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

September 8, 2018 – Lake Effect Kid (OOTD #369)

In case you’re wondering, the title is a reference to a Fall Out Boy song that is an absolute bop, and that I absolutely recommend that you check out.

As is the case with most of my travel-related blogs, this one might be a long one, so brace yourself. Today’s post sees Amanda and me going into Chicago for a nice day out in a big city, away from schoolwork and more importantly, away from campus.

Getting to the point where we were actually in the city though took more work than it should have. When we bought out tickets way back in the fall of last year (can you believe that? I had these tickets for basically a year) I figured we’d just get the train into the city in the morning and then be back to South Bend when it was over. What I didn’t consider was that the train would stop service to South Bend at 9pm, way before my concert was due to end.

Since we couldn’t get the train, and that was the only line that services South Bend, we ended up having to get an AirBnB and staying the night in Chicago. Thankfully, it wasn’t overly expensive, but it was a cost I wasn’t accounting for.

But after we solved our transportation issue, we had very few problems for the rest of that day. Note: that day. The next day was a completely different story, and I’ll tell it tomorrow.

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took an L

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Anyway, after we made it into the city, we stopped for a bite to eat in Nando’s (our first since we’d been in London over a year before), and then checked into our BnB. From three, we ditched the car and took the L (gotta love public transportation) off to Millennium Station.

Amanda wanted to see the Bean, and I wanted to see Navy Pier — basically, we were just big fat tourists for the afternoon. We might as well have thrown in the Art Institute and the Sears Tower (is that what it’s still called?) and done the whole experience.

The Bean was just that — the Bean, and exactly the same Bean as I had seen a few months prior. I must say, though, Millennium Park is certainly pretty. I don’t really think the Bean is all that, but the park is a nice stop.

Navy Pier was totally new to me, though. I feel like I must have been at some point when I was younger, but I can’t remember it. There was about an eight year gap in my life in which I didn’t see Chicago at all (which, when you think about it, is a little under half of my entire life), so my memories of it are either very distant, or very recent.

We were too cheap to pay for a ferris wheel ride (we’d learnt our lesson from the last time we wound up in a fair) or really to do anything other than look around and take photos, but I was glad to have finally seen the famed Navy Pier. Plus, we got some really dope photos next to Lake Michigan.

On a slight side note, you want to know something wild that I saw? An ad for my hometown, Lexington KY! Here I was, 400 miles away from Lexington, and still it followed me. You can never forget where you come from, I guess?

Finally, our last stop of the night was Wrigley Field, the location of the concert we were attending. And what concert was that, you may ask? Why, Fall Out Boy, of course — one of my all-time favorite bands. I had a really intense emo phase in high school, where Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco, and Twenty One Pilots were my favorite bands. Granted, they’re still kind of my favorite bands — and if MCR ever decided to reunite, you can bet I would be spending my life savings to go.

The concert was a blast, though I rather wish they would have played more of their older songs. I knew they wouldn’t, that they’d mostly play post-hiatus stuff because that’s what’s more popular, but I was still a little sad I didn’t get to hear more of their rock-centric early 2000’s discography.

What was most surprising about the day, like I said, was that very little went wrong. We didn’t miss a single train, we hit little traffic, the tolls weren’t awful, and we never got lost. As travels go, everything went about as perfectly as possible.

But that was Saturday. Sunday is another story.

To be continued…

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!

Jumpsuit: Urban Outfitters

Jacket: Hollister

Saturday Musings + Coffee – Nepal Day One

Greetings from Nepal!FullSizeRender-1.jpeg

It took 27 hours of traveling including layovers, but finally, I’m here!

These photos were taken in the Chicago O’Hare terminal while I waited for my flight to Abu Dhabi — waiting which I probably shouldn’t have done.

See, I had a four hour layover in Chicago after I flew out from Lexington, and so I figured I would be able to sit there with my laptop for at least a little and do a bit of work. That’s actually where this blog was written and published.FullSizeRender.jpeg

So after two hours of sitting there in the domestic terminal, I figured I’d saunter over to the international one, which, judging by the signs I had seen, was just a short ride on the airport rails away. At this point, I had two hours before my flight departed, and I thought I had plenty of time.

Of course, things didn’t happen as planned — the rails were closed for some reason, which I didn’t realize until I had gone to two separate platforms at different locations in the airport and seen that they were closed. After asking around — with one person even telling me that the rails were open, which they clearly weren’t — I found a shuttle to take me to the international terminal.

That all took about 45 minutes, so as I rode the shuttle over to the international terminal, I was slightly worried, but not terribly so. That was, until I arrived at the international terminal and saw the queue to get through security.

I made it through, but not before worriedly calling my mother and questioning whether I’d be able to make it through in time. I’ve had experiences where it’s taken hours to get through a long security line, and I was afraid that that would happen to me again. Thankfully, by channeling my native Chinese pushing-through-lines skills, I was able to get through with about thirty minutes to spare.IMG_1116.jpeg

I was one of the last people to board the flight, and I missed out on any chance I might’ve had otherwise to get bumped up to business or first class, but I made it, and that’s what counts.

There’s more to this travel story, but I think I’ll leave it until I post the blog from that day. Until then, here’s what Google Translate just told me is “goodbye” in Nepali: अलविदा!

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 Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

 

May 12, 2018 – Chicagoing (OOTD #282)

I finally made it into the city!IMG_0498.jpeg

Actually, this is my second time making it in since the beginning of the school year — my first time was a few weeks ago with the Taiwanese Student Association on a field trip to Chinatown. Chinatown’s sort of on the outskirts of the city though, so this was my first time making it into the heart of things.IMG_0517.jpeg

I’ve been to Chicago a few times before as a kid, but it’s been a really long time, and honestly all I remember about my previous trips is that I popped my ears on the elevator up to the Sears Tower, which ended up aggravating an ear infection that  I didn’t know I had.  IMG_0534.jpeg

This time, though, I got to see some of the touristy things I’ve been wanting to see for the whole year I’ve been at Notre Dame, an hour and a half away — the Bean, the Art Institute, Navy Pier, and basically just the city in general.IMG_0539.jpeg

I love cities, and I wish Notre Dame could be moved just a little further north so that we could have easier access to Chicago. As it is though, I’m a two hour train ride away from anything, which makes going into the city not really worth it most of the time. To be honest, though, a ten minute Uber drive into South Bend isn’t really worth it either. IMG_0530.jpegIMG_0548.JPG

As this was my first time in Chicago for a long time, it was in many ways, kind of like my first time. I had something of an idea of what it’d be like, since I know what cities are like, but each city has its own unique identity and feeling when you’re there. My personal favorite is New York, though I rather like Philadelphia as well.IMG_0508.jpeg

IMG_0502.jpegI don’t know, I didn’t love Chicago. I loved the Art Institute, and the Bean was very cool (and I appreciate the sense of humor of Chicagoans to be able to turn the Bean into a meme), but I didn’t love the atmosphere in the same way I love the atmosphere of New York. Don’t get me wrong, Chicago is cool, but I don’t think I could see myself being one of those people who live in the suburbs and identify themselves to other Chicagoans by what neighborhood they’re from.IMG_0557.JPG

IMG_0558.JPGBesides, I heard way too many nasally Chicago accents at Notre Dame. I almost adopted one myself there for a while. I don’t think I could handle being surrounded by them 24/7 — no offense to you people with Chicago accents out there.IMG_0567.JPG

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 Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!IMG_0520.jpeg

Top: Akira

Jacket: The art classroom after it had been sitting there unclaimed all semester

Jeans: Hollister

April 28, 2018 – Chi-Town Chinatown (OOTD #275)

Guys look! I finally made it into Chicago!

I can’t believe I’ve been at Notre Dame all year, basically an hour and a half away from the third largest city in the US, and it’s taken me eight months to finally go.

There’s a train station about fifteen minutes away from campus that could get me into the city easily, but getting off of campus is a huge hassle without a car. Heck, it would probably even be a hassle with a car. The Notre Dame bubble has not diminished at all since I’ve been here.

I actually had an opportunity to go to Chicago way back in December with a friend of mine who was going to see the Nutcracker with her Russian literature class. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like I could take the time out of my day to go at the time (which I know now is a dumb excuse — there’s always time to go do fun things and ignore your responsibilities), so I missed out.

This time, though, when I heard that the Taiwanese Student Association was planning a Chinatown trip, I made sure I had room in my schedule to go. I lost a little extra sleep that weekend doing homework at late hours, but it was totally worth it.

What surprised me most about the Chicago Chinatown was how different it was from the New York version — while New York’s Chinatown is pretty much a gimmicky tourist destination, Chicago’s is a real diaspora neighborhood. The stores sold real Chinese food and products and not just the knockoff Rolexes you see in New York. It felt so much more welcoming and so much less sinister.

It was also fun because I got to interact with some people I never had before. None of my friends were able to go, so I ended up hanging out with some juniors and seniors, who were pretty cool and didn’t at all seem to mind that I was just a freshman. They were some of the first upperclassmen I’ve been able to interact with beyond surface level all year, so that was neat.

My favorite part of the whole trip was probably getting to purchase this money plant tree. As you probably know by now, I love plants, so getting new ones is fun. She actually sadly toppled over just today after a strong gust of wind from an open window pushed her off the window sill, causing several of her branches to break. I used a chopstick as a makeshift splint, so hopefully the branches will scar over and heal.

Oh well. For now, enjoy these photos of me and my pre-topple plant.

Since we all had work to do back home, we decided to make the hour and a half long drive back in time for dinner. I’d actually stayed up pretty late the night before, so I ended up napping almost all of the way back, which was great. By six when we arrived on campus, I was refreshed and ready to pull an all-nighter making up for all the work I had neglected due to being gone all day.

All night I worked though, I didn’t regret my decision to go. It was some of the best fun I’ve had all year, definitely worth the lost sleep and sanity.

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 Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: thrifted

Turtleneck: thrifted

Leggings: The LOFT (