Monday, July 29, 2013

living la rêve in saint-germain-en-laye

Sometimes Most of the time, I need a reminder right where I should be. Three years ago, I stumbled across the M.A. in Global Communications. I applied to the program (and others) in late 2011, accepted the opportunity to become a graduate student abroad in mid-2012, and nearly one year ago, flew from New York (to Reykijavík) to Paris to begin. And yet, although there’ve been more good than bad days, I have trouble wrapping my head the fact that this is my real life. It’s not so much a dream come true as it just feels worlds away from everyone and everything familiar. Only my Mom, sister, Anna, and Leslie know what it’s actually like.
About a week before coming back, I met Meghan for lunch (Grilled cheese, to be exact --God bless America) and mentioned just that. “But Danielle,” she responded, “this is your real life right now. Let yourself enjoy it.” She is such a good freaking friend.
July has been a tough month for me. I didn’t exactly want to leave New York. As soon as I got back, I started interning full-time (literally, I went straight from the airport to the office), I moved apartments, and I completed a directed study research paper I wasn’t exactly prepared to write in the first place. I’ve been tired, anxious, tired, and stressed out. My poor boyfriend probably knows this best and our relationship was under strain because of it. My friends didn't see much of me at all, and I missed them.
But, everything changed this weekend. Friday, I stopped by my friend’s bar for a happy hour beer. The boy met me at my apartment afterwards with sushi in tow. Saturday was spent running errands, and days like that make me feel like a grown-up, in a good way. That night, I caught up with a friend over 5-euro mojitos, ran home for a quick dinner, and then met other friends at a cocktail bar. I didn’t get home until 6:15am. And Sunday, when I did wake up (at noon, I might add), I still had one last outing to look forward to.
Anne, Deanna, Lauren, Lillian, and I ventured to Saint-Germain-en-Laye for the 400th birthday of Louis XIV’s gardener, André Le Nôtre. Lauren’s pup, Daisy came, too. The massive château gardens featured works by various contemporary artists, thoughtfully scattered throughout the manicured landscape. We wandered through the grounds, took lots of pictures, relaxed on the lawn, and ended on a sweet note with expensive gelato. It was basically perfect; the kind of day that made my expat doubts a distant memory.
"So, this is real life, huh?" I thought to myself. It's pretty darn great.

Friday, July 26, 2013

how to afford a summer in paris

Times have been tough. Remember when I took myself out to lunch on Fridays and frequently met up with friends for food and drink? Me, too... fondly. I'm on a much stricter budget now that I live in a legitimate apartment. Federal loans only stretch so far, especially after such a fabulous break at home. The list of Parisian delicacies I can enjoy are limited to: 1-euro fresh baguettes, seasonal market produce, and prix-fixe lunch menus only once or twice a month. How I suffer so ;). In all seriousness though, I really do have to be more careful about how I spend my money. Paris is not a cheap city, and even 5-euro pints of happy hour beer add up fast. I might be depending on free events to get me through. Even with an internship paycheck, I doubt I'm going to be able to afford a real vacation.
But who needs a vacation when you live in Paris, right? (Raises hand). With that said, for those who don't already have the luxury of residing here, studying abroad in the City of Lights may very well be out of the question. Unless, of course, you receive help.

Recently, I was contacted by Paris Study Center, L3C to spread the word about their discounted prices on studying abroad in Paris. The potential students are only required to qualify for regular program admission and be considered economically disadvantaged by their FAFSA applications. There's no shame in accepting aid to pursue your dreams, my dear! It's what I did. If you're interested in learning more, or know of someone who might be, please contact Ayana Burroughs at contact(at)parisstudycenter(dot)com.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

the tenement museum

Remember that directed study I mentioned briefly? Well, research is heating up in "how culture fosters collaboration in places of ethnic conflict". And! I just realized that there's one last part of our New York visit I haven't yet shared: the Tenement Museum.
The directed study came about because, last minute, I was unable to enroll in the three-week summer course I'd planned on taking to complete my degree (besides a thesis, of course). It was my solution to still studying the topic at hand, sitting in on most classes, and making it home in time for Deanna's graduation and Laura's wedding. I'm stressed about finishing it, but thank god it was approved.
The visit to The Tenement Museum came about because my good friend Sofia had raved about it so. Little did I expect our Friday afternoon on the Lower East Side to develop my directed study so thoroughly. It all started with a friendly art gallery owner...
Then we ventured down to 103 Orchard Street to pick up our tickets for the Irish Outsiders tour. As we waited in the Visitors Center, we enjoyed sifting through the gift shop and managed to squeeze in most of their original documentary, "An American Story". We soaked up every detail. Marcus was especially thrilled to discover the early influence Germans had had in the diverse neighborhood.
"They imagined a new type of space, which they called a ‘Site of Conscience', defining this as museums that made three commitments: to interpret history through a site, to engage in programs that stimulate dialogue on pressing social issues today, and to share opportunities for public involvement in those issues … operat[ing] at the intersection of historic preservation, human rights citizen engagement, education, and the arts,” (Ševčenko 114, Cultures and Globalization: Heritage, Memory and Identity).
Liz Ševčenko is referring to the Tenement Museum in the above citation (in addition to the Gulag Museum in Russia, the Slave House in Senegal, and Memoria Abierta in Argentina), and, my professor edited the book her article comes from. In other words, the one museum I happened to go to for the very first time while I was home a few weeks ago, supports my directed study thesis perfectly. Love when things work out like that. Now, please go make a reservation for a tour at the Tenement Museum so I can get back to being studious :). It's an amazing experience for New Yorkers and New-to-New Yorkers alike. Promise!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

for your second visit

A little over a month ago, I received an email from an old friend. She would be visiting Paris with her parents in a few weeks. “We've been to Paris before and done the museums and touristy stuff, so I was wondering if you had any advice on any "must see" things that are not so touristy?” I can’t even tell you how excited I was to answer her question :). Having lived here for nearly a year, I’ve discovered countless wonderful things to do that fail to make most travel guides. This is what I suggested:
In my opinion, visiting Paris the second, third, fourth time around can be infinitely more magical than the first. Though I added a few points to my original list (in response to a request from that friend I just met up with as she passed through), the fact remains: classic sights are still there for the taking, but now you have opportunity (and, dare I say, obligation) to get a taste of the real thing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

la vie en rose

Good morning, tout le monde! Please excuse my enthusiasm this AM, but I've been up since 6am and am more than well-caffeinated at this point (must work on reducing that). I trust you had a good weekend? The highlight of mine was watching the Tour de France fly through Versailles. Other than that, it was uneventful. I have one last academic responsibility looming over me (class-wise, not thesis-related) so that was my focus and concern. It has been for the past two weeks actually; in addition to transitioning into a full-time schedule at my internship and moving out of my chambre de bonne into a real studio apartment.
I really came back from New York and hit the ground running, huh? And since I'm still getting a hold on my new day-to-day life here, I thought I'd offer perspective on how it's been... alongside visual examples (1/3: old view, 2: office neighborhood, 3: new home).
7:30am: wake up to obnoxious bird crowing outside window. 7:30-8:50am: shower, make tea, eat breakfast, do everything else that constitutes "getting ready." 8:50-9:25am: read and commute to work. 9:35-10am: take morning coffee break with the team. 10am-12pm: be productive. 12-12:30pm: discuss being hungry and ready for lunch with co-workers on Skype group chat. 12:30-1:20pm: take lunch break--venture out for food/warm up left-overs, enjoy meal on the building's terrace while pathetically attempting to join the team's conversation (in French). 1:20-1:30pm: have a coffee/tea. 1:30-6:30pm: be productive, have strategy meeting(s) with boss, respond to funny links (in English/French/Spanish) posted to Skype group chat. 6:30-6:50pm: formally say goodbye to offce, pick up groceries for dinner. 6:50-7:30pm: read and commute home. 7:30-7:40pm: buy bread (still testing boulangeries for my neighborhood favorite). 7:45-9pm: make dinner, transfer notes and citations, eat dinner. 9pm-11pm: read, write, try to sleep.
Sounds exciting, huh? Ha, I like it so far. In the past two weeks, like I said, I've also had to pack up my chambre de bonne (see above, 20 square-meters of mess), move into a real studio apartment, and clean, unpack, and transfer as much homey-ness as possible here.
Needless to say, I've had a lot on my plate, and only one real opportunity to spend time with friends. Thank god for the boy's patience with me as I attempt to deal :). Once I have this final paper out of the way, I'll be able to relax. Until then, I'll savor brief fun plans like today's: meeting an old friend (passing through Paris on a Euro trip) at my preferred happy hour-with-a-view spot.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

an older sister

For four years of my life, I was an only child, and on my mom's side, also the only neice and granddaughter. Suffice to say, though I was excited to find out I was to have a little brother, there was no way my tastefully-spoiled self was ready. And I wasn't. At seven, I remember showing my three-year-old brother the "scary animals" on my parents' blanket; the same "scary animals" that had kept him from sleeping in his own bed. He started crying. I told my mom I didn't know why. Three years later, my little sister was born.
I say that to eliminate any preconceived notions of me being the nicest older sister. I'm not. But I also remember crying myself to sleep at nine remembering how I'd picked on Jorgie and Deanna. Since the age of five, I've literally despised anyone who's ever wronged them... as if that's somehow constructive in making them feel better. And, more than 20 years later, I continue to be shamelessly protective. It's worth noting that they're hardly little anymore and not at all helpless. Also, they mean the world to me.
I came home to see my friend marry the love of her life. I did, and it was wonderful. But first, I came home to see my little sister graduate from high-school. I came home to spend time with my little brother. We've been through a lot together as a family, and my heart swelled to see how well they're doing. I couldn't be prouder. In spite of my early bullying, they've grown into such incredible young adults. I even had the joy of bringing Deanna to Ithaca College's orientation. We had a graduation party to celebrate after.
The boy had already left by then so it was really just the three of us, and our parents, and our extended family and friends. I honestly couldn't get enough. It had been too long since I had such quality family time. The most amazing part? Despite not always being eager to play the roles, I realized I've become the luckiest older sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin, and daughter there is. This post got a lot more sentimental than intended because of it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

food and wine at m&s

You may have noticed things have been quieter around here lately. I blame my awesome 9-7 job internship (not even being sarcastic) and my fried brain after 10 hours of internal French-English translation. Please forgive me. And hopefully you'll extend your empathy towards the introduction of featured posts, too? I vow to always blog ethically and only accept content from brands I support.

On my last visit to London
, one of the agencies we visited showed us a recent project with Marks and Spencer. It was my first encounter with the British retailer and I've had a crush ever since--due in no small part to its luxury food products. It was also where I killed time before my Irish date and grabbed dinner to-go before hopping on the Eurostar. Ah, memories...

In travelling throughout Europe, many tourists, and even locals, make food a top priority. Food and wine can certainly make up much of a traditional European vacation, and it's no wonder given how many of the region's most popular vacation destinations tend to emphasize taste. But for those who don't have the flexibility to travel for food, or to eat out all the time, one alternative that is gaining popularity is ordering food and wine online--ready to be heated and served.

Specifically, Marks and Spencer has gained steam as a very impressive online source of food ready to order. Though it is perhaps known more widely as a clothing store, M&S offers a wide range of products across genres. The food and wine section, in particular, has become one of the best and busiest. Aside from ordinary grocery shopping, here are a few of the particular perks and services you can take advantage at through M&S Food and Wine:

  • Party Food: Whether you're throwing a casual backyard get-together, a formal event for the office, or a last-minute soirée, M&S has your catering option. Feast on anything from sushi rolls, meats and cheeses, selections of sandwiches and other finger foods. There endless possibilities make it a cinch to throw together a thoughtful party.
  • Wine Cases: If you're more interested in ordering wine than food, M&S has a diverse selection of different vintages from, literally, all over the world. "Mixed cases" feature different varieties to stock up your perfect collection.
  • Personalized Cakes: The bakery section of M&S is perfect for a variety of occasions with the options for themed and personalized cakes. Whether it's a themed cake for a child's birthday, a decorated wedding cake, or simply a well-chosen selection with a message in frosting, M&S has the baked good for you. 
  • Seasonal Ingredients: Finally, the M&S food section also takes advantage of fresh seasonal ingredients. In the summer, that might mean anything from fresh berries and salads, to grilling ingredients to prepare in bulk. Throwing a picnic or cookout for friends gets a whole lot easier.

Words by Tim Morris, food blogger and freelance writer. Photo by D.Alvarez (from my birthday)

Monday, July 15, 2013

last night en tricolor

Before this year, I'd never really celebrated Bastille Day. But living in Paris kind of obliges one to ;) luckily, a festive Facebook invitation aided me with such obligations. "Let us gather to celebrate the best of our adopted homeland by eating and drinking together in the heart of the city." So, together with the hostess, Rachael, Lorelei, Lara, and many new (and less new) friends, I did...
I'm so glad to have photographic evidence of the fabulous time we had; a lovely reminder that being hungover tired most of the day today was worth it. Now that we've both had a chance to enjoy it though, I really should be going to bed. My new bed, mind you! I'm officially moved and settled into a quaint little studio in the heart of les Batignolles. Couldn't be happier :).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

a berliner in nyc, day 3

"Are you ever coming back?," they asked. It was every friend and family member's favorite question while I was home. And all I could say was, "yes, but I don't know when." The truth is, I'm not sure anymore--whether I want to be abroad for the next six months, two years, or ten. Legality and costs are concerns as well. Even though it was easy to float back into my life in Paris, New York will always mean home to me; it's what made bringing the boy to nostalgic places and unforgettable people so special.
(1) Enjoy a classic New York breakfast--iced coffee and a bagel--at Chelsea Market. (2) Take the subway downtown to the Financial District. (3-4) Ride the Staten Island Ferry to and from. (5-6) Have lunch al fresco at South Street Seaport. (7) Never forget. (8) Drift into Tribeca. (9) Wander through Soho. (10) Stay a while in Washington Square Park. (11) Walk the High Line. (12) Soak up the views from Terroir's pop-up on The Porch. (13) Celebrate happy hour(s) with sorority sisters at The Standard Biergarten.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

joli deli avec la voisine

Bonsoir from Paris! Despite not being thrilled to leave New York, I'm so happy to be back. For one thing, my first full day at my internship went well--and not just because I spent some of it on our Pinterest account ;). I feel so, so lucky to have landed such a fabulous opportunity. Furthermore, by this weekend, I'll be officially settled into a new apartment; one that is complete with a real kitchen, a full bathroom, and another sweet landlord. Have I mentioned it's around the corner from the lovely Lauren, too? Because it is. Soon, I'll be neighbors with the kind of gal that sees you tweet Jenn's post about Joli Deli, and suggests a lunch date:
This cuter than cute café is hidden on a quiet street behind Metro Arts-et-Metiers. The service is friendly, the menu is delicious, and the decor is minimalist-whimsy. On that warm, summer afternoon, I enjoyed a green salad with smoked fish and avocado, a slice of Rachel's cheesecake, and a pretty noisette for 15€. 'Twas all but perfect paired with Lauren's delightful company and conversation! I can't tell you how excited I am to have her as my new neighbor :). All I need now is a couple of good nights sleep to replace the jet lag with energy to pack up my chambre de bonne...