January 28, 2020 – Shakespeare in Love (OOTD #604)

Wait, this isn’t a restaurant chain in Lexington, KY.

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peare and compan

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For context, there are some restaurants in my hometown called “Shakespeare and Co.” that serve cute brunch foods. Apparently, they have really good vegan options, so when my vegan friends come to town, I often go.

The real Shakespeare and Co., however, is an old bookshop in Paris. I’m not actually sure where I heard of it first — was it my freshman English class? Was it  one of the various French movies I watched for extra credit but never really understood? It’s just one of those things that I know I know, but I don’t know how I know — you know?

On Tuesday, the last day before classes began, my new friend, Hannah, and I decided to do some shopping, with the specific intent of visiting some thrift stores. We’d heard it alluded to by our Welcome Programme leader, and Hannah had actually visited it before, but I hadn’t yet made it there. It sounded like heaven to me — an entire section of town devoted to vintage and thrift shops? Sounds like my cup of tea.

Of all of the neighborhoods in Paris, I think I visited Le Marais the most frequently, after my own neighborhood and the neighborhood Sciences Po is in.  Le Marais is the proverbial *bohemianpart of town, akin to Shoreditch in London or Wicker Park in Chicago. It’s home to a thriving gay community, arts community, and of course, lots of wonderful vintage shops.

My favorite was Free’p’star. No, I don’t know why it’s called that. All I know is that it was an amazing store — I don’t like the phrase “happy place,” but that’s probably what I would call it.

There were actually two Free’p’stars right across the street from each other — again, don’t know why. They both had similar stocks — not that that means anything, when I’m pretty sure they sold just about any kind of clothing imaginable. I can’t say they had a very consistent theme, beyond “used French clothes.”

But the thing about “used French clothes” is that they’re much nicer than used American clothes — much nicer than what you’d find at a Goodwill. French people, especially Parisian French people, are a fashionable bunch. When they get rid of clothes, what they get rid of is still pretty nice.

The best part of Free’p’star was the massive 1 euro bargain bin at the back of the store. Everything in the bin was 1 euro — no lie.

You’d often have to fight a crowd just to stand at the bargain bin and sift through its treasures. As soon as someone moved in position slightly, you had to be prepared to elbow your way in — and if you were standing at the bin already, you had to be prepared for someone to sneak next to you as soon as you shifted your feet. It was competitive — people would start stacks to get clothes out of their way as they hunted, and someone else would come along behind them and start shifting through the other person’s stack of refuse, creating their own stack in the process.

But there was some really nice stuff to be found, if you were willing to do some treasure hunting. As it turns out, that’s exactly my kind of thing. My mother, on the other hand, who hates the disorganized nature of even a store like TJ Maxx, would have taken one look inside Free’p’star and turned around and walked out.

After Le Marais, Hannah and I visited the famous Shakespeare and Co. across the river. There were signs requesting that tourists not take pictures inside, which I mostly heeded. I did get plenty of pictures outside though.

To my surprise, Shakespeare and Co., sold almost exclusively English language books. I’m not sure what I expected out of a bookstore named for the most famous English writer in history, but I was hoping for a chance to check out some French books. That was why I was in Paris, after all — to learn French.

Thankfully, Gibert Jaune in the Latin Quarter was able to scratch that itch. There were several Gibert Jaune storefronts at the same intersection, so it took Hannah and I a moment to figure out which store was best for us, as each store was devoted to a different genre of books. After wandering around aimlessly in the nonfiction store and then the science fiction/fantasy store, we finally came across the discount books store.

I picked up copies of L’étranger by Albert Camus and Vol au-dessus d’un nid du coucou by Ken Kesey, a French translation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I figured I needed something other than Harry Potter et le prisonnier d’Azkaban to read on the Metro on my way to school in order to look like an authentic Parisian.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Dress: Francesca’s

January 27, 2020 – I’m in Louvre (OOTD #603)

Yeah, the Louvre was pretty cool. It was so cool I don’t even have any jokes to make about it, beyond the pun-based title of this blog.

As I’ve mentioned in my last few blogs, I had quite a lot of time to kill in between my arrival in France and my actual first day of classes. It was around two weeks, actually. About one of those two weeks was devoted to the surprisingly not awful Welcome Programme, and the remaining days I spent exploring my new city.

By some dumb luck, I didn’t start classes until Wednesday the first week of school. My Mondays were clear anyway (though they didn’t remain clear — more on that scheduling nightmare in a later blog), and my Tuesday class got cancelled. That left me with half the week to try to keep myself distracted from the anxiety of starting new school in a whole different country.

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live laugh louvre

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Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard. Owing to the absolutely exhausting job of making as many friends as possible during the Welcome Programme, I was invited to spend the afternoon with two students from Boston University after they finished up their morning classes. I gratefully accepted — not only is it always really nice to be included in people’s plans, but it also gave me something to do so I didn’t make myself sick from nerves in anticipation of my first classes.

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who is that girl i see 🎶

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We actually didn’t even intend to go to the Louvre — in fact, we had planned on going to one of the other super famous French museums, the musée d’Orsay. We’d all gotten to visit the musée d’Orsay very briefly during the Welcome Programme, but it was just a rushed hour-long guided tour, and I think we were able eager to go back and set a more leisurely pace. In fact, I have no pictures from that first visit at all because of how fast it went by.

However, the musée d’Orsay was closed that rainy Monday afternoon, and in wracking our brains for other famous indoor Parisian sites we knew of that we could visit on a Monday, we naturally settled upon the Louvre.

I say “settled” as if it was some great disappointment to visit the Louvre over the d’Orsay. Far from it.img_3338

There are some tourist sites that don’t live up to the hype — in fact, I’d say that a lot of famous tourist sites don’t live up to the hype. The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is kinda lame. Big Ben in London has never not been completely obscured my construction every time I’ve visited. The Washington Monument in DC is kind of neat from a distance when it pierces the skyline but up close it’s really just a big stick.

The Louvre is awesome. Even if you don’t like art, I think the Louvre is awesome. It was the old palace of the Bourbon family, when the king for wanted to be in Paris to be more connected to political affairs rather than hidden away in his Versailles estate. Even if you think the old paintings are dusty and dull, just wandering the old palace is entertainment enough. I’d liken it to the Vatican Museums in Rome — yeah, the art is neat if you’re into that sort of thing (and I am!) but there’s a lot more to take in as well.

But yes — everything you’ve heard about the Mona Lisa is true. It’s tiny. The room that it’s in is crowded with people (and you have to remember — I was there on a rainy Monday afternoon. In January. In the middle of a massive city-wide transportation strike. It was hardly peak season, and that room was still jam packed. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the summer). As a painting, it’s underwhelming to put it kindly.img_3341

My personal favorite work in the gallery was Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberté guidant le peuple,” or “Liberty Leading the People.” For a long time, I wanted a print of it to hang in my bathroom, owing to the fact that it was used for the cover of my favorite Coldplay Album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. During that time, I also had a pretty intense Les Misérables phase — and so anything French Revolution-themed seemed col to me.

This was my one and only time I got to visit the Louvre. Like the Eiffel Tower, like Versailles, like the musée d’Orsay — I thought I’d go back. It was a given, in my mind: how on earth could I spend four months in Paris and not go back to the Louvre to explore it more thoroughly? As a student of the EU, I even got free admission! It’s the Louvre, arguably the most famous art museum in the world. Of course I’d be back.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: Forever21

Blouse: Banana Republic

Scarf: My Aunt Denise

Trousers: Altar’d State

January 25, 2020 – Bus Tour de France (OOTD #602)

I really wouldn’t say that a tour bus is the best way to experience Paris.

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i just can’t place it

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I almost didn’t even go because even before I took the bus tour, I was pretty certain that it wasn’t the sort of thing for me. I was also absolutely exhausted from the night before — Friday had been the last day of the Welcome Programme (well, technically, the bus tour was the final event, but it was optional), and I was out late the previous evening at a club.

What ultimately convinced me to go was that I figured that, as a bus tour, I could sit there and look out the window most of the time. I love long train rides, and I thought, if nothing else, a bus tour of Paris would allow me to see some of the tourist sites without moving my feet. I just needed a big sun hat and plastic sunglasses and I could be a proper Asian tourist lady.

What I didn’t count on with this tour, though, was that the bus was mostly just a vessel for us to get from site to site — from there, there was actually quite a bit of walking. It was hardly a hike — honestly, I walked more on my first day in Paris and in Versailles — but I think when combined with how tired I was from the previous day (and the whole week in general), it ended up being a lot.

My social battery was also running out. I’m truly still shocked that I managed to be so extroverted during the whole of Welcome Weekend. I went to almost event, I accepted every invitation, I made an effort to be friendly and outgoing even after I was semi-comfortable in my established group of friends. I don’t normally subscribe to fomo — that is, the “fear of missing out” — but this time, I did.

And I’m glad I did. Though by the end of the week, that bus tour (followed by going to a café with friends later in the afternoon, and then going to a friend’s apartment after that, and then to dinner that night with even more friends) was absolutely draining, I think it was necessary. Compared to my semester in Washington DC, where I ended up regretting turning down a few early invitations because it meant it took me a bit longer to establish a group of friends, I started the semester in Paris with a pretty strong group. I mean, I’m sure there was also luck involved — sometimes, groups just don’t clique and there’s nothing you can do about it — but, given how my time in Paris was ultimately cut short, I’m so grateful that I spent as much time as I could early on with such a great group of people.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Pitaya

January 24, 2020 – Seine It All Before (OOTD #601)

I’m going to run out of French-related puns soon. It seems like the time hasn’t come quite yet though.

The Friday before the start of classes was essentially the final day of the Sciences Po Welcome Programme. The ~official~ final day was actually Saturday, in that it was the day of the very last event, but Friday felt like the true end. It was the last day when I met with my Programme group for our méthodologie class, for one, which had been a defining element of orientation. We gave presentations in groups to show how much we’d learnt about French pedagogy (spoiler alert: my group didn’t learn much), and an instructor gave us feedback (spoiler alert: our instructor wasn’t very nice).

After that somewhat harrowing experience, Friday culminated in a Seine river tour and a party at a local club, which made it feel like a true conclusion. While Saturday still held one more event (a bus tour of the city), it was mostly optional, and so not everyone I had gotten to know from my Programme group showed up — and it was really the people who defined the whole Welcome Programme experience anyway.

Like I said in my last blog, I actually really enjoyed my experience during the Sciences Po Welcome Programme. There were about two-ish weeks in between my arrival in Paris and the actual start of classes, one of which was taken up by the Welcome Programme. Though I was afraid it would just be another hokey ice breaker-filled orientation, it was actually a really fun way to get acquainted with my new city and make new friends. It allowed me to get some more tourist-y activities out of the way (taking a Seine river tour, pour exemple) while also getting to know other exchange students.

If any of you reading this blog happen to be aspiring Sciences Po students, I’d actually highly recommend coughing up the extra 200 euro or whatever it is to participate. The friends I made during the Welcome Programme ended up being the friends I stuck with for the rest of the semester (or at least however much of the semester was in-person), and I don’t know how I would’ve made friends without it.

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That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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)

Trousers: Express

Jacket: Thrifted (Goodwill)

January 23, 2020 – L’Assemblée du jour (OOTD #600)

(Unrelated to the rest of this post: this is my 600th OOTD blog! I can’t even believe that. Thanks to everyone who’s read my stories over the last four years — it really means a lot).

I’m really proud of this blog title: L’Assemblée du jour. Because…I’m standing in front of l’Assemblée nationale. And because…my blog is called L’ensemble du jour. I thought I was clever.

I mentioned this briefly in my last blog, but before the start of classes at Sciences Po, I participated in a Welcome Programme for international exchange students. I was initially hesitant about the idea — I remembered how awkward and horrible Welcome Weekend before the start of my freshman year at Notre Dame was, and I was not eager to go through that again.

But the one upside of Notre Dame’s Welcome Weekend — and it’s a major, important upside — was that it helped me make friends. I met some of my best friends during Welcome Weekend. It was a harrowing, exhausting experience, but I think the trauma of nonstop manufactured socialization brings people together.

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme also helped me make friends. But it did so in a way that was not…traumatic? Is that even possible?

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme was, dare I say, legitimately fun. Yeah, the first day was pretty stressful getting to know people and navigate my way around the buildings. But after that, the events and activities they put together for us were things I actually wanted to do — it wasn’t a chore to convince myself to go to the wine and cheese tasting or the Seine river tour or happy hour drinks at Montmartre. Making friends came naturally because they put together a schedule of programming where socializing didn’t feel forced. No offense to Welcome Weekend 2017 at Notre Dame, but “go stand there in an open field with 500 other kids while we blast loud music at you and 18 year-old boys have all been tasked by their Welcome Weekend leaders with getting you and other girls’ numbers — also you can’t have alcohol” really wasn’t an event that made making friends feel natural.

And I’m so grateful that I made friends so quickly and naturally at Sciences Po. It made saying goodbye to them suddenly in mid-March significantly harder, but it made the two months that I did have all the better.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: H&M

Blouse: H&M

Trousers: Banana Republic

January 18, 2020 – Ver-SALES (OOTD #598)

Little known fact: I almost moved to Versailles once.

No, not the town just outside of Paris. No, not the famous palace built by Louis XIV. I’m talking about Versailles, Kentucky (pronounced in the Kentuckian Ver-SALES rather than the French Vair-SIGH) — a town just outside of Lexington.

When my parents were deciding where to move when I was in seventh grade, they considered a few of the more rural areas outside of Fayette County. Versailles in Woodford County was one of them. We were coming from the Louisville-Jefferson County area, and in the greater Louisville region, the best places to live aren’t necessarily in Jefferson County. I think my parents thought Lexington would be much the same — you’d go into Lexington to do your shopping or to have fun on the weekends, but for day-to-day life, you’d want to live outside of the city.

As it turned out, though, Lexington’s pretty different. You don’t really need to live outside of Fayette County in order to find suburban quiet; there’s plenty of suburban quiet in Fayette County already. Lexington’s just much smaller than Louisville, so there was no need for us to seriously consider Versailles, Kentucky as a home.img_2853

Still, I’ve driven through Versailles, Kentucky many times, and I’m fond of some of the roads and sites. In particular, Versailles, Kentucky has its own castle — not quite the magnificent palace that spurred a revolution in France, but one that’s caused many a confused driver to do a double-take and wonder what a giant chateâu is doing in the Bluegrass state.

And so finally getting to go to the real Versailles — the Vair-SIGH version for which the Ver-SALES one was named — was exciting! I went with the same roommate from Notre Dame who’d accompanied me the previous day on our grand tour of tourist Paris. I think both of us were itching for something to do to get out of the house. We’d already unpacked and bought groceries and begun to settle into our apartment, and so there wasn’t much left to do to keep busy — and more importantly, to keep our minds off of anxiety about the start of the semester in a few days. I suppose I can’t speak on my roommate’s behalf, but that’s certainly what I was thinking.img_2898

The Palace of Versailles is a must-see. I know it’s outside of Paris. I know it’s intimidating to take the RER out of the city for the first time. I know it’s not quite as famous as the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe. But believe me — it’s worth that extra 15-30 minute train ride.

Palaces and castles are some of my favorite sites to visit when I’m in Europe. They’re just so exotic to me — outside of the curious Versailles, Kentucky castle-themed concert venue in the middle of nowhere, Americans like me never get to see castles. The closest you might get are old plantation manors like Monticello or Mount Vernon. Castles and palaces also make for great photo opportunities, and, if you’re willing to pay admission to go inside, they give you lots to walk around and marvel at for a few hours. While some of them are arguably less exciting than others (I’m looking at you, Posavski muzej Brežice in Brežice, Slovenia), needless to say, Versailles is fantastic. And if you’re a student at an EU institution like I was at the time, admission is free!img_2886

I wish I could’ve stayed there longer — a rather common theme you’ll likely find in all of my Paris-related blogs. Both Isabel and I agreed that it would be worth it to come back in the springtime when the gardens were in bloom (though the fewer tourists who were there due to the winter season was definitely also a perk). There’s so much more to see than just the main palace. I’d liken it almost to something in the vein of a national park. There’s just miles of sprawling, beautifully-manicured land to explore, not to mention dozens of smaller palaces scattered about the grounds that you can go in.

When we finally left, exhausted and hungry from walking around so much, I mentally made a note that I had to go back to Versailles, especially if my parents or friends managed to come visit me. And at the time, I thought that was a given — of course I’d be able to go back! Why wouldn’t I? It was so close, and with my NaviGo Transport pass plus my student ID card, it was a free trip.

…and that’s not to say I’ll never be able to go back, maybe once this whole pandemic has burned itself out and I’ve made enough money to be able to take a nice vacation to Paris. But I’m sad that I’ll likely never return as a student, as a local who actually lives in France. There was something enchanting about visiting the palace knowing I was a resident of Paris rather than a regular tourist. It was almost like being a Bourbon myself, taking a trip to get away from city politics to relax for the weekend at my countryside home.img_2894

I guess I always have the Kentuckian Versailles for that.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Top: Express

Skirt: Zara (thrifted)

January 17, 2020 – Le Grand Jour (OOTD #597)

There’s um…been a lot that’s happened in the world and in my life since my last post about January 15, 2020 .

That last post, despite being about mid-January, was actually published in mid-March. As has been the case for all of my blog posts since about spring 2018, they’re all posted quite a while after the actual calendar date they correspond with. That’s not new.

What is new is the now-seven month gap in between the publication date of a blog and the date the corresponding photos were taken. This post is about January 2020. It’s now July — and the world of July 2020 is vastly different from that of January 2020.

It’s kind of hard to put myself back into the headspace of January 2020 to even write about this day in mid-January, back in Paris. When possible, I normally try to write my blogs in the present tense — as if I’m actually reliving that day. I’m afraid that’s going to be impossible with most of my study abroad semester blogs. I doubt anyone is able to fully go back to the mentality they had at the start of this year, myself included.

For a while there, blogging didn’t really seem like an appropriate thing to do, you know? There was a global pandemic going on, not to mention the widespread protests that swept the country as the health crisis brought to the surface longstanding social inequities, in particular for Black Americans. I didn’t think my fashion blog really had place in the world at the time.img_2729

Still, I love writing, and I love reflecting on my daily life via this blog. It’ll be hard work for me to get caught up again with the months-worth of photos and outfits I’ve neglected to post about over this hiatus, but I’m going to try.img_2751

I’m going to give you the spoilers right now: I didn’t make it through the whole semester in Paris. That wasn’t of my own volition — the COVID-19 pandemic, which ground the whole world to a halt in mid-March, also brought my European semester to an abrupt end. In mid-March, shortly after my most recent blog was posted, my home university announced that it would be closing down campus for the rest of the semester and flying all of its abroad students back to the United States. Needless to say, I was devastated.

But I’ve been taking the last several months to reflect on the wonderful time I got to have in Paris and the friends I got to make, and despite the fact it was cut short, I’m so glad I got to experience what I got to experience there. And in fact, that’s kind of why I want to go back to writing again: I don’t want to forget all of the wonderful times I had in Paris, and so I want to preserve the memories I do have. It’s not ideal — I probably should’ve written down those memories sooner so as to maintain the details — but it’ll do.

These photos were from my third day in Paris. I wrote about the first day in this post here. My second day was pretty boring — not blog-worthy, apparently. I went for a walk in the evening and bought some groceries.I spent most of the day getting over my horrible jet lag.

But day 3 was a lot of fun! I went out with my roommate into the city to do some exploring. We went to le 1er arrondissement, the tourist section of town. I’m not kidding — we literally saw just about every single stereotypically Parisian site in that single day. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Seine, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, the Notre Dame (the real one!), the Louvre — you name it, we probably passed it. It was also my first time on the Paris Métro, as up until that point, I’d taken busses due to the Métro running an altered schedule thanks to the transport strike.

That’s about it though — we passed them all. It was mostly a survey day of the 1er. We didn’t stop to go into the Louvre (we tried — it was closed due to a strike), we didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower, we didn’t go into any of the shops on the Champs-Élysées. We both thought we had four more months in Paris with which to do all of those things — so no need to rush on day 3, right?img_2778

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Abercrombie

January 15, 2020 – Bienvenue à Paris (OOTD #596)

Finalement, je suis ici à Paris! 

It’s hard to believe that I finally made it here to Paris. It’s been a whole year since I first committed to study abroad at Sciences Po Paris for a semester, and it’s been over a year since I first submitted my application. My arrival in Paris has been a long time coming.

It almost didn’t happen either. My last blog post, I wrote about going to the Chicago visa office to submit the last of my paperwork. I thought that was going to be the end of it — I’d hand it my papers at the office, and then they would issue me my visa right there. I was deeply wrong. As it turns out, after I handed in my papers, I had to hand in my passport as well, leave it with in Chicago so they could send it all the way to Washington DC, and then, finally, they would send it back.

You can imagine how anxious I was as my flight departure date grew nearer and I still didn’t have my passport back from the DC visa office. I braced myself to have to reschedule my flight, potentially missing the Sciences Po Welcome Programme in the fallout.

I got lucky though — my passport, with my visa attached inside, arrived literally one day before my departure. A word of advice, though, if you’re going to be studying abroad in France and don’t want to deal with the stress of waiting for you passport to be returned to you via snail mail — do your visa appointment early! Don’t wait until the last second like I did.

Believe it or not, this is actually my first time in Paris. I feel like almost everyone (at least, those of my friends who had to go on international family vacations when they were kids) has been to Paris. It isn’t the number one tourist destination in the world for nothing.

My first few days in Paris were relatively uneventful. The grève, or strike, against the retirement pension reforms was still going on, so the RER and several métro lines were down, making getting from CDG Aéroport to my apartment in the 14e arrondissement more difficult that I had anticipated it being. In the end, rather than braving a taxi or a bus, I called a car service to pick me up and drive me to my apartment. It was perhaps the less “authentic” choice, but it got me where I needed to be.

After arriving at my apartment, I spent a good chunk of the day asleep. I was hardly able to sleep on the plane, despite my attempts, and so I was exhausted when I arrived. Unfortunately, since I arrived in the morning (7am to be exact), I still had a full day ahead of me to try to stay awake — a task that I admittedly didn’t do amazingly at.

When I was finally able to stay awake for more than five minutes at a time, I decided to take the bus into the city to walk around a little, as well as to get some paperwork from my landlord’s office. Completely unintentionally, as I was wandering around, I ended up bumping into the Eiffel Tower.

I still think la tour Eiffel looks a little like an overhyped telephone pole, but don’t tell the French I said that about their most iconic architectural structure. I’m sure it’s gorgeous at night when it’s all sparkling and lit up, and I’m sure it offers a beautiful view of the city if you go to the top. During the day, though, when viewed as a spectator from the ground, I think the romanticized idea of the Eiffel Tower is cooler than the reality.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. 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: Thrift (Goodwill)

Turtleneck: Express

Jeans: Hollister

January 2, 2020 – The Chicago Sun (OOTD #595)

I don’t care what anyone says; the sun feels the best in the winter in the Midwest.

I’m sure the sun is lovely in California. I’m sure it’s wonderful to live in a state where it never dips below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, where you see the sun every day no matter what the season. I’m sure the sun is lovely elsewhere too. But in the Midwest in the winter — in places like South Bend, Indiana or Chicago, Illinois — where you can go the entirety of December through April without once seeing a ray of sunshine, it hits a little different. The sun is special there; it’s sacred.

When I hopped onto the plane in the wee hours of the morning on one of the first days of 2020 to head to the French visa office in Chicago, I braced myself for the worst. I expected winds, snow, ice — maybe hail. I may not have been in the Midwest since the first half of 2019,  but believe me, I remember how winter there works. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget how winter there works.

So imagine my surprise when it was actually…kind of nice out? Arguably even nicer than Kentucky had been during the same time?

I mean, I still needed my coat and scarf. I definitely didn’t regret bringing those. But as winter days in Chicago go, it was about as beautiful as it could be. For starters, the sun was out — and the sun is never out in that part of the country during that time of year. The permacloud life is real.

And not only was the weather beautiful, but my father and I got to spend nice day together in the city. I had my visa appointment in the morning, which went fairly smoothly, and after it was done, we were free to enjoy ourselves until our flight back to Lexington at 9pm at night.

I’ve been to Chicago several times, so I know most of what it has to offer, but every time, I feel like I discover something new. For example, I realized during this trip that I’d never even seen the Chicago River before. I’ve also never been to the Lincoln Park Zoo (that I remember — apparently I went once as a kid, but since I don’t remember it, I don’t count it). The more I go to Chicago, the more I learn to like it; my appreciation for it is growing.

The accent still kills me though. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over the way they all talk through their nose. They do know that they can pronounce words using their chest and throat, right? It’s Chi-augh-go, not Chi-cah-go. 

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this winter break in the States. 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: Thrifted (Goodwill)

Sweater: H&M

Turtleneck: Amazon

Jeans: Altar’d State

December 2, 2019 – Legally Blonde (OOTD #587)

I guess dreams really do come true, sometimes.

Attending a session of Supreme Court oral arguments has always been on my bucket list. I attribute it to the Schoolhouse Rock song about the three branches of US government, “Three Ring Government.”  I had a DVD box set of all of the old School House Rock songs, and that, along with “No More Kings” and “Telegraph Line,” (and probably a dozen more songs whose titles I can’t remember right now), I would play on repeat. This was before I had YouTube or Spotify — or even an iPod or MP3 player — so the only way I could listen to the songs was by playing the DVDs on my big square television in my room.

Just describing that makes me feel old. I know I’m not even that old, but the fact that I am now able to describe how life “used to be” makes me feel like my parents.

Anyway, I attribute my early interest in politics and government (and to a slightly lesser extent, US history) to Schoolhouse Rock. I loved that box set — in fact, I bet I still have it in a drawer somewhere in my parents’ house. I got a weird sense of superiority from knowing the three branches of government and basic early US history before all of my other classmates. I was never one to raise my hand much in class, but just knowing that I knew how the balance of power at the federal level worked while other kids didn’t made me feel special.

That’s not to say those feelings of superiority were good feelings, or that I still have them. But they did inspire me to take more interest in government and politics — an interest that died off in middle and high school and was really only renewed after the 2016 election. And just as importantly, they inspired me to consider a career in law for the first time.

I never dreamt of being president — I’m not a natural born citizen, so that’s never been an option for me. I did take some smug satisfaction from telling adults who tried to be inspiring with that even YOU could become President one day propaganda that I literally could not due to centuries-old irrelevant laws, but that’s beside the point. What I did dream of becoming was a Supreme Court Justice.

And no — the dream I referenced in the opening sentence of this blog that came true was not becoming a Supreme Court Justice (yet) — it was simply getting to visit the Supreme Court and observe oral arguments. I had visited the building earlier in the semester for a tour, but the season hadn’t yet begun, so we didn’t get to watch a case unfold.

My friend, Joanna, and I got there at 6AM for doors that weren’t due to open until 10AM. By the time we had gotten there, there was already a line snaking halfway down the street. From our online research, we’d found that they typically only allow in around 50-60 people; from a preliminary headcount, we were in spaces 55 and 56.

We had a mini-panic attack around 8 or 9am when they let in the first round of people to get out of the cold, and they cut off at fives spaces ahead of us — at number 50 exactly. We knew the number of people they let in each session varied, but we were afraid that maybe they would just cut it off at 50, and we were going to have been literally a few people away from being let in. We decided to stick it out though, hoping that they would let more people in just before 10am.

Turns out, they did. There was some speculation for that first case we went to hear (New York State Rifle and Pistol Association vs the City of New York) might end up being a landmark 2nd amendment ruling. Though it became fairly clear that, due to the law that was up for debate being revoked before the appeal made it to the Supreme Court, there’d be no guns rights showdown like some people hoped, I still think they knew it would be a case that a lot of people would want to hear, so perhaps that’s why we got in even after the first round cutoff.

Despite the fact that the case didn’t end up being a big deal in the gun control vs. gun rights debate (protesters showed up anyway — some with free coffee, which Joanna and I much appreciated after standing outside for four hours) it was still fun to watch. I’ll admit, I was a little starstruck seeing the Justices in person, even from the very back of the room. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the chamber, but even if I could, you’d probably only be able to see a blurry image of RBG scowling and Clarence Thomas slumping in his seat, bored out of his mind.

The second case — something about copyright law — was less exciting. Justice Thomas and I definitely nodded off a few times.

I’m so glad I got to go though. Getting no sleep the night before, waiting outside for four hours, panicking when we thought we had just missed the cutoff, and then going to work after it all for three hours in the afternoon — it was all worth it, in my opinion. Honestly, it was possibly one of my favorite things I did the whole DC semester.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. 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: Banana Republic

Blouse: Banana Republic

Sweater: Aeropostale

Trousers: The LOFT