Today is a beautiful day, sun is shining, birds are singing, people are canoeing on the river outside my window, candy floss is whipping up on the branches of Strasbourg’s trees, and I saw 2012’s first wasp today. In short, I’m telling you what you already know: Spring is here!!!!!
I tend to half-joke that my favourite season is always the next one: I tire quickly of April showers and long for summer, grow weary of the sticky heat – not so much in Scotland, mind you, although even there I get impatient for autumn’s earthy tones; and when November hits me with an onslaught of birthdays and gift shopping, I begin to yearn for the stretching shadows, cozy, crackling evenings and the hushed magic of deep winter. Then, after the gifts are given and the dinners consumed, the 6-hour days soon begin to depress me so that by the time spring yawns back into view, I’m all but gasping for it to get here sooner.
So, hooray! Spring is sprung, and for a few days now my shorts and I have been getting some weird looks from fellow French bus-riders still swaddled in three layers of muted colours and a woolly scarf. But I don’t care: not even when I get off the warm bus and envy them their jeans and boots because it is actually still quite chilly. I don’t care because I look cute and excited and they all look gloomy and morose. Joke’s on you, The French!
But seriously now, onwards to the point. This new weather has me turning over new leaves as fast as they’re sprouting on previously barren branches all around, and I wanted to
show off about it share it with you in today’s spotlight! Here we go: four aspects of my life which have been improved by the creation of some good habits.
I feel great lately. Why? Because I am great, from the inside out. After a three-week hiatus from my newish workout regime, I’m back at it three times a week: which I think is the proof that it has definitely become part of my life. Just like, when I came back from Italy, Strasbourg suddenly felt like real home, my workouts feel even more ingrained in me after my three-week break. In fact, today I’m proud to announce that my 360th minute of working out earned me Nike Training Club’s ‘Bench Marker’ reward! Next up is Warrior, which I’m looking forward to. That sounds like the sort of thing that might fundamentally change the way I view myself as a human.
Just kidding. Rewards are fun, though.
I started a cooking class, just like I said I would. I’d looked at several options, and because of prices I was going to settle on a single macaron-making lesson for 30-40€; and then a poster appeared in the foyer of my dorm, advertising a course on healthy, budget-friendly student cooking for 5€! I snapped it up and, after only one of four lessons, I can already do tabouleh, leeks with a gribiche sauce, spaetzle and apple compote. The meals I’ve attempted haven’t been as good as the class samples, it must be said; but I’ll get there, and besides, it’s much more satisfying than my usual salad or pasta with sauce.
It’s not just dinners I’m getting better at, though. The course also provides a lot of nutritional advice which I’ve been working in to my other meals, and a lot of the focus is on eating deliberately and mindfully. As such, I’ve replaced my regular grab-something-to-eat-still-hungry-so-have-something-else-oh-I-still-have-ten-minutes-so-I’ll-grab-another-piece-of-bread habit with a much healthier one. I just get a plate, put it on my table, put some items on it and then eat them. That way I see a plateful of food in front of me, I can tell if it’s balanced or not, and I know that’s what I’m going to eat for breakfast that morning. No more stuffing my face with random objects on my way out the door: which can only be a good thing.
Cooking for yourself helps you save money, of course: that’s one of the reasons I was so interested in taking a real course in budget cooking, since it had been such a vague concept for me before. That doesn’t mean I never want to spend a little extra and eat out, for example: but I’m going about it all wrong. As it stands, I eat breakfast and dinner at home, and eat lunch on campus. And by ‘lunch’ I mean ‘a quick snack from the vending machine’, or ‘Subway’. Not exactly my idea of ‘treating myself’ when I eat out. So. I’m starting to pack lunches; this way I cut the costs of eating on campus, and I can use that money to save up for a real treat of a meal in one of Strasbourg’s many fantastic restaurants.
Luckily for me, the whole ‘saving’ thing has become much easier recently: I found a job! And then I found another one! I have a tough commute for one of them and lesson plans to prepare for the other, but between the two of them I’ll be bringing in a steady 50€ a week. Not bad for 4½ hours’ work! And with my most generous of fathers covering my monthly rent and transport pass, it should be enough to get by comfortably :)
I was bumbling along for too long with no idea how to study for my courses, given how differently universities are organised in France, and I had to do something about it. Recently I’ve given a lot more thought to my studies and how I’m going to get good grades this semester, and this is what I’ve come up with. I bought new folders and split up all my notes in an organised manner. I have a few hours to kill on campus most days, so I split up my course notes into days so that on Tuesday I’ll be forced to revise the day’s classes while they’re fresh in my mind since those are the only notes I’ll have access to. I’m also finally (in Week 9 >_>) getting a handle on how to get the most out of each individual course: one teacher, for example, talks so fast that I need to bring my computer in, type my notes and take a sound recording of the class to listen back to later.
This would also be a good opportunity to casually throw in the joyous tidings that I’ve been handed back the two pieces of assessed work I submitted for my Word and Image Relations class, and despite my worries, I got a 3/5 and a 4/5. That gives me an average of 70%, which is an A back at Edinburgh. You can mail my gold stars to my term-time address, thank you.
So that’s that! A few things I’ve been doing lately to try and make life easier for myself, and a little bit happier too :) And, as you may have noticed from my lengthy and upbeat intro, it seems to be working!
Wishing you all the very best,