My mom was kind enough to remind me that I promised a post about apples, then followed that promise with a post … well … not about apples. So here you go, Mom. Apples, as promised.
Fall in New England means apples. And crisp morning air. And reds and oranges and yellows in the trees. And scarves and sweaters and sometimes boots. I’m a fan of New England autumn for a lot of reasons, but mostly for the apples.
A couple weekends ago, friends and I hopped in the car, drove a mere 35 minutes to the edges of suburbia, where the farmlands back up against backyards, and meandered our way through rows and rows of apple trees. I picked $20 worth of apples, and I’m just about finished with them. I had one tonight on my way to class, and even two weeks after being picked, it was way better than any apple you could get in the grocery store.
Apple picking itself is lots of fun, minus the stomach-ache you inevitably end up with as a result of eating too many apples over the course of just a few hours. But when they look this good, when they’re that crunchy, and their flesh is so perfectly white, it gets really hard to resist.
But the best part about picking apples is what you get to make with them. The day after I brought my apple haul home, I made home-made applesauce for us all. Paired with a bit of Claire’s vanilla ice cream, it made a perfect mid-afternoon snack on a beautiful fall day. Technically, though, I don’t think it was quite fall yet… Needless to say, the applesauce got eaten before photos were taken. My apologies. I’m really bad at taking photos of food that I make. But I promise it was amazing!
And then, the next day, we made pie. Which also got eaten before photographed, but it is fortunately very difficult to eat an entire pie before you remember to take at least one photo. And yes, I did buy a pie plate for this very purpose. There are plans in the works for a honey apple cake, as described on Smitten Kitchen, for which a spring-form pan was also purchased.
Although my recent radio silence would indicate otherwise, I am alive and kicking. Specifically, fighting maniacally at the stresses and pressures that being a Senior implies. I spent the first two weeks of school in a rapid rotation between classes, homework, the shower, and my bed, with a little time in the kitchen to cook, eat, and clean up meals. Basically, my life was do work, finish just in time to go to class, go to class, come home, cook, eat, clean up, do homework, shower, sleep, do work, go to class… You get the picture.
By Tuesday of Week 2, I was up doing work until 3 in the morning, and I decided things needed to change. My advisor told me last year that Senior year needed to be as much about your transition into the real world (hence living off campus and having a job (ish?) as it is about the actual work. Then the Career Center had this wonderful event in which they basically informed us that the job hunt for post-graduation is essentially your fifth class. But I was already taking 5.5 classes…
Now I’m not.
My life is still crazy busy, but now I’ve got time for things I want to do but otherwise wouldn’t be able to. My weeks are still front-loaded; my chemistry class’ problem sets are due every Monday and my physics class’ problem sets are due every Tuesday, and then there’s the small detail of my literature class that meets once a week on Mondays that assigns anywhere from 150-300 pages (so far). I’ve still got lots of homework to work on all week long, but now I also have time for things like reading the newspaper and baking cookies and all the other things one needs to do to remain sane without feeling bad that I’m not working on my homework.
Don’t get me wrong – the decision to drop Japanese was a hard one for me to make. It took me almost a week after I told my teacher I was dropping to actually log into our course system and formally drop it. But I also know that it was the right decision to make. I don’t have time for the ~12 hours of homework it was taking in addition to the 5 hours in class. I don’t have the mental capacity to struggle through a class and feel like I’m not learning anything tangible for my struggle.
Because that’s what Japanese felt like for me. Even in my sophomore year, I felt like I was learning vocab and grammar and facts, remembering them for the test, and then letting them go. Which is exactly how most classes work (although I keep very very strange facts in the back of my head and retrieve them at the most inopportune moments…), but languages are supposed to grow on themselves, like math. The next topic you learn should make more sense as a result of the things you’ve just finished learning; if you’ve forgotten all of that, then you just end up falling further and further behind.
Add to that a year of studying a different language, and you’ve got my situation. I was in a class that I absolutely wanted to be taking, where I could be learning a language that I absolutely want to be learning, but I lost my foundation. And without the foundation, the class was just a forum for frustration, not for furthering my language skills.
For that reason, I’ve decided to go at it on my own. Instead of spending the almost 20 hours a week doing classwork for Japanese, I’ve decided to spend ~5 hours a week maintaining my Japanese, and ~5 hours a week maintaining my Czech. I need to figure out exactly what I want to get out of my language studies going forward, and I’m still working on what that will look like, but hopefully it will include a bit of writing, a bit of reading, and a bit of listening and speaking in both languages.
I dropped Japanese about a week ago and I am more well-rested, less stressed, and more fun. I have time and energy to think about and actually write blog posts again. (Yay!) I auditioned for and made the tap team, and our first rehearsal is tonight. (Yay!) I have time for things like going apple picking, making applesauce and baking apple pie. By the way, its apple season. That post is coming up next!
I was going to write a post about a funny thing Emma said the other day, when she combined some Czech and some English into a single sentence. But as I started to write it, it wasn’t funny. When I told the story to Anna, she laughed, as did the CIEE staff and my Czech professor and even some of the people in my class. But they laughed because the sentence needed no explanation. As I was trying to write my post, I realized that the sentence needed to be explained to my friends and family who speak no Czech. And when spelled out, it isn’t funny anymore. Is there anything funny about a 6 year old saying “more apples, please”? No. The combination of Czech and English is both adorable and laughable, but only to those who understand the Czech.
And then I realized that I found it both adorable and laughable, because I understood both parts. (more…)
In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve already been in Prague forever. But then again, I’ve been here two weeks and haven’t set foot yet in the Jewish Quarter. (I will, don’t worry!) But I have been here for two weekends and haven’t even spent a single weekend day in Prague, because we’ve been out and about. This weekend, we went to Anna’s hometown, a village about 200 km from Prague (more about the village life here).