A Tally of Two Cities


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I'm having a hard time condensing my summer abroad into a Cliffs Notes version for the friends and family I've seen since arriving stateside. With about ten destinations in under ten weeks, I skip the details and resort to more general statements like, "it was the best" and "I had so much fun." Some have asked more specific questions and it's always fun to see what piques each person's interest.

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{lamar & clarke on the Guadalquivir river}
Some care more about what was on my plate than what palace I saw, but inevitably, everyone arrives at the same tride and true question. It comes in all shapes and sizes, but the answer is one size fits all: I had the time of my life! 

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{La Basilica de la Macarena}
My experience was unique, though. I didn't realize that I'd be going abroad not once but twice this summer. Once I got settled in Paris, I was uprooted and transported to Spain.

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Most people spend six weeks in one place for the summer. The braver souls with a bit more wanderlust in their systems venture off for a semester, something I'd recommend to all who have the time. Like Mollie who will be off to Copenhagen shortly. Or my friend Katie galavanting all across the continent.

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My program was eight weeks, split between two countries. Two. Very. Different. Countries.

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Naturally, people ask, which did you like more? Though it's tempting to just say Paris and move on, that's not really fair. It's like comparing oranges and apples. It's like Paris and New York...

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which brings me to my source of inspiration for this upcoming series of posts -- one of my favorite decorative books (which I just so happened to also read!) Paris versus New York.

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For BOD, the name of the game is Paris versus Sevilla. Maybe by the end we'll have a winner. Maybe not. But we'll have fun along the way.

rollin' on the rivers
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the Seine // the Guadalquivir
+1 for the Seine's beautiful bridges
+1 for the fact that I actually went on the Guadalquvir to paddleboard while I only stepped foot on the Seine's sidewalk shores

so a wash for this battle at sea

pretty pink places
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La Maison Rose in Montmartre // homes in Triana (Sevilla's Brooklyn, if you will)

this one goes to the cutest café in the world according to Buzzfeed and now BOD too. 
+1 Paris

visiting hours
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mon copain à Paris

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mi mamá en Sevilla

aw, don't make me choose!

weekend getaways 
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Bordeaux // Grenada

both had breathtaking views. both had wine. both are winners in my book. 

big bite from home
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Blend // House of Burgers

it seems only fair to give this to HOB 'cause a beef patty does an American girl right on the 4th of July (even if it did have brie!)
+1 Sevilla

places of praise
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Saint Chapelle  // La Basilica de la Macarena

+1 for those stained glass windows, Paris
-1 for being under construction
+1 for attending an actual service at Macarena
-1 for no AC

even steven. 

coffee shop regular
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Le Voltigeur // La Merceria

they both got the book shelf thing goin' but Le Voltigeur had an English wee-fee password ('iloveyou') and notes written in cappuccino froth, ooh la la!
 +1 Paris

summer school prof
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Tom // Carlos

Tom gets a B- and Carlos a solid A
+1 Sevilla

on every corner
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where's waldo?!

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brasserie bistro // tapas bar

They're everywhere but that's okay because they're amazing. I don't think I ever sat at either and didn't enjoy my experience, so a tie here too. 

good company
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meeting friends // meeting up with friends

the most wonderful wash of them all!

Two for two for now; stay tuned for the next round!

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life


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In France, all high school students take the Baccalauréat, the university entrance exam. Their SAT basically. The tests are hardly similar, though, with the bac's essay questions digging a little deeper. Our professor in France shared the questions from this year's exam with us and two of them had to do with happiness:
Vivons nous pour être heureux? // Do we live to be happy?
Doit-on tout faire pour être heureux? // Should one do everything to be happy?
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I found it interesting that both of these questions were asked as they beg largely the same question, revealing how happiness will always remain a highly debated topic among the "big questions" in life. Purpose, meaning, and all that. Admittedly, this is the kind of stuff that comes to mind while you're abroad.

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To make a top score on the bac, I'd have to cite Aristotle and maybe mention Bentham's Greatest Happiness Principle, but I'll be more brief for BOD's sake.

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Of course, everyone seeks happiness and fulfillment, and while every act should not be for the sake of your own happiness, there sure are a lot of things that can make you happy.


where you are:
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the gardens in Granada or
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the Mediterranean in Mallorca,

how you get there:
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touring the Plaza de España by bike
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with Captain Caro
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and her crew of chicas

what you're wearing:
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matching pants or
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matching flamenco dresses
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or matching fedora hats -- how fedorable?!

what time of day it is:
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Sevillan sunset on the 4th of July

what you're learning:
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the Alhambra
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was the Muslim palace in Granada
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before it became the Christian court in 1492. And it is breathtaking.

what you're eating: 
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classic American burgers
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for the 4th of July!

or drinking:
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granizados, the Spanish slush!

what you're seeing:
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view of the old town in Granada from the Alhambra

and of course, who you're with:
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I don't know if I'd pass the bac, but as far as happiness goes, I have no doubt I'd rank in the top percentile.