Sophie in Santa Cruz

My name is Sophie Silverstein, I’m 21 years old and I study philosophy, politics, and gender studies at University College Maastricht. I am studying abroad in Santa Cruz, California, from August to December 2016. I grew up in Switzerland with an American mother, leaving me emotionally hovering somewhere half-way across the Atlantic. I’ve visited family in California before but never lived anywhere else than Europe. So this is not your typical exchange experience. I will not be exploring parts unknown but returning home. Or half-home.

We went to the beach

We went to the beach

We did our homework in the sun. We despaired over the rain: “Can I go out in my flip-flops today?” We despaired over the workload. We rejoiced when we got good grades.  We slunk off and got a Gingerbread Latte in the café across from...

I found my professor on Professor Watchlist

I found my professor on Professor Watchlist

A couple years ago, David Horowitz wrote a book called The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. One of my professors at UC Santa Cruz is listed in it because of her attempt to introduce a feminist practice, which attempts to center women instead ...

What is a loofole?

What is a loofole?

The other day I had asked a friend of mine to proofread one of my essays. She’s from Spain, so English is not her native language but she has an excellent grasp of it nonetheless. At one point she looks up with a bewildered look on her face: &l...

 (Half) a nation grieves

(Half) a nation grieves

Is there anything else I could have written about this week? Walking to class on Wednesday morning, the regular crowd of flip-flop-wearing students carrying binders and water bottles is dotted with black. Many people on campus are treating this day a...

They just clapped

They just clapped

“Audiences here cheer and whoop and get really excited but when I toured Europe with the San Francisco Youth Orchestra our audiences weren’t as loud. They just clapped, but they would keep clapping for a really long time. In the United St...

First Rain (Contains Casual Nudity)

First Rain (Contains Casual Nudity)

People sure get worked up about rain here. I first wanted to illustrate this by writing about how everyone looks out of the window, the way European kids do at the first sign of snow, as soon as rain starts to fall or about how they suddenly panic ab...

Are you proud to be an American?

Are you proud to be an American?

When I was about eight years old, I was convinced that I would be the first female president of the United States. In fact, whenever my grandmother called from California (on rare and exciting occasions in the days before Skype) I would invariable an...

See-Food Diet

See-Food Diet

“Back home, I barely use any oil at all, but here the food is so greasy!”, says one of my roommates. She remembers that when she first started going to UC Santa Cruz, adapting to the food in the dining halls was one of the hardest parts s...

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle

“Does anyone recognize these markings?” The bicycling instructor indicates a symbol that is a simple line drawing of a bike with two pointy brackets pointing upwards above it. It’s Friday night, and fifteen students are attending th...

Would you like a violin with that privilege?

Would you like a violin with that privilege?

I have a violin! After regretting not bringing my violin from Maastricht I enquired in the music department about renting one. Rent? They were having none of that. After my audition on a friend’s violin I was whisked into a locked room full of ...

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