b in a castle = fish out of water

I am currently battling some sort of cold right now (I hear that there’s a French version of Airborne but I haven’t been able to find it), and I have been away all weekend and will be in Barcelona next weekend, so I apologize in advance if you don’t hear from me for a bit.

That said, I’m gonna use this short post to write about and my weekend jaunt to the Loire Valley courtesy of Stanford-in-Paris’s most generous donors, the Bings.

The Bing family has donated tons and tons of money to Stanford and to the Stanford Overseas Programs in particular. They want to help “the world leaders of the future” learn about “the meaning of culture” by paying for “cultural events” such as ballets and operas at the Opera Garnier and Opera Bastille, and our trip to the Loire, where we were housed in a castle, toured other castles, and fed expensive gourmet dinners.

I appreciate the Bings’ kindness, but this version of culture is a bit too much for my taste. For one, I’m probably not going to be a world leader, so this crap is pretty much wasted on me. For another, I’d rather they do more productive things (like pay my loans or help feed starving children) with the tons of money that they’ve spent spoiling me rotten.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed being spoiled rotten. I loved living in a castle, eating the world’s best cheeses and drinking fine wines, being introduced into the world of the high-class elite. In the back of my mind, though, there was always a nagging feeling that went something like, You aren’t rich. You aren’t high-class. You hate being a tourist. You’ll be paying off your college loans for the next forty years. There are starving kids in Africa. What the fuck are you doing here?

It didn’t help that the lavishness of the castles made me want to both cry and puke my guts out. Besides, if I imagined living in them when they were at their prime, I probably would’ve been a slave. No fairy tale dreams for me.

Maybe I should just visit the Loire castles sometime when I have more time to myself to explore them. I get the feeling that I would be able to see more of their beauty and less of their obnoxious wealth without cameras snapping, tour guides talking and forty privileged Stanford students chattering in the background.

N.B.: I really wasn’t trying to disparage being wealthy in this post. I was reflecting on my lack thereof. Yes, I’m insecure about being less affluent than most of my classmates. No, I don’t resent them because of it. (And I’m quite grateful to the Bings, though I really believe that they shouldn’t be wasting .00005% of their fortune on me.)

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What?

This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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