yearn to learn


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{our class took a visit to the Grand Mosque in Paris while studying the Islam influence in Paris}
So I am studying abroad. Swear. In the classroom, I learned how France, which was once the "eldest daughter of the Catholic church," has transformed into the secularist nation it is today with their strict laicité policies in place.

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{garden at the Paris Grand Mosque}
Outside the classroom, however, I gained a morsel of new knowledge probably by the minute. Here's a select few:

Fruit always looks fresher in an open air market. 
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There was one on my route home and never once was I not tempted to snag a grape or ripe avocado.

What fills our day should fill our hearts. 
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My book, A Jane Austen Education, was some of the best company on my train ride to and from Bordeaux through the French countryside. My mom gave it to me before I left, and I read it cover to cover. The author shares what he learned--much to his surprise--from six of Austen's novels. One of my favorites was something he learned to love about Austen from her book, Emma:
"She understood that what fills our days should fill out hearts." 
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Each day here is so precious as I know I'll be walking through the gate at Bush Intercontinental airport in no time. So, instead of filling my bag with trinkets or tassel necklaces (I only bought one!), I aim to fill each with meeting people, making memories and gaining new perspective. So kudos to you, Jane: what fills our days should fill our hearts. Not our suitcases.

Always take advantage of alfresco dining.
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Unless I was towing around an umbrella, I'd request a table "sur la terrace."

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I've spent fifteen years in classrooms and my future likely holds significant time in a cubicle. So I say when weather permits, soak up the great outdoors.

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As a former magnet to shopping malls, this revelation is rather new for me thanks to someone from home. Being here, I've realized its truth even more so.

Buzzfeed is a reliable source of information. 
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They voted this café in Montmartre, La Maison Rose, one of the cutest cafés in the world "with a window seat just waiting for you."

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The coffee wasn't bad, but the pink walls made it better. Sometimes, ambiance really is everything. 

Tourists are crazy. And selfies are loved universally. 
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The must-see sight at the Louvre is, in fact, not the Mona Lisa, but the crowd swarming the DaVinci painting all taking selfies.

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Us included.

Don't work yourself up with checking off a to-do list. Wander & stumble. 
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{The Broken Arm in the Marais}
That's when I found myself most happy.

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{door at the Grand Mosque}
For instance, forget some of the indoor museums and craft your own do-it-yourself door tour. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors and patterns.

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{graffiti artist near the Concorde canal in the 10th}
And odds are, you'll stumble upon something fantastic along the way.

There's lots of ways to immerse yourself into a new culture--language, food, dress.
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I quickly learned it's the Parisians, not the New Yorkers, that only wear black. And the disease is contagious.

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{La Faille, a restaurant I solo dined at for one of my last nights in Paris}
Most people I met in Paris asked me what I was going to do after school when I told them I was entering my senior year--a natural question since most of them were rising sophomores or juniors. It struck me after about the sixth time I was asked this that the formal education phase of my life is coming to a close very, very soon.

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This leads me to my final lesson to share: learning never stops and I wouldn't be surprised to find if I get my very best education in the years to come when I step outside the classroom and into the world.

Thinkin' of Y'all


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{perhaps my favorite lunch in France was had here, La Chambre aux Oiseaux}
In French, they say 'tu me manques' when we'd say 'I miss you.' Literally, this translates as "you are missing from me." I miss everyone from home, and I couldn't be more thrilled to see Caroline and Mary Elizabeth tomorrow. But, I've learned that longing for the people you love is actually a really good feeling.

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{one of my first sweet sixteen parties}
On the whole, my friends were by my side from elementary to middle to high school. And when I became a Longhorn, I joined a good bit of my graduating class at a college just two hours away from home.

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My point is, I'm surrounded by familiarity often. Stepping outside of this comfort zone--even for just a month--wasn't easy, but the initial difficulty made the end so rewarding.

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Yes, this is one of many cliché realizations I've had while being here, so bear with the digging deep for a little, as what I'd really like to do is dedicate a post to, well, all of you.

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Most of you are miles away but I see you while rummaging through clothes racks, peering behind bars, reading menus and admiring art and architecture.

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Berlin brought you to mind,
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especially this bookstore filled to the brim with old records, stylish oversized T-Shirts
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and posters I imagined hanging on the brick walls of your future NYC loft.

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Looks like we've both discovered our fro-yo addiction can be satisfied even while abroad!
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You, in Seville; me, in London, across the way from my favorite coffee shop--two of our favorite things to share. I can't wait to have both with you for the next month.

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During my rendezvous with Rita, you came up in our conversation while we enjoyed coffee at La Maison Rose.

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Of course this is only natural as you are our common bond, and it became clear we both feel lucky to call you our sister.

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The Grand Opera's history was rich of stories that I think you'd appreciate. And of course, the classical music playing throughout and on display for purchase in the souvenir shop would have been music to your ears.

Mollie with an ie,
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We've wined and dined on many occasions and I'm certain we could take Paris by storm. You would have particularly loved Verju's wine bar, tucked underground just enough steps away from the hustle and bustle of the Louvre to hear the bartender playing 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' on her iPod.
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Spotted here: Charlotte's hubby Harry from Sex and the City. Ooh la la.

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Like I already told you, it was everything about this restaurant in the Marais, le mary celeste--

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the cucumber frothy cocktail, the geometric décor accents,

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and even the menu design.

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I liked it so much, Jordan and I tried its Mexican hermana restaurant, Candelaria. Their pepper-rimmed margs and guac may give our local Zocalo a run for its money, my Austinite sis.
*hint for future visitors: there's a hidden bar in the back!

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Oh, and mere average attempts at chalk art. Holy Belly, you could use some help.

Ana Claire,
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As my sassiest nug of all my nieces and nephew, I hope you get to spend a month in Paris like your Aunt Moll. I think you'd enjoy the the sweetest and sassiest dessert of all, macaroons from Ladurée.

Aunt Liss,
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I wished I'd had my tennis pro aunt sipping special edition French Open Perrier at Rolland Garros by my side.

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This list is long but a few worth mentioning are the BNPs on every corner, seeing our Sunday dinner spot a second time where we both tried escargot for the first time

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and all things bike related.

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{view from Sacre Coeur in Montmartre}
Your list is extensive as well, as I think I inherited my appreciation for all things Paris from you. But, mostly, it's the beautiful churches, often the smallest and most hidden being the most stunning.
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And like you said, St. Chapelle
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and Sacre Coeur are certainly superior in beauty to the more visited Notre Dame.

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The food! Ah, the food. The taste but also the menu descriptions.

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The innovative plates and the classics that are just too good to be messed with like a pain au chocolat, cheeseburger, or a hearty french onion soup.

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Oh how I wish you were here to lick the hollandaise sauce or bourbon-infused syrup right off my plate.

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From tea to tapas now, I'm searching for all of you in Sevilla too and plan to do a follow-up post similar to this as I know I missed many of you whom I miss!

All the postcards say it, but I really mean it, WISH YOU WERE HERE!

P.S. As for the title, people never get tired of commenting on Texan's use of "y'all." And as long as that's the case, I'll never get tired of defending it as the most efficient contraction in the English language. Right, y'all?