Better & better

I've been in Paris for three weeks now and each day has been an adventure in some way. The city is so much bigger than San Francisco so it's hard to get a grasp on the land but I'm definitely working on it. School is way less structured so that's taking some getting used to but nothing to complain about. In some ways, it moves faster and in other ways it moves slower than my school in SF. More on that when I have it figured out a little better...

This past Thursday, the study abroad organization put together an outing at an Australian bar called Cafe Oz which was really fun. There was tons of people and even more dancing. Bars and clubs in Paris don't get really going until later so after the bar, me and a few friends went to a club where they played a lot of old-ish American songs mixed in with today's hits so that was super fun too. Friday, I saw the most amazing firework show ever. It was at La Defense which is a huge business area with awesomely constructed buildings and big statues/sculptures. The firework show was narrated by this almighty French voice and even though I couldn't understand what the voice was saying, the fireworks and visuals explained the start and evolution of the universe. It was incredibly unique and went through the big bang and first organisms on Earth, etc. It was unlike anything I've ever seen. After the show, I went with a group of friends to an area called Oberkampf where there are a lot of bars. We hung out at a couple bars but kept it pretty low key, just talking and laughing the night away.

Saturday night was one of the most fun nights I've had in Paris so far. Me and a group of about 7 girls went to a club called quinze quinze (1515) near the Champs Elyseé. We met up with some French friends from our school and danced allllll night. It was awesome. Then on Sunday, I slept in late and met up with my culture class for a walking tour of the 5th arrondissement. We visited the jardin du luxembourg, pantheon, Hemingway's old apartment, roman ruins, a famous mosque, jardin des plantes, l'institue du monde arabe and the cute neighborhood surrounding all these great places. After the pretty walking tour, I met up with my friend Sebastian at the Notre Dame. He's a chef, so he knows all the best places to eat and I'm basically a professional eater so we have an easy friendship. We got the best ice cream I've ever had then walked around a Jewish/gay area called la marais which I fell in love with. The streets are narrow and there's tons of food and shopping - it's quintessentially Parisian. Later, I met up with some other friends to see a movie which was nice and made me feel at home. It was an amazing weekend and I can't wait for later this coming week - Cindy & Drew (Matt & Megan's good friends) will be here and then I'm going to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest! Stay tuned for beer and weinerschnitzels ;)

the amazing jardin du luxembourg

on the roof of l'institut du monde arabe w/a view of notre dame

Notre Dame!

walking along the river, saw a dance class going on


Vogue's Fashion Night Out

Last night, Vogue hosted its 5th annual "Fashion Night Out" in the 1st arrondissement (fancy neighborhood) of Paris. It's a night of impeccably dressed Parisians, free champagne, DJs and luxury couture. Anyone is able to attend the event - you just have to buy a Vogue or GQ magazine to get the ticket. So, upon buying the September issue of Vogue on my way to class, I naturally started panicking about what to wear. My roommates Allison and Minh felt the same so we all spent a solid hour changing outfits, attempting to find the perfect ensembles and then obsessing about our hair. We met up with our international group/culture class and started the walk down Rue du Faubourg Sainte Honoré, where only the best of the best luxury brands have their "maisons."

Allison and I somehow (or maybe purposely) got detached from the group early on and started visiting designers such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Prada, to name a few. We strolled from store to store, drinking free champagne, enamored with all the beautiful and well-crafted clothes and accessories. I fell in love with a pair of Prada booties that I still can't stop thinking about. (Only 650 euros if anyone's feeling generous!) The whole event was just a fashionista's dream come true and for me it was just really cool to watch the Parisian fashion scene light up like it did. It was a really special night and a fabulous excuse to throw on my fur coat, faux leather leggings and red lipstick. Allison and I ended the night with some friends at a Canadian bar where everyone speaks English, American football is on TV and you can get the best poutine (gravy & cheese fries) of your life. Needless to say, it's our new favorite place.

My empire (http://www.leonard-paris.com/)

View of the street from the top floor of a boutique

After the event



I am entering week three of my adventure in Paris and can't believe how fast it's all flying by. It has been super rainy pretty much everyday but it hasn't stopped me from seeing the city. As a class, we visited the famous Louvre museum which, in my opinion, was incredibly overwhelming. The art there is SO old and holds so much history that you can't possibly just visit once. Once I saw the Mona Lisa and walked through one wing of the museum, I was pooped and ready to go. There is so much history all over Paris that it's hard not to stop and look at every building you pass by. The architecture everywhere is incredibly beautiful - I'm sure my friends are tired of hearing me say "Oh my god, that's gorgeous!"

I've gotten a better handle on buying and cooking food here. There is a huge market called Carrefour not too far from my apartment that has everything you could ever need. (It's probably half the size of Costco) The food here is the same, but different - It's hard to explain but it took me a little while to figure out what some stuff was and to get into the groove of grocery shopping and cooking for myself. It's tempting to take the easy way out and just buy pastries and baguette sandwiches all day but let's be real... You wouldn't recognize me when I came back. One night, my roommate Allison and I decided to go out to a bar that serves free mussels and fries when you order a beer. This was my first mussel experience and I am most definitely a fan... but still not ready to try snails.

Yesterday, I went to an event for Paris Design Week at an exhibition hall by the river. It featured innovative and funky designs for all types of things - watches, chairs, light fixtures, etc. It was cool and interesting to see what kinds of things Parisian designers are cooking up, from reusable materials to unique manufacturing processes. After the event, I hung out with my friends from Paraguay and Venezuela... which explains why my Spanish is getting better than my French. Later, about 15 of us international students went out for dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday and had a relaxing Sunday night. Here are a few photos from the week:

Try walking by this everyday...

This view is just a hop away from my apartment

The Louvre

Innovative creations at Paris Design Week


Pub fun

Here are a couple pictures from the night at the pub with all the international students. The two on the left are Bob and Brianna (married, from Canada) and on the right is Alejandro from Spain (my beer pong partner). 

After a couple hours in the pub, I asked if I could work there. This is me trying out for the job. Don't mind the foam....

Alejandro again on the left, Ana from Spain, me and our awesome culture teacher/tour guide/funny guy, Stephen Muse from Boston.


One week down

I have been going non-stop since I got to Paris last Monday. Every single day has been a new adventure, whether it's going to a museum, a nightclub or even just a cafe in my neighborhood. I've been surviving the language barrier better than I thought but it's mostly because Parisians are super nice and know at least a little English if you ask. The past week has been a blur and it's actually hard to imagine I've only been here for a week since I've done so much! One evening, all the international students from my school went on a cruise in the river and saw a bunch of famous Parisian landmarks like Musée d'Orsay and Notre Dame. After, we all went to my professor's favorite Irish pub in the 1st arrondissement to get to know each other... and to drink beer, obvi. My professor told me ahead of time that we'd be doing this so I planned for some good ol' American fun: Beer pong and flip cup. All the international students caught on quickly and had so much fun... and I will probably forever be known as the crazy American. I guess there's worse to be called.

I started school yesterday and am already excited for the semester. My classes are: Luxury Brand Management, Entrepreneurship, New Marking Trends, Advertising, and French Culture. I have one class a day and most of them start at 2pm so if you know me well,  you know I'm in heaven. So far, my teachers have been incredibly passionate and smart about what they're teaching. My school is super small so you see all the same people everyday which facilitates easy friend-making. It's almost like a high school... but smaller. I really, really like it so far.

The pictures below are from a walking tour I went on as a part of my "French Culture & Civilization" class. The class is all the international students aforementioned, forever ruined by flip cup. On the walking tour, we went to the Grand Palais and the Petite Palais, Pont Alexandre III, Hotel Des Invalides and Musée Rodin. The architecture here is incredible and not just at these famous places but literally everywhere. After the walking tour, I went with some new friends to St. Germain, a gorgeous neighborhood with tons of cute restaurants and really well dressed people. It's definitely the place to be. My sleeping schedule is all off so that's it for now but another update will come soon! xo

Musée Rodin

"The Thinker"

The Seine


Favorites, so far

It didn't take long for me to fall in love. No, not with a suave French guy, but with this city. Paris is amazing in so many different ways but here are a few of my favorite things so far:

- You don't have to wait longer than 4 minutes for a metro train
- Fresh bread... EVERYWHERE
- Delicious champagne & wine for just 2 euros (and 2 euros comes in the form of a coin so you really feel like it's cheap)
- There's a huge park called Bois de Boulogne in my neighborhood where I ran with my roommate Allison. The sightseeing/people watching there is awesome... people racing little boats in the lake, lots of cute dogs, sunbathing lovers and prostitution (whaaaat? yes. in broad daylight.)
- McDonald's is not just for poor, fat people
- Most French people so far think my "valley girl French" is endearing, not annoying. Phew!
- French sirens sound like they do in the movies. It reminds me of Madeline/the 1920s
- French guys in designer business suits riding motorcycles/vespas... holy hotness

Some things that kinda suck:
- I saw a HUGE rat in the metro
- Just kidding, nothing sucks here

The view from my room:



French people kiss cheeks, not hug. #intimate #intoit


Sunday at 3:40 p.m. I said goodbye to America and flew off to Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport. I landed at 11:00 a.m. on Monday with a total of (maybe) 10 minutes of sleep behind me. In fact, I'm currently writing this post at 8:15 p.m. which means I've been awake for about 26 hours straight. And I'm straight up delirious. Nevertheless, I had a busy and exciting first day in Paris. I got to my awesome, modern, and beautiful apartment where I met my roommate Allison and unpacked as quickly as I could. Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower, naturally. I scarfed down a fresh nutella crepe then just sat in the grass and took in the beauty... Literally no picture can show how amazing it truly is. Our next stop was the Champs-Élysées where we walked past all the cute shops, like Laudereé and Louis Vuitton, before heading towards the massive Arc de Triomph. Next, we met up with Nicolas & Steffy who are the president and vp of study abroad for my school, the Paris Business College. They helped us in our successful attempt to be productive - we got French cell phones, metro passes, and extra house keys made. We also went to a grocery store for snacks which was a true culture shock. I need to practice my French big time. Au Revoir for now, homies.