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.

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live laugh louvre

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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.

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who is that girl i see 🎶

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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.img_3338

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.img_3341

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 23, 2020 – L’Assemblée du jour (OOTD #600)

(Unrelated to the rest of this post: this is my 600th OOTD blog! I can’t even believe that. Thanks to everyone who’s read my stories over the last four years — it really means a lot).

I’m really proud of this blog title: L’Assemblée du jour. Because…I’m standing in front of l’Assemblée nationale. And because…my blog is called L’ensemble du jour. I thought I was clever.

I mentioned this briefly in my last blog, but before the start of classes at Sciences Po, I participated in a Welcome Programme for international exchange students. I was initially hesitant about the idea — I remembered how awkward and horrible Welcome Weekend before the start of my freshman year at Notre Dame was, and I was not eager to go through that again.

But the one upside of Notre Dame’s Welcome Weekend — and it’s a major, important upside — was that it helped me make friends. I met some of my best friends during Welcome Weekend. It was a harrowing, exhausting experience, but I think the trauma of nonstop manufactured socialization brings people together.

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme also helped me make friends. But it did so in a way that was not…traumatic? Is that even possible?

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme was, dare I say, legitimately fun. Yeah, the first day was pretty stressful getting to know people and navigate my way around the buildings. But after that, the events and activities they put together for us were things I actually wanted to do — it wasn’t a chore to convince myself to go to the wine and cheese tasting or the Seine river tour or happy hour drinks at Montmartre. Making friends came naturally because they put together a schedule of programming where socializing didn’t feel forced. No offense to Welcome Weekend 2017 at Notre Dame, but “go stand there in an open field with 500 other kids while we blast loud music at you and 18 year-old boys have all been tasked by their Welcome Weekend leaders with getting you and other girls’ numbers — also you can’t have alcohol” really wasn’t an event that made making friends feel natural.

And I’m so grateful that I made friends so quickly and naturally at Sciences Po. It made saying goodbye to them suddenly in mid-March significantly harder, but it made the two months that I did have all the better.

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: H&M

Blouse: H&M

Trousers: Banana Republic

December 2, 2019 – Legally Blonde (OOTD #587)

I guess dreams really do come true, sometimes.

Attending a session of Supreme Court oral arguments has always been on my bucket list. I attribute it to the Schoolhouse Rock song about the three branches of US government, “Three Ring Government.”  I had a DVD box set of all of the old School House Rock songs, and that, along with “No More Kings” and “Telegraph Line,” (and probably a dozen more songs whose titles I can’t remember right now), I would play on repeat. This was before I had YouTube or Spotify — or even an iPod or MP3 player — so the only way I could listen to the songs was by playing the DVDs on my big square television in my room.

Just describing that makes me feel old. I know I’m not even that old, but the fact that I am now able to describe how life “used to be” makes me feel like my parents.

Anyway, I attribute my early interest in politics and government (and to a slightly lesser extent, US history) to Schoolhouse Rock. I loved that box set — in fact, I bet I still have it in a drawer somewhere in my parents’ house. I got a weird sense of superiority from knowing the three branches of government and basic early US history before all of my other classmates. I was never one to raise my hand much in class, but just knowing that I knew how the balance of power at the federal level worked while other kids didn’t made me feel special.

That’s not to say those feelings of superiority were good feelings, or that I still have them. But they did inspire me to take more interest in government and politics — an interest that died off in middle and high school and was really only renewed after the 2016 election. And just as importantly, they inspired me to consider a career in law for the first time.

I never dreamt of being president — I’m not a natural born citizen, so that’s never been an option for me. I did take some smug satisfaction from telling adults who tried to be inspiring with that even YOU could become President one day propaganda that I literally could not due to centuries-old irrelevant laws, but that’s beside the point. What I did dream of becoming was a Supreme Court Justice.

And no — the dream I referenced in the opening sentence of this blog that came true was not becoming a Supreme Court Justice (yet) — it was simply getting to visit the Supreme Court and observe oral arguments. I had visited the building earlier in the semester for a tour, but the season hadn’t yet begun, so we didn’t get to watch a case unfold.

My friend, Joanna, and I got there at 6AM for doors that weren’t due to open until 10AM. By the time we had gotten there, there was already a line snaking halfway down the street. From our online research, we’d found that they typically only allow in around 50-60 people; from a preliminary headcount, we were in spaces 55 and 56.

We had a mini-panic attack around 8 or 9am when they let in the first round of people to get out of the cold, and they cut off at fives spaces ahead of us — at number 50 exactly. We knew the number of people they let in each session varied, but we were afraid that maybe they would just cut it off at 50, and we were going to have been literally a few people away from being let in. We decided to stick it out though, hoping that they would let more people in just before 10am.

Turns out, they did. There was some speculation for that first case we went to hear (New York State Rifle and Pistol Association vs the City of New York) might end up being a landmark 2nd amendment ruling. Though it became fairly clear that, due to the law that was up for debate being revoked before the appeal made it to the Supreme Court, there’d be no guns rights showdown like some people hoped, I still think they knew it would be a case that a lot of people would want to hear, so perhaps that’s why we got in even after the first round cutoff.

Despite the fact that the case didn’t end up being a big deal in the gun control vs. gun rights debate (protesters showed up anyway — some with free coffee, which Joanna and I much appreciated after standing outside for four hours) it was still fun to watch. I’ll admit, I was a little starstruck seeing the Justices in person, even from the very back of the room. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the chamber, but even if I could, you’d probably only be able to see a blurry image of RBG scowling and Clarence Thomas slumping in his seat, bored out of his mind.

The second case — something about copyright law — was less exciting. Justice Thomas and I definitely nodded off a few times.

I’m so glad I got to go though. Getting no sleep the night before, waiting outside for four hours, panicking when we thought we had just missed the cutoff, and then going to work after it all for three hours in the afternoon — it was all worth it, in my opinion. Honestly, it was possibly one of my favorite things I did the whole DC semester.

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 Washington, DC. 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: Banana Republic

Blouse: Banana Republic

Sweater: Aeropostale

Trousers: The LOFT

November 18, 2019 – Can’t Somebody Open Up A Window? (OOTD #581)

The best part of the Brookings Library was that I could open the windows.

I didn’t realize until after I’d lived in an apartment with limited natural light and un-openable windows for three months that I really value the ability to get fresh air indoors.   In my entire apartment building, which I don’t believe had been updated since 1990 when it was built by the University of California, I don’t think there was one openable window.

At first, I hardly noticed — it’s not like I open every window I come across. And for weeks, it was too hot in DC to want to let any hot air in at all.

But think about it — when you do want to open a window, however rarely that may be, you really want to open it. Maybe you burned something in the kitchen and you want to let the smoke out before it sets the alarm off. Maybe your neighbor’s plumbing overflowed and you currently have sewage seeping into your living room carpet (that actually happened to me and my roommate twice). Or maybe you’re just feeling bothered and anxious and you know that some fresh air would make you feel better. Not being able to open a window in any of those situations ends up being quite a nuisance.

So I couldn’t open the windows in my apartment, and I couldn’t open the windows in any of the student lounges or study spaces (not that most of them even had windows), and there were no windows to be found in the cubicle where I worked. Thus, when I found that I could open the windows of the Brookings Library, I knew I had found my favorite study space.

I say that, but funnily enough, this is actually my last blog post from the Brookings Library — or Brookings itself. I still had about three more weeks of my internship to go, but I sort-of ran out of locations to use for backgrounds, and so I saw no need to continue taking pictures there. Besides, I started going out more and doing things outside of work and school. Who needs to open up a window to let fresh air in when you can walk out the door and into the fresh air itself?

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 Washington, DC. 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)

Sweater: Thrift (Goodwill)

Trousers: Banana Republic Sloan

November 7, 2019 – Still Emo (OOTD #576)

Now that My Chemical Romance is back, you know what that means: time to break out my old Hot Topic band tees and smear black eyeliner down my cheeks.

I was a teenaged closet emo; I’ve discussed that before on this blog. My Chemical Romance, Panic! At the Disco, and Fall Out Boy were once my favorite bands (and I still like them — even though it’s now more like Brendon! At the Disco and Sell Out Boy). I never went full emo, at least, not in appearance because I went to high school in the mid-late 2010’s and if I tried to come to school wearing an MCR sweatshirt and knee-high Converse I’d be laughed out of the building.

I went to high school in the age where hipsters had replaced the emos as the “cool” counterculture alternative crowd. Emo culture was for the cynical post-9/11 early 2000’s kids; hipster culture was for the cynical anticapitalist Occupy Wall Street 2010’s kids.

I was never a proper hipster: I never knitted my own scarves, brewed my own coffee, or grew my own weed. I bought into the hipster look after it had been appropriated by all of the mall chain boutiques (ironic given how counterculture the original hipster subculture was trying to be) by wearing skater skirts and wide-rimmed glasses.

Like I said, in high school, I was a closeted emo. I wasn’t able to actually go full emo — the closest I came was dyeing my (already black) hair black when I was 17. I wish I had just gone for it though — pierced my eyebrow, gotten a tattoo, blasted my My Chemical Romance albums through the hallways, and beat some people on the head with a croquet mallet à la the “I’m Not Okay” music video.

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 Washington, DC. 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: Banana Republic

Shirt: Banana Republic

Trousers: Banana Republic (apparently, I was dressed by Banana Republic)

October 28, 2019 – 70s Hollywood Producer (OOTD #571)

Today’s outfit inspiration is 1970s Hollywood — not the glamorous red carpet stars, though, but the behind-the-scenes executive producers.

For goodness’s sake, I’m wearing an ascot. An ascot. I don’t think it gets any more 70s than that.

I’ve become a little bit enamored with the 70s lately. For a while there, I was all about 60s style — the retro patterns, suede skirts, the layered jumpers. I had what was basically a Hairspray phase, but 10 years after the Zac Efron movie (and even more years after the original Broadway musical) came out.

But then, all the 60s stuff became mainstream, and you couldn’t go to Forever21 without seeing fourteen different suede skirts and twelve different denim jumpers in their storefront. The 60s were new and cool in 2017. They had become a little old and tired again by 2019.

The 70s, on the other hand, are on their way up — at least, in my opinion. I like the 70s. They’re like the 60s, but worse — less optimism, more drugs, worse pop music (though better rock), more polyester. If I don’t look like I walked out of an early Scorsese film, what’s the point?

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 Washington, DC. 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)

Blouse: Banana Republic

Trousers: Thrift (Salvation Army)

October 17, 2019 – The Hill Has Eyes (OOTD #567)

After a month in DC, I began picking up on DC lingo.

It’s the little things that make you seem like a local: for example, saying “to metro” as if it’s a verb. You don’t “take the metro” (or worse, “take the subway”) to get somewhere, you just “metro.” Oh, I’m going to metro to the game. I’ll metro and meet you there.

And another thing that DC people like to say — “the Hill.” It’s not Capitol Hill. It’s not the Capitol, or the Capitol Building. It’s just the Hill.

People work “on the Hill.” People who don’t work on the Hill go to meetings “on the Hill.” No matter what you do, you, or at the very least someone in your office, probably winds up “on the Hill” once or twice a month.

The same could be said of me while I was in DC. I went there for class, I went there for work, I went there with my friends on the weekend. I kept winding up there without really making any particular effort to go there; in a list of my top 10 favorite places in DC, the Hill area probably would not place, and it’s not like my apartment or place of work was really anywhere in that part of town.

But without fail, I would find myself near the Hill every couple of weeks, whether it was for lunch with my boss or to go to the Conservatory with my friends. And it wouldn’t be a DC semester without picture or two of me with that iconic dome (no, not that iconic dome. Or that one). I mean, if your LinkedIn headshot isn’t a picture of you on the Hill, did you even intern in Washington DC for three months?

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 Washington, DC. 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: Forever21

Shirt: Banana Republic

Trousers: Banana Republic Sloan

Scarf: The MOMA gift shop

October 8, 2019 – Khaki (OOTD #562)

I’ve talked about my first job as a grocery bagger (official title: courtesy clerk) a lot on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my uniform.

“So then what was your uniform, Meilin?” I’m so glad you asked. Every day I went to work at this particular grocery store, I wore basically the same thing: a black t-shirt with the grocery store’s logo on it provided by the grocery store, a pair of khaki skinny jeans (wait…are they still jeans if they’re not made of denim?) and my white Converse.

I still own all three of those pieces. I actually wear the white Converse a fair amount because they’re white Converse and they never go out of style, but the t-shirt and khaki pants have been sitting in my chest of drawers for years. I just can’t bring myself to put them on again — I associate them with too many bad memories of having to go out into the dark, creepy parking lot at 11pm right before close to bring in all of the carts that customers had left in the farthest corners of the lot.

In the case of the t-shirt, who cares? It’s a t-shirt. I get those for free with every event I attend. The khakis, on the other hand, are technically still perfectly wearable.

But there’s something about wearing the same pair of gross Macy’s trousers two to three days a week for an entire summer when you’re 16 that renders them cursed. I just can’t bring myself to put them on again, even though they’d probably fit (or who knows? Maybe they wouldn’t. I did eat a lot of pasta in Italy). In fact, I bought a whole new pair of Banana Republic trousers in the same khaki color (pictured here) to replace them.

Recently, I went back to my old grocery store, and I realized that the cashiers and baggers no longer have to wear the uniforms. In fact, they can even dress up a little on special occasions, like UK football games. Honestly, given the struggles I’ve had navigating the world of professional fashion, maybe I should go back to being a grocery bagger. I may very possibly have more freedom in my choice of clothes in that position than I do now as an intern at a think tank.

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 Washington, DC. 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!


Blazer: Banana Republic

Top: Zara

Trousers: Banana Republic Sloan

October 4, 2019 – Work in Progress (OOTD #560)

I thought for certain I would have used that blog title before, but I guess not.

I think I’m finally getting into a groove with creating interesting but work-appropriate outfits. It took me a while to figure it out, but I believe I’ve got it down pat at this point. I’m finding that the key to success is good accessories, like this bolo tie-style necklace that I got for Christmas from Forever21 years and years ago.

I find it interesting to think about the pieces in my wardrobe that have wound up being enduringly stylish, especially when I didn’t expect them to do so. Like, I knew when I bought this maroon blazer that I would probably have it for a while — blazers take a long time before their design starts looking dated. Same goes for the black button-down. The bolo tie necklace, on the other hand, could have very easily been something that I ended up giving away a year later.

But it didn’t, and I still have it and like it. Sometimes, you never know.

And sometimes, things you thought would be in style for years become unwearable. I may or may not have three pairs of Uggs hidden in my closet that I purchased as a middle schooler and I now feel too guilty to give away (I spent a lot of money on them! At least in my sixth grader mindset). I thought for certain that they would be a worthwhile investment for years and years to come — guess not.

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 Washington, DC. 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!


Blazer: Forever21

Trousers: Zara

Shirt: Banana Republic

October 2, 2019 – Meilin v. Mosquitoes (OOTD #559)

The worst part of DC has been the mosquitoes, hands-down.

They love me, which means by extension, I absolutely hate them. They attack me whenever I stand still for more than two minutes at a time; I’m never safe. It’s the worst city I’ve ever been to for bug bites in the US. It’s in the same category in Kathmandu, and that was near the Himalayan Mountains.

For example, taking these pictures — it was maybe 7pm at night, so not too late, and in a busy part of town. It was not the place or time where I thought mosquitoes would be on the prowl. I was wrong.

Within about two minutes of setting up my phone to take some pictures, I noticed the first bite on my leg. It’s like a barely noticeable prick, almost like brushing up against an evergreen with needles.

One bug bite isn’t a problem. When I go outside for a walk in the neighborhood and I come back with ten new bites, then I have a complaint.

I guess that’s what happens when you build a city in a literal swamp. Thanks a lot for that, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. We could’ve had our capital in New York or Philadelphia, but no, we had to go to the swamp.

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 Washington, DC. 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: Forever21

Top: ASOS

Skirt: Banana Republic