January 22, 2019 – Primary Construction (OOTD #442)

You know that big iconic building on Notre Dame’s campus with the golden dome on top? Here’s the inside of it.

You’d think that, being such a prominent feature of Notre Dame culture, that Main Building would be somewhere the students go all the time. It’s even got a (boring) name like Main Building that implies its prominence. But nope — in actuality, I almost never venture inside here.

There are no classrooms, no restaurants, and no study spaces, and so there’s no reason to go. About all of the space in Main Building is devoted to offices, and whatever’s left is for Father Jenkins’s living quarters (probably?), storage space for the Christmas tree, and some questionable murals of Christopher Columbus. In fact, if you have to go to Main Building for a meeting, it implies that something out of the ordinary is going on.

And for me, visiting Main Building on January 22, something out of the ordinary absolutely was going on! I had just received my acceptances to study abroad programs, and I had a few questions to ask of my advisor. As it turned out, her office was in Main Building.

Long story short — this coming fall, I’ll be studying in Washington DC, and in the spring, I’ll be studying in Paris at Sciences-Po. There’s a lot more that went into that meeting with my advisor and my decision-making process, but I’ll spare you the details for now. I know it’s a subject that’s going to come up a lot in the coming months as I start getting ready to go.

Anyway, on my way out from my meeting, I decided to stop by window and get some pictures of my outfit. Going into Main Building is a momentous occasion — I had to get some photographic evidence to preserve for future generations.


That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Turtleneck: Free People

Sweater: Forever21

Pants: American Eagle

January 21, 2019 – Unintentional Minion (OOTD #441)

I’ll admit it — I thought the Minions from Despicable Me were cool when they first came out.

It’s a little hard to explain, but I’ve got this vague memory of being about 14 years old, scrolling through Pinterest at the height of the Minion craze, probably listening to Happy by Pharell Williams or whatever as cool back in 2013, and thinking that a Minion costume would be cute for Halloween. This was, of course, before I realized that I wasn’t cool enough for Halloween parties, and that I likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to wear a Halloween costume again until I was a junior in high school and actually had friends.

This was also, of course, before I realized how annoying Minions were.

Despicable Me was a good movie, and the Minions were cute side characters. Because that’s what they were meant to be — side characters — and not the obnoxious, Facebook meme-fueling evidence of how out-of-touch corporate America is with young people that the Minions have become. Illumination took something that was cute and funny and killed it by putting it everywhere. Minions were cute when you could buy little yellow Tic-Tacs shaped like them in 2013. They were not cute when they received their own feature-length movie in 2015.

So anyway, that’s all to say that I really didn’t mean to dress like a Minion here. In fact, I didn’t even realize how much like a Minion I looked until one of my friends pointed to me at lunch and said “you look like a Minion!”

To be honest, I was going more for an Arthur the Aardvark vibe with the blue and yellow, but as soon as my friend brought up the Minion comparison, I knew they were right. I looked just like the Minion costumes I saw all those years ago on Pinterest, from the denim dress to the yellow sweater down to the combat boots.

So what can you do when it’s 12 noon on a Monday, you have two more classes still to go, and you look like a Minion?

You own it, and then write a blog post about it later.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Sweater: Forever21 (thrifted)

Dress: Vintage (thrifted)

January 19, 2019 – A Sign of the Times (OOTD #440)

And in that moment, I remembered why I wasn’t meant to be a design major.

Sometimes, I like to pretend to myself that in some alternate universe out there, there’s a Meilin who decided to go a more unconventional route and went to art school instead of a research university. I’m good at art. I could have gone to art school — I mean, I have friends who weren’t good at art who still went to art school, so it’s completely feasible that I could have gotten in somewhere. I ultimately chose not to go (or even to apply) because I like the idea of job security, and because I figured art would be something I could incorporate into my life without making it into my career.

While I’m happy with my choice to become a corporate sellout or whatever, I do wish Notre Dame had a better visual arts program, and I do sometimes regret not even applying for a design program.

Then things like this sign happen.

Okay, some background: the Friday after the start of classes, I went with a cohort of other Notre Dame students on a trip to Washington DC to attend the 2019 Women’s March. It was the first year that they’d gotten enough interest and enough money to organize a bus to go, and so, 4 AM Friday morning, I hauled myself and my suitcase to the bookstore to board a bus for the 12 hour journey from Chicago to DC. For those of you keeping track at home, that was the sixth weekend in a row of significant traveling — though thankfully, it wasn’t a flight. I didn’t need six weekends in a row of flying.

Anyway, when you go to a march, the fun part is making a cool sign to carry, and so I was determined to use my artistic skills to make something worthy of posting pictures on Instagram. I’d been thinking of this design for weeks leading up to the march, and I thought for sure it’d be brilliant.

So the idea was the make something that said “A Sign of the Times,” but with the G in “sign” turned into a female anatomical sign. It’d be clever on multiple levels — it’s a play on the fact that it’s literally a physical sign, that the Venus sign is a symbol for the female sex, and that the phrase “a sign of the times” implies change. It was going to be the next great feminist quip, people were going to print it on t-shirts at Forever21 — Susan B. Anthony can step aside.

Unfortunately, I misjudged the distance I needed to put in between “A “and “Sign,” and it ended up reading more like ASIgN. You know what “ASIgN” looks like? Asian. My sign ended up reading “Asian of the Times.”

That’s not what I was going for.

Thankfully though, I am Asian, so it didn’t look that strange when I was carrying it around. Can you imagine if I weren’t Asian, though? Like, if I were white and I was carrying a sign that read “Asian of the times?”

So why am I ranting about my failed sign-making endeavors in this blog, when I could be talking about the Women’s March itself, my time spent in DC, or my experience sleeping in a church basement with 50 other people? The truth is, the march itself wasn’t that interesting — I don’t know what I expected, but it was about three hours of just…walking slowly in the cold. I’m all for nonviolent social change, but apparently, it can be rather boring.

The other unfortunate bit was that Washington DC itself was pretty much dead when we were there due to the government shutdown. All of the museums and buildings were closed, so all you could do was walk around and see the monuments from a distance. I did get to see the White House and the Capitol Building from afar, but you couldn’t do much other than take pictures. And even then, I saw them at night, so my pictures weren’t that great.

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tag yourself i’m feminist dad

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I still really appreciate the time I spent on the trip. It was an opportunity to get off campus, and selfish as it may sound, that was probably what I liked the most.

I guess it didn’t take that long for me to get restless staying on campus after all. 


Coat: The North Face

Jacket: Ralph Lauren (thrifted, Goodwill)

Shirt: Banana Republic

Skirt: Abercrombie

Hat: Target

January 17, 2019 – Bratz Dolls and Drama Teachers (OOTD #439)

Today’s outfit inspiration: my Bratz dolls and the drama teacher from High School Musical.

Alright, let me explain: The Bratz inspiration comes from the lipliner. I’m admittedly new to the whole lipliner game, since I didn’t join in back in 2015 or whatever when Kylie Jenner first came to prominence. I’ve been experimenting a little with my lipliner though for daily use, and in general, I like the look. I may have gone a little overboard with this look, though.

Oh well. It’s not a makeup blog.

Where does the drama teacher from High School Musical  have to do with it, then? That’s what the scarf and leather jacket combo reminds me of. I don’t honestly know if there’s a way to wear an untied scarf like this without looking a little pretentious — or like a priest — and in tandem, the overall look is definitely reminiscent of an underpaid music teacher in a public high school that’s trying to cut its arts programming.

But you know, like….the fashionable version?

Sometimes I forget that the point of this blog is to convince other people to like my fashion choices, because I’ll get caught up in weird descriptions like “underpaid music teacher in a public high school that’s trying to cut its arts programming. ” For me, fashion is all about creating an aesthetic, and an aesthetic needs an inspiration. That inspiration isn’t always inherently fashionable, because if it were, there would be no challenge and no enjoyment, for me at least.

Inspiration comes from anywhere, I guess, including children’s’ dolls and films from 2006.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: Abercrombie

Jacket: Hollister

Jeans: Abercrombie (wow, I must be a model for middle school fashion circa 2012)

 

REVIEW: Lancôme Visionnaire Skin Solutions Collection

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done an Influenster VoxBox review, yeah?

I seem only to get one at a time, and each one takes about a month to complete (with the exception of my BareMinerals foundation one, which took two months), so at that rate, I have a new VoxBox about once a month.

I’ve been really lucky recently, though — I’ve gotten some really good products to review for free. In fact, one of my holy grail eyebrow products, the Lime Crime Bushy Brow pen, was something that I received in my last box.

But I think this most recent box takes the cake for some of the best full-size products that I’ve ever received to review — this time, Influenster pulled out the big guns and sent me products from Lancôme.

Let me give you a little background on my history with Lancôme: there basically is no history. I’ve never purchased any of their products because I can’t afford them (well, I suppose I could spend the money if I really wanted to…but I’m just not enough of a makeup person to justify it. I’d rather spend the money on clothes, to be honest), and so the only Lancôme makeup I own actually comes from my grandmother’s collection. She buys classier makeup than me.

Anyway, I dug into this box with very little in terms of preconceived notions about what Lancôme products should be like. I knew they were pricey, and so I hoped for something of good quality, but that’s about the only expectations I had. I actually calculated the total monetary value of everything I got in my box — $211 — and so I hoped that the products would be worth someone out there spending $211 on them.

I received the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 15% vitamin C concentrate, the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 2% Retinol night corrector, the Fix It and Forget It setting spray, and the Long Time No Shine setting powder. As far as I could tell, all of the products were their full-size versions.

Long Time No Shine Setting Power

I’ll begin with the Long Time No Shine setting powder because of the four products I received, I probably used this one the most.

Overall, I liked it. It’s a good setting powder — maybe not almost-$40 good, but still very good. I liked the packaging it came in — it felt much sturdier and of better quality than my ELF HD setting powder or even my BareMinerals Blemish Rescue powder. My one complaint is that there’s no way to close off the holes where the powder comes out, which can be very problematic when you’re traveling and the container gets bumped around in  your bag. Sure, you have a lid, which should prevent the powder from leaving the container, but that doesn’t prevent the product from spilling into the space in between the main storage compartment and the lid. My BareMinerals loose powder has a simple mechanism for closing the holes; you’d think that for $40 Lancôme could do the same.

The powder itself is good, though I’m still not a huge loose powder fan for everyday use. In general, I do like it more than pressed powder, but given how messy it is to apply, I usually only use loose for special occasions. I’m afraid this Lancôme powder hasn’t changed my onion. I like it, don’t get me wrong — but I don’t like it enough to get over my hesitations with loose powders as a whole. But it’s a good loose powder, as loose powders go.

Fix It and Forget It Setting Spray

This might be my favorite of the products I received from Lancôme, or at least, the one I see myself using the most. I found the staying power of this stuff to be really fantastic. I have long days — I go to class in the mornings, and I often don’t take off my makeup until late at night. By the time night rolls around, my makeup can look pretty awful.

With this product, though, I found I could get my makeup to hold up pretty decently. I didn’t do a test of how many hours I could get my foundation to last or anything like that, but I can say that it made it though a day — and a day for me can go from 9:30AM to 2AM the next morning.

My one complaint is, again, the packaging. The way the spray mechanism works gives you a very fine mist — so fine that it’s hard to perceive it on your skin. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, I guess, but I found that I was often confused as to whether I’d gotten any of the spray on my face at all, or if I’d completely missed. I’d end up going through several pumps of the product, just to realize that the spray was hitting my face but I couldn’t perceive it. Compared to heavier sprays, like the famous Urban Decay All-Nighter stuff, it’s a little difficult to get used to. Regardless, it’s still a great product, and one that I would recommend the most out of all of these.

Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 15% Vitamin C Concentrate

It’s a little hard for me to review the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 15% vitamin C concentrate (as is the case with the 2% Retinol corrector as well, which you’ll see below), as I don’t really think it’s a product that’s meant for me, a 20 year-old woman. From what I understood from the package, it’s meant for people dealing with aging skin, which, while I guess my skin is technically aging constantly, is not really an issue that I’m worrying about right now. I still get acne sometimes — I’m not ready to worry about wrinkles! I suppose it might be useful for preventing wrinkles in the future, but don’t want to lie and pretend that this product does something for me that I can’t see yet.

So I can only speak to what I did experience with the product — and that’s that it kind of smelled lousy. I mean, I’ve probably used smellier products before, but I was kind of hoping for something better out of Lancôme. As for the actual effect on me, I did find that it had some moisturizing properties. It didn’t sting going on, like some serums do, and apart from the scent, it was an overall inoffensive product. Am I sold? No — but like I said, I don’t think it’s meant to be sold to me.

Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 2% Retinol Night Corrector

And that’s the case with the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 2% Retinol night corrector too. Again, Retinol is an ingredient known for its anti-aging properties — and my skin just isn’t aging that badly yet. Retinol is also supposedly a very strong vitamin; in fact, the box that the tube came in even warned me against using it more than once a week when I was first trying it out. I’ve heard about people having some pretty negative reactions to Retinol, and with my sensitive skin, I didn’t think it was a good idea to chance it.

I did try the product, though, if only in a very small quantity. My impression was that it smelled kind of chemical-y, and that it stung a little bit (or maybe more like a tingling sensation?) going on. I had no strong negative reactions the next morning, but no miracles went on either. Maybe I could speak to strong negative reactions or miracles a little more after I’d used the product for longer, but with only a month to review all of the products in this box, and with the restriction of using the Retinol night corrector once or twice a week, I didn’t really notice anything. Sorry if this is an anticlimactic review, but I can’t speak to what I haven’t experienced .


Have you tried the any of these products? Or do you have any suggestions for your favorite soaps, brow products, primers, or serums? Let me know your thoughts below!

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

 

January 16, 2019 – New Year, Same Location (OOTD #438)

It’s back to the staircases, I guess.

So far, I’ve barely asked anyone to take pictures for me — I’ve been doing them all by myself. It’s a little more difficult, but I think the result comes out looking nicer, at least some of the times. Nothing against my friends who’ve done my pictures for me in the past, but often, I think I kind of like my own pictures better. Don’t at me.

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oh, i think i hear the dinner bell ringing

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The one kind of annoying thing with doing my own pictures is that I have to find a place where my phone will sit in order to use the remote camera feature on watch to actually snap the picture. Given that restriction, I often end up using the same locations over and over — not that I didn’t do that when my friends took my pictures, anyway.

I don’t know how many times I’ve complained about the limited locations on campus for outfit photography on this blog, and so I’ll try to resist making the same complaint again. Just know that I get tired of using the same staircases and doorways as backgrounds for my outfits, okay?

It does feel kind of good to be back somewhere and know that I’ll be here for months, especially after weeks of moving around constantly. I never thought I would appreciate how quiet and uninteresting northern Indiana is, and how you can hardly travel anywhere from here. But here I am — appreciating how quiet and uninteresting and isolated South Bend is.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I like to travel, and that I don’t mind moving around constantly. I do however, like to have a home base that I can return to. I don’t know if I could handle living out of a suitcase forever; I’d at least like to have a place to call my own with some friends and some plants and a cat that I can come back to after the travels are over.

We’ll see how long it takes for me to start complaining about how I’m bored of staying in one place at university. For now, like I said, I appreciate it after the traveling I did for winter break, but I suspect that I’m going to start craving travel again after a month.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: ASOS

Skirt: Vintage (flea market)

 

January 15, 2019 – aND We’re Back (OOTD #437)

Get it? aND? Like, with an ND, for Notre Dame?

One of the things Notre Dame kids like to do is replace “nd”s in words with an “ND,” to make it seem like there’s more school spirit. For example: uNDefeated, LoNDon, IrelaND, etc. It’s a pretty easy replacement to make — you just have to paste in that iconic interlocking blue ND symbol where the “nd” would fall in the word, and all of a sudden, you look super clever.

Anyway, after my long two weeks of traveling, I’m finally back stateside. It was a long two weeks of constant activity, followed by a short one week of laying in bed sick for basically seven days straight. After my lazy week (like I said, I was sick and had a cold), I had one final flight — the last in a marathon of traveling where I had at least two flights each weekend for five weekends in a row. I went from Lexington to Atlanta to Chicago, then I took the bus from Midway to South Bend. It took basically an entire day, but at the end of the day, I had my uncleaned and overheated dorm room to welcome me home.

It’s not actually that bad being back. I like to complain, but even though I think I generally enjoy my time spent at home more than my time spent suffering away at school, I’ve managed to get into a routine at this point. It’s all good, for now at least — but you should check back with me right before midterms week and see if my answer has changed.

This was my outfit from my first real day of class — Tuesday, January 15. First days of class when you’re a college student, especially first days of class for the second semester, aren’t super exciting. People do tend to dress up a little more than they might for an average day of class, but it’s not to a significant degree.

I, however, still like putting a decent amount of thought and effort into my first day of class outfits. I want other students and my professors to have a good impression of me, and for them to begin to perceive me as a person who consistently dresses well. I hope that this outfit portrayed that.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Tahari (from SaksOffFifth)

Sweater: Forever21

Trousers: Zara

January 4, 2019 – L’ensemble final (OOTD #436)

On my last day in France, I got sick.

That’s not entirely true — I’d been slowly becoming sick over several days. I first felt it when I woke up on New Year’s Day, and so I thought perhaps it was just my body recovering from our party the previous night. I was wrong. It just got worse.

But only a loser gets sick when they’re in a foreign country (though funnily, I got sick the last time I traveled internationally as well...), so I decided to power through. I only had one week in France — I couldn’t waste any time laying around and feeling sorry for myself.

That was probably a dumb idea, and I would not recommend that you follow suit. You should pay attention to your body’s needs and be kind to yourself or whatever. If you do, you’ll  probably wind up less sick and generally happier than I did for days after I got home.

But you might not have been able to go out and do the things that I did when I was pushing myself through the illness — seeing a whole new city, playing ping-pong with Australians, or losing your glasses with your Tinder date. I sacrificed a little bit of my physical health, but I think I made up for it in cool experiences.

My last day in France was rather anticlimactic — but it seems like that’s how last days in foreign countries normally are. That’s how it happened for me in London and in Nepal. The most exciting days — for example, my trip to Shoreditch or my first excursion to Kathmandu — always happen in the middle. I wonder why that is?

I went to class all day, and afterwards, I said goodbye to my Australian friends. They were staying for several weeks longer than me, and they had plans for the evening that were different from mine, so we had to part there at the school. While I was a little sad we only knew each other for a few days, I was really grateful that I got to know them at all, and that I had some people to speak in English with every once in a while.

I also tried to do some souvenir shopping, but in the end, I decided I didn’t need anything more. I’d already bought some clothes, and that’s usually the only thing I make certain to buy when I travel. Other knickknacks or gifts for friends are nice, but I don’t feel like I have to get them.

By the time 5 or 6PM came around, I was exhausted and really feeling sick. I was afraid I had a fever, and while I didn’t have one by the time I made it back to the US and took my temperature, I’m not convinced I didn’t have one at least for that last evening in Vichy and the following day on my plane ride home. Dinner was really hard that night — partially because dinner with my host family was often hard (not because they were mean, just because talking with strangers in a foreign language is hard) and partially because I was feeling awful but didn’t know how to say it politely.  I knew how to say Je suis malade but how to say “I feel like death and I want to go home — but not because of you or anything, just because it’s been a really long two weeks and on top of that I think I may have a cold or a fever or a flu or all three”?

And so I didn’t say it. I think my host mother and father noticed that my cough had gotten pretty bad, but it was my last day, and so I wasn’t going to bother with buying medicine. That night, I suffered through it, packed my bags, and got ready for the long trip from Clermont-Ferrand to Paris to Detroit to Cincinnati to home.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Sweater: Thrifted (Goodwill)

Skirt: Forever21

 

January 3, 2019 – Les Grands Parcs de Vichy (OOTD #435)

I’ll be honest with you: I’m not even sure if these photos feature Les grands parcs de Vichy. 

I tagged them that way on Instagram because they were one of the first locations to pop up when I searched, and I thought the name made sense. I mean, I was in a park, and I was in Vichy — so why would’t I be in one of les grands parcs? 

That’s often how things go when I try to tag locations on Instagram. Half of the time, I don’t really know where I am — I just rely on Instagram to tell me. My FBI agent is probably stalking me through my Instagram location or Snap Map — unluckily for him (or her), I never really go anywhere that interesting.

These photos were taken rather hastily in a one-hour stroll around town that I had in between getting out of classes for the day and meeting up with my Australian friends to play ping-pong.

Australian friends? Ping-pong?

Allow me to explain: as I mentioned in my last post, I made friends with a group of Australian teenagers during our field trip to Clermont-Ferrand. They were a bit younger than me, but not by much. They thought my American accent was cool (which no one has said to me ever), and we got along well because we all spoke English. In fact, to my surprise, there were very few other native English-speakers at the school while I was there — there was an old British man named Patrick, and I’m not sure there was anyone else other than me and the Australians.

Anyway, the Australians had some special programming since they were there with a school group, and they invited me along with them. I was afraid of seeming like a creepy adult (since technically, I was the oldest one there even though we were all only a few years apart), but I don’t think they thought about it that way. They invited me to join them, after all.

And so I added ping-pong to my list of things that I did while in France. We set up in a rec center attached to the school and played for a few hours — it probably wasn’t the most exciting way to spend an afternoon in France, but I’d been doing plenty of exciting things over the last several days, including touring a new city, going on a Tinder date, and celebrating New Year’s Eve with my host family. It was fun to be able to relax a little bit in an English-speaking environment.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

January 2, 2019 – Field Trip in France (OOTD #434)

I’ve decided that my favorite part of France is their half-day Wednesdays.

I don’t know exactly where it comes from, but apparently, many people in France take half-days on Wednesdays. I guess I can’t speak so much for professionals, but in schools at least, this is the case: and since I went to France in order to attend class, one of the things I got to experience were the half-days on Wednesday.

It was lovely.

Honestly, 10/10 would recommend that US schools give this a shot. Being in class all day for five days a week, especially when you’re in high school, is exhausting and depressing. Apparently, Americans work 300 hours on average more than the French per year — and yet we only make a few dollars more per hour.  I’m no expert of labor, but I can tell you that taking off on Wednesday afternoons made me feel rejuvenated and prepared to take on the second half the week.

With my half-day, I decided to go out on a field trip with my program to see Clermont-Ferrand, the largest neighboring city to Vichy. Vichy’s definitely a small spa town, while Clermont-Ferrand felt more like a small city. It’s no Paris or Lyons (I’m sad — I missed the Lyons field trip, as it took place on Saturday, the day I left to return home), but it felt good to get out and see a little more of the country.

Honestly, I think my favorite part of the trip was the bus ride. I love driving through unfamiliar places, especially in new countries (assuming that is, that I’m not the one doing the driving or navigating). I’ve always wanted to see the French countryside. I feel like it’s so often romanticized in French films and media, and so I’m really glad that I finally got to see the rolling hills and farms that France is famous for, even if I didn’t get to walk around them. I even got to see some dormant volcanoes! That’s not something I could say in South Bend.

We went on a short walking tour of Clermont-Ferrand, which, as it turns out, is where Michelin tires are made. We also saw some old churches, including a basilica named Notre Dame. It was neat, but very cold.

What was best about the whole trip, though, was the mall. Vichy didn’t have much going on in terms of affordable shopping — they had a lot of expensive boutiques, but I’m too poor for that. It also didn’t help that I was there during the Christmas-New Year’s season, meaning that a lot of things were closed. Clermont-Ferrand, being a larger community, had plenty more inexpensive shops, all of which were open.

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little town, such a quiet village

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Don’t judge me too hard, but the only two things I ended up buying for myself in France were a top and a pair of trousers from Zara. Zara, of course, is an English brand, and one that even has stores in parts of the US at that. But I’ve never lived in close proximity to a Zara, and so whenever I see one in the wild blue yonder, I like to buy stuff up. It was perhaps not the most French purchase I could have made, but at least it was European.