December 31, 2018 – Le Réveillon (OOTD #432)

I don’t believe I ever imagined spending New Year’s Eve in Vichy.

I mean, I always assumed I’d make it to France one day — I mean, it’s such a huge tourist destination, and it’s an easy place for English-speakers to travel to. Besides, I speak un peu de français — pas très bien, mai j’essaie. 

But I always figured I’d go in the summer for vacation, and that I’d see Paris like all of the other American tourists. This small spa town had never really been on my radar, at least until Notre Dame offered me funding to visit.

Let me give you a little context — Notre Dame has a ton of money, and they like to give it to students who can do things that will reflect well upon the university, so that they can then make more money. I, as a student with little money who seems to end up surrendering any money I do make right back to Notre Dame, am happy to take advantage of any opportunity Notre Dame has to give me money to go do something academic.

I heard from (of all people) my Russian literature professor that the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures was offering grants to students to go abroad during the winter break to do an intensive language study, and I figured there was no harm in applying. Lo and behold, they gave me $3,000 to go to France for a week, enroll myself in some language courses, and stay with a host family.

And so that’s what I did. But of course, the trip was not without some difficulties — including one really big one that hit me the moment I got off the airplane in Clermont-Ferrand. Air France had left my bags in Paris, and, having basically just arrived in a new country where I only sort-of spoke the language, I was at a loss for what to do.

Thankfully, my host mother, who met me at the airport, was able to help. Naturally, she spoke flawless French, and I was able to communicate to her with my rudimentary conversation skills what had happened. I’m so grateful that she was there — I’ve never lost bags before, and I wouldn’t have even known what to do had it happened back in the US.

Unfortunately, I was forced to sleep in the same clothes as I had worn to the airport (which were also the same clothes I had worn all day for my last day in Qatar), as well as attend my first day of classes in that outfit. By the time my host mother texted me in the afternoon to tell me that my bags had been delivered to the house, I was pretty sick of that outfit.

Because of the holiday, classes were shortened to a half day. Since I hadn’t been there for very long, I’d had no time to make friends with whom I could spend my afternoon. The school offered some cultural excursions for new students, and, with nothing else to do and still a little afraid of going out on my own, I figured I’d take advantage of the programming.

Monday’s trip was a walking tour of Vichy. It was just me and another student, a Swiss high school student whose French was superior to mine. It was a little awkward, but I’m glad I got someone to show me around a little. It’s not like Vichy is a huge town; in fact, it’s quite small. It doesn’t really have a huge tourist presence, except for its spas and natural springs, and so I don’t know how else I would’ve learned about its history and culture.

In the evening, I returned to my host family’s house for New Year’s Eve dinner. That was the longest dinner of my entire life. 

I’m not speaking figuratively — I think it literally took four and a half hours from start to finish. By the end, I was exhausted, anxious from having strangers question me about my life in French (which would have been intimidating even in English), slightly intoxicated from all of the alcohol that people kept offering me, and absolutely stuffed from the four-course meal.

And it was a delicious meal! And the people were wonderfully kind — there were even some young adults about my age who were able to speak in English a little bit! Even if it was a little stressful in the moment, it was an important to have had that experience, I think. It was something of a trial by fire in French culture — there was nowhere to hide, so I just had to sit there and try to use my French as much as possible, and pray that I didn’t accidentally say something offensive. Call it exposure therapy.

By the time I went to bed at 3 AM local time (who knows what time my body thought it was), I was worn out. I mean, I’d basically been spending the last two weeks worn out, either from traveling or from studying for finals, so it wasn’t anything new. But what was new, at least compared to the kind of exhaustion that finals inflicted, was that the exhaustion felt rewarding. Sure, I was tired — but I was tired because I spent all day in a new culture, speaking a different language for longer than I ever had before and trying to make the most of my immersion experience. It was a good tired.

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: Abercrombie

December 27, 2018 – I Want To Go on a Night Boat to Doha? (OOTD #429)

Once again, I’m going to skip ahead to the part of the trip after classes ended, because that’s really what’s fun and interesting for me to write about here. If you’d like a summary of my thoughts on the conference itself and what I felt my role was, I’d suggest you have a read over this blog here.

Unlike my sand dunes adventure, which was spent completely with the Madrasa Discourses students, this trip was spent completely with the other Notre Dame kids. There were pros and cons of both groups: for example, the madrasa students liked the slip into Urdu a lot, which was a little awkward for me. On the other hand, the Notre Dame kids liked to talk about American culture and politics — which, you know, I could do whenever I’m at home in the US.

They also approached things with a very American perspective. I’m not critical of that because that’s exactly what I did as well — however, when I’m in foreign countries and cultures, it’s nice to get to speak with people who don’t think the same way I necessarily do. Ideally, of course, I’d have a native Qatari to hang out with and show me around — but in the absence of one of those, there were plenty of Indian and Pakistanis in our group who could have also made for some interesting cross-cultural conversations.

That’s all to say I kind-of regret spending so much time with the other Americans on this trip. It wasn’t that I disliked them, but I think I probably should not have devoted so much time to them when, in theory, I could see them around campus whenever I want. I can’t so much do that with my Indian and Pakistani friends.

That’s not to say, however, that I regretted what I did when I spent time with the other Notre Dame students. We went on some pretty exciting adventures together — for example, this day, when we went to the Souq Waqif market and then took a boat across the Doha Bay to the Corniche.

Like many days during my time in Qatar, this ended up being a very long, exhausting day. After a full day of lectures and classroom discussions, we took an Uber together to the old market with the intent of seeing the Pearl, an artificial island attached to the city that’s supposed to be very pretty at night.  Unfortunately, the girl who called the Uber put in the wrong address, and we instead wound up at a different “pearl” — which was just a statue of a pearl.

I’d already been to the Souq the previous night after my desert safari, so the effect of the historical, busy, market with a mix of people in Western-styles and more traditional Islamic fashions,  had kind of worn off on me. It’s funny how that happens sometimes — I’ve never seen a century-old Qatari market that sells traditional goods and is one of the last remaining testaments to native Qatari culture before cosmopolitanism took over. And yet, once I saw it once, it wasn’t quite as exciting the second time around.

From there, we decided to walk along the Doha Bay for a good view of the skyline. If you haven’t seen the Doha skyline in person, I highly recommend that you try to see it one day. Skylines are very important to me; if a city doesn’t have a beautiful skyline, my ability to appreciate the city diminishes. London, for example, didn’t have an impressive skyline, even though it was a very impressive city. I of course still loved London, but I was disappointed by the lack of a jaw-dropping skyline view.

Doha was kind of the opposite. It’s got one of the most beautiful skylines I’ve ever seen, especially lit up at night. New York is gorgeous too, but it’s not colorful — not like Doha is. Doha is a rainbow of bright colors and sparkling lights; it’s unlike anything I’d ever seen. We took a boat across the harbor, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I was able to sit back and retreat into myself a little (something I really needed after a long day of social interaction), and watch the skyline glow on the horizon as it grew closer.

However, Doha’s modern sector was less impressive. We hopped off our boat, and there was nearly no one out. Granted, we were there on a Thursday night, so perhaps not the most bumping of nights, but for a bright, impressive city like Doha, with all those flashing lights in the skyline and the colorful skyscrapers, there seemed to be very few people who lived there.

I like a city to feel alive, and while Doha looked alive, it didn’t feel like it. We did go into a mall for a few hours, and that had more people it seemed than downtown.  By the time we hit the mall, though, I was too exhausted to do much. By then, I was tired of being around for people for so long, and I had basically completely stopped attempting to participate in conversation.

By the time we called the Uber to go back to our hotel, my feet hurt, I had lost one of my false eyelashes, and I was pretty sick of being around that particular crowd. Like I said though, I’m really appreciative of all I got to see and do. My goal was to go out and explore every night that I could; I wasn’t about to go on a trip halfway around the world to the Middle East and rest every night in the hotel. I think my body (and maybe my brain too) might have preferred the more leisurely path, but I think my soul preferred the adventure.

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: Stolen from the lost-and-found bin of my dorm’s laundry room

Pants: The LOFT

December 7, 2018 – A 20th Century Christmas (OOTD #419)

There nothing that “20th century” about this outfit except maybe the hat — and the hat’s not even mine!

For this post, my friends and I decided to all go out and take a family Christmas photo together. We had initially thought we’d make a Christmas card to send out to our families, but then we remembered how much work that would take and how stressed we were with our finals, and we decided just to take the picture without worrying about the card.

And I’m pretty satisfied with the result! We did them right before we exchanged secret Santa gifts, so we were all feeling festive.

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a six chick christmas

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I do wish I had an ugly Christmas sweater so I could have matched my friends a little better. I have a lot of Christmas sweaters — check them out here and here and here — but none  of them are ugly. Like, really ugly and wacky. They’re almost all too…cute?

Ugly Christmas sweaters are all super trendy, and while I’m normally hesitant to buy into trends, but I like this one. There’s something fun about purposefully being ugly — that is, as long as it’s authentically ugly. I’m not so much a fan of ugly Christmas sweaters that people just buy at Walmart. There’s no fun in that! You’ve got to go out and actually find something in a secondhand shop — or if you’re super crafty, make something.

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#sleigh, girl, sleigh.

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That’s why I love the ugly Christmas sweater market my school holds in late November. I didn’t actually buy anything this year because they raised their prices, and I don’t really feel justified spending $20 on an old ugly sweater I could get for a lot less money at a Goodwill, but I like the idea. I hope that perhaps next year I can find an ugly sweater that makes the $20 price tag worth it.

Or better yet, maybe I’ll find something at a vintage shop or a Goodwill the next time I’m home. I love the hunt that a secondhand store entails — it’s even more of  a hunt than my school’s secondhand Christmas sweater market!

Anyway, Merry Christmas from everyone here in my dorm room at Notre Dame! I don’t know for certain that they actually want to wish my readers happy holidays, but I assume they do. They’re nice people. They probably want you all to have a nice life.

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 PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: Thrifted

Sweater: Abercrombie (thrifted)

Shirt: Banana Republic

Skirt: J. Crew (thrifted)

Hat: borrowed from a friend

November 13, 2018 – Christmasy (OOTD #407)

You can tell it’s nearly Christmas because the bookstore has been decorated.

It’s admittedly kind of hard to get into any sort of Christmas spirit while school and finals are going on. I don’t know if that ever changes, or, if like Halloween, Christmas is never as exciting as an adult as it was as a kid. I hope it gets to be exciting again eventually.

In truth, it is exciting for me still — the excitement has to wait until after finals are over now, though. For me, that day will be December 14, 2018 — 11 days from the time of writing this blog and a month from the time these photos were taken.

I’m actually not going to be home for Christmas this year, and while I’m very grateful to be going on the trips I’m going on to Qatar and to France, I’m sad I won’t be around to be with my family during the holidays. When Notre Dame offers me funding, though to travel, I can’t turn it down. Travel is expensive — there’s now way I could do it on my own so when I have the opportunity to go on my school’s money….

I’ll still have fun, but my winter break won’t be as relaxing as normal. That’s okay, though. Last winter break ended up getting boring, so hopefully, this time I’ll have a good balance.

I’ll actually end up spending Christmas Eve in an airport, and my Christmas Day in a classroom in Qatar. It’s far from traditional, and it’ll be my first time away from my family for the holidays, but it should still be a fun experience.

Will I be able to keep up with blogging? I sure hope so. I don’t consider myself a travel blogger because of how infrequently I travel, but when I do get to go somewhere exotic like London or Kathmandu, I like to get as much content as possible for LEDJ. Consider it my Christmas gift to you guys.

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 PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Pants: The LOFT

Top: Amazon (of all places!)

October 29, 2018 – Mad Mod (OOTD #399)

Up next in blog titles with Meilin: blog titles named after Teen Titans villains.

I got this dress as a part of my trip to Nepal. It’s one of the last purchases I made before I went home — but it actually wasn’t purchased in Nepal. It was actually purchased in Bucktown, Chicago.

I wound up with a nine hour layover in O’Hare before I was allowed to fly back home to Kentucky. Initially, I was going to just wait it out in the airport, but after some advice from a friend, I decided to make something out of my nine hours and head out into the city for a few hours. While there, I came across a few vintage shops — my only weakness — and I bought this dress.

It actually came with a matching hat, but I haven’t come up with a way yet to wear it without looking super costume-like. Stay tuned to see if a green and yellow hat makes an appearance on this blog.

I am a big fan of the dress by itself, though. It’s vintage and 60’s-like — my two favorite adjectives to describe clothing. If you got rid of the racism and sexism and lack of WiFi, I would absolutely transport myself back to the 60s. I could start a ladies’ fashion journal instead of a blog.

By the time the early 2000’s rolled around, L’ensemble du jour would already be a huge name fashion news source. I’d get in on the big dotcom bubble of the late 90s, and I’d be set for life.

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 PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

October 26, 2018 – Out and About (OOTD #397)

Hey, kiddos. Have I told you yet about how much I like getting off campus?

No? Well get this fun fact — I savor every moment I spend that’s not on Notre Dame’s campus.

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toes? don’t need ‘em

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In this outfit, I got to go off campus for a few hours on a Friday afternoon to do some thrift shopping. Why thrift shopping? I’m actually not entirely sure. Myself, I love thrifting. But I wasn’t the one who suggested this outing.

And I don’t remember why the friends I went with decided to go thrifting. Maybe they just wanted to get off campus too. I guess it’s a common interest.

Anyway, I didn’t know when I got dressed that morning that I was going out after class, but I’m glad I dressed the way I did. It’s a very nice, “going out” sort of an outfit — fake hipster glasses and all.

Besides, what a missed opportunity it would have been had I gone out into South Bend without an outfit worth photographing! As a fashion blogger, I’m always on the lookout for good photo locations. On campus, my options are limited, especially since I like as much as possible to keep some variation in my OOTD posts. When I go out, even if it’s just to a neighborhood thrift shop, I like to get photos because it means I can have some content that’s different from my normal campus stuff.

The only thing I would have changed about these photos are the trees. My outfit is so fall-like; I wish my background matched that mood a little more. I was ready for fall, but these trees just weren’t yet. Inconsiderate of them, huh?

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 PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: thrifted

Dress: thrifted

October 23, 2018 – Tree Hugger (OOTD #396)

I’m really liking this particular tree.

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make like a tree and go dormant

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It’s fall, and I gotta take advantage of all of the fall colors for my Instagram. Thankfully, Notre Dame is good for getting fall colors. I guess it’s that Midwestern air that makes things colder than it should be earlier than it should be.

Hence, all of the posts featuring trees lately.

It’s not like there’s a lot else to take pictures with, and these trees wouldn’t make a worthwhile background if not for their colors. No offense to trees.

I always wonder how those fashion bloggers who get beautiful, interestingly-composed shots every day do it. I mean, I’m sure living in a beautiful city like New York or Paris, where there’s a lot of interesting architecture to work with, helps. But it’s not like you can just go out every day to a new location to get your pictures. I don’t know, maybe when you have a million followers and being an Instagrammer is your whole life, you can afford to do that.

I guess all I need is an artistic photographer friend and a city with an unlimited supply of visually interesting backgrounds. And maybe a million followers on Instagram.

I’m on my way, though. I’m nearly to 10,000. Just got to multiply that number by 100. Seeing as it’s taken me nearly two years to make it to 10,000, I should have my million followers in 200 years!

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 home. Don’t forget to check me out on PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: Zara

Top: Anthropologie

Jeans: Hollister

October 15, 2018 – The Continuing Adventures of Fall Break (OOTD #393)

Fun fact: these photos happen to have been taken at the same Mexican restaurant as the photos from this post. 

Fun fact #2: these photos were also taken right after I got a haircut, which is the same as what happened after that same post.

Haircuts for me take a ridiculously long time. For one, I’m not just getting my hair cut — I’m also getting it bleached and colored. Even when I’m just having my roots done, it can take a long time to apply, then a long time to sit as I wait for it to have an effect, and then another long time to wash out. And then, an even longer time as I wait for the whole process to start over for a second time, since my hair is so dark that it requires two rounds of bleach in order to lighten it to blonde.

Haircuts are basically a whole-day affair. It’s worth it, and it’s so much better having it done than trying to do it on my own, but I can basically count on doing nothing else all day but sitting in the stylist’s chair and watching afternoon television.

So after my exhausting day of sitting in the stylist’s chair and watching afternoon television, it makes sense that I should reward myself for a job well done — hence the Mexican restaurant afterwards. I have to rejuvenate myself with nachos after working so hard all day.

Everyone criticizes my generation of being lazy, but I disagree — it’s hard work being a full-time student for three months straight. You never get to escape school. You live there, so it dominates every moment of your time on campus. Getting to go home, away from school, and indulge in sitting in a hair salon for an entire day without anything to do — that’s what break is made for.

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 home at Notre Dame. Don’t forget to check me out on PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: Forever12

Sweater: American Eagle

October 14, 2018 – The Marvelous Ms. Meilin (OOTD #392)

I’ve been watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, and let me say — it’s got a great visual style.

Actually, by “I’ve been watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” I mean, I’ve seen the first episode. I’m not very good at actually watching television shows. I usually tend to begin them and then never find the time to continue them, even if I enjoy the first episode. 

With The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel though, I think I may actually continue  watching. Not only was the plot interesting, but like I said, the 1950s aesthetic was really gorgeous. 

I’m a sucker for historical fashion (being a history major, and all), and I’m always happy to incorporate some vintage pieces into my wardrobe. Case in point: this outfit.

I don’t know what era this dress actually comes from, but I could imagine it as something from the 50s. I know it’s not — it’s Don von Furstenburg, who didn’t come to popularity until the mid-70s — but with my coat, I feel like it evokes a late-50s vibe anyway. 

IMG_7758.jpg

Speaking of vintage, this coat is also practically vintage, at least in terms of my ownership of it. It’s probably the piece in my wardrobe that’s been in my possession the longest. If I remember correctly, I’ve had it since third grade — and even then, I bought it used off of a friend’s older sister. Who knows how old it really is.

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just some colorFALL leaves

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It was too big for me for several years, and by the time I grew into it, I’d stopped growing altogether. Hence, I still keep it in my wardrobe for days like these when it just really ties together an outfit. It doesn’t happen often, but when I do need it, I’m grateful that I have it. 

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 home at Notre Dame. Don’t forget to check me out on PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Dress: Diane Von Furstenberg (vintage)

Coat: Rothschild (thrifted) 

October 10, 2018 – The Longest Day (OOTD #389)

I don’t normally tend to discuss my daily life in these blogs because there’s not a lot to talk about, but I’m going to do so for this day because I remember just how long it was.

In fact, I even remember what day of the week this was — it was a Wednesday. How often can you look back on a photograph that was taken a month ago and immediately place where it fell in the week? Not often. That’s how memorable this particular day was.

If I remember correctly, I had about three assignments due on this particular Wednesday before fall break, and one exam. Come Tuesday at midnight (er, I guess technically Wednesday at midnight), none of these assignments were done.

What was due? A paper for my theology class, a first draft of my study abroad essays, and my final project for my botany class, not to mention the looming exam for Russian literature, the class which I was doing the most poorly in.

I’m no stranger to staying up late to do work, but I legitimately wondered how I was going to get all of these stuff done. None of these tasks would have been particularly difficult to get done on their own, but put altogether, and with the added challenge of a time crunch — it wasn’t a fun night.

So flash forward to about 8AM Wednesday morning. I’ve gotten about a 2 hour nap from around 2-4AM, and I’ve been working ever since. My theology paper is done, my study abroad essays are done enough, all that’s left of my botany project is to cut out some pictures and glue them into my notebook, and I haven’t even touched my Russian lit studying. But that’s too bad, because I have a meeting in an hour at 9AM with the dean of my college to get approval for study abroad, and I need to look presentable.

I make it through my meeting with my dean alive, though I have to resist the urge to let out a primal scream when he asks how my day’s been going. I have about an hour before French begins to finish pasting all of my pictures into my botany notebook, and from there I’m in class nonstop until 3:15.

My Russian literature exam goes okay — not great, but not tragically either. I manage to turn in my botany project on time, and I hand in my theology paper when I get to class. By some miracle, I don’t fall asleep in theology, even though all we have to do for class is to watch a documentary.

These photos were taken shortly after I got out of theology and the busy part of my day ended. Do I look tired? I definitely was. After I got out of class, I just kind of sat by myself at the top of the steps in the pottery studio (for context, my theology class takes place in the haunted art building) and took a moment to breathe. It was raining out, which I could see through the sky roof, and that was nice.

The point of all of this? Midterms suck. Even more than finals suck. With finals at least, class ends, clubs stop meeting, and you have several days where campus is just sort of dead while everyone cries to themselves and prepare for the GPA crash. With midterms, nothing stops, but you still have exams and projects all due at once. Take it from me and my dirty hair and tired eyes in these photos: it’s lousy.

Thankfully, though, midterms are finally over. Writing from my current standpoint, nearly a month after October 10 happened, I can’t believe I somehow managed to make it through. Only five more rounds of midterms to go before I graduate.

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 home 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!

Dress: Lilly Pulitzer (thrifted)

Jacket: Thrifted