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.

Does Makeup Harm Femininity?

Does Makeup Harm Femininity?

I was 13 years old when it happened. I sat down in front of the mirror and took a deep breath. My left index finger glided across my eyelid, leaving behind an electric blue residue. I smiled. Despite the fact that the eyeshadow was actually a hideous shade of blue that did not match my complexion at all, I felt

From that point on, makeup became a mini-obsession. Unfortunately, at 13 years old I did not yet realize all the nuances that accompanied a face full of makeup. But before we get too invested in the self-revelation aspect of this post, let me put it in perspective.

Makeup in Numbers

The global makeup industry is worth $382 billion.

The United States is the largest consumer in the beauty industry (go figure), making up 25% of the entire world’s cosmetic market and bringing in roughly $86 billion in revenue per year.

The estimated annual spending on cosmetics in the U.S. is $8 billion, and the average American woman spends around $3,756 on cosmetics per year.

These numbers are astronomical. And they have an impact on real, everyday women–myself included.

What’s the big deal?

Throughout my tween and teen years, my idea of beauty was based solely on how I looked wearing makeup–mainly because I wore it every single day.

I can count on one hand the number of days I went to school without makeup (and I guarantee you, those were the five worst days of my high school existence). I had no self-confidence or even self-image outside of the realm of makeup. And it severely harmed my notions of femininity.

It wasn’t until my senior year of college (yes, a whole five years later) that I explored what beauty means outside of makeup. After completely giving up on wearing makeup to my 8 a.m. college classes and still somehow managing to roll in 15 minutes late, I had a change of heart.

It’s almost like my high school self had been convinced that my natural face was not feminine enough or perhaps too average or just not something enough to be beautiful. (And even though I laugh at how silly it is now, when you’re 16, that’s the biggest deal. Like ever.)

I soon realized what I had believed about myself for so long was just a lie. After spending weeks on end without makeup in the summer, I looked into the mirror. I noticed the depth of my eyes and the gentleness of my smile. I had finally accepted my natural beauty.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky.

You really look more your age with makeup…
You’re so much prettier without makeup!
You look so much younger without makeup!

Or my personal favorite on a day when I’m bare-faced…
Are you feeling okay? Are you sick?

As soon as someone tried to pit “made-up Kristen” against “makeup-less Kristen,” I got annoyed. For someone who already spends most of her time comparing me against myself, it bothered me. Couldn’t we just appreciate both looks?

Flash forward to summer 2019, when I’ve barely made the attempt to put on anything other than sunscreen. I’m getting used to my face without makeup, and I kind of love it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love makeup. I readily admit that I’m a diva at heart, and I would choose a full face over a no-makeup look most days. (13-year-old me really had no idea what she was getting into when she decided to put blue eyeshadow on her eyelids.) But now when I wear makeup, it’s for a completely different reason.

There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as sitting down with fresh brushes and all my favorite products, knowing I have time to concentrate on my look. It’s therapeutic. It’s rejuvenating. And though I know my face doesn’t always look as glam as when I’m (literally) shimmering in my favorite Becca highlighter, I’m confident in it anyway.

Do you hate my hair?

Do you hate my hair?

My relationship with my hair is a very messy, complicated one. We fight a lot. One day I wake up wanting an icy blonde bob, and the next day I envy those who have long, dark luscious locks. In short, my hair causes me much grief.

But this blog post isn’t about my hair. It’s about my ability to make everything more dramatic than it needs to be. Kidding! (Kind of.)

In May 2018, I made a promise to myself: I refused to cut my hair again until I graduated. In my extreme unrest and desire for change, I kept it long but dyed it blonde. Then, a mere five days after graduation came the chop.

I remember complaining endlessly to my friends about my hair. But the second I chopped it, I wondered if I had made a mistake. All your progress is gone! What did you just do?!

The whole soap-opera drama involving my hair revealed much more about myself than I realized at the time. My hair was growing, just as that season of my life was one of growth. After being run down and emotionally exhausted for far too long, it’s what I needed. It may not have been want I wanted, but it is what I needed.

As silly as it seems, I do feel like God was teaching me something through that process of waiting. Just the other day, I listened to a sermon about the power of God’s working in the waiting. (It’s like my pastor knew that my hair was driving me insane.)

I actually laughed at myself when I decided to stick with my decision to let my hair grow–that awkward stage of growth in which so many people give up can also be an outlet for some of the most beautiful outcomes.

So sure, I might have complained (and still complain) a lot about my hair. But ultimately, waiting it out and keeping my promise to myself was more important to me. And God is showing me that I need to be faithful to Him and wait on His perfect timing.

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.

A Small Reminder (to Myself Mainly) as Winter Approaches.

A Small Reminder (to Myself Mainly) as Winter Approaches.

One of my favorite songs right now is Seasons by Hillsong. I just love hearing it. I love singing it in church.

And it’s exactly where I am right now. If we’re being honest, it’s what I’ve been trying to run away from for so long. I don’t want to use the Christian clichés of “being in a valley” or “the winter of my life,” but it’s so true.

I’m convinced God created seasons to remind us of the ever-changing facets of our own lives. And with every passing season, He is always faithful to reveal to me what I need to learn and how I need to grow.

My favorite line in the song is the following.

Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
As I gaze I am blinded
In the light of Your brightness

It may be freezing in my heart, but the blinding light of Christ reminds me of His warmth. May I never lose that gaze.