Waters of March

Hello my lovely readers.

Remember how I said Spring had officially started in Reims? I take that back. It has been raining every single day again. I am so ready for some steady sunlight. It’s kind of funny to look back and remember how excited I was for cold/cloudy/rainy weather. Having lived in Brazil and Florida all my life, I was craving something different. But now that I know how the other side is, I will be cherishing sunny days for the rest of my days😛

School is coming to an end. Last week of April will be my last week of classes. After that, we will have final exams sometime during May. I have mixed feelings since I am beyond tired with this semester already, but I don’t want this experience to come to an end. But we can’t stop time and life goes on. Ultimately, I think that’s the beauty of life. To always be changing, finding new challenges to tackle, making memories along the way, and just living and learning. I think this mindset is one of the biggest motivators I have waking up in the morning each day.

I can’t post an update without addressing the terror attacks that happened in Brussels the other day. My thoughts on that are there is so much sadness in the world. I just don’t understand… In France nothing really changed. Since I have arrived here in January, the country is still on state of emergency. The army is everywhere. Honestly, I feel safer like this. As we have observed, Europe seems to be so vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Because of that, I am glad to be in the countryside feeling somewhat protected since so far only the big cities have been targets for these radical groups.

Talking about big cities, I had plans to visit a good friend of mine in Paris this weekend. After this tragedy I am definitely having second thoughts, but as the French say: On n’a même pas peur. Which means something along the lines of “(even after what happened) we are still not afraid”. We have to keep living our normal lives. We have no control of our destiny and if we have to die in a car accident today, we will. It doesn’t have to be in a terrorist attack. The point is to not refrain from living. We can’t let these misfortunes dictate the way we live. We only live once, right? So let’s live. Today!

PS.: for those who didn’t understand my blog title, it’s from a 1972 song from a great Brazilian Bossa Nova singer called Elis Regina. You should stop everything you’re doing right now and enjoy this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3oNSFQVzNM Promise you’ll love it.

Friday Feels

Good Morning,

Today is a beautiful Friday morning here in London.  Most people have today off too.  In England, Good Friday is considered a Bank Holiday.  Therefore, I do not have to go to work today.  Monday is called Easter Monday and is also a bank holiday.  So, there is no school on Monday.  That means I have a four day weekend!  What do I plan on doing with this time off?  Well, the first thing I did today was sleep in.  I quite like my internship and I love living in London, but waking up early every day and commuting is very tiring.  I am very thankful for this nice little break the UK has given us.

This afternoon my mother and sister will come into London via the Eurostar between Paris and London.  Last weekend, I visited them on their trips in Rome and Florence.  Exploring Europe with my sister and mother is quite different from exploring Europe alone or with the friends I have made here.  It was a very interesting change to observe when navigating between the sights.  Below is a picture of all of us at the top of the Piazza Venezia with the city of Rome below us.

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I plan on making my mother and sister’s journey here as culturally rich as possible.  I want them to fall in love with London as much as three months has allowed me.  Tonight we are going to go to one of my favourite pubs for dinner and then I will show them Westminster at night time (Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament).  To conclude the night, we will all ride on the London Eye at 9 pm.  I am very excited to do all of the real “touristy” things I have been waiting on doing in London until they arrived.  Tomorrow we will visit the Tower of London for the first time and marvel at the crown jewels (and the tower’s scandalous history).  Then, we will walk around the city of London and hope that the weather holds up and it does not rain too much.  At night we are meeting up with some of our friends from Sussex for dinner and then we will see a play by the same people who acted in Peter Pan Goes Wrong.  I am so excited to see the new play they are producing!  It is going to be so funny!

After two jam packed days in London, my mother and sister are going to experience more of England than just London.  For Easter Sunday and Monday, we are going to visit our family friends in Manchester.  I believe that it will be absolutely lovely visiting them up north.  Hopefully it snows if it is cold (it probably won’t snow).

After Manchester, we will return to London and continue to explore the city as much as we possibly can.  I have a jam packed agenda for this upcoming week, and I am very excited.

Cheers,

Jennifer Saporito

The Only Thing Constant is Change.

Every time I come across a good quote, I save it in my iPhone notes in hopes that one day I will be productive and put them on one-too-many canvas prints in my apartment. Until that day, I try to save them in my memory because what I find with inspirational quotes is that they often make the best explanations for the events unraveling in your life.

For example, the events of this week seem to be mirroring the words written above. Now normally I like change–in fact I welcome change. But the changes this week are ones I wish we could reverse.

I was in class when I heard the news of the Brussels attacks on Tuesday. I completely tuned out the rest of my class discussion to try and keep pace with the news updates, but more so my thoughts went directly to those affected by the attack. It’s disheartening to think that people should have to worry about terrorist attacks. Period. But its even more disheartening to think in light of the recent events of the Paris attacks, the Turkey attacks, and now these attacks that people should have to worry about terrorist attacks on public transportation, at a cafe, or while going out to a concert. This is not the type of change I want for the world.

Since then, more changes have spiraled down. Most of the change relates to transportation, which was apparent immediately with the increased security measures around the metro. Last night, the U.S. Embassy also sent out a few emails advising Americans that the travel warnings have been extended into June. Once again, its a series of changes that I wish didn’t have to occur.

But here in Lyon, amongst the grief, people carry on. Now I know from my personal experience of living here that in general, people don’t show a lot of emotion or facial expression in public. Yet it was still a different experience for me today. Normally I feel as though in the states when a tragedy of such magnitude affects a city, it affects the entire region. Though maybe here, this is how the Lyonnais cope with change. By carrying on, maybe they’re creating change. A change that says we won’t let this type of tragedy continue–we will find a way to make a change that is positive again. And in that instance, I agree.

The only thing constant is change. It’s a simple gesture. Six words, sent to me in an email from my Uncle. Saved on my iPhone. Ingrained in my memory. Hopefully now ingrained in yours. Because I hope you can see too –no matter the circumstances of today, or the tragedies of yesterday–know that there will always come a change.

 

 

“Lads, its a warm day, go drink some water”

The past two weeks have gone by so fast I would say it’s almost like they didn’t happen. One of the greatest things about Ireland is that it is so small, you can take a weekend somewhere without going bankrupt. Before I got here, I had desperately Googled all over the place to see if it snowed in Dublin because I knew it gets freezing cold and rainy here. Every single site told me, “Sorry, no, it doesn’t rain here.”  To my shock, on March 4th, I woke up to a snapchat video of snow and promptly ran outside way early in the morning in my pajamas to see it. For a girl who has only ever seen snow in movies, it was absolutely magical. They say in Ireland you can get all four seasons in one day; it is absolutely true. All the snow was long gone by the afternoon, and you could safely wear your normal clothes. The next day Jacquie and I went back to the Howth Cliff Walk to do the whole walk. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We packed lunch, and, four hours later, had walked 10 miles around the entire peninsula. Lucky for us, the weather was incredibly nice. In fact, it has been fantastic the past two weeks. I’ve never thought that I would be wearing shorts in 57 degree weather, but that definitely happened the other weekend. During this same week, Wells for Zoe (pronounced Wells for Zoey) celebrated International Women’s Day. By celebrated, I mean we did a bunch of posts where I acted out a condensed schedule of a typical Malawian schoolgirl’s day. If you’re interested, you can check it on our Instagram (@wellsforzoe) or on Facebook (Wells for Zoe).

After a semi-unexciting week, my weekend started with Chris teaching me more about rugby from watching this Ireland vs Italy game. I don’t really know the details, but I’ve got enough at this point to finally know what’s going on. That same day we walked through a place called Iveagh Gardens, not too far from Griffith. I’m still amazed by how much green-space is in Dublin, but not as amazed as I am about how many well-behaved dogs are in this country. Almost everywhere, you see someone with a dog raging from Chihuahuas to German Shepards, mostly without leashes. They’re not barking, or jumping incessantly, they just listen and sniff everything. I have never seen a place so dog-friendly, but its great because you’re just constantly puppies all over (just like this one)

A few days later, I left with my roommate, Caroline, and her friend, Bella, to go on a really cramped three day tour of southwestern Ireland. I cannot even list to you the number of places that we saw. I accidentally deleted all of my pictures, except about 10, from the first day. The two pictures below are: on the left, a place called Lough Corrib. It has an estimated 365 islands and supplies water to the country. On the right, if you haven’t recognized it, are the beautiful Cliffs of Moher. I think they are one of the biggest attractions in Ireland, if not one of the biggest.

We also took a horse & carriage ride through Killarney National Park, then the next day went on to Blarney Castle and home. There were so many small, gorgeous places in between, but those are the most recognizable. The trip itself was pretty amazing not just for the sights, but also for the people. We went with a tour group so all the lodging/transportation/admission was much easier. In addition, it also introduces you to lots of people. Our trip was mostly Americans, but there was really nice Dutch couple, some Canadians, and the German friends that I was with. The shocker was that most of them were at least seven years older than me. I knew studying abroad was something that not many people get it to do, but I had sort of forgotten that going overseas anywhere is not a thing that everyone in the world gets to do, and, if they do, they usually go when they are much older than I am. On Thursday, it was St. Patrick’s Day, so we all wore green, celebrated the American way, and watched the parade. The streets were super crowded, stores were closed, and the parade was weird. I couldn’t tell you what any of those floats were supposed to be, but I have very clear images of them in my head because of it. There were marching bands from the states, and I got to fangirl a bit on the inside because they brought their color guards. The rest of the week was a mixture of relaxation and stress as I remembered this paper I have to write and exam that I have to study for. I ended my week with Chris. We watched two Irish American Football teams play a game on Sunday afternoon, so he could take pictures and write something small. I wish I had taken a picture, but the best way that I can explain it is that it looked like two underdeveloped high school teams playing except some of the players looked like they were married with four kids and the refs had to blow the whistle for a water break because “Lads, its a warm day, go drink some water”…….when it was 45 degrees Fahrenheit and a little sunny outside. After the game, we decided we wanted to make dinner, so we headed over to Tesco. Both of us are ‘Mexican’ food enthusiasts, and we headed straight over to the taco aisle. If you’re ever worried about not having Old El Paso dinner kits in Dublin, have no fear. They’re right there. We went for soft taco shells, but they’re not taco shells when they’re soft….they’re taco boats (I kid you not). I wish I had saved my picture of them they were so cute. No taco is complete without sour cream, but when we asked an employee for it, he directed us to sour cream & chive chip dip, so that was a no go. Still, they were some of the most delicious things I’ve had in my life.

The past two weeks have been amazing, fun, everything that you could want in a study abroad. However, these past two weeks I also missed some family court stuff, one of my best friends Roshelle’s birthday, and my seventh bestfriendaversary with my longest friend, Jessi. I also had to go to a doctor here that was kind of weird but normal for here, so I was really missing home. I am so fortunate that Chris and everyone else here, but mostly Chris, has the patience to listen to me whine and talk about Gainesville/Newberry and all the food that I’m missing without telling me to shut up. Before here, I always thought that being America was pretty much solely about stealing things from other cultures and pretending we made it up. After being here for two months, I can honestly tell you, it is 100% not true, at least in North Florida. I have spent an obnoxious number of afternoons just craving a corn nugget with ranch dressing and some super sweet, super cold sweet tea. Every time I get a pulled pork sandwich here, I try to imagine it tastes like a sweet barbecue sauce (it always fails).  Also, ranch dressing is a thing that is very, very America. Corn dogs are really America. I’ll never forget Emily asking me and Calleigh to describe what a corn dog tastes like. More than the food, I really found myself missing my friends and just being around them. I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded with a wonderful roomie from UF, unbelievably great friends from the CAPA program, and friends from Ireland who make me feel like I belong with them. I have never stood in a room here feeling like I wasn’t supposed to be here, and that means more to me than anything. Now that its a little here, I don’t really think that feeling of homesickness will go away, but I know that I have enough people around me to get around it. My last thought is the realization that I have been here for almost two months now. Two months is about the length of the summer study abroad programs that I was looking at. Looking back, I am thankful for my coworkers at library encouraging me to go away for a whole semester. If I hadn’t, I probably would not have gotten to homesickness, or felt that I have a life here, because I would have gotten over the one month mark knowing that I would be home in a month. I am so happy to be here, and while I miss home, my family, my cat, and my bed, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to leave Dublin in two months either.

Here Comes the (French) Sun

Today, after coming from my last class of the week (I always have Fridays off – what a blessing!) I took the rest of the day to clean and organize my room, cook, and do some groceries. I needed to get my life together because I can’t even think properly if my room is not in order or if there’s not enough food in my fridge. Does anyone else feel the same way?! I feel like if my room is not tidy, my whole life is out of control. Alright… alright, I can exaggerate a bit… but hey, I am Brazilian so that’s expected!😛 But anyway, things did get a little messy since I didn’t have much time to do anything other than study last week. Now, thank goodness, my room (and life) is back on track.

Finally, the spring has officially begun in Reims. It feels so nice to be outside! Most of the weeks I have spent here were either rainy or cloudy. For the first time in 3 months, I went to check out the park that is right next to my place for some well-deserved relaxing time after the hectic schedule I had last week. In fact, I should be embarrassed, but I just found out about the existence of it a few weeks ago! I am glad to have gone there because it is such a quaint little place… perfect to unwind reading a book in this lovely weather. So that’s exactly what I did.

Also, happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! I haven’t seen any kind of celebration here in Reims yet, but tonight I’ll be going for a much-needed time out in the town with my friends so I hope to find some Irish festivities around to join!

Another thing I have been noticing lately is that I no longer feel like a tourist in Reims. It already feels like home to me. Maybe I just adapt too quickly since I have been everywhere throughout my teenage years, but now I honestly wish I could have done the yearlong exchange! Thinking about it, we are almost in April and my flight back home is at the end of May. Just the thought of ending my semester here brings me some sadness… the European way of life has suited me so well!

The way people are is so different. There is no rush. It feels like we have all the time in the world. In the beginning, it shocked me a little. Just to give an example, whenever I went to get food with my friends I was be amazed by how long the service usually took. But I came to realize that this is how the French live – it seems like they appreciate and live for every little moment. They don’t go a restaurant to eat only. They go to relax, enjoy every bite, catch up with their loved ones, and they are not in a rush to end that. Whereas in America, the pace is much faster for everything people do. Of course, both places have a positive and negative side. But the bottom line is that I just don’t know if I am ready to come back yet.

Either way, I shouldn’t be thinking too much about it. I still have a couple of months to enjoy to the fullest ☺

Tales from the Intern

Hello everyone,

My first week of the second half of the semester is over.  This means that I’m approaching the end of my term here in London (Jennifer makes a sad face while typing this line).  However, it also means that I have attended the first week of my international internship!

The first day at work last week was quite an adjustment.  I have never worked at a start-up company before, nonetheless a UK start-up company.  One of the most obvious cultural dimensions that is different between this British internship and my past American internship is the way the office is laid out.  In London, the company I work for shares an office space with more than forty other start-up companies.  There are no desks.  However, there are long tables that stretch across the entire floor.  Our company takes up half of one of these tables.  On my very first day of work I sat next to one of the company’s co-founders.  There are no barriers in these types of organizations.  This is different from most American companies because Americans like to distance themselves from their co-workers.  The “American Dream” is to work your way so high up the ladder that you get the corner office with a door that closes, so you have more time to do your important work alone.  This difference in culture is very large and was easy to notice within the first few minutes of my internship.  I still think that open office layout plans are strange though.  This is definitely an adjustment that I am going to have to make.  However, I was aware of this difference before my first day.  Living in London and talking to locals helped prepare me for this cultural dimension.  I am a lot more aware of my actions and behaviors as I work now though, especially since any of my co-workers can glance up from their laptops and watch me from across the table.

On my first day I was able to get a feel for the company by playing around on filmdoo’s website and watching some free short films.  Then, I took notes on what I liked and thought could be improved upon.  Different points-of-view usually lead to a better result in the end.  After this, I gave my input on the company’s social media accounts and usage.  I took on my own project and redesigned the company’s tumblr.  You can view my work here at: http://www.filmdoo.tumblr.com

Throughout the week I mostly participated in research.  I researched potential film festivals that we can obtain short films from.  Within the next few weeks, I should be helping the company fundraise and looking at the finances.  I am super excited to work on these numbers with my co-worker stationed in Australia.  I think that this company is a good fit for me because it is truly an international business (and I am planning on getting my Masters in International Business).

Other than working last week, I took a midterm in my British Life and Business class and attended my first internship class.  It is amazing how much the UF business school taught me my first year.  I knew about almost everything we discussed in our internship class.  Since I only have these two classes now on Mondays and Tuesdays, I have the afternoons free. On Monday I visited the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.  Today, I went on a field trip with my BLB class to Shakespeare’s Globe.  We learned about present and past day Shakespeare plays.  The tour was very interesting.  Each and every day I try to explore London further.  I’m trying to make the most of the time I have left.

Speaking of trying to get everything done in London, I visited the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio this weekend and went on a tour.  I spent three hours wandering through sets from the films and looking at old props and costumes worn by the actors in the film.  The Harry Potter nerd in me was thrilled by all of the scenery.  Simultaneously, the film geek in me loved seeing all the behind the scenes sets.  The preservation of the sets was more than I could ask for.  I was able to enter the fictional world that ruled my childhood for so long.  I love the Harry Potter films and novels.  I could not have asked for a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon in London.

Each and every day I fall more in love with this city.  I know this sounds like a cliché; however, I mean every word I say.  Every part of London has its own culture and there is so much to do that one could continue to explore this city for their entire life and still never be able to do it all.  London is incredible and I will not want to leave in two months’ time.  However, that also means that my return to this glorious city will be ten times sweeter.  Fortunately, I do not have to think about this for quite some time.  My mother and sister are coming to visit me for the next two weeks, and I am so excited to get to show them where I have been living for the past two months.  I just hope they love it as much as I do.

Goodbye for now,

Jennifer Saporito

Prague is Home

Last weekend, I had the privilege of spending some time in Copenhagen. It was way colder than it is in Prague however it was nice to see another city in a different country. I never would have thought I would go to Denmark! During the weekend, I broke away from a group in order to do the things I was interested in- which were the things that were my favorite activities. I got to see The Little Mermaid, Christiania ( a small hippy free town), The Jewish Museum, The Danish Museum, the Black Diamond Royal Library, and more. One of the events of the weekend included a 3 hour walking tour. This walking tour wasn’t anything special. It seemed as though Copenhagen does not have much history and much of the city is under construction so it wasn’t so beautiful. During this long walking tour, I was reminded of how special Prague is. No city compares to it. The history is rich, the culture is strong, and the sites are breathtaking. When it was time to leave Copenhagen, I was stoked to return to Prague. It was the first time it felt like I was returning home.

Though I had intentions of leaving Prague for the weekend, I was excited and relieved that it didn’t work out. Instead, I spent the weekend traveling to different places in the Czech Republic. I think it is important to see what this country offers and get a grasp of its whole history. On Thursday, I went to Kutna Hora to see the Bone Chapel. It was a stunning chapel that is decorated with all of the bones of the human body. Though creepy at first, it was quite beautiful. On Friday, I went with a friend to Karlstejn to see the famous castle. Instead of going in, we decided to hike for a few hours. It was absolutely stunning. We saw these spectacular water formations call Big America and Little America. The hike wasn’t hard and it was great to be in nature. The village itself is small so it was good to be out of the city. I am so excited to continue to explore Prague and its surrounding cities.

 

 

Back to Reality

Hi everyone!

Last Sunday I got back to Reims after spending time in Scandinavia for spring break. It was truly one of the best spring breaks of my life! Well, I am not quite sure if the word “spring” applies that much to my break since we experienced snowfall and low temperatures every day. But in fact, that was exactly what I was expecting and hoping for!

Our first stop was Copenhagen. What a beautiful and magic city! The sun was shining bright all day so it was perfect to just walk around town and see what the city had to offer. I thought the Danish people were incredibly polite and eager to help, an interesting fact since I had always heard people from colder regions tended to act more distant, which was not the case at all. We got lost a few times and every single person we asked for help took their time to assist us and made sure we understood what they said (the same reception doesn’t happen in Paris, I might add). We stayed there for a couple of days, but if I could go back I would have stayed more days since it was one of my favorite cities from this Scandinavia tour.

Next, we were off to Stockholm and Gothenburg in Sweden. Stockholm was lovely! Such a big and cosmopolitan city for Scandinavian standards. The weather was also beautiful and sunny, so we were lucky! I didn’t have as much time to enjoy the city as I wanted since I realized I had a lot of things happening in school after coming back from the break, so I had to divide my days in half and set my priorities straight. The first part of the day I would be studying and during the second part, I would be meeting up with my friends in the city and exploring around. For me it was fine though since I don’t have a lot of patience to walk around all day😛 I enjoyed staying in, catching up on my readings, and relaxing a bit too.

Apparently meatballs are the national dish in Sweden, so we had to try them out! I must say I was not feeling that excited about it since at the end of the day, meatballs are not that exotic and I was expecting something a little more different to try. After I tried them, I understood why they are so popular. They were delightful. So tender, juicy, and flavorful! Unlikely any other meatballs I’ve ever tasted in my life.

In Gothenburg, we didn’t do much. It was raining all the time. So I spent the couple of the days we were there just focusing on my school assignments and watching some Swedish tv shows during the nighttime. I thought it was great to just stay in and unwind for a day or two! I am such a homebody at times… Don’t judge.

Finally, we headed to Oslo for the last four days of our spring break. Oslo was by far my favorite place. Everything was perfect. People were beyond friendly, the city itself is clean and modern. The architecture is beautiful (the buildings actually reminded me a little bit of Paris). The overall landscape is amazing. It is a smaller city so there is a lot you can do by foot. I also loved to see the Scandinavian people minimalist style. Luckily, we were able to see lots of snow as well during the days we spent there. It was such a happy moment for me and my friend since we were seeing snow for the first time ☺ Our days consisted of more walking around and exploring. We visited some shopping galleries, parks, and some museums. Oslo is also really expensive. Prior to going there, I had heard it was expensive, but it was much more than I had imagined! But it was really worth it… If I could choose only one city to come back, it would have to be Oslo. Every single aspect of this city was amazing. I just wish the sky was a little clearer so we could have gone to see the fjord in all its splendor!

Needless to say, everybody (I said everybody!) speaks English in Scandinavia: from the guy who works at the gas station, to every single waiter or waitress, and even the pizza delivery person. I was aware of that beforehand, but that still surprised me because in France it is a struggle to find an English speaking person in the streets like that.

Now coming back to my reality at Sciences Po this week:

Monday – test
Tuesday – oral presentation
Wednesday – test
Thursday – oral presentation
Friday – day off (thank goodness!)
Saturday – midterm exams

I had so much to prepare for this week, in addition to attending and preparing for the other classes and discussions. Even though sometimes it feels like the workload and expectations are more challenging than I can handle, it is such a great feeling to overcome these obstacles and feel a 100% capable in the end after seeing the positive results!

After being here for the third month already, I can say this with certainty: I am having the time of my life and I am glad I faced my hesitations and embarked on this journey ☺ I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Week 5: School Projects and Snowy Interactions!

This week I mostly focused on class group work, studying for my exam, and playing in the snow!

For my Integrated Marketing Communications class we had a group project in which we had to create a fashion company along with a 12-month marketing campaign. I actually really enjoyed this project/class! The professor kept the class interesting by focusing on the main points of integrated marketing and using modern real-life examples of successful and unsuccessful campaigns. He really interacted with the students creating a friendly class atmosphere. I think many professors who fail to create this sort of atmosphere are unsuccessful in their teaching methods because they do not show the students they care about what they are taught. They might say “yes, I want you to succeed” however, after this initial statement they do not make it their job to make sure the students succeed. My IMC professor was not the “average” professor he was very tentative, open to discussions, and really made sure we understood the concepts and theories. Anyways, moving on, I really learned a great deal of relative material from this course and therefore I am thankful for that. My group created a Finnish ecologically friendly fashion company and marketed our brand through implemented pop-up events and social media style marketing. The goal of our brand was to build a relationship with our customers and educate them on the need to produce sustainable products. We created a budget and company timeline after thorough research. Our presentation went quite well and we hope our report did as well!

Now onto more fun stuff! I went saw the movie Joy in theaters. It was quite an inspiring movie proving that anyone can be successful if they really work hard. I also made my first snowman this week after visiting a cake buffet called Kakku Galleria. For a price of 12.95 euros you get a coffee and an unlimited amount of cake slices! I must’ve have tried about 14 or 15 different types of cakes! They were so yummy! Although they made me miss cake in the U.S. as the sort of cakes here were mostly moose or cream style cakes as opposed to spongy cakes, which I prefer. Regardless, they were still quite delicious.

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First Snowman!

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Kakkugalleria (Cake buffet!)

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This week I also made my first snow angel! It was cold but so much fun! It almost felt like being in a cheesy romantic winter holiday movie, haha! I went walked on the ice, which was an experience. I learned I do not really like walking on frozen lakes as much due to the fact that I almost fell into the icy waters because I did not know it wasn’t complete frozen in that specific spot. The fun part of this ice walking experience was that I got to try ice fishing! I’ve never been real fishing but now I can say I’ve done ice fishing. There were a few guys fishing in the middle of the lake but afar I could not tell what was happening so I walked up to see what they were doing. They offered to let me it if I wanted. It was a bit strange since and you have to be very patient when ice fishing because it’s not really guaranteed that you will get a catch. Ohh! And I went sledding! Sooo much fun! I love sledding down hills in the snow!

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Helsinki sunsets are truly beautiful!

A Week Entirely “tout seul”

I think we all have an inherent fear of being alone. Whether that be in regards to daily life, relationships, growing old, or planning vacations, we’ve all had this fear at one time or another. But one of the best quotes I’ve stuck to is actually one that’s printed on my lululemon bag from five years ago. It says, “do one thing a day that scares you.” This week, that means conquering my fear of being alone. Traveling alone to be more exact. You see, as time flies by over here in France, everyone flocks to make the most of their weekends for planning trips here, there, and everywhere else. Which means it becomes increasingly harder to plan trips with your friends sinces they’ve already been to x,y,z. That’s why I’ve taken it into my own hands to plan a solo trip to Paris. I thought it was about time to see the iconic Eiffel Tour, and have that nolstagic light bulb moment to say, “wow, I really am in France.” So naturally, I’ve planned my entire week leading up to this occasion “tout seul”.

Thus with a four hour gap between my classes on Mondays, (because might I remind you that classes here are 1hr45min here (point UF)) I took the afternoon to explore more of my hometown in Lyon. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, Lyon has 103% become my home away from home and by far favorite city I’ve seen in Europe. Yes I’m biased. But I’m also based in the food capital of France, so I also think I have reason to be. As I was saying, I took the afternoon and decided that it was time to visit one of Lyon’s many famous museums–the Musée des Beaux Arts. With three floors of collections ranging from marble statues and hieroglyphics to contemporary artists, it was a captivating two hours spent in blissful solitude. And that fear of being alone? Completely washed away while being wrapped up in the history of the arts.

Which only makes my excitement for this weekend that much more incontainable. Because, while yes this will be my first solo exploration, I have no doubt it will be one of my best trips yet. And I think its necessary. I think it’s necessary for everyone to find a time in their life to branch out, go completely against the grain, do something completely and utterly selfish, and completely tout seul. Set aside that fear, I promise you won’t end up a crazy cat lady if you take one weekend to yourself (or one weekend to force yourself to separate from the group, however you view it)…That’s what I’m telling myself at least.

So here’s hoping for the start of a new found perspective from the favorited old-quote. The perspective that while yes, we all prefer to be in the company of family and friends, life is to precious to sit on the sidelines waiting for others to accompany you on your journeys. Because some journeys are better “tout seul,” we just might not know it yet.