December 27, 2018 – I Want To Go on a Night Boat to Doha? (OOTD #429)

Once again, I’m going to skip ahead to the part of the trip after classes ended, because that’s really what’s fun and interesting for me to write about here. If you’d like a summary of my thoughts on the conference itself and what I felt my role was, I’d suggest you have a read over this blog here.

Unlike my sand dunes adventure, which was spent completely with the Madrasa Discourses students, this trip was spent completely with the other Notre Dame kids. There were pros and cons of both groups: for example, the madrasa students liked the slip into Urdu a lot, which was a little awkward for me. On the other hand, the Notre Dame kids liked to talk about American culture and politics — which, you know, I could do whenever I’m at home in the US.

They also approached things with a very American perspective. I’m not critical of that because that’s exactly what I did as well — however, when I’m in foreign countries and cultures, it’s nice to get to speak with people who don’t think the same way I necessarily do. Ideally, of course, I’d have a native Qatari to hang out with and show me around — but in the absence of one of those, there were plenty of Indian and Pakistanis in our group who could have also made for some interesting cross-cultural conversations.

That’s all to say I kind-of regret spending so much time with the other Americans on this trip. It wasn’t that I disliked them, but I think I probably should not have devoted so much time to them when, in theory, I could see them around campus whenever I want. I can’t so much do that with my Indian and Pakistani friends.

That’s not to say, however, that I regretted what I did when I spent time with the other Notre Dame students. We went on some pretty exciting adventures together — for example, this day, when we went to the Souq Waqif market and then took a boat across the Doha Bay to the Corniche.

Like many days during my time in Qatar, this ended up being a very long, exhausting day. After a full day of lectures and classroom discussions, we took an Uber together to the old market with the intent of seeing the Pearl, an artificial island attached to the city that’s supposed to be very pretty at night.  Unfortunately, the girl who called the Uber put in the wrong address, and we instead wound up at a different “pearl” — which was just a statue of a pearl.

I’d already been to the Souq the previous night after my desert safari, so the effect of the historical, busy, market with a mix of people in Western-styles and more traditional Islamic fashions,  had kind of worn off on me. It’s funny how that happens sometimes — I’ve never seen a century-old Qatari market that sells traditional goods and is one of the last remaining testaments to native Qatari culture before cosmopolitanism took over. And yet, once I saw it once, it wasn’t quite as exciting the second time around.

From there, we decided to walk along the Doha Bay for a good view of the skyline. If you haven’t seen the Doha skyline in person, I highly recommend that you try to see it one day. Skylines are very important to me; if a city doesn’t have a beautiful skyline, my ability to appreciate the city diminishes. London, for example, didn’t have an impressive skyline, even though it was a very impressive city. I of course still loved London, but I was disappointed by the lack of a jaw-dropping skyline view.

Doha was kind of the opposite. It’s got one of the most beautiful skylines I’ve ever seen, especially lit up at night. New York is gorgeous too, but it’s not colorful — not like Doha is. Doha is a rainbow of bright colors and sparkling lights; it’s unlike anything I’d ever seen. We took a boat across the harbor, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I was able to sit back and retreat into myself a little (something I really needed after a long day of social interaction), and watch the skyline glow on the horizon as it grew closer.

However, Doha’s modern sector was less impressive. We hopped off our boat, and there was nearly no one out. Granted, we were there on a Thursday night, so perhaps not the most bumping of nights, but for a bright, impressive city like Doha, with all those flashing lights in the skyline and the colorful skyscrapers, there seemed to be very few people who lived there.

I like a city to feel alive, and while Doha looked alive, it didn’t feel like it. We did go into a mall for a few hours, and that had more people it seemed than downtown.  By the time we hit the mall, though, I was too exhausted to do much. By then, I was tired of being around for people for so long, and I had basically completely stopped attempting to participate in conversation.

By the time we called the Uber to go back to our hotel, my feet hurt, I had lost one of my false eyelashes, and I was pretty sick of being around that particular crowd. Like I said though, I’m really appreciative of all I got to see and do. My goal was to go out and explore every night that I could; I wasn’t about to go on a trip halfway around the world to the Middle East and rest every night in the hotel. I think my body (and maybe my brain too) might have preferred the more leisurely path, but I think my soul preferred the adventure.

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: Stolen from the lost-and-found bin of my dorm’s laundry room

Pants: The LOFT

December 26, 2018 – Sand Dunes in the Dark (OOTD #428)

I’m gonna skip ahead to the part of the day where I wound up on a camel.

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made a friend

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Okay, I’ll give a little context: after day two of the conference, I was getting ready to go on a tour of Education City with the other ND kids. It wasn’t something I necessarily really wanted to do, but I had no other plans. Our hotel was in the middle of nowhere in the desert, so getting around was a little difficult unless you were in a group. There was a group going to do something, and since I like doing things, I thought I’d tag along.

But as we were leaving the university to go on our tour, I caught wind of another plan, one that seemed a lot more exciting. A group of Indian and Pakistani students were planning on going to seeing Qatar’s sand dunes, but they needed one more person in order to secure a certain price point for the tour group. They asked me, and, despite hardly knowing the plans and hardly knowing some of people (I’d met them before in Nepal, but I only knew one or two of them well), I figured it would be more fun than seeing some school buildings with Americans who I’ll get to see back at ND whenever I want.

So without knowing where I was going or what I was doing other than the very vague plan of “see the sand dunes,” I hopped in a Jeep with a random Saudi Arabian driver and five other people who decided they’d rather speak in Urdu than English.

The car ride took about an hour, and for the whole hour, there were very few English words spoken. That’s not because these people couldn’t speak English — I know for a fact that their English is very good because I’ve had good conversations with many of them before — but they just preferred Urdu. I mean…they had no obligation to speak English just because I was there. But it was kind of awkward sitting there for an hour, hardly able to participate in the conversation — though that’s normally what happens when I go to parties, so I guess it wasn’t that unique of a situation.

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just deserts

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After an hour in the car, the Saudi Arabian driver took us to a little camp site in the middle of the desert and kicked us out. I was still a little confused about what was going on, owing to the whole not speaking Urdu thing, and the fact that the camp site had camels was not helping me to understand things better. All I knew was that I was going to see the sand dunes; camels were not a part of my expectations.

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desert sunsets 🐪

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But I have nothing against camels — I’ve only ever seen them at zoos, but they seem like cool animals. Given the chance to ride one, I would do it. And that’s what I did.

It’s a shame it was so dark by the time we went because in all of my photos, I kind of look like an amorphous ghostly blob of flash. Sometimes photos taken with flash look cool because they make you look adventurous and fun, but that’s not so much the case when your photographer is sitting on a bumpy camel and so all of your photos turn out blurry. I don’t know, maybe it gives it a grungy dark teenager aesthetic?

I wish I could tell you my camel ride was magical and exotic, but really, it was a little boring. We basically went in a circle in a small lit area and took pictures.

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a bad photo but a good time

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What was magical and exotic, though, was our drive through the sand dunes afterwards. I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know what people were saying. I didn’t know if our driver was licensed, or if he was following a particular path through the dunes, or if he was going to drive us into the desert and put bullets through all of our heads. I had no data by the time we made it out into the middle of nowhere, and no means of communicating with the world if I got lost or kidnapped. In hindsight, maybe I should have been a little more more cautious, but the risk was what made it exciting and adventurous.

After driving around for a while, our driver stopped and kicked us out again. Some of my friends pulled out…some substance to smoke (that’s not a euphemism, I really don’t know what it was — they offered to let me join, but they would only tell me it was “an Indian speciality,” and in a brief moment of prudence, I figured maybe I shouldn’t get stoned in the Middle Eastern desert), and a few of us decided to go for a walk down to the water.

In my limited knowledge of deserts, I don’t think water is something they’re used to have. I’m pretty sure the lack of water is kind of how deserts are defined. But somehow, I wound up walking down a giant hill of sand with my stoned friends behind me towards a lake (?) in the Qatari desert. Like I said, it was a weird experience.

Perhaps the stupidest thing I did this whole night was walking around the desert with no flashlight, no sense of direction, and no idea what I was doing. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that I could get lost and die of dehydration out there in the Qatari desert. But apparently, that voice wasn’t very loud because by the time I realized that what I was doing was stupid, I was already too far away from the car to see it. Of course, the Saudi Arabian driver couldn’t be bothered to turn on his lights so we could find where he parked, so our group was literally just wandering around the desert in the dark. Not to mention of course, that half of our group had just smoked “an Indian speciality.”

As you can tell, though, I’m here writing this blog now, so I didn’t die. We made it back to the car safely (the white of the Saudi Arabian driver’s Jeep was just barely visible in the darkness), and he drove us back to civilization without murdering us.

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see ya 2018, t’was fun

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This blog is going on way too long and I’m tired of writing so I won’t keep going, but the night didn’t end there. No, of course not — after our desert exploits, we had to hit the town and get dinner in the busiest part of the city. And of course, we had to wander around for an hour before we could pick a place to eat. And then we had to sit there and chat for an hour in Urdu — regardless of the fact there was a confused, jet-lagged American girl with wet sand in her shoes sitting there, just wanting to go home and sleep.

We made it back to the hotel, but not until 11PM. I guess that’s not super late, but after being jet-lagged, waking up at 6:00AM so I could sit in class all day to listen to discussions about Islamic theology, and then hiking around the desert for hours, I was pretty exhausted.

Anyway, that’s my Qatari desert adventure story. Hope you had fun reading it — I sure had fun living it.

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

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top: The LOFT

Pants: J. Crew

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

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

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

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frohe weihnachten aus münchen

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

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

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merry christmas from munich with much love

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

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

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

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

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

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pretty! buildings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top: The LOFT

Pants: Thrifted (Salvation Army)

Scarf: My mother’s closet

 

December 15, 2018 – Rerouted (OOTD #423)

Welp, that didn’t’t go as planned.

My semester had ended, I’d finished up all of my finals, and I thought I knew for certain what all of my grades were going to be.There shouldn’t have been anything else left to worry about — everything was supposed to be set for me to make it home by 7PM on Saturday night.

So why then did I not make it back until 10AM the following morning?

That’s an excellent question, and one I’m still asking myself. See, I was supposed to have two flights — one from Chicago Midway at 10AM to Atlanta, and another from Atlanta to Lexington at 5PM that would have gotten me home by early evening. Why not just one direct flight from Chicago to Lexington? Because money, that’s why — I basically always fly as cheaply as possible.

Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea this time, however, because after I made it to Atlanta, all of my troubles began. I shouldn’t have been surprised because I hate the Atlanta airport — the last time I was there, I got trapped for two days after a bad storm in the Southwest trapped the entire airport full of people, meaning that Amanda and I, as two sorry idiots who flew standby, were stuck there until two spots finally opened up for a flight to Lexington. This time, I made it out of Atlanta alive and on time, but my flight didn’t reach my destination. Instead, it got rerouted to Indianapolis 15 miles away from our destination.

Apparently, the runway lights were out or something. I don’t manage airports, so I can’t claim to know how everything works, but it strikes me that that’s not an issue that you should allow to happen. Anyway, my flight couldn’t land, and so they flew us all to Indianapolis at 10PM at night, three hours after we were supposed to have landed in Kentucky.

In Indianapolis, they made us sit there for an hour before they finally decided to cancel the flight, at which point, they shoved us all into the airport with some hotel vouchers. Unfortunately, the troubles didn’t end there.

They put us in a (crappy) hotel about 10 miles away from the airport. I felt so badly for the hotel staff — they clearly were not prepared for an airplane-load of people to show up at 10PM at night. They only had one shuttle, and the shuttle could only take 10 people at a time, which sucked for the airplane full of people who were stuck waiting out in the cold as the shuttle made the 30 minute trip back and forth from the airport to the hotel. Then, of course, when I finally made it to the hotel at about 11PM at night, the poor lone person standing there at the desk was still struggling to make it through the line of people waiting to get rooms.

I don’t think I made it up to my room until about midnight — and at that point, I only had five hours until it was time to get up again and catch the shuttle to get back to the airport for my 7:30AM flight. Resigned to my sad fate, I took some pictures of my outfit (because I figured this was too good of a story to not give it a proper blog post treatment — and also because I liked this outfit), and got a few hours of shut-eye before dragging myself back to the airport.

Thankfully, though, our flight departed on time, and I finally made it back home. It was over 12 hours later than I was supposed to be — and basically 24 hours after I departed from school on Saturday morning. Can you believe that? It took me 24 hours to make it from Chicago to Lexington, which, by plane, should have taken two hours — four if you count the bus ride from campus to Midway.

I don’t think it was my worst travel debacle, but it’s up there. Maybe #2, after the other Atlanta tragedy that I mentioned earlier. I do love to fly, don’t get me wrong — but I don’t love it when I get stranded at airports and bus stops and creepy hotels for 12 hours at a time.

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

Jacket: Thrifted

Sweater: Thrifted

Shirt: J.Crew

DressAmerican Eagle

October 12, 2018 – I’m Coming Home (OOTD #390)

I love the last day of school before I get to head home.

I don’t know, there’s just something exciting about the process of getting myself from one place to another — I like transportation, and the knowledge that I’m an independent adult now who can travel by herself.

I’m not so much a fan of travel when I’m leaving home, but going home? I don’t know if there’s a better feeling in the world.

So after my long Wednesday, October 10, I only had to make it through October 11 and then October 12 until the first half of Fall Semester 2018 was finally over. My Thursday-Friday schedule is usually a little calmer than my Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday schedule, so it wasn’t so bad surviving through the end of the week.

By 12:30 on Friday afternoon, I was home free. All that was left to do was pack my bags, get in the car, and drift off into oblivion until I made it to the airport.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t so simple as that. I found a girl who was driving to Midway Airport at 4:30 in the afternoon, which should have given me plenty of time to get from Notre Dame to Chicago in time for my flight. What we didn’t account for, though, was that traffic would be bad with all of the students trying to leave at once (plus tourists coming in for a home game). By the time we actually left campus, it was more like 5:30.

Furthermore, we didn’t account for how difficult it would be to find parking once we got to the airport. It wasn’t my car, so it wasn’t really my problem to navigate, but the girl who drove and her friend in the passenger seat sure had a hard time finding where their parking reservation was. It also ended up costing them like $80 to park for the week. Poor kids.

They were also running super late for their flight. It departed at 8:00pm, and we didn’t even make it to the parking lot until 7:30. Thankfully, we had the world’s coolest airport shuttle driver ever. This man drove over a line of cones and sped the whole way to get them to their terminal on time.

Me, though? I still had plenty of time. My flight didn’t leave until 9:30 in the evening, so I was still there an hour and a half early. It wasn’t exactly the most relaxing trip to the airport ever, but I still made it on time.

Even with all of the setbacks, I can’t say I disliked my travel home. It was still travel home, and the destination was what was important. And in the end, I made it home.

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 home 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!

Jumpsuit: Urban Outfitters

Top: Free People

September 9, 2018 – Travel Travesty (OOTD #370)

For part one of my September Chicago adventures, click here.

Previously, on L’ensemble du jour: Amanda and I went into Chicago to see a Fall Out Boy concert, and it was a pretty good day. We didn’t get lost, didn’t encounter any horrific traffic, and we got to see all tourist-y spots we wanted to. As travels go, it was about as struggle-free as an adventure could be.

So the next day, we woke up at our AirBnB and prepared to depart. We were on a slight time crunch, as I had a mandatory attendance class (plant class, actually, which I discuss here) that met at 1:00PM, and I needed to be back for it. So by 9:30AM, we were all set to go. We left the keys on the coffee table, and walked out to the car.

This, of course, is where everything fell apart.

First, the car door wouldn’t open. Upon examining the key fob, we came to the conclusion that it must be out of battery, and thus, it wouldn’t open the electronic lock. Okay, whatever, we’d just take out the physical key and start the car that way, right? Engineers plan for these sorts of emergencies; there’s no way a dead car key battery should stop a person from starting a car.

Well, apparently, the engineers of the Toyota Prius did not plan for this sort of emergency. The physical key let us open the door and get inside, but it would not allow us to start the car. After frantically consulting Google, the manual, and Amanda’s parents (multiple times), we realized that the only solution would be to get a new battery for the key.

Fine. So we walk down to the nearest convenience store, buy the battery and some screwdrivers, and scuttle back to the Prius. By now, we’ve wasted over an hour, and I’m wondering whether I could actually make my plant class. But optimistically, I figured the new car key battery would work, and that we’d be fine. It’d be a little tight, and we wouldn’t be able to get breakfast on our way home like we’d hoped, but at least I’d make it back on time.

Except, of course, the new battery did not solve our problems. The only new development after we replaced the battery was that now, instead of dead silence when we tried to start the car, the dreaded “check engine” light dinged on.

With few options left, Amanda decided to try calling a mechanic to jump the car. We had to wait an hour for him to come (during which time I took these photos in the neighborhood), but finally, like the Messiah, he came to deliver us from our suffering. For whatever reason, jumping the car worked, and while neither Amanda nor I could think of a reason why the car battery had died, or what that had to do with the dead key fob, neither of us really cared. Crossing our fingers that the car wouldn’t decide to die again while we were on the highway, we sped off back to Notre Dame.

By the time I got back to campus, I had never before been so glad to see the stupid Golden Dome and the Jesus statue on God Quad. I missed my botany class, but after frantically emailing my professor, she agreed to let me make up the class. In celebration, I took these photos on God Quad, just to prove that I made it back.

In conclusion, if you have uncharacteristically good luck for part of your travels, don’t expect to have the same good luck for the rest of it. In fact, expect to have bad luck — life likes to balance itself out that way. Like the time I got first class on my flight to London and then got trapped in Atlanta for two days on my flight home, no adventure is complete without a mild disaster. That’s what makes it an adventure.

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 home at Notre Dame. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: thrifted

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Forever21

September 8, 2018 – Lake Effect Kid (OOTD #369)

In case you’re wondering, the title is a reference to a Fall Out Boy song that is an absolute bop, and that I absolutely recommend that you check out.

As is the case with most of my travel-related blogs, this one might be a long one, so brace yourself. Today’s post sees Amanda and me going into Chicago for a nice day out in a big city, away from schoolwork and more importantly, away from campus.

Getting to the point where we were actually in the city though took more work than it should have. When we bought out tickets way back in the fall of last year (can you believe that? I had these tickets for basically a year) I figured we’d just get the train into the city in the morning and then be back to South Bend when it was over. What I didn’t consider was that the train would stop service to South Bend at 9pm, way before my concert was due to end.

Since we couldn’t get the train, and that was the only line that services South Bend, we ended up having to get an AirBnB and staying the night in Chicago. Thankfully, it wasn’t overly expensive, but it was a cost I wasn’t accounting for.

But after we solved our transportation issue, we had very few problems for the rest of that day. Note: that day. The next day was a completely different story, and I’ll tell it tomorrow.

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took an L

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Anyway, after we made it into the city, we stopped for a bite to eat in Nando’s (our first since we’d been in London over a year before), and then checked into our BnB. From three, we ditched the car and took the L (gotta love public transportation) off to Millennium Station.

Amanda wanted to see the Bean, and I wanted to see Navy Pier — basically, we were just big fat tourists for the afternoon. We might as well have thrown in the Art Institute and the Sears Tower (is that what it’s still called?) and done the whole experience.

The Bean was just that — the Bean, and exactly the same Bean as I had seen a few months prior. I must say, though, Millennium Park is certainly pretty. I don’t really think the Bean is all that, but the park is a nice stop.

Navy Pier was totally new to me, though. I feel like I must have been at some point when I was younger, but I can’t remember it. There was about an eight year gap in my life in which I didn’t see Chicago at all (which, when you think about it, is a little under half of my entire life), so my memories of it are either very distant, or very recent.

We were too cheap to pay for a ferris wheel ride (we’d learnt our lesson from the last time we wound up in a fair) or really to do anything other than look around and take photos, but I was glad to have finally seen the famed Navy Pier. Plus, we got some really dope photos next to Lake Michigan.

On a slight side note, you want to know something wild that I saw? An ad for my hometown, Lexington KY! Here I was, 400 miles away from Lexington, and still it followed me. You can never forget where you come from, I guess?

Finally, our last stop of the night was Wrigley Field, the location of the concert we were attending. And what concert was that, you may ask? Why, Fall Out Boy, of course — one of my all-time favorite bands. I had a really intense emo phase in high school, where Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco, and Twenty One Pilots were my favorite bands. Granted, they’re still kind of my favorite bands — and if MCR ever decided to reunite, you can bet I would be spending my life savings to go.

The concert was a blast, though I rather wish they would have played more of their older songs. I knew they wouldn’t, that they’d mostly play post-hiatus stuff because that’s what’s more popular, but I was still a little sad I didn’t get to hear more of their rock-centric early 2000’s discography.

What was most surprising about the day, like I said, was that very little went wrong. We didn’t miss a single train, we hit little traffic, the tolls weren’t awful, and we never got lost. As travels go, everything went about as perfectly as possible.

But that was Saturday. Sunday is another story.

To be continued…

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 home 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!

Jumpsuit: Urban Outfitters

Jacket: Hollister

August 13, 2018 – Indie GoGo (OOTD #345)

Cities! They’re my weakness.

I suppose it has something to do with the way I’ve never truly lived in a big city — Louisville and Lexington are small to medium-sized cities in their own right, and they have their unique charms, but no one would really describe them as big cities. And that’s okay. But for me, a big city — your New Yorks, your Londons — that’s where it’s at.

So whenever I have an opportunity to visit a new city, get a sense for its character and personality, I take it. The major cities are my favorite, but the secondary cities are cool too. Indianapolis was no different.

This was my first time visiting Indy that I remember properly. I’m certain I’ve driven through it many times, especially on my way up to Notre Dame in  northern Indiana, and I believe I visited the Indy 500 museum once when I was a kid, but I’ve never been there long enough to actually get a feel for it.

And granted, I guess I still haven’t been there long enough to actually get a feel for it —  I was only there for a day trip. I couldn’t tell you what the people of Indianapolis are like, what the city is proud of, or what makes it ugly. I got to see some restaurants and neighborhoods and shops though, and that’s something.

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it was a fairly good time

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The highlight of the day was easily the Cake Bake Shop in the Broad Ripple neighborhood. My lemonade and my cookie were overpriced (nope, didn’t order cake — it was like, $15), but I suppose it was worth it for the experience inside the restaurant. It’s sort of like Disney World — the rides aren’t worth the cost of admission, but maybe the atmosphere and cute decorations are.

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we faired well

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The lowlight of the day was the Indiana State Fair, because it absolutely stole my money. It was $13 for admission, and once we got in, we realized there was nothing to do without spending more money. In an attempt to justify the $13 we paid to get in, we spent another $5 to ride the ferris wheel for two minutes. Our attempts failed.

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i’ll have my cake and eat it too

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If something good came out of it, though, I got some cute carnival photos. At least Instagram will think I had more fun than I did. Between you and me, though, you can see the regret of $18 wasted in my eyes.

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 home in Kentucky. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Thrifted

Jacket: Thrifted

Shorts: Hollister

July 16, 2018 – Swayambhunath Squared (OOTD #332)

Every single time I reference Swayambhunath in one of these blogs I have to Google to spelling. Can you really blame me though?

Anyway, we wound up back at Swayambhunath again, out of a lack of basically anything else to do. Allie hadn’t been before, on account of falling ill the day we went as a group, and I was happy to go again, since I felt a little rushed the first time I was there. The activity we had been planning on doing — a sky lift up to the highest mountain in the Kathmandu area — didn’t pan out due to some poor weather, and we just couldn’t think of anything else to do.

Look, Kathmandu is a really fascinating city, and there’s a lot of fun and interesting things to do — for a few days. After a few days, I feel like I kind of exhausted the tourist things to do. Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Patan Durbar Square, the Garden of Dreams, and Thamel are fun for a few hours/a whole day, but once you’ve seen those, I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot else, especially for such a large city. There’s no shortage of restaurants and shops, but you can only eat and shop so much.

I’ve enjoyed these last few days in Kathmandu with Allie, but I think we both agreed that we wished we had chosen to stay somewhere outside of Kathmandu instead. Pokhara would have been neat. Expensive to travel to, sure, but perhaps worth the cost.

Forgive me if I sound too negative about my last full day in Nepal — it was nonetheless a fun experience seeing Swayambhunath again. I got to take my time and explore a little more, which I didn’t really get to do the first time when I was with a larger group. There was a monastery that I hadn’t seen before, as well as a few overlooks and shops. And afterwards, we decided to walk back to our BnB instead of taking a cab, which was about a three mile trek — so great exercise, and a more intimate view of the city than I had gotten to see before from a bus window.

In the evening, we went to a yoga class. Now I get what you must be thinking — yoga in Nepal, that must be a fascinating cultural experience, right? A predominantly Hindu country with a deep, ancient history, a place where namaste is actually said instead of just printed on t-shirts at fast fashion stores like Forever21?

It was like, the whitest thing ever.

The studio looked like it was straight out of Southern California, and the instructor was wearing Lululemon leggings. I was one of I think two non-white individuals in the room — which I haven’t been able to say since I was in Chicago three weeks ago getting ready to depart.

Still, it was an enjoyable enough yoga class, even if it wasn’t particularly cultural. I don’t know if I would bothered to do it in Nepal if Allie hadn’t wanted to, as I feel like I could have had the exact same experience in 9/10 yoga studios in the United States, but whatever. It was a nice sampler of western culture before I’m thrust right back into it in a day.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. 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: Some boutique in Kathmandu

Pants: Also a boutique in Kathmandu