February 17, 2020 – “I’ll Be Back,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1984 (OOTD # 610)

Sciences Po winter break: day 3

I sure would like to go back. I spent about 1.5 days in Vienna, Austria, one of the longest stays in a single city during our trip, but I still didn’t get to see as much as I would’ve liked. For one, I never got around to the Schönbrunn Palace, which I’d really been hoping to see. We also never saw Salzburg, another city in Austria that is home to Mozart’s birthplace, which is still on my bucket list.

After spending a glorious night sleeping in real beds in Prague, we caught a bus onto our next destination, Vienna. Our bus left in the late morning, which allowed us to sleep in a little bit. The real luxury though was that we didn’t have to take a night bus, which meant we weren’t forced to try to get a full night’s sleep on a bumpy bus. It was still a long ride, but it was significantly less miserable than some of the previous ones.

The downside though to taking a daytime bus was that it ate into the time we were actually able to spend exploring during the day. We didn’t have time really to do anything in the morning in Prague, and by the time we got into Vienna, settled into our AirBnB, and did some grocery shopping, things were already beginning to shut down for the night.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

And that was my primary complaint about Vienna — there was nothing open past 5pm! If you’ve ever heard the Billy Joel song, “Vienna,” you’ll know it’s all about slowing down and not allowing yourself to get stressed out about work and life. I just thought he was using Vienna as a metaphor because the people there were laid-back. As it turns out, not only are the people of the city laid-back, but their entire city is too, because everything closes down at sunset apparently.

Apart from restaurants and bars, there really wasn’t anything to do on our first night in Vienna. We walked past the Museums District, peered into the darkened windows of some closed thrift shops, and admired the almost completely empty streets. You’ll notice I hardly even have any pictures from this day — there simply wasn’t anything to take pictures of at night. It’s possible we would have found more to do and see had we continued to walk towards the City Centre, but by then, we were tired and ready to head back in order to be well-rested for the following day.

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

Sweater: Vintage (thrifted, Street Scene Vintage)

Jeans: Hollister

Coat: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

February 16, 2020 – Czech It Off the List (OOTD #609)

Sciences Po winter break: day 2

I think Prague was honestly my favorite city that I visited during my week-long backpacking trip through Europe. And that’s saying something, seeing as there was some pretty stiff competition from cities like Venice and Budapest, which were also captivating in their own right.

I think perhaps part of the reason why I remember Prague so fondly (apart from its beautiful architecture and colorful rainbow buildings) is that it was the first night I got to sleep in a real bed after two nights of sleeping on buses. We did the whole night bus gig thing on purpose in order to save time and money, but it certainly took a toll, and by the time we hit Prague, we could really feel the fatigue setting in. I think I was holding up better than most of my friends, partially because I think I was able to sleep the most comfortably on the buses on account of being the smallest, and partially because I think I’m just a generally resilient person.

We arrived too early in the morning to check in to our AirBnB, so we started the day in the train station café for about an hour before calling what was possibly the cheapest Uber I’ve ever taken in my life to get to our apartment. From there, we freshened up, enjoyed the experience of laying in a real bed, and then headed out for another long day of walking.

The one thing I was absolutely certain I wanted to see in Prague was the famous John Lennon Wall. It was on our way to the Old Town Square plaza, which was the starting place of the walking tour we booked, so it ended up being one of the first things we saw.

I guess I was spoilt on the graffiti of the West Bank Border, which is huge and sprawling and stretches all along the checkpoint between Israel and Palestine, because I wasn’t hugely impressed by the John Lennon Wall. Apart from the portrait of John Lennon at the center, there weren’t really any other major works. I did think it was cool how contemporary and diverse the issues represented in the graffiti were though — in comparison to the West Bank Border graffiti, which really only covers the injustice in Palestine, the John Lennon Wall depicted political struggles all over the world. The most recent one I remembered seeing in February was the Free Hong Kong slogan. I wonder what has been added since I was there earlier this year.

Though the landscape of Toledo, Spain perhaps gives it some competition, I think Prague’s Old Town Square and Charles Bridge that leads to it was perhaps my favorite sight of the whole trip. I wish I had photos that did it justice, but I was honestly so in awe of it that I forgot to take pictures. What I’ve included here are actually some of my friend, Ebba’s, photos.

In Old Town Square, we saw the Prague Astronomical Clock, famous for being on the list of the top 3 most disappointing tourist sites in the world. Comment down below what you think the other two on the list might be. I’ll give you a hint — I’ve seen them and have even posted about them on this blog before!

While I generally hate tours for the way that a big group of people speaking different languages following a conspicuous leader carrying an umbrella or a flag immediately gives you away as a tourist, I will say, I appreciate actually getting to learn about the various buildings I see when I travel. I think if you can stomach the mild discomfort you feel when a local glares at your group for standing around and clogging traffic, it’s worth it. I’ve done them in Jerusalem and Bordeaux. If you’re a solo traveler (which in this case, I was not) they’re particularly valuable as a way to meet people and make friends.

Our last stop after our walking tour concluded was to cross the bridge and hike our way up to St. Vitus Cathedral. Because a trip to a European city wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a church, right?

Honestly, even more spectacular than the church itself was the view from the top of the hill where the church is located. And that’s quite a statement for me to make, as the St. Vitus Cathedral is perhaps the most spectacular church I’ve ever seen, at least from the outside — and that includes the Notre Dame (though perhaps it’s unfair to judge that one, as I saw it from behind a construction fence), the Sacré Coeur, St. Peter’s in Rome, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

That evening, we tried to go out to an ice bar, where the entire room is supposed to made of ice, but the ice room ended up being closed. We instead headed to a different cocktail bar, which was motorcycle themed, though that wasn’t really any of our styles. I enjoyed my martini though.

Finally, after a long day, we headed home and slept possibly as well as I ever have in my entire life in a foreign country in a bed that’s not my own.

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

Blouse: H&M

Turtleneck: FreePeople

Jeans: Hollister

Coat: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

February 15, 2020 – Frankfurt with a ‘U’ (OOTD #608)

Sciences Po winter break: day 1

Here it is: the first day on my whirlwind week-long backpacking trip though Europe.

I know “backpacking through Europe” normally refers to longer trips — weeks or even months — and it’s probably better that way. I would have loved to have months to travel, to actually get to spend more than 24 hours in each city I visited. But that sort of travel is expensive and time-consuming, and as a student, those are two adjectives that I can’t necessarily indulge in right now. One day, I’d love to go back and really live the nomadic lifestyle for a longer period of time. But for an only one-week winter holiday in the middle of a semester, I made the most of the time I had.

I hit seven countries in total in one week — Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, and Spain. In each country, my friends and I had between 12 and 48 hours. Our shortest stop was Slovenia, with just a half day, and the longest stop was Spain, which I visited on my own at the end to see my friend Emma for two days.

Up first on our agenda, though, was Frankfurt, Germany. Notice the spelling there — Frankfurt, not Frankfort. Once again, as was the case with Versailles, there’s a city in Kentucky with a similar name to a much more famous European city. In this instance, though, the pronunciation is the same but the spelling is different.

I’ve been to Germany only once before, and that was on a day trip to kill time during a long layover. That time, I visited Munich, in what was my first visit to mainland Europe ever. I was there for Christmas Eve in what is possibly the most famous city for Christmas festivities (save, I suppose, for Bethlehem — which I’ve also visited — and the North Pole — which I have not).

This visit to Frankfurt was also very short. My friends and I — Megan, Margo, Ebba, and Garrett — all arrived via night bus from Paris in the morning, and we departed by evening for a night bus trip to our next destination. All in all, that probably means I’ve only ever spent 24 hours max in Germany in my entire life.

Frankfurt really only has one small part of town, Römerberg that looks like “traditional” Germany, with a big church and quaint little houses that look like they’re made of gingerbread and come out of a storybook. The rest of it looks like a modern city, with big skyscrapers and glass buildings. For my friends and, as tourists, this made it perhaps the least interesting city to visit. If I were a young German professional looking for a place to settle, though, I can absolutely see the appeal.

After taking photos in Römerberg (which was practically empty and devoid of tourists, since we were there at 9AM on a Saturday morning in the middle of winter), we stopped for breakfast before making our way across the famous Eiserner Steg footbridge that’s covered with love locks. I know that basically every European city has that — a bridge that’s covered in locks for couples to figuratively represent their love by placing a lock on a beam and then throwing away the key, essentially the European equivalent of carving your names in a heart on a tree — but I think they’re cute anyway.

In the afternoon, we checked out a thrift shop where I almost bought a beautiful dress (only regretfully putting it away because it was slightly big), a food market, and a botanical garden. Then, we tried to visit the roof of one of the tall skyscrapers in order to get a panoramic view of the city from above, but we were disappointed to discover that the line was too long to make it worth it.

But that was okay because we were hungry and exhausted from walking all day (and from having slept on a night bus — a common theme you will find through all of these retrospectives), and so we decided to get some dinner. After trying one tavern that had good reviews online only to find that it was full, we picked one across the seat and ate a meal of sausages, spaetzle, and beer.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

After dinner, we were off to the station to catch our next night bus to Prague. Though a bus is certainly not the ideal way to sleep, I think we were all so exhausted that we crashed almost immediately once we sat down in our seats.

As a final note: here’s the link to the Spotify playlist I created for the whole trip. There are songs meant to represent each country we visited. Give it a listen!

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

Top: Express

Trousers: Express

Coat: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

February 8, 2020 – La Campagne de Champagne (OOTD #607)

For my non-French speaking readers, the title here means “champagne country” — of course, “champagne” is a pretty obvious direct translation, but “campagne,” which means “country” or “countryside,” is less so. They rhyme, which is fun — making them a good combination for a fun blog title.

Once again, I have a blog that features a short day trip that I took over the weekend to get away from Paris. I promise, I’ll get back to Paris soon — though it may take several more posts. Up next is my week-long “ski holiday” from school, and I’ve got seven countries worth of photos to talk about before I work my way back around to home base.

This time, the second weekend after classes began, my friends and I visited Reims, a small town a short bus ride outside of Paris in the middle of Champagne country. I actually didn’t really want to go at first — I was feeling really under the weather, and I knew everyone would wan to go on a champagne tour, and I had pretty much completely lost my sense of taste and smell from congestion.

Or at least, I thought it was just the congestion at the time — but looking back at February 2020 from my perspective writing now in December 2020, I’m not convinced I didn’t actually have COVID. Back then, COVID was just a distant news story from China. It had barely touched Europe, or at least it wouldn’t in any kind of substantial capacity for at least another few weeks, and I’m not even sure we’d recorded our first case yet in the US. I had a stuffy nose and a cough and a headache, but at the time, there was no reason for me to believe it was anything outside of a regular cold that came from traveling to a new country and being exposed to new germs. Simpler times, I suppose.

Whether it was COVID or not, I guess I’ll never know. I did decide to travel to Reims anyway, despite feeling a little ill (not something I would ever do now!) because I didn’t want to miss out on a group bonding trip. I’d enjoyed our trip to Bordeaux quite a bit, though I thought the group was slightly too big. The cohort for Reims was a little smaller and more intimate — perfect for traveling. There were enough of us that you always had someone to talk to, but small enough that it wasn’t like pulling teeth to make a decision or dragging our feet hauling a massive crowd around.

We’d had the pleasure in Bordeaux of being able to take a guided walking tour in the morning before our wine tour, but there was no such thing in Reims. Instead, one of our friends, Liam, who’d done an exchange in Reims when he was in high school, took us around to the major sights. We saw a church (also called Notre Dame, interestingly), a castle museum, and stopped in a bakery for croissants — typical European city tourist things.

In the afternoon, we went on a champagne tour, the main attraction of Reims. Unfortunately, I still didn’t have my full sense of taste and smell, so I wasn’t able to enjoy the actual tasting quite as much as I would have liked. I’m no connoisseur of drinks though, so I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made. All champagne kind of tastes the same to me.

Don’t tell the people of Reims I said that, though. Their city really was lovely — It wasn’t crawling with tourists, unlike Paris or even, to a lesser extent, Bordeaux. Reims reminded me in many ways of Vichy, another small-ish town that I’d visited back at the start of 2019. That feels so long ago now.

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

Sweater: Thrifted (Free’p’star Paris)

Jacket: Thrifted (Free’p’star Paris)

Skirt: Abercrombie

February 3, 2020 – A Hill to Die On (OOTD #606)

Montmartre rivals the Great Wall of China I think in the amount of steps I had to climb at a tourist spot.

Well, actually, come to think of it, there was a temple in Nepal that was supposedly 1000 steps to the top that I tried to climb, but it ended up getting dark before we made it up more than a few hundred. To be honest, I’m not sure I could’ve made it up all 1000, so I was grateful for the sunset giving me a valid excuse to bow out from the hike.

This was actually the second time I visited Montmartre within my first week or two in Paris — the first time, though, it was dark and I was there with my Welcome Programme group to visit a bar. I didn’t even bother trying to see Sacré Coeur, the grand church atop the hill, because I figured there wasn’t anything to see in the night.

The second time, though, I visited in the day — a much more appropriate time to visit, in my opinion. For one, you’re at much less risk of tripping and twisting your ankle as you climb up the steps. And secondly, you can actually see the beautiful surrounding neighborhood.

I wouldn’t call Montmartre the most spectacular view of Paris, as you can’t clearly see the Eiffel Tower, which is, of course, the most famous landmark of the Parisian skyline. Unfortunately, however, since my time in Paris was cut short due to COVID and I wasn’t able to make it to all of the tourist spots I’d wanted to visit (including the top of the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower, where some of the best skyline views of the city can supposedly be had), Montmartre ended up being the only skyline view I got.

More impressive than the skyline view (or the Sacré Coeur Basilica, in my opinion — Sacré Coeur seemed to be more spectacular from the outside than I think it really was inside), was the cute little artist community that the neighborhood is known for. People talk about the Montmartre area of Paris for its small town feel in the middle of a big city, and I think that description is deserved.

I wouldn’t call Paris a “hustle and bustle” kind of a city — not like New York — but it certainly can be overwhelming at times. It can be crowded and dirty in places and full of tourists. That was what I liked best probably about my short visit to Bordeaux the previous weekend — that I was away from the business of the city. While Montmartre was certainly still busy and full of tourists (what a world pre-COVID times were), it still felt a little more charming and cozy than downtown Paris. Paris is beautiful and elegant and glamorous — but “cozy” it really is not, save for a few places like Montmartre.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life during my semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Amazon

Jacket: Thrifted (Free’p’star Paris)

Skirt: Forever21

February 1, 2020 – Never Bored in Bordeaux (OOTD #605)

I took my first short day trip outside of Paris the weekend after classes began.

View this post on Instagram

wait, this isn’t a bourbon distillery

A post shared by Meilin Scanish (@meilin_scanish) on

Normally, I wouldn’t opt to do a ton of traveling right after I’d arrived in a new city (remember — I’d arrived in Paris just two weeks prior), but my Welcome Programme friends wanted to travel, and I wanted to make sure I kept up my ties with them. The first few weeks in a new location/school are a critical period — I don’t normally adhere to a FOMO (fear of missing out) mindset,  but when I’m trying to make and keep new friends, I find it’s often best to take people up on as many invitations as possible.

Sometimes though, that can be exhausting. In the case of this Bordeaux trip, it meant getting on a night bus at 10pm on a Friday night after I’d just finished the first week of classes so that I could arrive at 6am Saturday morning in Bordeaux. This was my first experience traveling via night bus — and not my last. Keep that in mind for later.

View this post on Instagram

place de quoi?

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

The morning in Bordeaux was spent walking around the actual city center with a free walking tour (interestingly, I believe it was with the same walking tours group as I took a tour with in Jerusalem? Small world). My friends and I got lunch at an Italian pizza place in the afternoon, and then we hopped on a bus for a winery tour — the actual main attraction of Bordeaux.

View this post on Instagram

sip, sip, hooray

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

I’ve gone on many bourbon distillery tours in my life, but I believe this was only second time (the first one being in Frascati, just outside of Rome) at a winery. I’ll be honest — I’m not super interested in the actual process of manufacturing or bottling wine. I’m mostly just there for the free tasting at the end and the pretty locations for photos. That I will say winery tours seem to be better at than distillery tours — the pretty locations for photo-taking. French châteaux in the countryside are admittedly a little more romantic than what Kentucky has to offer.

View this post on Instagram

never bored in bordeaux

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

In the evening, we left Bordeaux via the fast train, so at least we didn’t have another 12 hour bus ride to top off an already exhausting day. I made it back to my apartment in Paris before the last Metro on Ligne 4 left for Porte d’Orléans at 10pm.

View this post on Instagram

in my element 🌱

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

I didn’t get a ton of work done that day, but since it was the very beginning of the year, there wasn’t much to do anyway. As they say, “less study, more abroad.”

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 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: Free’p’star Paris (thrifted)

Sweater: H&M

Blouse: H&M

Skirt: Pitaya

Sunday Musings – January 2020 Bullet Journal Spread

Ah yes, of course, the most relevant time to be writing about my January bullet journal spread — mid-August.

I’ve vacillated a bit on what to do with my bullet journal posts on this blog — if I should post them more in line with the actual time of year they correspond to, or if I should post them at the same time as my OOTD posts from that month go up — ultimately, I’ve opted for the latter. Hence, this post going up at the same time as my January 2020 OOTD posts, despite the publication date now being August 2020. It’s not ideal, but it’s what I’m going to work with until I get caught up again in my blogs.

January 2020’s theme was an idyllic French kitchen. I drew it up before I left for Paris, so unfortunately, it does not match the actual kitchen I had in my Parisian apartment (though they honestly share the same aesthetic).

I had originally wanted the theme of January 2020’s bullet journal to be Paris in general (think drawings of the Eiffel Tower, cafés, les Champs-Elysées, etc.), but I decided to go with something a little less “on the nose.” I figured that I’d probably get enough of Paris in my daily life; maybe I didn’t need it to feature so prominently in my stationery as well.

I was also afraid to make my bullet journal theme Paris before I’d even arrived in the city in case I didn’t like it after all. That fear, of course, ended up being unwarranted — Paris was a lovely city, and though it took me a little bit to warm up to (as do most places in the world), I was getting to be fairly comfortable in it by the end of January, after I’d been there for about two weeks.

There’s also the chance my opinion is a little tinted by nostalgia now, seven months later, because I miss Paris so much. Looking back at my bullet journal from January literally feels like a lifetime ago. Even though now, as of writing this post, I’m back at Notre Dame again and life feels like it’s slowly picking up the pace into a steady rhythm after several months of semi-isolation at home, it still seems so foreign to me and look at my January calendar spread and see all the trips and meetings I had planned. Pre-COVID Meilin really was .

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 in Paris. 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!

Bullet Journal Supplies (with Amazon links)

Bullet journal: The Scribbles that Matter Pro, A5, 

Pens: Pilot Frixion 

Markers: Prismacolor Brush Tip  and Copic Brush Tip

January 28, 2020 – Shakespeare in Love (OOTD #604)

Wait, this isn’t a restaurant chain in Lexington, KY.

View this post on Instagram

peare and compan

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

For context, there are some restaurants in my hometown called “Shakespeare and Co.” that serve cute brunch foods. Apparently, they have really good vegan options, so when my vegan friends come to town, I often go.

The real Shakespeare and Co., however, is an old bookshop in Paris. I’m not actually sure where I heard of it first — was it my freshman English class? Was it  one of the various French movies I watched for extra credit but never really understood? It’s just one of those things that I know I know, but I don’t know how I know — you know?

On Tuesday, the last day before classes began, my new friend, Hannah, and I decided to do some shopping, with the specific intent of visiting some thrift stores. We’d heard it alluded to by our Welcome Programme leader, and Hannah had actually visited it before, but I hadn’t yet made it there. It sounded like heaven to me — an entire section of town devoted to vintage and thrift shops? Sounds like my cup of tea.

Of all of the neighborhoods in Paris, I think I visited Le Marais the most frequently, after my own neighborhood and the neighborhood Sciences Po is in.  Le Marais is the proverbial *bohemianpart of town, akin to Shoreditch in London or Wicker Park in Chicago. It’s home to a thriving gay community, arts community, and of course, lots of wonderful vintage shops.

My favorite was Free’p’star. No, I don’t know why it’s called that. All I know is that it was an amazing store — I don’t like the phrase “happy place,” but that’s probably what I would call it.

There were actually two Free’p’stars right across the street from each other — again, don’t know why. They both had similar stocks — not that that means anything, when I’m pretty sure they sold just about any kind of clothing imaginable. I can’t say they had a very consistent theme, beyond “used French clothes.”

But the thing about “used French clothes” is that they’re much nicer than used American clothes — much nicer than what you’d find at a Goodwill. French people, especially Parisian French people, are a fashionable bunch. When they get rid of clothes, what they get rid of is still pretty nice.

The best part of Free’p’star was the massive 1 euro bargain bin at the back of the store. Everything in the bin was 1 euro — no lie.

You’d often have to fight a crowd just to stand at the bargain bin and sift through its treasures. As soon as someone moved in position slightly, you had to be prepared to elbow your way in — and if you were standing at the bin already, you had to be prepared for someone to sneak next to you as soon as you shifted your feet. It was competitive — people would start stacks to get clothes out of their way as they hunted, and someone else would come along behind them and start shifting through the other person’s stack of refuse, creating their own stack in the process.

But there was some really nice stuff to be found, if you were willing to do some treasure hunting. As it turns out, that’s exactly my kind of thing. My mother, on the other hand, who hates the disorganized nature of even a store like TJ Maxx, would have taken one look inside Free’p’star and turned around and walked out.

After Le Marais, Hannah and I visited the famous Shakespeare and Co. across the river. There were signs requesting that tourists not take pictures inside, which I mostly heeded. I did get plenty of pictures outside though.

To my surprise, Shakespeare and Co., sold almost exclusively English language books. I’m not sure what I expected out of a bookstore named for the most famous English writer in history, but I was hoping for a chance to check out some French books. That was why I was in Paris, after all — to learn French.

Thankfully, Gibert Jaune in the Latin Quarter was able to scratch that itch. There were several Gibert Jaune storefronts at the same intersection, so it took Hannah and I a moment to figure out which store was best for us, as each store was devoted to a different genre of books. After wandering around aimlessly in the nonfiction store and then the science fiction/fantasy store, we finally came across the discount books store.

I picked up copies of L’étranger by Albert Camus and Vol au-dessus d’un nid du coucou by Ken Kesey, a French translation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I figured I needed something other than Harry Potter et le prisonnier d’Azkaban to read on the Metro on my way to school in order to look like an authentic Parisian.

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: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Dress: Francesca’s

January 27, 2020 – I’m in Louvre (OOTD #603)

Yeah, the Louvre was pretty cool. It was so cool I don’t even have any jokes to make about it, beyond the pun-based title of this blog.

As I’ve mentioned in my last few blogs, I had quite a lot of time to kill in between my arrival in France and my actual first day of classes. It was around two weeks, actually. About one of those two weeks was devoted to the surprisingly not awful Welcome Programme, and the remaining days I spent exploring my new city.

By some dumb luck, I didn’t start classes until Wednesday the first week of school. My Mondays were clear anyway (though they didn’t remain clear — more on that scheduling nightmare in a later blog), and my Tuesday class got cancelled. That left me with half the week to try to keep myself distracted from the anxiety of starting new school in a whole different country.

Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard. Owing to the absolutely exhausting job of making as many friends as possible during the Welcome Programme, I was invited to spend the afternoon with two students from Boston University after they finished up their morning classes. I gratefully accepted — not only is it always really nice to be included in people’s plans, but it also gave me something to do so I didn’t make myself sick from nerves in anticipation of my first classes.

We actually didn’t even intend to go to the Louvre — in fact, we had planned on going to one of the other super famous French museums, the musée d’Orsay. We’d all gotten to visit the musée d’Orsay very briefly during the Welcome Programme, but it was just a rushed hour-long guided tour, and I think we were able eager to go back and set a more leisurely pace. In fact, I have no pictures from that first visit at all because of how fast it went by.

However, the musée d’Orsay was closed that rainy Monday afternoon, and in wracking our brains for other famous indoor Parisian sites we knew of that we could visit on a Monday, we naturally settled upon the Louvre.

I say “settled” as if it was some great disappointment to visit the Louvre over the d’Orsay. Far from it.

There are some tourist sites that don’t live up to the hype — in fact, I’d say that a lot of famous tourist sites don’t live up to the hype. The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is kinda lame. Big Ben in London has never not been completely obscured my construction every time I’ve visited. The Washington Monument in DC is kind of neat from a distance when it pierces the skyline but up close it’s really just a big stick.

The Louvre is awesome. Even if you don’t like art, I think the Louvre is awesome. It was the old palace of the Bourbon family, when the king for wanted to be in Paris to be more connected to political affairs rather than hidden away in his Versailles estate. Even if you think the old paintings are dusty and dull, just wandering the old palace is entertainment enough. I’d liken it to the Vatican Museums in Rome — yeah, the art is neat if you’re into that sort of thing (and I am!) but there’s a lot more to take in as well.

But yes — everything you’ve heard about the Mona Lisa is true. It’s tiny. The room that it’s in is crowded with people (and you have to remember — I was there on a rainy Monday afternoon. In January. In the middle of a massive city-wide transportation strike. It was hardly peak season, and that room was still jam packed. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the summer). As a painting, it’s underwhelming to put it kindly.

My personal favorite work in the gallery was Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberté guidant le peuple,” or “Liberty Leading the People.” For a long time, I wanted a print of it to hang in my bathroom, owing to the fact that it was used for the cover of my favorite Coldplay Album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. During that time, I also had a pretty intense Les Misérables phase — and so anything French Revolution-themed seemed col to me.

This was my one and only time I got to visit the Louvre. Like the Eiffel Tower, like Versailles, like the musée d’Orsay — I thought I’d go back. It was a given, in my mind: how on earth could I spend four months in Paris and not go back to the Louvre to explore it more thoroughly? As a student of the EU, I even got free admission! It’s the Louvre, arguably the most famous art museum in the world. Of course I’d be back.

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!

Sweater: Forever21

Blouse: Banana Republic

Scarf: My Aunt Denise

Trousers: Altar’d State

January 25, 2020 – Bus Tour de France (OOTD #602)

I really wouldn’t say that a tour bus is the best way to experience Paris.

View this post on Instagram

i just can’t place it

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

I almost didn’t even go because even before I took the bus tour, I was pretty certain that it wasn’t the sort of thing for me. I was also absolutely exhausted from the night before — Friday had been the last day of the Welcome Programme (well, technically, the bus tour was the final event, but it was optional), and I was out late the previous evening at a club.

What ultimately convinced me to go was that I figured that, as a bus tour, I could sit there and look out the window most of the time. I love long train rides, and I thought, if nothing else, a bus tour of Paris would allow me to see some of the tourist sites without moving my feet. I just needed a big sun hat and plastic sunglasses and I could be a proper Asian tourist lady.

What I didn’t count on with this tour, though, was that the bus was mostly just a vessel for us to get from site to site — from there, there was actually quite a bit of walking. It was hardly a hike — honestly, I walked more on my first day in Paris and in Versailles — but I think when combined with how tired I was from the previous day (and the whole week in general), it ended up being a lot.

My social battery was also running out. I’m truly still shocked that I managed to be so extroverted during the whole of Welcome Weekend. I went to almost event, I accepted every invitation, I made an effort to be friendly and outgoing even after I was semi-comfortable in my established group of friends. I don’t normally subscribe to fomo — that is, the “fear of missing out” — but this time, I did.

And I’m glad I did. Though by the end of the week, that bus tour (followed by going to a café with friends later in the afternoon, and then going to a friend’s apartment after that, and then to dinner that night with even more friends) was absolutely draining, I think it was necessary. Compared to my semester in Washington DC, where I ended up regretting turning down a few early invitations because it meant it took me a bit longer to establish a group of friends, I started the semester in Paris with a pretty strong group. I mean, I’m sure there was also luck involved — sometimes, groups just don’t clique and there’s nothing you can do about it — but, given how my time in Paris was ultimately cut short, I’m so grateful that I spent as much time as I could early on with such a great group of people.

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: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Pitaya