Sunday, May 18, 2008

resurgence of wonder in paris

This post may make you nervous, but dont worry, mom, its totally safe.

In Stockholm, Amsterdam and Paris Alex and I couchsurfed. What does this mean? you ask. well, it means that we meet up with a total stranger and stay on their couch or extra bed. In exchange, we make our couch available to people when we are not traveling. It was only a tiny bit scary at first; but after the first 5 minutes, when you get a sense that the person is not crazy, it immediately becomes rewarding. Not only do you get to save money, but you get to exchange ideas, make new friends, and learn about the world through the people in it.

In Stockholm it was Andreas. Slightly gothic, befitting the Scandinavian youth stereotype, and very much into the Smashing Pumpkins, he was such a friendly fellow. We all talked late into the night about swedish socialism and american capitalism, and all of the politics that make them work. He told us of his free education (up to college), no health care bills, and his government funded job making educational television on Swedens public access channel. Oh, how I wish I were Swedish!

Then, in Amsterdam, we met Robb, a cal tech postdoc working on particle physics. We talked about LAs music scene, the presidential race, and we acquired a scientists insight on the energy crisis. Oh! and he took us out for a Dutch beer with his German girlfriend.

Finally, Gabriela and Angel in Paris. They are Brazilian students (sociology and journalism, respectively) earning their phds with an exchange year in france. From them we learned about the life of the Sao Paolo working class, the effects of multinational corporations on south americans, and how they hope for change in our country as it will bring change in theirs.

I am radicalized by the ease and beauty with which these people have opened their lives and homes to us. Nearing the end of our journey, I am feeling a resurgence of love and wonder in the world and the people it contains.

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