REVIEW: L’Oreal EverPure Repair & Defend Hair Care

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Hey look, it’s another Influenster VoxBox review.

Influenster seems to like sending me haircare products. I’m pretty sure that one of the very first products they ever sent me back when I first signed up was some purple hair dye from Clairol. Maybe they recognize how damaged it is after I bleached the hell out of it in high school. And then again right before sophomore year of college.

I’ve written extensively on my life as a blonde Asian, but a huge part of that life is trying to keep my hair from falling out again like it did at the beginning of freshman year, resulting in a pixie cut that made me look like Arya Stark when she was masquerading as a boy. I’m still trying to grow my hair back again. I’m glad that phase of my life is over — in terms of hair, I consider myself more of a Daenerys than an Arya.

Now that I’m in the process of growing my hair back again, while maintaining the bleach blonde color, I’m on the constant lookout for products that will both keep my hair healthy and protect its color. The L’Oreal EverPure Repair and Defend shampoo and conditioner set promises to do just that.

So after testing it out for a few weeks, do I think it lives up to its promises?

Eh…well enough, I guess. Ultimately, I don’t think I’ll be making a permanent switch of my normal routine of Clairol Shimmer Lights and Aussie Three Minute Miracle.

The thing is, with my bleach blonde hair, I don’t need my shampoo to “lock in” the color of a dye that’s been put on top of my hair; I need it to add a toning shade to prevent it from getting brassy. I don’t actually dye my hair — that is, I don’t put dye on top of it. I bleach it, and then I tone it, which is a different from dyeing.

I think this product is meant to prevent dye from fading, which is not something I struggle with because my hair has not been dyed. That’s why I like the Clairol Shimmer Lights shampoo — it’s a deep purple, so when I layer it on top of my base color of a yellowish bleach blonde color, it neutralizes the yellows and makes it look like a more natural ash blonde. Complimentary colors and all that jazz.

The conditioner is alright, but nothing special. I do find that my hair seems to be getting greasier faster than usual in the time I’ve been using this product, but that could also be the change of season. I do find it questionable though that a regular conditioner that’s meant for daily use makes my hair greasier faster than the deep conditioner I normally use; it seems like if anything, the L’Oreal conditioner should be lighter and make my hair less greasy than the Aussie one.

I appreciate that I had the chance to try these products, and maybe they could work for someone with different hair. Like I said, if you actually dye your hair and want to prevent fading, then perhaps this product is for you. But for me, whose concerns are not so much fading but rather toning, I just don’t think I was the right person this time. Sorry Influenster.

Have you tried the any of these products? Or do you have any suggestions for your favorite shampoos and conditioners for color-damaged hair? Let me know your thoughts below!

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!

 

 

Saturday Musings – March Bullet Journal Spread!

One of my favorite things about sharing my bullet journal spreads on this blog is that I don’t have to come up with a creative blog titles — I can just announce that I’m writing about my bullet journal spread and be done with it.

Anyway, this blog will be about my March spread. Please don’t pay attention to how this is being posted on March 30, also known as the second-to-last day of the month.

As I see it, though, people can still be inspired by my bullet journal drawings regardless of when in the month it is — it’s not like I’m a bullet journal influencer, so I don’t see any reason to post my spreads at any particular time. Besides, I’m new to bullet journaling myself, so I don’t see myself as anything worth copying at the moment. In fact, I’m still copying the layouts of some of my favorite artists, like AmandaRachLee.

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shhh, i know it’s not march anymore

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

I’m kind-of surprised with myself for managing to keep up with bullet journaling for so long (that is, if you ignore the three-month hiatus I took from October-December where I basically didn’t write/draw anything at all). I really like it as a way to force myself to draw a little every day — since I’m not in art classes really anymore, it’s a great way to try to exercise my skills.

I honestly wish I had more time to devote to it, though — I sometimes find that I end up rushing through a design/spread because I know I have limited time each day realistically to work on my journal. I wish I could do elaborate, time-intensive, and detailed drawings each month, but they usually end up pretty simplistic.

And simplistic isn’t a bad thing! But a lot of my artwork in the past was very detail-oriented, and there’s nothing really I’m doing right now to practice that kind of artwork. It’s looking like I’ll have a month at home in between my various travels, so maybe that’s something I’ll work on then.

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  and Copic Brush Tip

 

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

 

REVIEW: Lancôme Visionnaire Skin Solutions Collection

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done an Influenster VoxBox review, yeah?

I seem only to get one at a time, and each one takes about a month to complete (with the exception of my BareMinerals foundation one, which took two months), so at that rate, I have a new VoxBox about once a month.

I’ve been really lucky recently, though — I’ve gotten some really good products to review for free. In fact, one of my holy grail eyebrow products, the Lime Crime Bushy Brow pen, was something that I received in my last box.

But I think this most recent box takes the cake for some of the best full-size products that I’ve ever received to review — this time, Influenster pulled out the big guns and sent me products from Lancôme.

Let me give you a little background on my history with Lancôme: there basically is no history. I’ve never purchased any of their products because I can’t afford them (well, I suppose I could spend the money if I really wanted to…but I’m just not enough of a makeup person to justify it. I’d rather spend the money on clothes, to be honest), and so the only Lancôme makeup I own actually comes from my grandmother’s collection. She buys classier makeup than me.

Anyway, I dug into this box with very little in terms of preconceived notions about what Lancôme products should be like. I knew they were pricey, and so I hoped for something of good quality, but that’s about the only expectations I had. I actually calculated the total monetary value of everything I got in my box — $211 — and so I hoped that the products would be worth someone out there spending $211 on them.

I received the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 15% vitamin C concentrate, the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 2% Retinol night corrector, the Fix It and Forget It setting spray, and the Long Time No Shine setting powder. As far as I could tell, all of the products were their full-size versions.

Long Time No Shine Setting Power

I’ll begin with the Long Time No Shine setting powder because of the four products I received, I probably used this one the most.

Overall, I liked it. It’s a good setting powder — maybe not almost-$40 good, but still very good. I liked the packaging it came in — it felt much sturdier and of better quality than my ELF HD setting powder or even my BareMinerals Blemish Rescue powder. My one complaint is that there’s no way to close off the holes where the powder comes out, which can be very problematic when you’re traveling and the container gets bumped around in  your bag. Sure, you have a lid, which should prevent the powder from leaving the container, but that doesn’t prevent the product from spilling into the space in between the main storage compartment and the lid. My BareMinerals loose powder has a simple mechanism for closing the holes; you’d think that for $40 Lancôme could do the same.

The powder itself is good, though I’m still not a huge loose powder fan for everyday use. In general, I do like it more than pressed powder, but given how messy it is to apply, I usually only use loose for special occasions. I’m afraid this Lancôme powder hasn’t changed my onion. I like it, don’t get me wrong — but I don’t like it enough to get over my hesitations with loose powders as a whole. But it’s a good loose powder, as loose powders go.

Fix It and Forget It Setting Spray

This might be my favorite of the products I received from Lancôme, or at least, the one I see myself using the most. I found the staying power of this stuff to be really fantastic. I have long days — I go to class in the mornings, and I often don’t take off my makeup until late at night. By the time night rolls around, my makeup can look pretty awful.

With this product, though, I found I could get my makeup to hold up pretty decently. I didn’t do a test of how many hours I could get my foundation to last or anything like that, but I can say that it made it though a day — and a day for me can go from 9:30AM to 2AM the next morning.

My one complaint is, again, the packaging. The way the spray mechanism works gives you a very fine mist — so fine that it’s hard to perceive it on your skin. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, I guess, but I found that I was often confused as to whether I’d gotten any of the spray on my face at all, or if I’d completely missed. I’d end up going through several pumps of the product, just to realize that the spray was hitting my face but I couldn’t perceive it. Compared to heavier sprays, like the famous Urban Decay All-Nighter stuff, it’s a little difficult to get used to. Regardless, it’s still a great product, and one that I would recommend the most out of all of these.

Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 15% Vitamin C Concentrate

It’s a little hard for me to review the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 15% vitamin C concentrate (as is the case with the 2% Retinol corrector as well, which you’ll see below), as I don’t really think it’s a product that’s meant for me, a 20 year-old woman. From what I understood from the package, it’s meant for people dealing with aging skin, which, while I guess my skin is technically aging constantly, is not really an issue that I’m worrying about right now. I still get acne sometimes — I’m not ready to worry about wrinkles! I suppose it might be useful for preventing wrinkles in the future, but don’t want to lie and pretend that this product does something for me that I can’t see yet.

So I can only speak to what I did experience with the product — and that’s that it kind of smelled lousy. I mean, I’ve probably used smellier products before, but I was kind of hoping for something better out of Lancôme. As for the actual effect on me, I did find that it had some moisturizing properties. It didn’t sting going on, like some serums do, and apart from the scent, it was an overall inoffensive product. Am I sold? No — but like I said, I don’t think it’s meant to be sold to me.

Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 2% Retinol Night Corrector

And that’s the case with the Vissionnaire Skin Solutions 2% Retinol night corrector too. Again, Retinol is an ingredient known for its anti-aging properties — and my skin just isn’t aging that badly yet. Retinol is also supposedly a very strong vitamin; in fact, the box that the tube came in even warned me against using it more than once a week when I was first trying it out. I’ve heard about people having some pretty negative reactions to Retinol, and with my sensitive skin, I didn’t think it was a good idea to chance it.

I did try the product, though, if only in a very small quantity. My impression was that it smelled kind of chemical-y, and that it stung a little bit (or maybe more like a tingling sensation?) going on. I had no strong negative reactions the next morning, but no miracles went on either. Maybe I could speak to strong negative reactions or miracles a little more after I’d used the product for longer, but with only a month to review all of the products in this box, and with the restriction of using the Retinol night corrector once or twice a week, I didn’t really notice anything. Sorry if this is an anticlimactic review, but I can’t speak to what I haven’t experienced .


Have you tried the any of these products? Or do you have any suggestions for your favorite soaps, brow products, primers, or serums? Let me know your thoughts below!

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!

 

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.

 

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

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.

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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