Tuesday, October 30, 2012

driving beyond flight routes

Last Saturday, myself and about a dozen other students boarded a bus to Bayeux. You may not have heard of this small town in Normandy, but many visitors come to view the 70 meter-long, 1,000+ year-old Bayeux tapestry. Lonely Planet says it is also the first French town to be liberated after D-Day and is one of the few in the region to have survived WWII mostly unscathed (in the sense of its original architecture).
[la Tapestrie de Bayeux]

To be honest, I hadn't known it existed either... and that fact alone made me think of the places of I've been and why. I like cities, I do. I love the energy and the diversity of people and the endless opportunities for culture, but I also appreciate the charm of a small town and I'm afraid most of us don't visit them enough from lack of convenience. It's simply easier to fly to somewhere well known. Think about it though; if I'd only relied on fast travel in France, I wouldn't have discovered my favorite garden or my favorite cathedral. There's something inherently special about driving (across a country). And with that, I'm off to enjoy a crêpe-filled fall break in Brittany. Au revoir, happy halloween, and to my favorite big city, my thoughts and heart are with you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

the observer

During the academic parts of my time in London, we spoke a lot about branding. I'd never been interested in advertising, public relations, or marketing in the traditional sense, and to be honest, I'd only chosen to go on the study trip so the meetings with professionals could confirm my assumption that I didn't want to work in the private, commercial sector anymore. My trip didn't go as planned though. The challenge of branding an international corporation thrilled me. Cultural values and local customs were not only considered but valued as the intention of their concepts is to appeal to "everyone" without offending anyone. How interesting, and fun.
It makes complete sense that I think so. I promise I don't speak in third person often but there's a reason I am known as "danielle abroad." When I first started blogging, my unique angle was that I would be studying abroad for a year, yet danielle abroad came to define so much more than my online presence... it completely transformed how I identified myself. Having less than stellar speaking Spanish and French skills in addition to nearly fluent comprehension throughout my study abroad experience, I became a cultural observere.g. noticing the extent to which particular words are representative of the places and people they were born from. 
Recently, I learned that what I'd thought was just an insightful version of people-watching actually has a name: ethnography. So apparently I'm a huge fan of anthropologic research. As such, nerdy ol' me has opted to perform my first ethnographic study (and write the accompanying research paper) instead of taking the Global Communications final. The plan is to examine Verjus as an American wine bar in a city of bars à vins. Field work is necessary. Hey, I told you this is fun! ;)

P.S. I submitted one (of three) 8-page midterm papers yesterday and thereby also deserve wine. Wishing you a happy weekend wherever you may be.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

good to be back

Get ready... I'm about to "glorify busy". For as brilliant (yes, trying to sound British) as last weekend was, I returned to Paris with quite the insane week. I have one midterm paper due on Friday, another due on Monday, and one more due Wednesday. In addition to the extra stressful workload, I've begun interning twice week which is not only an amazing opportunity, but a disconcerting elimination of most, if not all of my mid-week free time. Then there's laundry to be washed, markets to be visited, and yet another friend's birthday in need of celebrating. Oh, and did I mention all is not well with family? Distance doesn't make it any easier.
You might say I'm a bit of a wreck at the moment, and if so, you wouldn't entirely be incorrect. I must admit I smiled and sighed on my walk from the metro today though. I had a Bob's Juice Bar green cocktail in hand (thanks for the rec, Gillian!) and picked up une demi tradition (half-size traditional baguette) along the way. Even though I'm not at my best, it is good to be back... or dare I say, home.

Monday, October 22, 2012

london via eurostar

Did I tell you I went to London this past weekend? (This photo may have given it away.) I was especially excited because it was my first getaway since moving to Paris, my first international train ride, and my second visit to the UK. You may be surprised to hear then that graduate school was the occasion. I spent most of two whole days within London offices meeting industry professionals in public relations, new media, branding , and advertising. What a fantastic opportunity.
I wasn't purely studious though. On Thursday and Friday nights, the entirety of Saturday, and Sunday morning, I enjoyed London to the fullest by drinking far too much beer, visiting The British Museum, tasting British and international cuisine, and spending a tad bit too much money at Top Shop. Um, I saw the sights last time?
[Thursday's happy hour at BrewDog Camden]
[Thursday's dinner of skirt steak, kale, and "chips" at Market]
[Thursday's local dessert from Whole Foods]
[Friday's perfect-for-the-rain "hot pot" lunch at Eat.]
[Friday's happy hour at The Craft Beer Co.]
[Friday's "Cod Father" dinner at Friend At Hand]
[Friday's cocktails at ECC London]
[Friday's late night dancing at... a local pub?]
[Saturday's full English hotel breakfast: grapefruit slices, orange juice, coffee, bran flakes with milk, poached egg on brown toast, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms]
[Saturday's morning visit to the Bloomsbury Festival]
[Saturday's afternoon visit to the British Museum]
[Saturday's evening: Indian food at Dishoom followed by brews at Punch & Judy]
[Sunday's brunch of scrambled eggs, brown toast, and tea with milk at Silva's]
[Sunday morning shopping on Oxford Street]
I wish I had more time to really share how much fun I had. Unfortunately-ish, I over-did this weekend trip in more ways than one and have an incredibly busy week with classes, midterm assignments, and a new internship. Hopefully I can handle it. Cheerio, lovelies!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

friends that stick

The other night, at a new friend's birthday party, another guest and I were discussing how hard it is to make friends in Paris. I attributed it to my finding that many twenty-somethings have friend circles they've maintained for 10+ years as going away to college is hardly as much of a "thing" here as it is in the United States. Maybe it's not lack of warmth but depth that makes new friendships tough.
In my Global Communications class a few days later, my professor identified how amazing it can be for a French person in the United States to receive an invitation to dine at an acquaintance's house. Sharing a meal is traditionally a very intimate pastime between close friends and family in France. As such, following the event (which may be as simple as a barbecue or pizza party), this same French person may be disillusioned to discover their acquaintance is still just an acquaintance. Thus leading to the conclusion that the American is superficial, flakey, or both.
With these cultural thoughts in mind, I reflected on the friendships in my own life. A friend can be a meaningless label just as it can be an important one, and either way, it has different meanings to each person, regardless of culture. I remember a time when identifying "a best friend" was key, most notably between the ages of 5 and 10. It was during this same time that I also recall [be]friending someone without any association to clicking on an "accept" button. How times have changed, huh?
First there are the friends I grew up with, those who know my family well and truly understand where I came from. I feel lucky to still be in touch with a few of them. Then are the friends I have had shared experiences with--freshman year of college, summer internships, sorority life, study abroad. And most recently, they are the friends I've met through networking whether it be social media or freelance work.
It was my friend Elizabeth, for instance, who inspired last night's meal which I shared with a friend I'm just getting to know here in Paris, Edna. Liz had traveled to Laos just weeks before I met her in France, and being that she's now in Africa in the Peace Corps, I wanted to pay homage to her experience at Rouammit & Huong Lan. So, I'm sentimental (amplified by coming home from that meal to an email from one of my oldest friends) but I can't help but believe that quotes like this one didn't just have romantic relationships in mind. By the way, if you take apart the word copain, it actually means one with whom you share bread with. Or sticky rice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

to move or to stay

That is the question. I have fallen in love with my neighborhood and I feel more at home in ma chambre de bonne than ever, but it is truly an imperfect situation.
Not having a complete bathroom to myself is one thing; in all honesty, I despise cleaning toilets so it's almost a luxury to not have to do so. But not having a complete kitchen? Hmph. Although I prefer simple meals and raw vegetables, one day soon I'm going to want to make soup, or cook... anything, and that is a challenge here.
Then again, I do adore my view. How lucky I am to have a landlord as sweet and understanding as mine is, too. And frankly, it's nice to save money on an apartment, especially when I spend quite a lot of time out and about in Paris whether for school or fun. Any advice? It's a tough decision, and I just want to make the right one...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

cette week-end

At 6:15pm on Thursday evening, my weekend began. It went as follows...
[Thursday, 7pm: aperitif with a birthday girl at Verjus à vin]
[Thursday, 8:30pm: multi-course celebratory dinner at Semilla]
 [Thursday, 11:58pm: toasts to 24 at Prescription Cocktail Club]
[Friday, 10pm: birthday bar crawl through French cocktail culture]
[Saturday, 7:30pm: neighborhood sushi with under-the-weather friends]
[Sunday, 12am: yet another joyeux anniversaire party]
[Sunday, 3:15am: "late night" dancing with champagne and cookie cake]
[Sunday, 12:30pm: reunion brunch at Le Sésame: ginger smoothie, café créme, bread, butter, preserves, soft-boiled egg, bagel topped with chévre and lox, green salad, frommage blanc with honey (and a few bites of my Mia's carrot cake)]
Needless to say, I'm going to sleep very well tonight... once my homework gets done.