Fact: Reedies, for the most part, are socially… special. A more than a little awkward, really absorbed with school, and part of a community that is unique in every way. Another fact: Reed is small enough that you recognize everyone you see when walking from commons to Vollum, to the point that you may not feel completely uncomfortable throwing some semblance of a smile at the people may not know very well.
University of Paris IV is not so. With tens of thousands of students, you rarely bump into familiar faces, not to mention smile at them. This mentality seemed to me to be characteristic of Parisians in general—a city wherein people value anonymity and privacy, have places to go and people to see, and don’t feel inclined to smile at you on the metro as you bustle your way through the crowd. A city where winter means black peacoats and thick gray scarves, and wearing bright colors clearly indicates a non-Parisian origin.
So, it was much to my surprise this last week when the sky was finally blue, and my daily Google Weather check showed about 50 degrees. Even more surprising was the smiles as I walked down the street, the sudden extreme politeness of the bakers at my neighborhood patisserie, and the general brightening of the City of Lights.
It seems the Paris had been suffering from a citywide case of SAD, and I was the only one who didn’t get the memo. The sky is gray? So what? I’m from Portland, and consider that grayish glare to be enough of a sad excuse of sunshine to last me through the colder months. How lovely it is when the sun is shining!
On a side note, yes, I know it hit 70 a few weeks in your neck of the woods. Don’t rub it in.
However, midterms are upon me, and I’m stuck in the dim library at Centre Championnet. I must mention that, much to my amazement and confusion, the library closes at 7pm. When they asked me to leave at 6:50pm, I thought they were joking. It also must be said that it takes 45 minutes to get there, and it’s not that well stocked. I never thought I’d actually find myself wanting to be in the Hauser Fun Dome, but I’ve been missing it so. Where are the big windows? Where are the comfy chairs? The stuffed animals? The stim table? What’s going on here? Isn’t this a socialist country? Where’s my free bookmark? Why is there no conversational graffiti on the bathroom walls to distract me from my paper?
When I posed said questions to my fellow study abroad student study-buddy from Baylor, she was shocked. I saw her eyes expand with envy and amazement when I mentioned the hourly ‘Eye of the Tiger’ session during reading week. Her reaction reminded me, once again, that Reed is, well, special. In every possible use of the term.
I guess my point is that I’m missing Reed in an academic sense as much as a communal sense. Well, maybe not quite as much. Our ReedFamily needs to be stronger than ever right now, and I know we’ll get through these tests and trials with grace, strength, and dignity if we only remember that we absolutely are a family, and as I said, a unique community with unique needs and issues, and thusly, unique solutions. We are the only ones that can solve our problems, probably due to that slightly socially inept, mildly awkward, but always well-intentioned and loving characteristic that holds our community together. This anima, along with a respect of our ever-beloved Honor Principle, is what we need to come out on the other end strong, and luckily, these are things that I know we have in spades. Live well. Love Reed.