January 15, 2020 – Bienvenue à Paris (OOTD #596)

Finalement, je suis ici à Paris! 

It’s hard to believe that I finally made it here to Paris. It’s been a whole year since I first committed to study abroad at Sciences Po Paris for a semester, and it’s been over a year since I first submitted my application. My arrival in Paris has been a long time coming.

It almost didn’t happen either. My last blog post, I wrote about going to the Chicago visa office to submit the last of my paperwork. I thought that was going to be the end of it — I’d hand it my papers at the office, and then they would issue me my visa right there. I was deeply wrong. As it turns out, after I handed in my papers, I had to hand in my passport as well, leave it with in Chicago so they could send it all the way to Washington DC, and then, finally, they would send it back.

You can imagine how anxious I was as my flight departure date grew nearer and I still didn’t have my passport back from the DC visa office. I braced myself to have to reschedule my flight, potentially missing the Sciences Po Welcome Programme in the fallout.

I got lucky though — my passport, with my visa attached inside, arrived literally one day before my departure. A word of advice, though, if you’re going to be studying abroad in France and don’t want to deal with the stress of waiting for you passport to be returned to you via snail mail — do your visa appointment early! Don’t wait until the last second like I did.

Believe it or not, this is actually my first time in Paris. I feel like almost everyone (at least, those of my friends who had to go on international family vacations when they were kids) has been to Paris. It isn’t the number one tourist destination in the world for nothing.

My first few days in Paris were relatively uneventful. The grève, or strike, against the retirement pension reforms was still going on, so the RER and several métro lines were down, making getting from CDG Aéroport to my apartment in the 14e arrondissement more difficult that I had anticipated it being. In the end, rather than braving a taxi or a bus, I called a car service to pick me up and drive me to my apartment. It was perhaps the less “authentic” choice, but it got me where I needed to be.

After arriving at my apartment, I spent a good chunk of the day asleep. I was hardly able to sleep on the plane, despite my attempts, and so I was exhausted when I arrived. Unfortunately, since I arrived in the morning (7am to be exact), I still had a full day ahead of me to try to stay awake — a task that I admittedly didn’t do amazingly at.

When I was finally able to stay awake for more than five minutes at a time, I decided to take the bus into the city to walk around a little, as well as to get some paperwork from my landlord’s office. Completely unintentionally, as I was wandering around, I ended up bumping into the Eiffel Tower.

I still think la tour Eiffel looks a little like an overhyped telephone pole, but don’t tell the French I said that about their most iconic architectural structure. I’m sure it’s gorgeous at night when it’s all sparkling and lit up, and I’m sure it offers a beautiful view of the city if you go to the top. During the day, though, when viewed as a spectator from the ground, I think the romanticized idea of the Eiffel Tower is cooler than the reality.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: Thrift (Goodwill)

Turtleneck: Express

Jeans: Hollister

January 2, 2020 – The Chicago Sun (OOTD #595)

I don’t care what anyone says; the sun feels the best in the winter in the Midwest.

I’m sure the sun is lovely in California. I’m sure it’s wonderful to live in a state where it never dips below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, where you see the sun every day no matter what the season. I’m sure the sun is lovely elsewhere too. But in the Midwest in the winter — in places like South Bend, Indiana or Chicago, Illinois — where you can go the entirety of December through April without once seeing a ray of sunshine, it hits a little different. The sun is special there; it’s sacred.

When I hopped onto the plane in the wee hours of the morning on one of the first days of 2020 to head to the French visa office in Chicago, I braced myself for the worst. I expected winds, snow, ice — maybe hail. I may not have been in the Midwest since the first half of 2019,  but believe me, I remember how winter there works. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget how winter there works.

So imagine my surprise when it was actually…kind of nice out? Arguably even nicer than Kentucky had been during the same time?

I mean, I still needed my coat and scarf. I definitely didn’t regret bringing those. But as winter days in Chicago go, it was about as beautiful as it could be. For starters, the sun was out — and the sun is never out in that part of the country during that time of year. The permacloud life is real.

And not only was the weather beautiful, but my father and I got to spend nice day together in the city. I had my visa appointment in the morning, which went fairly smoothly, and after it was done, we were free to enjoy ourselves until our flight back to Lexington at 9pm at night.

I’ve been to Chicago several times, so I know most of what it has to offer, but every time, I feel like I discover something new. For example, I realized during this trip that I’d never even seen the Chicago River before. I’ve also never been to the Lincoln Park Zoo (that I remember — apparently I went once as a kid, but since I don’t remember it, I don’t count it). The more I go to Chicago, the more I learn to like it; my appreciation for it is growing.

The accent still kills me though. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over the way they all talk through their nose. They do know that they can pronounce words using their chest and throat, right? It’s Chi-augh-go, not Chi-cah-go. 

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this winter break in the States. 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!


Coat: Thrifted (Goodwill)

Sweater: H&M

Turtleneck: Amazon

Jeans: Altar’d State

REVIEW: Influenster Let’s Chill VoxBox (eos, Gold Bond Ultimate, and Eva NYC)

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

I’ve been on a roll with the Influenster VoxBoxes lately. I’ve gotten two in a row these last two months. I don’t think I’ve gotten that many back-to-back since I first signed up for the program.

This may be the last one for a while though. I’m not certain, but I think Influenster only ships to the US, UK, and Canada, and (spoiler alert) I’m going to be in Paris, France for the next fourth months as a part of a study abroad exchange program. In fact, I’m writing this from my Paris apartment in the 14e arrondissement, though the photos were taken while I was still in Kentucky.

I got two selection surveys for Influenster products the other day, but since I had to put my French address, I doubt I’ll be chosen for the campaigns. It’s a real shame — two of the campaigns I was eligible for were for Make Up For Ever and Laura Mercier products. Quel dommage. 

But enough about products I may or may not get in the coming months — what about the products I did get last month?

In my “Let’s Chill” VoxBox were three products: eos Super Cashmere Tinted Shea Lip Balm, Gold Bond Ultimate Radiance Renewal Oil-Infused Cream, and Eva NYC Mane Magic 10-in-1 Styling Mousse.

Up first for review — the tinted lip balm. Oh, eos. I remember when every little girl in middle school absolutely had to have one of those round lip balms in her Vera Bradley purse. The very first one I saw was my fifth grade best friend, Kitty’s. She was always super trendy and fashionable, and she seemed to have everything just before it broke into the mainstream. She was the first one I knew to start wearing those elastic waistband floral skirts from Hollister, the first one to buy Uggs, the first one to experiment with Silly Bandz, and the first one to buy an eos lip balm. Hers was the classic pomegranate raspberry flavor, and I knew after I saw her pull it out of her backpack that I had to get one as well.

The first one I got was a pale pink color, I think it may have been strawberry lemonade-flavored. I’m pretty sure I begged my mother to buy it for me at the grocery store when I saw it on a special display on the endcap. Not wanting to copy Kitty exactly, I opted for a different flavor so as to demonstrate how unique and independent I was.

For as trendy and cute as those lip balms were, though, they weren’t all that great at actually moisturizing your lips. I remember they’d get dirty and stained if you had even a touch of lip color on, and they had a tendency to rub the delicate upper layer of your lips off if you weren’t gentle enough with application. Honestly, Chapstick was better.

And honestly, with this new 2020 iteration of eos, I still think Chapstick is better. Even now, ten years later, I still can’t resist the cute egg-shaped design and the way it rests in the palm of my had like a little round polished stone, but the lip product inside isn’t nearly as exciting. I still have the issue with it being too hard and just tearing up the upper layer of skin on my lips, and while I like the tinted variety, the color is barely noticeable. Lip balms should be soft and melt into your lips; this one is almost like an exfoliator.

Speaking of being moisturizing, the Gold Bond Ultimate Radiance Renewal Oil-Infused Cream is just that. It’s super thick, but for the winter when my skin is rather dry, that’s just what I like. Honestly, I don’t have any major complaints about this one. It’s a perfectly good lotion, but I’m not picky about lotion.

The bottle is a little weird, I’ll admit — it’s almost like a shampoo bottle, you have to shake it upside down in order for it to come out, and with how thick it is, that’s easier said than done. I think a pump would have been much better. Also, the scent is very strong. The moment I put it on, my parents both asked what smelled like tropical fruit. If you like tropical fruit, great — if not, you may want to stay away.

Lastly: the Eva NYC hair mousse. This product was something of an odd one for me to review. I honestly just don’t use hair mousse…ever. I had a phase there for a while (again, in middle school) where I’d wash and blow out my hair every morning in an attempt to create those texturized beach waves that were super popular in 2013, and I’d use it then, but I just don’t have time for that sort of thing anymore. Plus, with my bleach-damaged hair, I don’t really like to use heat styling products at all, and so doing a blow-out is out of the question.

How do you use mousse without using a blow dryer as well, though? That’s the question. I ended up running it through my hair after a shower and then putting it in a braid to dry.

Then I waited 36 hours for it to dry.

That’s not an exaggeration — it really takes my hair that long to dry properly when I try to braid it after it’s wet. I think it has to do with the bleach again — something about the pores becoming more receptive to holding water after it’s been chemically treated, and so it stays wet for longer.

One my hair finally dried, though, I liked the result. It gave me a nice, naturally wavy look, which is something I’ve never been able to achieve with an iron. The waves weren’t crunchy at all (though a little bit dry), and they lasted for the day. I’m not certain it was worth 36 hours of waiting for me, but if you have the kind of hair that you can braid at night, sleep in, and wake up with beautiful (not soaking wet) waves in the morning, maybe you could try this mousse for a little extra staying power and volume.

Have you tried these products? Or do you have any suggestions for your favorite hair, lip, or skincare products? 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. 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!