Year: 2016

Kicking Off The Christmas Season In Paris

All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately for Kira and I that meant saying goodbye in Paris last weekend before Kira headed home to spend Christmas in Kenya. But before she left, we got to enjoy my favorite city together. Somehow we managed to drag all of her bags and art supplies from Hyères to Paris with success. We hopped on another train (this time a not-so-high-speed one, thanks to an accident which resulted in a delay) for our last Mary-Kate and Ashley adventure. On Friday night, Hillsong Paris was hosting its annual Sisterhood Women’s Conference. The event was in the most beautiful theatre where they served some pretty delicious pumpkin soup and had nail, hair and makeup stations set up if one so desired a miniature makeover. It’s always so good to get to go back to Hillsong and sing familiar worship songs in French. After the service, we headed back to our hostel to watch the first episode of “Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.” No spoilers here, but we were satisfied …

A Weekend in Paris

You know when you haven’t seen a close friend in a long time? When you finally see them again, you talk as though no distance or time has separated you and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s how it felt to be back in Paris. The schools in France were just on vacances which means that I had two weeks off to do whatever I pleased. I hung out around Hyères for the first week, during which I watched way too many “Friends” episodes and went on a couple of day trips with the other assistants. We visited Aix-en-Provence and Toulon for a day. The greatest discovery from the Aix trip was definitely the lavender. They produce it in the region so we found some for cheap. I’ve been diffusing it like crazy. For the next portion, I made my first trip back to Paris for a four-day weekend. I hadn’t been back since I left last November at the end of my study abroad. It was a breath of fresh …

On Fear and Faith

My biggest fear, like many other humans, is the fear of the unknown. Unoriginal, I know. But it absolutely terrifies me to walk into new situations, even the simplest ones. I get a huge rush of anxiety when starting new jobs, going to new schools and traveling to new places. Although I’m a relatively social person (though people falsely mistake my quiet demeanor for shyness on a regular basis), sometimes, meeting new people can incite small bouts of anxiety too. Both of the two times I’ve come to France, I seriously considered not going. Because of this fear. I considered cancelling this most recent move to France every single day leading up to it, on the plane ride over and even in the first couple of days I was here. I sat in my Airbnb on day two, searching madly for flights home. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited for the chance to live in France again and to have the opportunity to spend my first year post-grad traveling and learning a language, but I was equally …

And So It Begins: My First Week As An English Assistant

A lot has happened since I last wrote. My roommate and fellow assistant Emmy (who is blogging about her experience here) and I found a super cute apartment in the city center. All of the assistants gathered in Nice for orientation, which gave us the chance to meet each other and take in a ton of information (all in French of course). Picture freshman orientation but all in French so we were all très fatigué par le fin, non? Oui. After orientation, it was time to start working in the schools. I had already gotten a tour, met some of the English teachers and sat in on a class last week. But I officially started this week. I went to a few classes and did an awkward speech class “about me” PowerPoint. It turns out public speaking is slightly less terrifying when you know the audience can’t fully understand what you’re saying. The students were so friendly, welcoming and very interested in asking me questions the first day. On day two, I went to a different …

Bonne courage: arriving in France

As of last Wednesday, I am officially back in the land of Pain au Chocolat. The journey here was a long one. This time, I opted for the cheaper route and ended up taking three planes, two taxis and two trains to reach my Airbnb. I’m staying in the pedestrian-only zone of the city so when my taxi driver dropped me off on the street that bordered it, he plopped my big, red suitcase on the sidewalk and pointed up the steepest incline I’ve probably ever seen, and tells me it’s all the way at the top. Good luck. And if I didn’t already think my life was some sort of comedy or secret long-running prank show on MTV, I definitely did now. You could say I made a lasting first impression on all of the French people on the street and in restaurants who stopped what they were doing to stare as the funny American girl dragged Big Red up the cobblestone hill with all of the willpower she could muster. A group of middle …

Body Image 101: A Q&A With Blogger Amanda Hoffmann

Amanda Hoffmann is a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere. She writes about positive body image, fashion and faith on The Little Lady Bug. I had the pleasure of asking her a few questions on the topic of body image and she was kind enough to make a video response. You can read the Q&A below or watch the video here: What inspired you to start The Little Lady Bug? Amanda: A couple years ago, I started to follow some popular fashion blogs. I remember one day I was mindlessly scrolling through dozens of pictures of perfectly dressed, skinny, (predominantly blonde) bloggers as I read their posts. Most of the posts were really basic and simply stated what the bloggers were wearing that day. It made me sad to see that these awesome bloggers had this amazing platform wherein so many people would gladly listen to them, but they only ever used their platform to talk about what lipstick color was in that season. I thought that I could do a really similar type of …

Post Grad, Moving to France & Gap Years

I’m moving to France.  Post graduation has been one of the most trying times of my life. I feel like I’ve had several quarter life crises since walking across the stage on graduation day. I miss college and friends and honestly, I don’t feel ready to be an adult. I’ve realized that I don’t want the typical desk job or a 9-to-5. I’ve been thinking a lot the past few months about complacency and I’m terrified to live a life where I just chase money, pay bills and don’t do much of anything else. I get antsy thinking about spending the rest of my life sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week. I feel like I’ve been duped. Growing up, we were always told in school that life really begins after you finish college. But, that’s not true. Life was happening before I finished college and I hope it keeps happening. This summer I’ve had the opportunity to do a fellowship at a newspaper under the Gannett Co./USA Today Network. It’s been an awesome opportunity and …

Smells & Experiences: An Ash Soap Review

Think about your grandmother. Picture your first car. Imagine the streets of Paris. You probably also thought about what those things smelled like. The human mind attaches certain smells to specific experiences, people or places. It’s a beautiful thing, really, and it’s something that Ash Soap tries to capture in their handmade soap products. It’s something that they capture well. The soap comes in very minimalistic, black packaging with block lettering. After taking a marketing class in the spring, I can’t help but admire good packaging and Ash Soap definitely got it right. This clean and simple theme shows up in, not just the package, but in the product itself. The soap smells of peppermint and a sweetness that I can’t quite put my finger on. Essential oils, peppermint and cedar, combine with charcoal to create an amalgamation of a soft, gentle cleanser. I used the soap block on both my body and face and found it to be a satisfying, cool solution to a heat-beaten summer day. You can check out Ash Soap’s website here. Ash …

A Quest For Rest In The Summer Season

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”- Anne Lamott After periods where we endure long work hours and what seems like unending toil, we must seek rest or risk burnout. With the summer season comes opportunities for rest in our daily lives. Rest transforms us to physically, emotionally, and spiritually centered beings again. Above all, periods of rest help us to be the best versions of ourselves in the workplace, in our social groups and families, and in our communities. In practical terms, rest comes when we turn the world off for just a moment in order to reset our minds. This can be done by going without electronics for a day, spending time soaking in the presence of loved ones, or spending a day doing things just for the fun of them, not because they have some sort of work value to them. Use these summer, sunshine-filled months to restore your body, soul, mind, and spirit. For those of us who can’t seem to find time …