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.