Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a Francophile. I grew up dreaming of going to Paris, decided to study French in college, and I currently call this beautiful country my home.

But if you’re planning on taking a trip here, there are some things you should know.

1. France isn’t Paris.

This seems simple, but the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me “How’s Paris?” when I live nowhere near the city is… astounding? Sad?

For anyone still confused, here’s a map of France.

Map courtesy of Mapswire.

See that little star? That’s Paris.

Mainland France has 96 departments, so there’s definitely a lot more to see than Paris. The French often consider the countryside more “French” than the city anyway. So there’s that.

2. The French are very kind.

Contrary to popular belief, the French are not rude. They just don’t like tourists. It’s nothing personal, really.

If you are planning to take a trip to France, simply avoid looking like a tourist. This means no super bright colors, no crossbody Kavu bags, and yes…no Chacos.

Oh, and maybe learn a couple French words to at least prove you’re trying. Knowing simple words like bonjour/s’il vous plaît/merci can go a long way.

3. When it comes to restaurants/touristy stuff, you pay for the environment.

Unlike the Americans chugging their Venti Starbucks as they rush out the door, the French prefer to take things slow.

But it comes at a cost.

Getting a meal à emporter (to-go) is cheaper than staying sur place. For example, a coffee could be 1 euro, but it will be 2.50 if you stay to drink it.

I’d recommend indulging the extra euro and just staying to enjoy the atmosphere. There’s truly nothing better than people watching outside of a café as you sip your tiny expresso.

4. Public transportation is your best friend.

Typically when I envision public transportation, I think of Elaine Benes stuck on the disgusting NYC subway and having a mild panic attack.

But in France, the majority of people use public transportation. It’s actually clean (yes, even in Paris). It’s also pretty affordable if you’re a young adult. Anyone under 26 is considered a youth in France and receives discounts on pretty much any public service (museums and movies included).

So don’t be afraid to hop on the bus, metro or train!

5. Prepare for late nights.

The French love their soirées. They typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m. and meals last two (or more) hours. They eat and talk and eat more and talk and eat and are still somehow super skinny…

In short, don’t plan on the next day’s itinerary being jammed pack if you’re eating dinner with a bunch of French people the night before. After dinner and drinks are all said and done, you’ll probably be getting home around 1 a.m.


French culture is fun and wildly rich, so try to enjoy it in as many nonconventional ways while you’re here! Bonne chance!

Got more travel questions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to start doing some travel blog posts, so tell me what you want to know!

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A Mini Rant That Could Probably Be a Twitter Thread.

A Mini Rant That Could Probably Be a Twitter Thread.

I don’t like ranting online. Mainly because my words are stuck here forever, and if I say something stupid, it will most likely come back to haunt me. But here goes nothing.

I’m seeing a lot recently about news media and news outlets not “letting us know” about things that perhaps should be talked about more.

Example: this morning, I got on Twitter and saw where a police officer from my hometown reached a plea agreement in admitting to raping three women who were in his custody. Disgusting, horrible, etc. BUT the person who tweeted the story said, “Why am I just now hearing about this?!”

That’s a great question. Why are you just now hearing about it? I heard about it last year when the investigation started. I read articles about it, even on Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the media has a great responsibility and power to choose the stories that get covered in the news. It is crucial that journalists are precise and balanced in their coverage of topics. It does matter.

However, I’m in the school of thought that we each have a personal responsibility to seek out knowledge and information, even when it may not be convenient or “available.” Because let’s face it: in the Information Age we live in, we have so much stuff at our fingertips. Save for classified government documents (and even those sometimes get leaked), you can research pretty much anything and find it. Public records are available all across the internet. We can even diagnose ourselves with some life-altering disease on WebMD in minutes. (Okay, that last part was a joke. But we all know some of us do that).

People just don’t look for information partially because we are lazy and partially because it is so overwhelming to sift through all of that.

Hence, journalists. We come in, find the information and sift through it, find the holes and where things don’t line up, and attempt to reconcile all of that into one cohesive story. We are not perfect. We don’t always get it right. But we don’t sit around trying to cover up certain “types” of stories. It’s more so a matter of determining how often to cover stories/investigations and where they are placed in the newspaper (and online).

In short, I guess my point is this: don’t blame journalism/reporters/news media for your complacency in seeking out information.

Ras de Terre.

Ras de Terre.

My leftover soup was cold (and in a paper bowl nonetheless). I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, flipping through January’s issue of Vogue. As I gazed out at the cold winter sky, my heart longed to be in Paris.

All it took was one giant sneeze to plunge me back into reality. Until I remembered the postcard Pascal sent me. I picked it up.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I smirked. He wrote of the rainy Parisian skyline. My smile dissolved as I recalled how much I missed the dreariness of the city in winter. My mind began to wander, and when I looked back at my own bleak horizon, it was as though a piece of Paris was peeking through.


The gentle breeze blew through my hair as I walked through the park. My eyes were fixed on the desert sand beneath my feet. It was nearly sunset, and I was astounded that it could get so cold so quickly. So much was on my mind. So much could be said. So little was.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I knew it would all be okay. I knew that the inexplicable, inexpressible array of emotions I felt in that moment would disappear just like the dust that covered the ground.


I stood on the shore, letting the water barely touch my toes. I desperately stared at where the ocean meets the horizon, searching for something, anything. I thought of my new life. I was happy and sad and scared and content. The phrase shot into my mind again.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre. Ça veut dire qu’on n’est pas très loin, l’un à l’autre.

After all that time, I remembered the postcard. “We aren’t so far away from each other after all.”

Watching the same sky. Feeling the same emotions. Thinking many of the same questions. Living and breathing and loving and hoping. The sky begins at ground level, and we aren’t so far away from each other after all.

A Melancholy Summer.

A Melancholy Summer.

I recently found a note in my phone. All it said was the following.

Weary travelers

Light rain

A melancholy summer

I don’t know what prompted this little note, but I do know that it seems to describe much of my summer. After finishing a very daunting school year, I was excited to kick back and relax. My summer would be spent lounging by the pool, reading lots of books, and maybe even doing some roadtripping. This summer was not what I expected. I had hoped for it to be brimming with adventure, fun, and great memories. And while I’ve definitely had a few wonderful adventures, it’s been overall kind of… *whispers* boring.

Gasp.

Boring seems like such a horrid word in our culture. “You’re … bored?” People stare at me blank faced when I say it. Some roll their eyes as if I shouldn’t be wasting my time. But boring isn’t bad.

In an age of fast-paced interaction and instant gratification, it’s so so easy to get caught up in the midst of this mindset. I find myself constantly thinking why isn’t my life as exciting as theirs? Why has my summer been so lame? Am I not cool enough?

Listen, no one is a winner in the comparison game. You can look at other people’s lives through little pieces of glass (which is all humanity has ever done anyway) and see how much smarter, funnier, prettier they are. But you will always be left feeling unsatisfied. Until you take a step back to realize that your life is your own to live, you won’t be happy with the seemingly boring moments.

4 Books You Really Should Read This Summer.

4 Books You Really Should Read This Summer.

There’s truly nothing quite as wonderful as the smell of books. Walking into Barnes & Noble or the public library (or really anywhere that has tons of books) fills my heart with an inexplicable peace and joy. Even if I’m not reading them, I like being around them. Maybe because it makes me feel smarter. In any case, I compiled a tiny list of my summer reading suggestions because I just can’t stop thinking about these books. Check out these classics.

For the critical philosopher: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Arguably one of the most well-known novels of the 19th century, Crime and Punishment explores the psyche of Rodion Raskolnikov, a poor college dropout who murders an old lady and then must deal with all the consequences. The entire novel is one giant psychological and philosophical analysis disguised in a fictional tale.

For the romantic optimist: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I would be amiss not to mention my favorite book of all time. This novel is intricate, thrilling, captivating, and absolutely enthralling. I cannot say enough about it. Dantes, a sailor, is wrongly imprisoned and taken away from the love of his life. The complexity of this novel will woo your heart and fascinate your mind. Within each chapter is woven the virtues and vices of mankind.

For the podcast enthusiast: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

This is the original “Serial.” Capote fuses journalism and novel writing in this non-fiction novel about an entire family who was brutally murdered. Fun fact: Harper Lee helped him interview people for this novel.

For the sci-fi geek: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A futuristic society with no pain and all the pleasure your heart could think of. Technological advancements soared, leaving the human race with nothing but their wildest dreams. But is it really everything we imagined? Huxley explores the possibilities of a utopian society in a very “Black Mirror” -esque way.


Have you read these books? What do you think? I’m also looking to expand my summer reading list. Drop some book suggestions for ME in the comments below!

A Perfect Little Procrastinator.

A Perfect Little Procrastinator.

I’ve always been a person who wants to be good at everything. I’m convinced it all started when my little overachieving heart got a pottery set for Christmas. I was 8 years old and so excited to make pottery. All you had to do was put your hands on the clay and spin, right?

Wrong.

I cried every single time I tried to use that pottery set (you can ask any member of my family. They’ll laugh as they tell you how I guarded it fiercely from them, so as to not give them any opportunity to be good at making pottery).

This one experience very quickly transformed into a myriad of interests and new hobbies that lasted three to four weeks at most. I tried skateboarding, building my own guitar, dance team, photography, etc. But each and every time, my interests quickly dissolved in the midst of my frustration and anger. Why?

This constant theme in my life involves the juxtaposition between perfection and procrastination. In short, my work ethic could be trash. But I truly believe it’s more than that. My problem is this: I’m so terrified I’ll mess up. The fact that I could try something once and not be immediately exceptional absolutely paralyzes me. (Ridiculous, I know.)

What’s funny is that if you’ve had even one conversation with me, you know I’m an extremely passionate person. (Ask Natalia about how much I talk her ear off about music she probably doesn’t care about.) It doesn’t make sense that I can be so intensely interested in a hobby and yet abandon it at the first wrong attempt. But here I am, writing this post. And here you are, reading it.

So if you’re anything like me, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful.

1. Do it even when you hate it. I’m a writer. But sometimes I hate writing. I always see those Twitter memes about writers dreading sitting down and putting pen to paper, and I laugh because it’s true. But thanks to the advice of many people I hold in high esteem, I’m pushing myself to write a little every day. Even when I don’t feel like it.

2. Little goals are better than big ones. Being a dreamer is all fun and games until you’ve decided that in one month you’re going to completely redo your diet, workout every single day, and hang out with every person you’ve ever known. It’s harder to achieve goals when you’re only looking at the big picture, so break it down. (I’m talking minuscule details if you have to.)

Here’s an example. Instead of saying this: “I’m going to buy an electric guitar and start learning all my favorite songs on it this month!” (Real life situation for me right now.)

Say this: “I’m going to save up for an electric guitar these next few months. I’ll put aside 5-10% of my paycheck for one. When I get enough money, I’ll buy a used one.”

See? It makes the goal that much more attainable.

3. Realize you’re not perfect. And you don’t have to be. The standard of perfection I push upon myself has always been overwhelming. It’s whispering in my ear, telling me to work harder, look prettier, be smarter. As a Christian, I find it appalling that I try to diminish the perfection of Jesus by vying for my own. I’m not perfect, but He is. And that is all that matters.

So take a deep breath. You don’t have to procrastinate out of fear of being less than perfect. My challenge to you is this: Fail horribly. Smile at your failures because they offer you the opportunity to grow.

Music Moment: Arctic Monkeys

Music Moment: Arctic Monkeys

A concept: a retro, Kubrick style hotel. A red silk dress glistening at the bar. Gold earrings reflecting in the dim light. Arctic Monkeys’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino playing softly in the background.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I think this album is pretty dreamy. Released on May 11, the Arctic Monkeys ended their five year hiatus with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Compared to their other records, this one takes a whole new face. The groovy guitar riffs transport me to space. Turner’s melodic, humming voice accompanies me as I gaze at the stars around me.

This album has been received with very mixed reviews, and I’m just going to add my thoughts into the mix with my very own Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino review.

I’ll admit I was hesitant upon first listen. This album hardly sounds like their previous grungy rock albums, such as AM or Favourite Worst Nightmare. But after listening to it three times through (my rule of thumb), I fell in love with it.

Pitchfork says the album is “a song suite documenting a futuristic moon colony and the exodus that spawned it, told by an assortment of unreliable narrators who can sometimes barely string a sentence together.” Rolling Stone describes the new album as “a lounge-pop concept record set in a casino piano bar on the moon.” What does all that even mean? It seems just as existential as it sounds. While some critics view those descriptions as a pretentious or lazy excuse for a crappy album, I think it’s more than that. Turner knew what he was doing with this album. It has a pretty political undertone and lyrics that can’t be ignored.

Star Treatment kicks off the album with a commentary on celebrity culture and its influence in the world. The album quickly flows through a series of songs highlighting dystopian future, monster trucks, taquerias, and even Donald Trump. Four Stars Out of Five calls the taqueria the Information-Action Ratio, pointing out the juxtaposition of having the world at our fingertips and not knowing what to do with it all.

The album itself is a giant paradox. It’s full of subtle and witty politicized lyrics soaked in a nostalgia that reeks of the 1970s. It’s grungy and gross while also extremely sleek and modern.

Favorite Song: Batphone

Least Favorite Song: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (ironically enough)

 

Overall, I give this album a 8/10. This album is a shimmering work of art, and it really can’t be compared with their other albums. While stylistically it’s certainly not my favorite album of theirs, I really appreciate what they did with it. Despite all the negativity, I think it’s an interesting commentary on modern society (and what better way to do it than with some space lounge music?).

P.S. 8/10 is actually 4/5… See what I did there?