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 👋

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jacket: Hollister

Top: Thrifted (flea market)

Turtleneck: Free People

Pants: Banana Republic

Saturday Musings – Bujo

Today, I realized something that should have been obvious — “bujo” stands for “bullet journaling.

I’ve been seeing the bujo tag on Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr for ages to represent images of visually appealing, artistic, and cutesy journal pages. I’ve also been seeing bullet journals all over — which ultimately influenced my decision to purchase one for myself and try to get into it. However, of all of my years of consciously knowing that “bujo” and “bullet journaling” were aesthetic journal trends, I never realized that they were the same thing. Bujo = BUllet JOurnal. Shouldn’t that have even obvious?

In other news, you’ll notice that I’ve brought my Saturday Musings series back! I haven’t done one of these posts since mid-September. I initially took a break because I just felt like I didn’t have any new inspiration for posts — they were getting repetitive, just shots of my coffee and my laptop over and over again. I started the series to give me a break and take the pressure off from the OOTD posts, and yet, I found that the Saturday Musings posts were just putting pressure on me to produce flatly-style pictures even when I had no new ideas.

But now that I’ve gotten into bullet journaling (sort-of — I did kind of fall behind in November and December), I have a new source of inspiration for what I can show off in these Saturday Musings posts. So I’m brining it back — but I’m taking the pressure off of myself to do a post like this every week, and to do them only on Saturdays. Now, these “musings” style posts will come whenever I feel the inspiration for them — be that on a Saturday or no.

Anyway, I finally got around to doing a January bullet journal spread, and so I thought I’d  share it with you today. With all of the traveling I did at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, I thought this image of the globe would be fitting. But then, of course, after the traveling was all over, it was time to return to university, so I combined the travel imagery with some study inspiration in the form of books. I guess you could say the general theme for the January spread is studying through cultural immersion.

Or maybe there’s no overarching theme — just some aesthetically-pleasing doodles and colors combined into a calendar spread. Going with the theme of minimal commitment and pressure that I’m adopting with my blog, I’m also not putting strict definitions or rules about what my bullet journal has to be. It’ll be whatever it ends up being.

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

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

January 30, 2018 – Art Student Aesthetic Squared (OOTD #214)

On Tuesday, I found myself in something of a pickle – I couldn’t find a good opportunity for someone to take pictures for me.

It’s not so much that there weren’t people I could ask – I’m always surrounded by people, so in theory, I could always just ask a random stranger – but I never found myself in a good situation to get a friend to do them for me. My typical Tuesday lunch friend was too busy to meet with me, the people I ate dinner with went too late to get good lighting, and I didn’t really feel comfortable asking someone to go out of their way to help me, so I found myself at 8pm with no outfit photos.

In that case, I decided to take my photos myself. I took my phone, my watch, and a pencil case to prop my phone against, and headed to Riley, the creepy haunted art building.

I actually had some work to do on my still life for my Drawing class, so hangout out at Riley wasn’t just for this blog. When I arrived in the drawing studio, there were still some people there, which forced me to actually focus on my art for a few hours until the people finally left.

At last, once everyone was gone and I was alone in the room – around 10pm – I was able to set up my camera on top of a drawing table, and, using my watch’s remote photo-taking feature (a true lifesaver here) to take what I consider are some decent photos, given the circumstances. I even managed to get a few shots with the depth perception on.

What I love best about these shots is the giant artwork in the background. I actually have no idea what it’s supposed to mean, or what class it was for, but it’s not a doorway or a brick wall, which means it’s totally unique in comparison to what I usually get for my photos at this school. I get some street art vibes here, actually, which, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know if my favorite kind of background.

If I ever find myself in this pickle again, I’ll definitely swing by Riley again late at night to do my pictures. Maybe I’ll even manage to get the Riley ghost in one of my shots one of these nights!

Thanks for reading, and 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: Evan Picone

Shirt: J. Crew

Sweater: Abercrombie (thrifted)

Pants: The LOFT

January 29, 2018 – Art Student Aesthetic (OOTD #213)

I guess I can finally consider myself an “art student.”

I never expected to be able to say that, actually – I thought for certain I was going to be done with art classes after high school.

Not done with art entirely, but certainly done with formal lessons in art a part of graded classes. I always figured I would continue it as a hobby on the side, but I was pretty burnt out by the end of high school of staying up late every night, struggling to compete the numerous art classes I was never able to take the time to develop as much as I would have liked to anyway.

But then it turned out that I missed it. I had hoped Notre Dame would at least have some sort of art club, but for whatever reason, we don’t. The visual arts don’t really have a very strong presence here, which I can kind of understand, given we’re not an art school, but they’re so nonexistent it’s a little bizarre.

They do have a very small art and design department, which, now that I’m attempting to minor in studio art, I suppose I’ve joined. I’m in a beginning drawing class right now, which, while not particularly creatively challenging, is still nice to break up some of my more writing-based academic courses.

So here’s my best attempt at embodying my newfound art student identity – plaid pants, baseball shirt, my “tattoo artist” jacket, and of course, my boyish pixie cut. It’s not the sort of look that would make it onto a “preppy fashion” Pinterest board, but I think it’s interesting nonetheless.

Thanks for reading, and 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!

Shirt: Zumiez

Jacket: Vintage (thrifted)

Pants: The LOFT

January 27, 2018 – All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go (OOTD #212)

You think I’m kidding? No – I really did get all dressed up here just so I could take some pictures and then sit in my dorm room the rest of the day trying to convince myself to do homework.

It started off with a very productive morning – I got up at 9:30 (which is fairly early for me for a weekend), then, I worked out and took a much needed shower. At that point, 11:00, I proceeded to spend an obscenely long amount of time on my makeup simply because I could and I was feeling it that morning. Most days, I roll out of bed ten minutes before class is due to start so I barely have time to draw on some eyebrows before I rush out the door, so getting to spend some quality time on my makeup is a luxury.

After making myself look pretty for nothing and no one in particular, I tackled the challenge of trying to find some good lighting and a decent background in my dorm room to snap some selfies. The end result, which I’m pretty proud of, bar the bunk bed background, you can see below.

By afternoon, though, all of my motivational energy from the morning was drained, and I was left with nothing but a dull sense that I probably ought to get some work done and the even stronger sense that I had no desire to get work done whatsoever. As I result, I wound up sitting around in my room for most of the day doing a whole lot of nothing.

In fairness, I did have a rather eventful evening the day prior. My friend, Michaela, and I decided to go to the Max Schneider concert on campus, which, while not as exciting to me as the Wombats, who were there the week before, was still pretty fun.

I wasn’t really familiar with any of his work before we went, but I wound up really liking some of his stuff, for pop music at least. He was an excellent entertainer with a ton of energy, and you couldn’t help but feel his enthusiasm for what he was doing, which was really neat to see. Plus, we arrived early enough that we were able to stand right up next to the barricade, which was an experience I’d never had at a concert before – but one that I’d love to have again, especially if it was for a band that I was really into.

All that excitement though completely wore me out, and now I’ve caught a cold. Since starting university, I swear I’ve gotten sick more times within just two semester than I ever was during the entirety of high school. I also just ran out of NyQuil, so I’ve been trying to cure the virus with cough drops and allergy nose squirts alone. I don’t think it’s working.

Thanks for reading, and 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!

Dress: Missguided