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.

View this post on Instagram

little town, such a quiet village

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

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.

 

January 1, 2019 – Dear Axel (OOTD #433)

I hope Axel doesn’t read this.

Alright, so after my exhausting New Year’s Eve party experience, I slept in until about noon on January 1. Classes were canceled, and so there was nothing in particular that I had to do that day. I took lunch with my host family and their daughter, and we chatted about what Kentucky was famous for. Turns out, they were familiar with KFC and bluegrass music — which I guess, while not my favorite, aren’t the absolute worst things for Europeans to know you state by.

After our two hour meal, I excused myself (for some reason, they wouldn’t leave the table until I said something about needing to go — which was a little annoying, because I was afraid I was somehow forcing them to clean up before they really wanted to). I told them I was going to go for a walk, which was absolutely true.

View this post on Instagram

bonjour 👋

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

What I left out was that I was going for a walk to meet up with some guy from around town whom I matched with on Tinder.

Alright, so here’s the point where I hope Axel doesn’t read this — I wasn’t necessarily looking for anything romantically in him, and I don’t know if he was hoping that I was. I just wanted someone to show me around town, and in his bio, he mentioned that he was really good at English. I’d been speaking French almost nonstop for three days, and the opportunity to hold a conversation in my native tongue seemed relaxing.

So I met up with Axel, who was a bit awkward, but an overall harmless dude. I asked him to show me around, which was a little hard since it seemed like everything was closed for the holiday. But overall, he was a pretty easy guy to talk to — I definitely dominated the conversation, perhaps because I was better at English and perhaps because I was just overall the less awkward of the two of us.

Of the two or three Tinder dates I’ve ever been on, I don’t think I’d rank it much higher or lower than any of the others. I mean, the fact that it was in France made it pretty cool — that was definitely a much more interesting location than the time I got coffee with someone in the Subway of the Student Center.

What was unfortunate, however, was that after Axel and I parted ways, I somehow lost my glasses. Somehow, in between taking those first pictures at the school at this last picture in the park, my glasses disappeared. My first guess is that they just fell out of my pocket at some point was we were walking along, meaning that there’s no chance that I’m going to get them back.

My second guess, though, is that Axel stole them. Why would my Tinder date steal my glasses? I don’t know. But Axel, if you happen to read this — which I kind of hope you don’t — I’d really like my glasses back s’il te plaît. Je dois voir, et il n’est pas probable que nous nous reverrons déja. Tu peux rendre mes lunettes maintenant. 

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: Hollister

Top: Thrifted (flea market)

Turtleneck: Free People

Pants: Banana Republic

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 28, 2018 – Group Tours (OOTD #430)

Traveling in a large group is hard.img_1340

Over my last several experiences traveling, I’ve come to the conclusion that the more people you’re with, the more complicated it gets. Trying to coordinate schedules, preferences, budgets: it’s all so much, and in the end, passive aggressive arguments and frustrations always break out.

img_1359

 

Being alone is also not ideal either, though — who are you going to get to take your photos? The best travel situation has to be just one other partner.And so for today’s Doha adventures, I gave up on trying to hang out with the group if it didn’t suit me. The previous few days, I had been trying so hard to hang out with as many people as possible, to give everyone my attention who wanted it. But that was exhausting, and in the end, I wasn’t having as much fun as I think I could have been. So I decided to go off and do what I wanted, and if people decided to join me, then I wasn’t going to stop them.

View this post on Instagram

small person, large city

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

Our first stop was the Corniche, which I had seen lit up at night the previous day. I was expecting to be uninterested, as I had already seen it before, but seeing it in the day time really made a difference. Nighttime, with the bright colorful lights, was a little cooler, but I have to say that daytime was a spectacular sight as well — it looked like something out of a futuristic sci-fi film. Plus, I got some cool photos, which is usually my measure for if I  had a good time at a tourist site.

img_1347

State Grand Mosque was next. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get to go in. We, the American students, were supposed to have been allowed in — but, without hair coverings, the woman at security wouldn’t allow us in as non-Muslims. Instead, we sat outside with a few other Muslim women who decided to keep us company, either in solidarity or disinterest in going in to pray.

View this post on Instagram

let’s talk mosques

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

After that slight disappointment, we moved on to a collection of museums. I don’t really have any photos from here, since in my opinion, there wasn’t much to photograph. One of the museums we saw, the slavery museum, was actually quite fascinating and very well done, but it wasn’t a place for fashion pics, you know?

Then, we went back to the Souq Waqif marketplace for shopping and dinner, making it my third time in three days that I had been there. By now, the Souq’s uniqueness had worn off, and its twisting alleyways and street vendors were no longer novel to me. I devoted myself to a single task — finding a scarf to buy — and avoided distractions as much as possible. With only an hour before we had to meet for dinner, I had to stay focused, or else risk leaving Qatar having withdrawn $40 in Qatari Riyals and having spent none.

The last stop for the night was the Corniche once again, so that those who hadn’t seen it lit up at night before could see it for the first time. For me, having seen the Corniche three times now (once in the day and now twice at night), I was basically a seasoned Dohan (Dohian? Doher?) local. The skyscrapers, with their bright pink and orange and  purple lights, still left me in awe.

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: Forever21

Dress: American Eagle

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 26, 2018 – Sand Dunes in the Dark (OOTD #428)

I’m gonna skip ahead to the part of the day where I wound up on a camel.

View this post on Instagram

made a friend

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

Okay, I’ll give a little context: after day two of the conference, I was getting ready to go on a tour of Education City with the other ND kids. It wasn’t something I necessarily really wanted to do, but I had no other plans. Our hotel was in the middle of nowhere in the desert, so getting around was a little difficult unless you were in a group. There was a group going to do something, and since I like doing things, I thought I’d tag along.

But as we were leaving the university to go on our tour, I caught wind of another plan, one that seemed a lot more exciting. A group of Indian and Pakistani students were planning on going to seeing Qatar’s sand dunes, but they needed one more person in order to secure a certain price point for the tour group. They asked me, and, despite hardly knowing the plans and hardly knowing some of people (I’d met them before in Nepal, but I only knew one or two of them well), I figured it would be more fun than seeing some school buildings with Americans who I’ll get to see back at ND whenever I want.

So without knowing where I was going or what I was doing other than the very vague plan of “see the sand dunes,” I hopped in a Jeep with a random Saudi Arabian driver and five other people who decided they’d rather speak in Urdu than English.

The car ride took about an hour, and for the whole hour, there were very few English words spoken. That’s not because these people couldn’t speak English — I know for a fact that their English is very good because I’ve had good conversations with many of them before — but they just preferred Urdu. I mean…they had no obligation to speak English just because I was there. But it was kind of awkward sitting there for an hour, hardly able to participate in the conversation — though that’s normally what happens when I go to parties, so I guess it wasn’t that unique of a situation.

View this post on Instagram

just deserts

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

After an hour in the car, the Saudi Arabian driver took us to a little camp site in the middle of the desert and kicked us out. I was still a little confused about what was going on, owing to the whole not speaking Urdu thing, and the fact that the camp site had camels was not helping me to understand things better. All I knew was that I was going to see the sand dunes; camels were not a part of my expectations.

View this post on Instagram

desert sunsets 🐪

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

But I have nothing against camels — I’ve only ever seen them at zoos, but they seem like cool animals. Given the chance to ride one, I would do it. And that’s what I did.

It’s a shame it was so dark by the time we went because in all of my photos, I kind of look like an amorphous ghostly blob of flash. Sometimes photos taken with flash look cool because they make you look adventurous and fun, but that’s not so much the case when your photographer is sitting on a bumpy camel and so all of your photos turn out blurry. I don’t know, maybe it gives it a grungy dark teenager aesthetic?

I wish I could tell you my camel ride was magical and exotic, but really, it was a little boring. We basically went in a circle in a small lit area and took pictures.

View this post on Instagram

a bad photo but a good time

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

What was magical and exotic, though, was our drive through the sand dunes afterwards. I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know what people were saying. I didn’t know if our driver was licensed, or if he was following a particular path through the dunes, or if he was going to drive us into the desert and put bullets through all of our heads. I had no data by the time we made it out into the middle of nowhere, and no means of communicating with the world if I got lost or kidnapped. In hindsight, maybe I should have been a little more more cautious, but the risk was what made it exciting and adventurous.

After driving around for a while, our driver stopped and kicked us out again. Some of my friends pulled out…some substance to smoke (that’s not a euphemism, I really don’t know what it was — they offered to let me join, but they would only tell me it was “an Indian speciality,” and in a brief moment of prudence, I figured maybe I shouldn’t get stoned in the Middle Eastern desert), and a few of us decided to go for a walk down to the water.

In my limited knowledge of deserts, I don’t think water is something they’re used to have. I’m pretty sure the lack of water is kind of how deserts are defined. But somehow, I wound up walking down a giant hill of sand with my stoned friends behind me towards a lake (?) in the Qatari desert. Like I said, it was a weird experience.

Perhaps the stupidest thing I did this whole night was walking around the desert with no flashlight, no sense of direction, and no idea what I was doing. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that I could get lost and die of dehydration out there in the Qatari desert. But apparently, that voice wasn’t very loud because by the time I realized that what I was doing was stupid, I was already too far away from the car to see it. Of course, the Saudi Arabian driver couldn’t be bothered to turn on his lights so we could find where he parked, so our group was literally just wandering around the desert in the dark. Not to mention of course, that half of our group had just smoked “an Indian speciality.”

As you can tell, though, I’m here writing this blog now, so I didn’t die. We made it back to the car safely (the white of the Saudi Arabian driver’s Jeep was just barely visible in the darkness), and he drove us back to civilization without murdering us.

View this post on Instagram

see ya 2018, t’was fun

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

This blog is going on way too long and I’m tired of writing so I won’t keep going, but the night didn’t end there. No, of course not — after our desert exploits, we had to hit the town and get dinner in the busiest part of the city. And of course, we had to wander around for an hour before we could pick a place to eat. And then we had to sit there and chat for an hour in Urdu — regardless of the fact there was a confused, jet-lagged American girl with wet sand in her shoes sitting there, just wanting to go home and sleep.

We made it back to the hotel, but not until 11PM. I guess that’s not super late, but after being jet-lagged, waking up at 6:00AM so I could sit in class all day to listen to discussions about Islamic theology, and then hiking around the desert for hours, I was pretty exhausted.

Anyway, that’s my Qatari desert adventure story. Hope you had fun reading it — I sure had fun living it.

October 27, 2018 – An Apple A Day (OOTD #398)

I have done so many apple-related things within the last month, I might as well just get myself a sponsorship from Apple.

That’s how it works, right? Apple sponsors people who like apples. I’ll take my brand new Macbook anytime now, thanks.

If you’ll remember, last year, I went out apple-picking with my dorm. The whole blog, I complained about how hot it was, and how the heat prevented me from fully enjoying myself. A trip to the apple orchard is supposed to be a nice way to go out and experience the fall weather, you know? If it’s 90 degrees out, it’s hard to experience fall weather.

Thankfully though, this year’s dorm trip to the apple orchard was much cooler and more fall-like. We went later in the year — late October versus late September — which meant the weather was so much nicer, but there were also fewer apples to pick. It was okay though. I don’t need apples. I just needed an enjoyable fall outing.

And this year’s trip was, thanks in part to the fact that I have more friends this year than I did at this time last. Last September, I remember I was still in the awkward phrase of trying to figure out who my friends were. I’d made some acquaintances, but I hadn’t really gotten close tot anyone. This year, I’ve kind-of found myself a stable friend group within my dorm and so I had them to hang out with during our trip. That always makes things more fun.

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: Forever21

Sweater: Notre Dame bookstore

Boots: L.L. Bean

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.

View this post on Instagram

toes? don’t need ‘em

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

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 18, 2018 – Autumnal (OOTD #394)

And here comes my annual Boyd Orchard trip blog.

Every year, my dad and I go out to this particular farm in Central KY to pick pumpkins and do stereotypical American fall things. It’s always a great opportunity for photos — in part, because the location lends itself well to a fall Instagram aesthetic, and in part, because my dad’s there, and he always takes great photos.

This year, we also got my mother and dog to come along! It was a true family outing. The only member of the gang missing was my cat, Mushu.

(That’s my mother’s hand in the photo)

These photos turned out even better than last year’s, in my opinion. Last year, I got some good pictures, but my hair was the worst looking that I think it’s ever been. It was right before I decided to cut it and dye it grey (for the first time), and it was in a truly sorry state. A year and a half of bleaching it blonde did not leave my ends very intact-looking.

View this post on Instagram

i’ve been spotted

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

This year, I was smart enough to get my fall break haircut in before I went out for my orchard adventure. Check out those intact hair strands.

We didn’t end up picking any pumpkins this time because we didn’t think we’d get the time to carve them, but we did get plenty of apples. We also did the hayride, got apple cider, caramel apples, took photos in the pumpkin patch (even if there were none left to pick) — all of the fall things.

View this post on Instagram

you’re the 🍎 of my 👁

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

It’s little outings like this that I really miss when I’m stuck at school. I miss the outside world, even if it’s just a farm with some produce. Notre Dame is a great little compact world, but campus feels small without pumpkins or apple trees. All we’ve got are sycamores and oaks and the occasional ginkgo. Shoutout to my botany class for teaching me that.

View this post on Instagram

some quality fall moodboard content

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

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: Forever21

Sweater:thrifted

Pants: The LOFT

September 9, 2018 – Travel Travesty (OOTD #370)

For part one of my September Chicago adventures, click here.

Previously, on L’ensemble du jour: Amanda and I went into Chicago to see a Fall Out Boy concert, and it was a pretty good day. We didn’t get lost, didn’t encounter any horrific traffic, and we got to see all tourist-y spots we wanted to. As travels go, it was about as struggle-free as an adventure could be.

So the next day, we woke up at our AirBnB and prepared to depart. We were on a slight time crunch, as I had a mandatory attendance class (plant class, actually, which I discuss here) that met at 1:00PM, and I needed to be back for it. So by 9:30AM, we were all set to go. We left the keys on the coffee table, and walked out to the car.

This, of course, is where everything fell apart.

First, the car door wouldn’t open. Upon examining the key fob, we came to the conclusion that it must be out of battery, and thus, it wouldn’t open the electronic lock. Okay, whatever, we’d just take out the physical key and start the car that way, right? Engineers plan for these sorts of emergencies; there’s no way a dead car key battery should stop a person from starting a car.

Well, apparently, the engineers of the Toyota Prius did not plan for this sort of emergency. The physical key let us open the door and get inside, but it would not allow us to start the car. After frantically consulting Google, the manual, and Amanda’s parents (multiple times), we realized that the only solution would be to get a new battery for the key.

Fine. So we walk down to the nearest convenience store, buy the battery and some screwdrivers, and scuttle back to the Prius. By now, we’ve wasted over an hour, and I’m wondering whether I could actually make my plant class. But optimistically, I figured the new car key battery would work, and that we’d be fine. It’d be a little tight, and we wouldn’t be able to get breakfast on our way home like we’d hoped, but at least I’d make it back on time.

Except, of course, the new battery did not solve our problems. The only new development after we replaced the battery was that now, instead of dead silence when we tried to start the car, the dreaded “check engine” light dinged on.

With few options left, Amanda decided to try calling a mechanic to jump the car. We had to wait an hour for him to come (during which time I took these photos in the neighborhood), but finally, like the Messiah, he came to deliver us from our suffering. For whatever reason, jumping the car worked, and while neither Amanda nor I could think of a reason why the car battery had died, or what that had to do with the dead key fob, neither of us really cared. Crossing our fingers that the car wouldn’t decide to die again while we were on the highway, we sped off back to Notre Dame.

By the time I got back to campus, I had never before been so glad to see the stupid Golden Dome and the Jesus statue on God Quad. I missed my botany class, but after frantically emailing my professor, she agreed to let me make up the class. In celebration, I took these photos on God Quad, just to prove that I made it back.

In conclusion, if you have uncharacteristically good luck for part of your travels, don’t expect to have the same good luck for the rest of it. In fact, expect to have bad luck — life likes to balance itself out that way. Like the time I got first class on my flight to London and then got trapped in Atlanta for two days on my flight home, no adventure is complete without a mild disaster. That’s what makes it an adventure.

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!

Jacket: thrifted

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Forever21