May 10, 2019 – Baby’s Got The Bends (OOTD #499)

Blog title courtesy of: “The Bends,” by Radiohead, a song that I haven’t listened to in months and that I had to Google to ensure that it actually existed and I wasn’t remembering the lyrics wrong.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I told myself that I would make an effort to go out and see South Bend more. I’ve talked about the so-called “Notre Dame bubble” on this blog countless times before, so I won’t go into it deeply, but Notre Dame is a whole world apart from South Bend, the city where it’s located. Most students hardly leave campus at all, except for parties.

It’s my least-favorite part of ND life, and so I made an effort all this year to get off campus more — a feat that’s rather difficult without a car. I started volunteering at the South Bend Center for the Homeless once a week with a class on nonviolence, and in the spring semester, I interned at the Special Victims Unit of the St. Joseph County Prosecutor. 

Having a set schedule and people who relied on me to show up for work at a designated time each week was perfect for actually forcing me to haul myself out to the bus stop at the far end of campus and ride it out to the terminal downtown. I would have never convinced myself to go off campus nearly as much had I just wanted to go for fun; I needed something concrete to do. If I were just going for fun — say, to get coffee — I would never do it because I’d convince myself that I could just do that on-campus.

So as you could probably tell, I didn’t often go out into South Bend for fun. I went to the farmer’s market once or twice and went out to brunch with my friends on Valentine’s Day, but otherwise, I mostly stuck to the areas where I worked. So when, at the very end of the year, my parents came to move me out from my dorm, it was still exciting to get to go out to eat in Downtown South Bend.

And it was still exciting to take pictures in the city, even though I’ve done it several times before. I know Notre Dame’s photo locations inside and out, so it’s always exciting to see something new, even if it’s just some artwork outside of a pottery shop in South Bend.

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!


Top: (thrifted)

Jeans: Hollister

March 17, 2019 – Pinch Me (OOTD #474)

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and somehow, I didn’t wear green.

Now, to be fair, I had to spend a significant portion of my day traveling, and when I travel, I tend to concern myself more with comfort and practicality than fashion. It completely slipped my mind that it was St. Patty’s Day, and that I was supposed to wear green.

In fact, not only did I not wear green, but I wore the opposite of green — red. Red’s opposite green on the color wheel (and hence, they’re complementary colors), and so I guess you could say I committed a particularly offensive faux pas.

To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I took the time to make sure I wore green on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not a holiday that’s a huge deal in Kentucky, as we don’t necessarily have a ton of people with Irish heritage. And at Notre Dame, where we do have a ton of people with Irish heritage (the consequence of being a Catholic school, I suppose), we still don’t do much since St. Patrick’s Day usually falls during spring break, and no one’s around campus.

One of these days, I’d like to go into Chicago for St. Patrick’s and see the Chicago River turned green. There isn’t a lot in Chicago that I have’t seen yet and that I really want to see — but that’s probably on the bucket list.

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!


Coat: J. Crew

Sweater: Abercrombie

Blouse: Forever21

Trousers: J. Crew

February 16, 2019 – Galentine’s Day (OOTD #456)

I’m glad Galentine’s Day has become a thing.

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come to me, children

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In case you’re unaware, Galentine’s Day is the trend where instead of (or in addition to!) a traditional date with a significant other, you go out with your friends. The cynic in me sees is as just another way for restaurants to get us to spend money on Valentine’s Day. The optimist in me appreciates that Valentine’s Day is now becoming more inclusive for people who aren’t in relationships.

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🍳 🥞 ☕️

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So the weekend after Valentine’s Day, my friends and I all piled into a car and headed out to a brunch place. Going out to eat when you’re a poor college student is always such an event, at least for those us who live in the middle of nowhere and don’t have a car. I imagine it’s rather different if you go to school in a city, where there are restaurants everywhere. When you go to school in South Bend, Indiana and there are restaurants nowhere, it’s a different thing.

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wax on, wax off

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I feel like I should mention that our Galentine’s Day actually included two guys as well — Dylan and Jackson, the boyfriends of two of my friends. Galentine’s Day should be for everyone, not just women. It’s like Friendsgiving, but the Valentine’s Day version.

Turns out, the brunch place we went to had some spectacular lighting, which made for some great photos, as you can see here.

And nothing says “Valentine’s Day” quite like an outfit that makes you look like a priest (bishop? cardinal? Sorry, I don’t know my Catholic hierarchy well) from the Spanish Inquisition!

I got this cape from a vintage shop near my home called Street Scene, and to be honest, I’m not convinced it wasn’t actually once owned by a member of the clergy. It looks eerily similar to some of the capes that bishops wear.

I’m not sure if there are rules about wearing old clergy clothes. Are they like American flags, which are supposed to be burned after they’re decommissioned? Do I need to wash it in holy water along with my Tide Pods? Leave me a comment below if you have advice.

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!


Cape: Vintage (thrifted — Street Scene Vintage)

Top: ASOS

 

February 14, 2019 – Valentine Times (OOTD #455)

This is my twentieth Valentine’s Day as a human being on this planet, and allow me to say: it’s a rather overrated holiday.

For adults, at least. As a kid, Valentine’s Day is great: you get to decorate your shoebox for all of your friends to place their cards into, you get candy, and if you’re lucky, maybe your dad takes you out to eat somewhere or your mom makes heart-shaped cookies. As classroom parties go, Valentine’s Day is up there with Christmas and Halloween.

But as an adult, what do you even do? Go out to dinner? You can do that any day of the year — and in fact, it’s almost worse going out on Valentine’s Day due to how busy it is. Regardless of if you have a significant other or not, I feel like Valentine’s Day as an adult is just an excuse to spend more money — not that all holidays aren’t like that in some shape or form, but I think Valentine’s Day is worse.

People generally want to buy Christmas decorations or Easter Bunny chocolates. Does anyone really want to buy candy hearts or overpriced Hallmark cards?

What’s the most strange to me is that adults do not exchange Valentines on Valentine’s Day — something I think they should do. It’s cute, and fun, and cheap. You don’t even have to buy them if you don’t want to; they’re easy to make and probably even nicer when they’re homemade. If exchanging Valentines became a custom for adults like it is for children, I think people would enjoy Valentines Day a lot more.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day, though, I’d like to make that clear. I don’t like the “I hate Valentine’s Day” mentality, especially when it comes from bitter single people. I’m a single person too. But I like to support my friends who are in healthy and committed relationships and those who aren’t but are currently looking for one. It’s cute and harmless.

Since I generally don’t do anything on Valentine’s Day, one of the things I do like to do is get dressed up. I mean, I get dressed up a lot — but I like to use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to get dressed up a little extra.

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thanks for the stuff @trueandco

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Today’s outfit features a lace bodysuit from True&Co. They were kind enough to send me one complimentary to style for my blog, and I’m really surprised with how much I like it!  At first, I wasn’t really sure how I could make a collaboration with a lingerie company work, as LEDJ is more about outerwear than underwear, but I think this makes for a really fun, layered outfit.

They also sent me a bra and panties — which I will not be styling for this blog, unfortunately — but I did still very much like them.

To top it all off, I found some roses in the trashcan of my dorm (I’m sure there’s a really fascinating story there) that I decided to take back with me and set up in a vase in my room. I’ve never gotten flowers for Valentine’s Day before, so it was a pretty exciting find — even if they weren’t met for me. Trashcan roses are still roses.

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!


Jacket: Forever21

Shirt: Banana Republic

Lace Bodysuit: True&Co. Lingerie Stripe and Lace Bodysuit

Jeans: American Eagle

February 5, 2019 – Year of the Pig (OOTD #450)

It’s a month late, but Happy Lunar New Year!

One of the unfortunate consequences of being about a month behind on my blog posts is that when holidays come around, they almost never get a blog post devoted to them until weeks after they’ve passed. I may take the holiday photos on the date of the actual holiday, but then if I have two weeks of blogs in the queue to be posted, that holiday blog doesn’t get put out until later.

I’m better on my Instagram. Since I don’t make any effort to organize my Instagram chronologically by the date the photos were taken (but rather, by aesthetic) I’m normally pretty decent at keeping up with important dates than I am on my blog. But since I have 9500 followers on my Instagram compared to about 800 here…it makes sense that I’d be more consistent on Instagram.

Anyway, if you couldn’t tell, this was the outfit I wore on Lunar New Year 2019. I didn’t really do much to celebrate, to be honest. Notre Dame doesn’t really do much in the way of multicultural celebrations. They had some nice Chinese food in the dining hall on Friday, including pork bao buns (which I absolutely love ever since I first tried them in Chicago Chinatown last spring), but unfortunately, because of the internship and volunteer work I do on Fridays, I didn’t make it back to campus on time before the dining halls closed.

Actually, I had an interview that day. Two chemistry professors were organizing a fully-funded trip to the Galápagos Islands, and after I submitted my essay, I was contacted for an interview.

Long story short: I got into the program! That was definitely not something I was expecting, especially without an extensive background studying the natural sciences. But I suppose they were looking for students from a variety of backgrounds — and in this case, I fit the bill.

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!


Jacket: Kohl’s

Blouse: ASOS

Skirt: Banana Republic Sloan Skinny-Fit Pant

Tuesday Musings – February Bujo!

Hey look, I know I’m late — but at least this post is getting done before the end of the month.

Believe it or not, I actually finished the spread for this month at a decent time this month. I can’t tell you exactly when I finished the cover page, but it was toward the beginning of the month.

So why did it take me so long to share my designs on my blog? In truth, I just didn’t have a chance to do the photography. I also hadn’t finalized some fo the doodles for my calendar portion (like what you see under February 22 and 16, and I didn’t want to post pictures of my designs until I’d included those extra little drawings.

I like the spread I did for February, though I kind-of wish it were a little more representative of what February in South Bend is really like — that’s to say, while I like the flowers I drew, flowers aren’t exactly something I saw once this entire month. I saw a lot snow, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, snow is a little harder to draw, and not nearly as colorful.

And so I think the February spread represented more my hopes for what the month would be like, rather than my expectations. I mean, you’ll notice, I also included lots of Valentines Day-themed drawings, and it’s not like I actually did anything exciting for Valentines Day (more on that in the February 14 blog).

The winter is definitely wearing thin. At the time of writing this blog, it’s February 26, and I’m about a week and a half out from spring break. “Spring break” — that should imply that spring is around the corner, right? Not here. It’s still definitively winter here in beautiful Northern Indiana. I think it made it all the way up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit today — so basically, it was a scorcher.

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


Bullet Journal Supplies (with Amazon links)

Bullet journal: The Scribbles that Matter Pro, A5, 

Pens: Pilot Frixion 

Markers: Prismacolor Brush Tip

 

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 25, 2018 – School Is Cool (OOTD #427)

Merry Christmas!

Okay, don’t worry — even though this blog post features the outfit from Christmas Day 2018, I won’t be talking about Christmas too much, notably because I barely did anything Christmas related on my first full day in Doha, Qatar.

It barely even felt like Christmas, but I was okay with that. My family and I celebrated Christmas the day before I departed on my two-week journey, and I got to see the Christmas Market in Munich on Christmas Eve, so I felt like I got a pretty comprehensive Christmas experience, even though I wasn’t home for the actual holiday. I was surprised — I thought I was going to be upset being away from my family, and I suppose I was a little bit, but there were so many things on my mind for that day that I forgot all about Christmas.

What was on my mind? Well, the perhaps most pressing was fact that I was in the Middle East for a conference on the conciliation of traditional Islamic scholarship and modernity. It was my first day, so I was nervous, but I had an advantage — I had participated in the same conference before in the summer with the same students.

My time in Qatar was essentially a continuation of my time in Nepal, which meant it came with some of the same struggles and same joys of Nepal’s conference. The biggest struggle with this project is that I didn’t actually know much about Islamic theology and modernity. The conference wasn’t really meant for me — it was meant for a cohort of about 40 Masters and PhD-level scholars from India and Pakistan. I was there along with the Notre Dame professor who organized the project in order to participate in the peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue aspect of the project — in essence, to offer an American Christian’s perspective on some of the topics discussed.

It’s hard though to offer your perspective when you don’t have a clear perspective. Some of the presentations could get kind of complex — like, historical analyses of concepts of human dignity or women’s rights in Islamic law. I don’t know much about Islamic law — and while I have some general stances on human dignity and women’s rights, I’m still no expert. It makes trying to participate in the discussions difficult because I’m not the intended audience.

And so, as was the case in Nepal, I believed my role in this project took place outside of the classroom, especially interacting with my old friends and trying to make new ones. I don’t like formal discussions — I much prefer informal ones where I don’t feel the pressure of a professor watching me and expecting me to contribute in one way or another. I don’t know how the conference organizers felt about my preference for extracurricular conversations, but they decided to bring me along again regardless. I guess they didn’t hate me in Nepal too much.

It was really cool to see some of my old friends from Nepal again, especially considering when I left them last summer, I thought I would probably never get to see them again. I hadn’t known I would have a chance to meet them again for another conference, and I doubted I would ever visit their home countries of India or Pakistan for a visit.

But then again, I doubted I’d ever get to see Doha, Qatar, and yet there I was, attending a conference at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Education City. That’s where these photos were taken.

Life is full of surprises — like how beautiful the HBK campus was. Seriously, Notre Dame is lovely, and the collegiate gothic style is neat and all, but HBK was really something else. It was modern, clean, and high-tech — the opposite of Notre Dame’s traditional Catholic aesthetic. Some parts of Notre Dame, like the crappy dorms, make it hard to tell how much money the school really has. HBK was the opposite — everything, from the modern architecture to the water feature incorporated throughout the building to the rooftop terrace with verses of the Quran onto the windowpanes — oozed money.

To close off the day, the other American students and I traveled out to a local church for a Christmas mass. I’ve never been to Christmas mass before, given how I’m not Catholic and all, and I’ve definitely never been to Christmas mass in an Islamic country. Interestingly, it wasn’t all that different from a regular mass service in the US. Just like in mass at Notre Dame, there was a lot of singing, and kneeling, and repeating verses, and I fell asleep during the homily. I guess some things don’t get more exciting, even when they’re in a foreign culture.

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: J. Crew

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