(this due to the amazing amount of time my brothers and I have spent in places where we really can´t get ahold of anyone even if we wanted to). The second one is the concept that a place of tragedy is usually a fairly safe place to be after the tragedy. For example, after the e-coli scare at Jack in the Box (a west coast fast food chain), no one would eat there. But my brother always said it´s safer because they have to be more careful now, since they´re under scrutiny. Likewise, I think everyone will be on high guard in Madrid this weekend. I just hope Museo Sofina Reina is open, because I really want to go there before I leave.
I´m enjoying my Spain trip, and it´s horrible that it had to be marred by a tragedy like this. I found out about the tragedy in the department store El Corte Inglés, on their display TVs. I amazingly understood almost all of the Spanish news report. And I cried, because even though I´m not from Spain, I still love this country. This whole thing . . . . just makes me really, awfully sad. Again, all I can ask is why?
Cruise on over to The Morning News and check out this great archived article I found. It´s about charities that could use just $10 bucks in a much better way than any of us probably could. It´s worth a gander. I plan on donating money when I get back from Europe, provided I have money left.
Thank goodness I decided to spend the entire week, through Saturday morning, in Grenada. This morning, Thursday the 11th of March, there was a terrorist attack on Madrid. You can read about the details in the article, but no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. The current thought is that the ETA, a Basque separatist group, is beyond the bombings. Spain´s general elections are on Sunday, and the ETA is upset with the current party that is in charge and leading in the polls: the Partido Popular.
The attacks really upset me. First, almost two hundred people died, and over 600-800 were wounded, depending on which report you read. While this was less than the 2,752 killed at the World Trade Center, this is still the largest terrorist attack in the history of Spain.
The whole situation just makes me shake my head. Why do people continue to think that killing the innocent is the way to their desires? And, even worse, the attacks occurred during rush hour, which is the most crowded time on the subways. How can anyone be so inhumane?
All I can really do right now is be grateful that I wasn´t a victim of the blast, because my vacation plans certainly could have brought me there. As well, I hope the wounded are able to heal, and the families touched by this event will not be devastated.