January 4, 2019 – L’ensemble final (OOTD #436)

On my last day in France, I got sick.

That’s not entirely true — I’d been slowly becoming sick over several days. I first felt it when I woke up on New Year’s Day, and so I thought perhaps it was just my body recovering from our party the previous night. I was wrong. It just got worse.

But only a loser gets sick when they’re in a foreign country (though funnily, I got sick the last time I traveled internationally as well...), so I decided to power through. I only had one week in France — I couldn’t waste any time laying around and feeling sorry for myself.

That was probably a dumb idea, and I would not recommend that you follow suit. You should pay attention to your body’s needs and be kind to yourself or whatever. If you do, you’ll  probably wind up less sick and generally happier than I did for days after I got home.

But you might not have been able to go out and do the things that I did when I was pushing myself through the illness — seeing a whole new city, playing ping-pong with Australians, or losing your glasses with your Tinder date. I sacrificed a little bit of my physical health, but I think I made up for it in cool experiences.

My last day in France was rather anticlimactic — but it seems like that’s how last days in foreign countries normally are. That’s how it happened for me in London and in Nepal. The most exciting days — for example, my trip to Shoreditch or my first excursion to Kathmandu — always happen in the middle. I wonder why that is?

I went to class all day, and afterwards, I said goodbye to my Australian friends. They were staying for several weeks longer than me, and they had plans for the evening that were different from mine, so we had to part there at the school. While I was a little sad we only knew each other for a few days, I was really grateful that I got to know them at all, and that I had some people to speak in English with every once in a while.

I also tried to do some souvenir shopping, but in the end, I decided I didn’t need anything more. I’d already bought some clothes, and that’s usually the only thing I make certain to buy when I travel. Other knickknacks or gifts for friends are nice, but I don’t feel like I have to get them.

By the time 5 or 6PM came around, I was exhausted and really feeling sick. I was afraid I had a fever, and while I didn’t have one by the time I made it back to the US and took my temperature, I’m not convinced I didn’t have one at least for that last evening in Vichy and the following day on my plane ride home. Dinner was really hard that night — partially because dinner with my host family was often hard (not because they were mean, just because talking with strangers in a foreign language is hard) and partially because I was feeling awful but didn’t know how to say it politely.  I knew how to say Je suis malade but how to say “I feel like death and I want to go home — but not because of you or anything, just because it’s been a really long two weeks and on top of that I think I may have a cold or a fever or a flu or all three”?

And so I didn’t say it. I think my host mother and father noticed that my cough had gotten pretty bad, but it was my last day, and so I wasn’t going to bother with buying medicine. That night, I suffered through it, packed my bags, and got ready for the long trip from Clermont-Ferrand to Paris to Detroit to Cincinnati to home.

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: Forever21

 

January 3, 2019 – Les Grands Parcs de Vichy (OOTD #435)

I’ll be honest with you: I’m not even sure if these photos feature Les grands parcs de Vichy. 

I tagged them that way on Instagram because they were one of the first locations to pop up when I searched, and I thought the name made sense. I mean, I was in a park, and I was in Vichy — so why would’t I be in one of les grands parcs? 

That’s often how things go when I try to tag locations on Instagram. Half of the time, I don’t really know where I am — I just rely on Instagram to tell me. My FBI agent is probably stalking me through my Instagram location or Snap Map — unluckily for him (or her), I never really go anywhere that interesting.

These photos were taken rather hastily in a one-hour stroll around town that I had in between getting out of classes for the day and meeting up with my Australian friends to play ping-pong.

Australian friends? Ping-pong?

Allow me to explain: as I mentioned in my last post, I made friends with a group of Australian teenagers during our field trip to Clermont-Ferrand. They were a bit younger than me, but not by much. They thought my American accent was cool (which no one has said to me ever), and we got along well because we all spoke English. In fact, to my surprise, there were very few other native English-speakers at the school while I was there — there was an old British man named Patrick, and I’m not sure there was anyone else other than me and the Australians.

Anyway, the Australians had some special programming since they were there with a school group, and they invited me along with them. I was afraid of seeming like a creepy adult (since technically, I was the oldest one there even though we were all only a few years apart), but I don’t think they thought about it that way. They invited me to join them, after all.

And so I added ping-pong to my list of things that I did while in France. We set up in a rec center attached to the school and played for a few hours — it probably wasn’t the most exciting way to spend an afternoon in France, but I’d been doing plenty of exciting things over the last several days, including touring a new city, going on a Tinder date, and celebrating New Year’s Eve with my host family. It was fun to be able to relax a little bit in an English-speaking environment.

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!

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.

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little town, such a quiet village

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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.

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bonjour 👋

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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 29, 2018 – Khuda Hafiz and Bonjour (OOTD #431)

Translation: goodbye (Urdu) and hello (French)

Traveling is weird because it completely destroys your sense of time, especially when you’re traveling across time zones.

Granted, I shouldn’t have had much of a time zone change to worry about when going from Qatar to France, as there was only a two hour difference between the two countries, but it felt like so much more.

I left from my hotel in Qatar at about 11PM at night, after saying goodbye to all of my Indian and Pakistani friends who’d been a part of the conference. This time, I really do question whether I’ll be able to see them again — there will be one more conference this summer in the same series, and I suppose there’s a chance that Notre Dame could give me funding again, but I doubt it. Perhaps I’ll get to see them if I ever make it to India or Pakistan, but I don’t know when that will be.

The moment I got into the cab for the airport, I was out like a light. I guess five days straight of staying up until 1 or 2AM in the morning and getting up at 6AM for class really takes a toll on you — especially if those five days of sleep deprivation follow about four months of less extreme but more prolonged sleep deprivation during the regular school year.

I wish I had been awake to see the city pass as I left, but I was just too exhausted. In fact, I was so tired that I completely forgot to check in for my flight online before I got to the airport. It’s not that that’s such a big deal, since I was able to just get in line to check in when I got there, but I feel a lot more comfortable when I travel internationally if I can cut the amount of time waiting in line by as much as possible. I get nervous about missing flights, especially when I’m in a foreign country and an unfamiliar airport. I’ve yet to miss a flight when I’m on my own, and I want to keep it that way.

In the end though, I managed to navigate my way to the gate and get there on time. From there, it was a six hour flight to Istanbul — the majority of those six hours which I spent passed out in my chair.

My travel debacle began when I landed in Istanbul. I had only an hour to make it from one gate to another, and apparently, that was not nearly enough. The security lines were terrible, and it seemed like there was hardly anyone working. I was lucky; I found a group of French people behind me in line who were headed to Paris as well, and so I followed them as they pushed their way past people in line. We probably didn’t make any friends, but we made it to our gate on time (just as they are doing last call!) and so I guess making some Turkish people mad was worth it.

The travel debacle continued, however. After a fairly simple (which is not to say stress-free) transfer in Paris to Clermont-Ferrand, I was on my way to my final destination at about noon. I arrived in Clermont-Ferrand, a very small airport, where I was to meet with my host family who’d transport me back to their home in Vichy.

img_1564-1

That part went smoothly — my host mother was standing there with a sign with my name, and she was very friendly. What didn’t go smoothly was the acquisition of my bags, because apparently, they never made it from the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

And so, instead of a second, clean outfit after I arrived in Vichy, I had to keep the same one on that I had worn all day on my last day in Qatar. And then I had to sleep in it. And then I had to wear it the next day.

How will the story end? Will I get my bags? How will I survive in France with my limited French, and my semi-competent social skills? Tune in next time for the thrilling continuation of my French adventures.

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: The LOFT (thrifted, Goodwill)

Pants: The closet of a friend of mine

 

 

 

December 24, 2018 – Christmas Eve in Germany (OOTD #426)

Spending Christmas Eve in Germany was not in my life plans about a month ago.

A month ago, I had assumed I’d be spending my winter break split between Qatar and France — Qatar for a conference on Islamic theology and peacebuilding funded by my university, and then France to immerse myself in French language and culture for a week, also funded by my university. If I was going to wind up in any other countries along the way, I figured they’d just be short layovers not really worthy mentioning — kind of like the time I was technically in Abu Dhabi for two hours for a layover during my flight to Nepal.

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frohe weihnachten aus münchen

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But, as it turned out, once my flights were organized by the conference coordinator, I got an extra long layover in Munich, Germany, on my flight to Doha, Qatar on December 23 — a whole seven hours! Initially, I figured I’d just hang out and explore the airport. I’ve heard good things about the Munich airport.

Remembering the fun I was able to have in Bucktown, Chicago during my long layover in O’Hare on my flight home from Nepal, I began to wonder though if maybe I’d be able to do the same for Munich. I’m not the most comfortable traveling by myself to foreign countries, though I don’t know if anyone ever really is, but I’ve been getting more confidence over the last few years, especially having traveled to London and Nepal semi-independently.

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merry christmas from munich with much love

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After doing some research (namely consulting the TripAdvisor forums), I decided to go for it and try to see the city during the seven-hour layover. There was another Notre Dame girl going to the same conference who wound up on the same flight from Philly to Munich, and after telling her my plan, she agreed to go too. Neither of us had ever seen Germany and neither of us spoke German, but we figured we could function for a few hours.

I departed Kentucky midday, and then I had a medium-length layover in Philadelphia. From there, it was a nine-ish hour flight — at which point, we arrived in Munich at about 9:00 AM local time.

Immigration was a piece of cake — the officer only asked how long I’d be there, and then he sent us on our way. From there, we purchased the less than 20 USD train tickets to Marienplatz, as the TripAdvisor forums suggested.

If there was anything I loved about Germany, it was the S-Bahn train. The New York Subway, the London Underground, the Chicago L — none of those public transport systems have anything on this German train. It was clean, quiet, modern, and perhaps most surprisingly for me — perfectly on time. There was even a screen where you could see estimated arrival times for each stop, and how those ETAs changed based on how long loading and unloading took each stop. The future is now, I guess.

When we stepped out into Marienplatz, the town square, I admittedly didn’t know what to expect. I’ve hardly ever studied German language or culture, and I was too lazy to do much studying up before I went. I had almost no preconceived notions of what a German city should look like — but rest assured, I was not disappointed.

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pretty! buildings!

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I saw a lot of different things over winter break — the colorful Doha skyline, sand dunes in the Middle East, gothic churches in France, a spring of supposedly magical healing water — but I don’t think anything had quite the same effect on me as seeing Marienplatz all decorated for the Christmas Eve Market. For context, the second you walk out from the Marienplatz S-Bahn stop onto the street, the first thing you see is the massive Rockefeller Center-sized Christmas tree in front of the spectacular gothic-style New Town Hall.

Coming from the US, and a relatively small US city at that, I don’t get to see much that even vaguely resembles Marienplatz very often. Notre Dame’s campus has some cool collegiate gothic architecture, and I do love God Quad with the basilica and the Golden Dome, but Notre Dame can’t compete with the feel a real European city. Everything there is so old — even stuff that technically isn’t that old, like the New Town Hall (which actually was only built in the 19th century), feels old.

One of my favorite things about travel is the ability to get a feel for a city — the facial expressions of locals as they walk through crowded train platforms, the ambient sounds as you maneuver through the town square, the kind of birds that nest in the crevices of buildings. If I had to describe Munich from my short visit, it was quaint. London, or what I saw of it in 2017, felt old, but somehow, Munich felt older. Munich felt a little quieter, a little friendlier — distinctively different from the sense of frustrated energy that exists in a massive city like New York or London. And I love the frustrated energy of New York and London — in fact, I’d love to be a frustrated, energetic New Yorker one day — but I also appreciated the slower pace of Munich.

In the end, my friend and I didn’t do much more than walk around. We did end up getting hungry and wander into a random restaurant, where I had the most German encounter of my trip: I tried to order water to drink, and instead I was given beer. I mean, I have nothing against drinking beer in Germany — in fact, that seems to be probably a pretty good place to do it — but I was still kind of surprised when I thought I was just getting water. It was good though. And what was even better was that it ended up being free, for some reason? Don’t know what happened there, but no complaints from me.

I was a little worried about getting back in time for our flight, but I shouldn’t have been. The train ran just as beautifully as it did on the way there, and immigration was once again a simple interaction. From there, it was another six hour flight in order to make it to Qatar. I got in at around 11 at night local time, and I didn’t stumble into my hotel until around 1:30. But more on that later.

To check out my full Munich adventures, I highly recommend checking out my Instagram story highlights from that day!

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: The LOFT

Pants: Thrifted (Salvation Army)

Scarf: My mother’s closet

 

July 13, 2017 – Goodbye London (OOTD #67)

It was our final day in London, and, not to be cliché but it was rather bittersweet.

In one sense, I’m glad to be going home, back to a country where the restrooms are free, my cords work in the outlets, and air conditioning is abundant, but of course, it’s also rather sad going back to normal reality. I’m going to have to return to work in a few days, start packing for school, coordinate dorm decorations with my new roommates – things I’ve been putting off thinking about since I’ve been here in London.

We started off our day in the same way as always – a crumpet, some coffee, and fresh fruit. Sue, our host, has been so lovely about letting us stay with her, even getting to know our breakfast preferences and having them set out for us on the table every day when we wake up. It’s because of her we’ve even been able to come on this trip – like seriously, is a broke college kid going to be able to afford a hotel in London for two weeks? No.

We brought her some chocolates when we first arrived as a hostess gift, but Amanda and I both felt like we needed to do something more. She suggested that I do a little drawing of her and her daughters, so over the last few nights, I’ve been working on doing this little doodle. It’s nothing special, but people like getting art, and I like doing it.

After the unfortunate fires that went through Camden Lock just a day before we had been planning to go (we were going to go right after we did Shoreditch, but we found out that morning that there had been some bad fires in that part of town), we didn’t think we were going to be able to get there during our time in London, but thankfully, they managed to contain the fires enough that we could still see parts of the area and market.

Camden Town was cool, but I don’t know – I might’ve liked Shoreditch and its market better. Perhaps that was partially because we didn’t get to see all of Camden Lock due to the fires, but mostly, I just liked how colorful and artistic Shoreditch was. Camden has its own quirky personality – there were some really awesome goth and alternative fashion stores that I could’ve spent hours in – and I loved the canal (I think it’s a canal?) that runs through the area, but it just didn’t quite have the same soul to it.

After spending plenty of money on street food, Amanda and I headed back over to West End for another show – this time, we got tickets for Les Mis, a personal favorite for both of us. By then, both our phones were in the single digits in terms of battery, and we were desperately trying to conserve their failing energies while still using their GPS’s to navigate the unfamiliar area. We actually might’ve spent more time walking around that area and looking in the shops, but once we found the Queen’s Theatre, we were too afraid to stray very far in fear of our phones dying and having no way to navigate ourselves back!

For real though, Les Mis was excellent. I’ve been a fan ever since I watched the DVD recording of the 25th anniversary Royal Albert Hall concert (which I still argue is one of the best casts ever – with the exception of Nick Jonas as Marius), and I know almost every song by heart, including the odd ones, like “Confrontation” and “The Thénardier Waltz of Treachery.” It was wonderful finally getting to see the show live in-person. The cast did a lovely job, and even with our terrible upper circle seats, I was drawn into the world the staging and sets created.

After the show, we walked back to the Tottenham Court station and took our final Cambridge-bound train back to Broxbourne, and from there, our final overpriced cab (7 pounds! For literally a five minute ride!) back to the house.

London’s been amazing, and [insert clichés about never forgetting the adventures I’ve had, being grateful for the opportunity to travel, yadayadayada]. I joke, but I do mean it. I’ve had a lot of fun out here, and I’m sad to be going back.

That’s it for today! I’ll see you in the next one. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

(Don’t let the sun go down on me, amirite?)

Top: Pitaya

Shorts: Abercrombie

Choker: Madewell

July 12, 2017 – Cambridge, CANbridge, CAN’Tbridge (OOTD #66)

That was a dumb title, I know.

But hey, those are just a staple at this point at L’ensemble du jour. What is a blog post without a stupid, kind-of-but-mostly-not clever title?

By day 7, Amanda and I were growing tired of London. Its newness had worn off, and we were running out of neighborhoods and boroughs we wanted to see. Sue offered to take us out to see Windsor, but the admission prices were sort-of steep, and we are poor college kids who are only here in London by some rather lucky circumstances. Thus, we decided to take our Oyster cards and take a little day trip out to Cambridge.

You’ll notice I said “take our Oyster cards out to Cambridge,” and if you’re a London local, you’ll know that doesn’t work – Oyster cards only work on zones 1-9 throughout the Greater London area. But we are not London locals, and we did not know that wouldn’t work, so we wound up an hour and a half later at a platform in Cambridge with no way to swipe out to get into the actual town.


We had two options at that point – take the train out to the closest station where our Oyster card would allow us to swipe out, so we could buy tickets (which happened to be Broxbourne, the station we began at – and the station that I just mentioned was an hour and a half away) or find a railway worker, admit our mistake, and pay the penalty fee.

We opted for the former.

We hopped back on the Liverpool St train and prepared ourselves for a very long, very sad journey all the way back to Broxbourne. Thankfully, as luck, or perhaps God, would have it, we didn’t have to go all the way back to Broxbourne – the first stop the Liverpool train made was this little town called Shelford, which had a ticket dispenser machine right there on the platform.

In the end, it was probably only a 30 minute detour, but it felt much, much longer. It some ways, it was a happy mistake though – by using our Oyster cards to swipe out at Broxbourne, riding the train to Shelford, and then buying tickets for a ride from Shelford to Cambridge, we only had to pay about three pounds for the whole journey rather than the twenty-something it would have cost to ride from Broxbourne to Cambridge.

Finally in Cambridge, we were in desperate need of some refreshment, so we stopped in a Caffè Nero, the English equivalent of Starbucks. We got some well-deserved coffee, charged our phones, and rested up a bit before embarking on the 30 minute trek all the way out to central Cambridge.

Cambridge was a really beautiful town. It wasn’t exactly a small countryside village, but it almost felt like it; it was so different from the bustle of London. People were riding their bikes everywhere, the roads were uneven cobblestone, and I kept getting weird glances from the much more conservatively dressed locals because I was wearing a crop top.

We had wanted to go punting tour on the river in Cambridge, but unfortunately, we missed out on the final tour of the day due to some big group that was coming in later in the day. It was a bit disappointing, not being able to take this one actual guided tour we’d scheduled, but we still got to see the town and the school, so it was okay. We walked around some more, stopped in a pub where I got bangers and mash (very, very good by the way – but very, very heavy), and then got a rather overpriced Uber back to the station.

That’s it for today! I’ll see you in the next one. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Aerie

Skirt: Street vendor in New York

Choker: Madewell

July 11, 2017 – Just Let Abbey Road Be (OOTD #65)

Do I get any points for that title? No?Day 6, we saw the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing, and let me tell you, that was an experience. Not wholly in a good way, and not wholly in a bad way, it was just – ugh, allow me to explain:

Abbey Road is just a road. I have no problem with that – they’re not going to close off an entire road and make it into a museum because some famous people 50 years ago took a photo there. But since it’s a road – like, a real functioning road, with cars and angry drivers with places to be – it makes it a real chore to cross it and take your silly touristy photo.

But Amanda and I were determined. We didn’t make it all the way out to London, I-don’t-even-know-how-many-miles across the ocean, to not get a picture to show our grandchildren. Plus, we’re both Beatles fans (I had a phase in middle school…), so we really wanted to see this famous spot.

Well, there were about 50 other tourists there at Abbey Road Studios that day with the same mindset, some of whom knew English traffic laws and some of whom didn’t. In England, it’s law that cars must stop if they see a pedestrian at a zebra crossing, so if you’re standing there waiting for traffic to clear so you can get a nice, car-free photo, you’ll be disappointed to see that the cars will all stop, lining up on the road if they have to, to let you walk.

So it’s rather awkward when a tourist just stands there as the traffic piles up at the crossing because the tourist wants the road to clear so they can get a good picture, and the traffic just wants the tourist to walk and get out of the way. Add into the mix, there are likely several other tourists all trying to cross the road at the same time as you, and you definitely don’t want them crossing the road with you and ruining your picture.
In short – it’s stressful, and, unless you’re a Beatles fan on a mission like Amanda and me, probably not worth your time.

I should also mention – before Abbey Road, we saw the Tower of London, something that Amanda was very interested in seeing. Personally, it wasn’t my favorite old building we saw (that honor would probably have to go to Westminster Abbey), but I’m glad we saw it anyway. It’s much bigger than I expected, and even though we were too cheap to pay the admission

to look inside, it was still cool to stand in such proximity to somewhere where so much history has taken place.


I also got noodles at this amazing place just off the Liverpool station that specialized in ramen. Shoryu Ramen, it was called – and it was really good. I’m a sucker for noodles, I guess it’s a part of being Asian, and this place was like a dream come true. The only Asian food we get in Kentucky is PF Chang’s and cheap takeout; these were real, high quality Japanese noodles. 

And that’s about it for the day, actually. We stopped by Baker Street just to say we had but found that the line for the Sherlock museum was too long to be bothered with, got tea again at the British Museum, and then stopped at a little art shop called jlkjfjlacmdls so I could buy a new sketchbook since I used up my old one on the flight over.

The nice (?) thing about that day was that we finally got to experience the infamous London rain. It’s been beautiful and sunny and even kind of hot these last few days here, but we hadn’t seen any of the cloudy skies and rain that London is known for. That finally changed as we were coming out of the British Museum. I don’t know, it’s not like I’ve never seen rain before, but something about being there in London, wearing a navy blue blazer, walking the street and actually knowing where I was going, and not really minding the rainfall, that made me feel like a real local.

It was cool.

That’s it for today! I’ll see you in the next one. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: Chaps (thrifted)

Shirt: Target

Jeans: Abercrombie