Growing up

I never expected that doing a master abroad could have such a strong impact on my life, yet here I am, and everything changed….

For the first time in a long, long time, I just want to live. I want to be spontaneous and go for a walk around town on a whim. I want to go to a restaurant alone if that makes me happy. I want to grab my camera and find a nice spot to take pictures. I just want to do something. Anything. 

I want to challenge myself. I want to be brave and get out of my comfort zone. I want to learn new things. I want to meet new people and be the person I always wished I could be. And for the first time in forever, I actually feel like I can do it. I feel strong enough to stop waiting for things to happen miraculously. I feel like all those walls I created around myself as a shield against the world are not necessary anymore. I am growing up and moving on.

I’m spreading my wings, and even though it’s exciting, this desire to live is so strong, sometimes it’s overwhelming.

It is a hard, exhausting lesson to learn. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite there yet. But there is one thing I am sure of: I won’t be satisfied to just go back to France and be the same girl I used to be.

I changed. I don’t know exactly how it happened, it just did. It will take a long time for me to overcome all of the barriers I put for myself. It won’t happen in a few days or even a few months. But it’s necessary to start somewhere. Isn’t it?

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Two days of Olympics

I am fascinated by Figure Skating. I love it so much that I took the decision that next year, at the old age of 21 (yes, it’s old in that sport), I will start figure skating. I always dreamt to do it, and I don’t see any reason for me not to do so. But that’s not the subject of this post.

For the last two days, I have been fully immersed in the Olympics, because of the Ladies individual events. I have been waiting for that moment for such a long time, I was really excited.

I knew this year was going to be awesome. Mao Asada and Yuna Kim both announced their intention to retire after Sochi, and I am a huge fan of both of them, so I thought “It’s definitely going to be amazing!”

Well, it was.

But it left me unsatisfied and disappointed.

— Here are some of the main highlights of both the 19th and the 20th —

I already knew Kim Yuna’s short program, “Send in the Clowns”. I loved the dress, I loved the music, and I loved the choreography. She didn’t disappoint me. Her skating was flawless. Given that she hadn’t compete this season, seeing her in Sotchi, seeing her skate like that was amazing. It almost brought tears to my eyes really.

She was 17th to go, and her performance was so much better than all the girls before her that it truly highlighted Yuna’s unique talent. She is not just good. She is the best. And she proved it once again.

Sochi-Olympics-Figure-Skating.JPEG-0df21-870x489Yuna performing her short program "Send in the Clowns" on February, the 19th 
(Photo: AP)

Much later in the afternoon came Carolina Kostner, the italian, 7th in Vancouver four years ago. Her short program was lovely and deserved an high score. I was happy to see her so high in the ranking. She came third, only 0.80pts behind Yuna, a true surprise indeed.

Sochi Olympics Figure SkatingCarolina Kostner performing her short program "Ave Maria" on February, the 19th 
(AP photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Then, Adelina Sotnikova appeared. She was fresh, pretty, dynamic and very strong on her program. Keeping in mind that she is only 17 years old, yes, of course, her skating was excellent. I liked her strength and expressions, she really did look like she wanted it all!

470408319-1Adelina Sotnikova performing her short program "Habanera" on February, the 19th 
(DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

Finally, after many hours – and believe me, as much as I love figure skating, at some point it becomes a little bit tiring, in particular because many girls there were young and their performances were not always outstanding – came Mao Asada, last-to-go for the short program. Her performance was heartbreaking to watch, I really wanted to cry. I love Mao, and I always felt sorry for her because everybody tried to push a rivalry between her and Yuna where there was no point to do so. Mao is amazing in her own way. Her career and her accomplishments are worth much more than just this endless comparison, and she deserves to be seen as the outstanding skater she is, no matter what. Seeing her fall on that triple axel, and then make mistakes all along her program was sad and disheartening. Just as Yuna, she announced her retirement following the Sotchi’s Olympics and to leave on a failure like this, I couldn’t imagine it.

(I had a really hard time finding a picture of Mao’s short program that didn’t show her falling. I know her program was a disaster but I do NOT want to remember her for that, and it is a bit sad that most photos circulating are only showing her bad moments…)

328385-01-02Mao Asada performing her short program "Nocturne No.2 Op.9–2 in E flat major" on February, the 19th 
(AFP Photos/Adrian Dennis)

After that first day, I was super worried. I hoped Yuna would get a strong lead after the short program, but since both Adelina and Carolina were less than 1 point behind her, the results of the free skate were crucial. Believe me, I didn’t sleep very well….

Mao was the first of the “big names” to go, because she only ranked 16th after the short program. I was anxious to see her performance on that free skate. But she did it marvelously! She was graceful, elegant, light and so, so lovely to watch! Her tears at the end made me cry. Such a beautiful way to prove everyone wrong. Yes, she can land that triple axel. Yes, she is still the only woman attempting and doing it at the moment, and just for that, she deserves all the praise in the world.

She made it 3rd on the free skate, but she was second in my heart, and IMO definitely better than Adelina. She might only be 6th overall, but her free program was a fantastic send-off and if you have the opportunity, do watch it! She is a true professional and totally deserves her spot as one of the best skaters ever.

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Mao Asada performing her free program "Piano Concerto No.2" on February, the 20th  
(Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

Carolina Kostner was the 20th to go on the rink to perform her free program, and because of her excellent result on the short program, I really hoped she could live up with the momentum and deliver a flawless performance. She did. She was beautiful, graceful and everything in her skating was just perfect. I honestly believe she deserved better than the bronze medal she was awarded. She didn’t do any mistake, her jumps were clear, her technique perfect. There is no reason to explain why she didn’t rank higher.

Olympics: Figure Skating-Ladies Free SkatingCarolina Kostner performing her free program "Boléro" on February, the 20th 
(Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)

Then came Adelina Sotnikova, the Olympic Champion 2014. I will be honest here, her skating was really good. She impressed me in many ways and yes, she did really well. However, in my opinion, she didn’t deserve the gold medal, and even less the lead of more than 5 points over Yuna. She is a good jumper, no-one would doubt it, but her performance lacked that depth, that maturity that makes Yuna the best ice skater in the world.

But as much as it annoyed me at first, I understand that it is not her fault. The thing I am worried about is that she will be remembered as “the girl who took away Yuna Kim’s second olympic title”, and she certainly isn’t responsible for it. She did her best on the rink and she is a good skater. The fact that the results appear unfair has nothing to do with her, and she should not be subjected to all the hatred directed to her at the moment. I believe she would have been happy with any medal, and the judges should not have advantaged her the way they did. It was too obvious, too big of a difference to seem legitimate or justified. It was unfair and it will tarnish forever her Olympic title, I’m afraid.

In any case, congratulation to Adelina for her performance, either it deserved or not the gold medal doesn’t matter. She did a fantastic job and after the huge attention received by Julia Liptniskaya, she reminded Russia that they have another champion, too.

017_20140221Adelina Sotnikova performing her free program "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" on February, the 20th 
(Photos: Wang Haof)

Last to go was Queen Yuna. I wanted her to win so badly, yet I knew, even a few months ago that her program was not that strong. I knew it was not that challenging or risqué and I knew it would be hard to grab that gold medal for a second time. But I believed she could do it. She performed so flawlessly in Sochi that I was SURE she had it. Even the BBC journalists were saying that she was going for the gold. We all believed it. Until the score were announced, I was so sure she’d secured her second olympic title…. And then the score appeared. And my heart stopped. First I was shocked, then horrified and finally heartbroken.

5 points difference is huge. It was like a slap in the face, really. Yes, Yuna did one less jump. Yes, she did one less combination, but god, she performed so well, the way she delivered her program was way ahead of everyone else. She was perfect. If figure skating was only about jumps, that silver medal would have been justified, but it is not the case, and that’s why so many people are angry.

But you know what? I don’t care if she gets the gold or the silver or even nothing at all. What truly matters is that she delivered an incredible performance that gave me goosebumps. It’s not the medals I want to remember, it’s her skating. Her way of moving, her grace, her elegance, her expressions, her perfect landings and her beautiful choreographies. That’s what makes her a legend.

When Yuna is skating, it has a beauty, a depth, a power that no other skater achieves. It’s so much more than just a physical performance. She is performing with everything she has, her fingers, her face, even her eyes, and in that she is unique. That’s what places her above all the others, even if the results don’t necessarily support it. It’s something that can’t be put in numbers, that can’t be scored.

russia_sochi_2014_olympic_games_41204695Yuna performing her free program "Adios Nonino" on February, the 20th 
(Photo: EPA)
622087-la-su-coreenne-kim-yu-na-execute-un-programme-libre-du-patinage-artistique-au-palais-des-glaces-iceb(Photo: AFP)
006_20140221(Photo: Wang Li)

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And one more from her beautiful short program “Send in the Clowns”, because that’s figure skating at its best…

Kim-Yu-na-figure-skating-olympics-ftr(Photo: Getty Images)

Yes, this article is full of love for Yuna. And for Mao. They are incredible skaters, and I will miss seeing them compete, but god, they deserve to retire and finally enjoy life without the pressure and pain of training and competitions!

SP

Some news

There are so many things I wanted to blog about. So many things I wanted to share, so many drafts I wish I had posted.

Yet, my last article was on the beginning of November. Many, many things happened since then.

I turned 21…

I learnt how to cook (and became quite good at it, too!)…

 I met new friends… 

I went home for Christmas after three months in the UK….

I watched the Hunger Games 1 and 2…

I wrote my first essays….

I am safely starting the second term of my master…

The list goes on forever.

Ever since I came to the UK, I have considerably less time to blog. I guess this is the fate of any postgraduate student. Studies take 100% of my energy. I have never been so stressed in my life. Ever. I feel constantly overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do. Everything is new to me though, so I have excuses. Essay writing, independent researching… I just can’t get used to it.

uninightmare

Blogging? Well, be honest, it was the last of my priority. But I don’t want to give up completely because I actually enjoy it. So from now on, I will try to be more organized. I need to learn to balance my life (because, let’s be honest, I don’t have a life anymore. Just going to watch a movie with my friends makes me feel awfully guilty because I should be studying), and I need to do things I like. For my own sanity, I’m convinced it is important that I don’t give up completely on my hobbies.

Hence, from now on, I will try to post an article every month, on various subjects. I’m afraid there won’t be any book reviews in a while, for the simple reason that I have to read SO MUCH for my master that I don’t really feel like reading during my free time.

But you will definitely see food, movies, life in the UK or other general articles in the future, so stay tuned!

See you soon,

SP

Elizabeth Gaskell – North & South

Ok guys, here is my absolute favourite book of ALL TIMES. Seriously. North & South is like a masterpiece, so briliant, so well written, so adorable and so smart and… It’s perfect. It is just perfect.

So, my first question would be – if you don’t know Elizabeth Gaskell yet – do you know Jane Austen?

If so, and if you like her, run to the closest bookshop and buy North and South! You will love it!

You know what? I will be nice, and I will even give you the link of the FULL book. Because I’m like that. You can thank the Gutenberg project for it :) Obviously, I still advise you to buy a proper paper version of the book, because paper versions are the best, they smell nice and it feels good to have it in your hands. Reading on a screen doesn’t have the same impact, nor the same warm, comforting feeling. But, anyway, here is the link: “NORTH AND SOUTH”

Now what is it about? Let me write a short summary.

The story takes place during the industrial revolution in England. The Hale family leave the South to settle down in an industrial city of the north called Milton.

It is nothing like what they know. The misery of the workers, the apparent cruelty of the ‘bosses’ and the rising capitalism are very hard to understand for Margaret, the daughter, who absolutely hate this new place she is forced to call home. Her prejudices will cause more harm than good but as she struggle to adjust to her new life, Margaret will also start to realize that maybe there is some good in this city.

In Milton, John Thorton is one of the bosses. He is sarcastic, very cold and extremely strict. But as the story goes on, we start understanding that this is only a façade and that maybe Mr Thorton is not the cruel, heartless man he seems to be.

For 425 pages, Margaret and Mr Thorton struggle to find a way to understand each other despite their prejudices and differences, to a background of strike, bosses-workers relations, industrial revolution, debts, capitalism and bankrupcy, diseases, tragedies, deaths and home life.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, here is a quote from the book:

“One word more. You look as if you thought it tainted you to be loved by me. You cannot avoid it. Nay, I, if I would, cannot cleanse you from it. But I would not if I could. I have never loved any woman before; my life has been too busy, my thoughts too much absolved with other things. Now I love and will love. But do not be afraid of too much expression on my part.”
― Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

You might cry, get frustrated, yell at the characters, smile or maybe even laugh, but one thing is sure, you cannot remain completely indifferent to Elizabeth Gaskell’s amazing writing style.

I consider North and South to be an Autumn book. I really think it suits the November-like atmosphere and I love reading it while drinking a hot cup of mocca and petting my cat. Well, I don’t have my cat with me this year, but I do have Mocca, and I do have my book, so I am definitely going to read it again in a few weeks, when I finish all the essay writing I have to do for my classes.

I hope you guys will enjoy reading it as well, and please do tell me if you liked it! Also, if you read it already, I’m interested in your opinion as well!

Thank you,

Pink.

The Autumn Tag

Well, I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it, but I really want to post a “light” article, because I have one loooong piece coming for mid-november which won’t be so fun, and I want to make it up for all the negativity floating around here. So here I am! My friend asked me to do it, quite a long time ago I reckon, but it’s still autumn so that’s fine, I suppose!

 

1. Favourite thing about [Autumn] ? I absolutely love this season. It is so beautiful, and I can tell you that here in Kent I love it 1000 times more than in Paris! The trees look amazing, and sometimes in late afternoon the lights are just magical! I seriously regret not having my reflex camera with me.
2. Favourite drink? Well, the same as during the rest of the year, my usual Mocca…
3. Favourite scent/candle? When the rain just stopped, there is this special scent, so fresh and all, I really like it.
4. Best lipstick? I don’t wear lipstick so…
5. Go to moisturiser? I always use the same cream all year round, which is Le Petit Marseillais.
6. Go to colours for the eyes? I don’t use make-up so…. if I had to… light pink or light brown would be my choices.
7. Favourite music or band/singer to listen to? Lately I have been listening to balads a lot. Christina Perri’s songs are really nice, but I also listen to French singers like Gregory Lemarchal or Francis Cabrel. But I don’t listen to sad songs, just sweet, calm songs.
8. Favourite outfit to wear? As ever, skinny pants, a nice, warm jumper and a scarf. I have to buy a new coat. And I feel like wearing dark-red and natural colours (like beige) really suits the season. But I wear pink a lot as well. Because almost all my clothes are pink.
9. Autumn treat? Don’t know.
10. Favourite place to be? Somewhere with a warm blanket, a cup of hot coffee and a nice book. Ah, that’s a dream, because of course I have to study :’)
Bonus question: Best book to read? NORTH AND SOUTH! I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved this book the best in Autumn. The whole atmosphere of the story is kind of Autumn-like in my head so, yeah, North and South it is. And anyway, a good Elizabeth Gaskell book is always the best, isn’t it?
Here I go!
So, what would YOU answer to those questions?
Pink

Friends

I miss my friends.

I thought I was fine and yet… Yet here I am. And I miss them. I miss seeing them every day at University. I miss talking to them. I miss all the things we shared together and I miss their craziness. I miss our starbucks afternoon and our korean lunches. I miss their texts, even if I never answer… I miss complaining about teachers and homework, I miss the silly stuff we said all day long…

Still, we have skype. And facebook. It’s not like we can’t connect. But somehow it’s different, right?

University warned us against the so-called “October blues”. Because they know better than us. They know that, even though you are fine during the first few weeks, after some time you start realizing that it’s going to be like that for a whole year.

A whole year…

Still, we will meet each other in December. But… is it enough? Just a few days, passing by…

I am not really sad. But sometimes, sometimes it feels very empty not having them around. Because even if I met wonderful people here, we have only known each other for a month, right? A month is not so long… when you think about it, we really don’t know each other so well yet…

I never really say personal things anyway but… having a friend around, even if I don’t say anything, it’s already making me feel better, you know? Even just having them by my side is already enough to brighten everything…

So… to all my friends… I don’t say it enough but…

I love you!

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Targetted ads

We all know how internet works. If you visit a shop website, you’re probably going to see their ads EVERYWHERE for days or even weeks.

I remember when I was looking for a present for one of my best friends. It was really funny, I had One Directions ads aaaaaaaall the time. And I don’t even listen to them. Luckily though, nobody noticed. Well, I hope nobody noticed, because it’s quite embarassing.

{My apologies, this statement in only HALF true, I did listen to them. A bit. At some point. And I do think their music isn’t that bad. However, at the time of that anecdote, I wasn’t listening to them, so…}

Anyway, in my opinion, targetted ads is bullshit. Let forget about those ‘shops’ ads because they are obvious.

Now, I’ll be talking about those random targetted ads that pop up everywhere (in particular on facebook) based uniquely on how you use internet, if you are a girl or a guy (sometimes they even get THAT wrong), and what they think you need.

I don’t know if you get relevant ads sometimes, but as for me, very often it’s completely useless, and even funny considering their nature.

Most of the time, I get “lose 10lbs in 1 week” type of ads, which always makes me laugh because… well, I’m a really skinny girl, and if anything I probably need to gain weight. So what? Are they encouraging eating disorders? Because, after all, presenting the loss of weight as an amazing achievement, and sending those ads to girls that DON’T need to lose weight, they are actually putting in their mind that in fact they might be too big.

I’m not talking about me, I know I’m too skinny and I’m very realistic about it. But some teenagers are not so confident with themselves, some of them need to be reassured, to be told that they look nice and that they don’t need to get any skinnier. Those ads are doing the EXACT contrary, and to be honest, I’m a little concerned about it.

This morning, on Facebook, I had an “unplanned pregnancy” ad. Yep. Still wondering where it comes from, as I didn’t visit any related websites or anything. Just being a girl was probably enough to turn me into a potential target, I guess.

Yet, the one I laughed the most at was the “Men: New Steroïd Option” ad. Seriously? I’m not even a man! And honestly, the pseudo-scientific article was hilarious. I had a lot of fun reading it.

I’m not really pro-targetted ads. I understand why they are used and it’s probably efficient, otherwise it would have stopped years ago, but I think some of them should be banned. I don’t even talk about all the “pseudo-dating-sites” ads and all the porn pop-ups (and yes, that’s because I stream. Not only old men stream, you know? When you live far from the US, you don’t necessarily want to wait a YEAR to get the new season of your favorite show). Because those are obviously illegal, and I can’t imagine if it was a young girl or boy instead of me on the computer. I mean, it’s shocking, and you can’t control when it pops up. It just does, without any particular reason, and that even if you blocked pop ups in the first place so…

Yeah, basically, more control would be great. Or better targetting. But change something! I’m tired of steroïd and diet ads!

SPink

The voice of an Angel

I am not really into music. What I mean is that I don’t go to concert, I can’t name my “favorite” singer or group, I am not a “fan”. Not really. But there are artists that I greatly admire and respect. Musics I love to listen to.

And today, I would really love to introduce you to an incredibly gifted French singer. His name is Gregory Lemarchal. It is possible that you know him already, but if it is not the case yet, by all mean, listen to his songs!

In 2004, Gregory was a contestant of a French singing reality TV show called “La star académie”. To be perfectly honest, I really dislike reality TV, but in this case, in this particular case, I must admit that something good came out of it.

Some of you might be familiar with what cystic fibrosis is. To be simple, it is a rare genetic disease that causes breathing difficulties, repeated infections and digestive problems. Gregory suffered from cystic fibrosis, and him appearing in such a popular as La Star Académie was actually a much-needed breath of hope for everyone suffering from this disease, as there is no treatment for it yet. I know that his fame put cystic fibrosis under the spotlight. Suddenly millions of people discovered this disease, discovered its very existence and those people started to care. Many researchers are now working on finding an effective treatment against this terrible disease and it is in great part thanks to Gregory and his talent.

I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to sing, and it totally gives another feeling to all his performances. He put his soul and heart into the songs he was singing. Cystic Fibrosis affects respiration, and I am sure it must have been very difficult, yet he continued to sing.

When he died in 2007, it was incredibly sad and heartbreaking. So many years passed since then and each time I listen to his songs I can’t help but thinking “this man was incredible”. He really was.

So please, do listen to Gregory’s angelic voice!

This song is one of my all time favorites. It is called “Je suis en vie” (I’m alive). But do search for other of his covers on YT, he is really good and it’s worth listening, I swear!

I did a translation of the lyrics, for those of you who want to cry a little and feel guilty to complain about our daily troubles :) (no judgement intended, I do complain sometimes for silly stuff and feel guilty afterward because… well, some people do have it harder than me)

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Adjusting to Kent life

After a few months of fear, stress, nerve-wracking wait and doubts, here I am, slowly adjusting to my new life in the UK.

When I was studying in France, I always thought that speaking English with native speakers would be extremely embarrassing, and therefore avoided being put in that situation as much as I could. My cousins in Canada tend to be very picky when I try speaking English with them (which always makes me cringe because I never dare making any comment on how they speak French) and I guess it crushed my confidence a little bit.

But as soon as I arrived here, it just came so naturally that now I don’t even notice anymore. Well, I still speak French randomly, and people look at me like “what are you saying, you crazy girl?” (in particular when it’s in the middle of a conversation, I just switch language without reason, very weird!), but overall I don’t have much trouble with English. Which is nice.

The Campus is SO beautiful and the scenery is so lovely, I really feel lucky to be here! Honestly, everything is so nice, and green, and… well, charming. It’s only my third week here, so I suppose I’m still amazed by how beautiful it is. In a few weeks from now, when it will start raining and all, I probably won’t like it as much.

The University is really nice as well. Very, very, VERY different from France. Everything is like the COMPLETE opposite of what I knew. There are plenty of events for international students, the teachers and the staff are really nice and helpful, if I ask a question people are more than happy to answer… Honestly, the change is quite radical, so much that it still feels strange.

As for classes, well, it is very different as well. I mean, back in France I had 20 (or more) hours of classes per week, here I only have SIX. And a loooooot of reading to do. I am a last-minute student. I delay things as much as I can, but here, it probably won’t work that way. I have to be more independent in my studies, which is something I was definitely not prepared for. It’s probably going to be interesting (and very challenging)!

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So far I am really glad to be there and intend to make the most out of this year!

Which means that, if you are from the UK and have good ideas of things to visit in Kent, please share! I will be more than happy to discover various places and all!

SPink

18

Today is my brother’s B-day. He is now officially an adult! (in France, at least!)

So, this little brother of mine turns 18

He is now all grown up, isn’t he?

Happy Birthday~!

Enjoy this year without your terrible, annoying big sister and don’t brutalise my cat too much!

 

PS: I’m really sorry for not posting lately. I might not have blogged about yet, but it happens that I am in the UK for my master and I still am getting used to my new life, so please be patient! I promise I’ll blog soon!

Cheers~!

SPink