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Tokyo Compression is a photoset by German-born, China-based photographer Michael Wolf.

These pictures are tender portraits of hectic souls. Their emotions are carefully stowed away in favor their public persona, but glimpses of their feelings break through, especially in the photo above.

The rain droplets don’t touch her but leave snaking shadows across the planes of her face. Her mouth open and her eyes downcast, she seems occupied and introspective, so much so that she has almost forgotten to guard her own expression. That preoccupation that she embodies is a human condition–I see myself and my own conflicts reflected in the unknowable depth of her eyes.

Full set here.

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I have finally found a worthwhile internet site to teach me Chinese. Memrise is a site that appears to be mostly dedicated to Mandarin Chinese education, although since users are allowed to upload study sets full of vocabulary and phrases, French, Spanish, Italian, and German are also burgeoning.

Memrise illustrates Chinese characters with moving pictures that make it nearly impossible for you to forget the form of a character–interestingly, the pronunciation of each character is about twice as hard to remember than the pictures themselves. I think that gaining basic reading fluency wouldn’t be too difficult if you learned 15 characters a day for a few weeks (or, at the very least, you’ll be able to figure out whether you are pointing to fish or beef on a menu!).

The layout of the site is pretty intuitive, and is based on a strategy of continuous practice–they want you to learn and relearn the words/characters, committing them first to short term memory and then, perhaps 3 days later, to long term memory. It’s definitely working so far.

Duolingo is still working well–but I think that duolingo fits best if you’re starting from level one (as I did in German). It can be a little boring trying to pass through levels to get to the grammatical lessons at the very end. I will certainly be using it once it comes out with Portuguese (should be less than a month, if the internet is to be believed).

Things like this are just getting me unbelievably excited to study abroad in Beijing. Less than two months and I will be in completely foreign surroundings–exactly where I feel most at home.

I'm currently living in Monroe, Louisiana, an expatriate and an inpatriate at the same time.

Having a similar crisis of identity to the one that I had in Paris--where am I from if my home is occupied and my heart is far away? I am torn into a million pieces, each of them happily living their double lives in the places that I've left behind. I'm ecstatic about being here with my family, and accepting of the fact that I've spread myself too thin--each of my experiences of self will never be united again, but did I ever want them to? This is what I've dreamed about since I was young.

This summer has allowed me to understand human nature better and reinforce the bond with my family--and it's only been two (?) weeks. I'm looking forward to see what my time here will bring me.

In more human language, I'm working at a cafe now, earning my keep and learning the true value of a dollar. I'm learning about art theory, getting to know my field of study and how it all works as a unit, as opposed to isolated instances in time linked together by abstract terminology. I'm curating my own exhibit. I'm educating others about art via the internet. My time here is well-spent.

And it seems as if I'm learning German? Der Koch liest, Ich mag das Kind, I'm learning as I go--I've already pleaded on this blog, but every human should be using Duolingo... I'm truly learning, for the low, low price of nothing. I just hope I can retain my French throughout the coming months.

(psst... if you're on duolingo, add me. aliciaf)

I just got through The Value of Art by Michael Findlay--an incredible read told in layman's terms from one a man who has been intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of auction houses via his time spent at Christie's during the last half century, accompanied by a heartfelt plea to appreciate art for its aesthetic, rather than monetary, value.

(Click-thru link)

Until soon.

Duolingo.com has been mentioned on all of the major sites I browse as a fantastic new tool for language learning. Available so far in Spanish and German to a select group of beta users, Duolingo allows its users to translate available text on the internet into their native language and vice versa, while native speakers double check learners’ progress (at least that is what I have gleaned from the introductory video offered on their website). They are constantly inviting more and more users to join, so if you’re interested I would check out the site as soon as possible to sign up.