State of the Union: September 18th

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Aside from a couple of posts here and there, I've been really slacking on the whole blog thing lately. Granted, I am in Paris and have a lot going on. But between my classes, impromptu adventures and pain au chocolats, I've found a bit of time to give you all my version of a State of the Union address!

 To Germany this weekend to visit my former exchange student, Xenia - it's been about two years since we last saw each other, so you could say I'm excited...

To Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off", even though I know it's incredibly cliché and bubblegum pop-y, I just can't help but sing along.. it's so catchy!

A trip to Nice, France with Luisa next weekend! And then my school's 10-day fall break at the end of October with my lovely roommates. Dublin, Budapest & Prague are all on the list - any recommendations for things to do or see?

About my future, as always. Photojournalism really caught my eye this summer, and now I'm toying with the idea of doing my Master's degree in France.

Autumn weather with leaves falling, mugs full of cider & riding boots. It's been unbearably warm here in Paris and I'm so ready for sweater weather to commence already!

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That Time I Went To Versailles

Monday, September 15, 2014

After a fun, relaxing Friday & Saturday, a friend from my French university, Lena, and I decided to make the most out of our Sunday and trek to the Château de Versailles!

Just a little more than a half an hour outside the city, we took the famed RER (a commuter-type train in Paris) and soon found ourselves in the charming city of Versailles. In full discolure, I didn't realize that Versailles was an actual, functioning city and not just the estate of ancient French royalty. So I was quite surprised to see a bustling little town with cute little restaurants and buildings that coordinated with the obscenely large palace that puts in on the map!

Advice: if you're studying in France, bring your student visa to get in for free; also, the RER is de-zoned on the weekends, so if you if you have a Navigo pass for zones 1 & 2 (like me), it'll get you there free!

We left in the late morning and arrived around 11AM, which we decided was a fitting time to pass directly to the immense gardens and sit by the lake for a small picnic. (Note: If you're as scared of swans as I am, keep your distance from the water's edge - they are NOT afraid to swim right up and stare you down until you give them food!)

Cue the photos:

View overlooking the gardens & lake
We just kept wondering how they maintained this back in the day...
Eating brioche by the water
None of the fountains were working...but they were still beautiful
One of the only areas with actual flowers
The stunning orangier
Lena's GoPro was so much fun!
Posing at the Collade
Imitating the statues just never gets old
Hide & seek in the gardens?
 After filling our stomachs with the brioche that Lena so graciously brought and wandering through the gardens a bit, we passed back through to the palace and took our place in line to see the famous Versailles.

We lucked out on the best weather!
The most beautiful golden gate
Chapel within Versailles
So. Many. People.
Just look at that detail!
Trying to capture the amazing ceilings
Galerie des Glaces/Hall of Mirrors
Marie Antoinette's chamber - yes please!
Mirror selfie in the Hall of Mirrors - I had to do it
Holy cannoli. The amount of gold - my favorite color - in that single building is more than I could have ever dreamed. The ceiling height, attention to detail, paintings and number of incredible artifacts that we passed was unimaginable. Even though I developed at least five new blisters & may have sprained my ankle from all of the walking on cobble-stone/uneven surfaces, I wouldn't trade it for anything. This may be my new favorite place...especially Marie Antoinette's bedroom - there's a very good chance I will take some design advice from her in the future.

Have you ever visited Versailles? What's your favorite sight to see in Paris?

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That Time I Went To My Second Home In France

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I always find it a bit pretentious to say my second home is in France, but it's the truth. And after my best friend's mother bought me a decor pillow with those exact words, I've chosen to embrace it. Why not?

After a full first week of classes at Sciences Po, I headed down to my familiar city of Bordeaux for the weekend to see my host family (I lived with them during a gap year between HS & college) and relax. Paris is great, don't get my wrong, but there was something so insanely reassuring about being in Bordeaux again. Seriously, as soon as I stepped off that train, I was immediately at ease. Warmth, sunshine, French people, pretty architecture, good wine - this place really has it all. When I was thinking about how to explain it to people, I decided that Bordeaux is like the California of France. Paris being the New York, of course.

Miroir d'eau (basically a giant wading pool) in Bordeaux
I'm such a sucker for wrought-iron balconies
My host fam has a farm, and I just found these donkeys to be so amusing
The newest animal additions to my second home - the bottom right one is my favorite, I named her Champagne
Traditional regional salad (salade landaise) with duck & foie gras & prunes
Had to stop for mojito-flavored tea with one of my good friends, Eline

 I couldn't have asked for a better weekend of just hanging around and not doing much. The weather was perfect, I caught up with quite a few old friends and mostly just had some quality time with my second family in my second home. I also got to speak French 24/7 (which is definitely not the case in Paris, even though I'm studying at a French university) and lost a bit of the heavy American accent I acquired from not being immersed in French for two years - yay! I didn't do much that was really picture-worthy - aside from those moments pictured above - but I'm planning to do a weekend in the city with my host sister when she moves into her new apartment, so stay tuned for a Guide to Bordeaux soon!

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