yearn to learn

6.29.2014

 photo mosque1_zpsde77f74b.jpg
{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.

 photo mosque2_zps58d18f2d.jpg
{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. 
 photo fruit1_zps443cff73.jpg
 photo fruit3_zps58dad726.jpg
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. 
 photo train_zpse17b850e.jpg
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." 
 photo necklaces_zps8301482d.jpg
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.
 photo terrace_zps458d22ac.jpg
Unless I was towing around an umbrella, I'd request a table "sur la terrace."

 photo closed_zpsac7d9f2f.jpg
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.

 photo IMG_9237_zpscbf7c3c2.jpg
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. 
 photo buzzfeed_zps8f067d01.jpg
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."

 photo IMG_3619_zpsdda2c99d.jpg
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. 
 photo selfie_zpsd219df36.jpg
The must-see sight at the Louvre is, in fact, not the Mona Lisa, but the crowd swarming the DaVinci painting all taking selfies.

 photo IMG_3179_zpsfe595097.jpg
Us included.

Don't work yourself up with checking off a to-do list. Wander & stumble. 
 photo IMG_3247_zps59a3b209.jpg
{The Broken Arm in the Marais}
That's when I found myself most happy.

 photo IMG_3243_zpsf6c403a3.jpg
{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.

 photo graffiti_zps6f8e548d.jpg
{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.
 photo black_zpsf7d69d36.jpg
I quickly learned it's the Parisians, not the New Yorkers, that only wear black. And the disease is contagious.

 photo photo-45copy_zpsa4484b8b.jpg
{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.

 photo IMG_9121_zps36c2d3b2.jpg
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

6.25.2014

 photo IMG_9331_zps50521763.jpg
{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.

 photo n678145694_932979_3306_zps17b03935.jpg
{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.

 photo IMG_8951_zps96873f0b.jpg
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.

 photo IMG_9342_zps1b4bd6df.jpg
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.

 photo IMG_3311_zps4c2efadf.jpg
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.

Jules,
 photo IMG_9039_zps2aee7268.jpg
Berlin brought you to mind,
 photo IMG_9042_zpsdf90a0ee.jpg
especially this bookstore filled to the brim with old records, stylish oversized T-Shirts
 photo IMG_9041_zps935aa494.jpg
and posters I imagined hanging on the brick walls of your future NYC loft.

Merly,
 photo IMG_8857_zps21d6971e.jpg
Looks like we've both discovered our fro-yo addiction can be satisfied even while abroad!
 photo IMG_8858_zps80d32167.jpg
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.

Ames,
 photo IMG_9164_zpse14702f6.jpg
 photo IMG_9162_zps4929f003.jpg
During my rendezvous with Rita, you came up in our conversation while we enjoyed coffee at La Maison Rose.

 photo IMG_9106_zps9ca5db61.jpg
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.

Dad,
 photo ScreenShot2014-06-25at42847PM_zps76815e7b.png
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,
 photo IMG_3496_zps75d0c2cd.jpg
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.
 photo IMG_9101_zpsacb8406e.jpg
Spotted here: Charlotte's hubby Harry from Sex and the City. Ooh la la.

Erin,
 photo IMG_8996_zpsf7f762a2.jpg
 photo IMG_3287_zpsdd9b1349.jpg
Like I already told you, it was everything about this restaurant in the Marais, le mary celeste--

 photo IMG_3310_zps618ddbda.jpg
the cucumber frothy cocktail, the geometric décor accents,

 photo IMG_3290_zps2adf1de8.jpg
and even the menu design.

 photo IMG_3680_zps7a623197.jpg
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!

 photo IMG_9287_zps6ca685c0.jpg
Oh, and mere average attempts at chalk art. Holy Belly, you could use some help.

Ana Claire,
 photo IMG_2989_zpsd77184cb.jpg
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,
 photo IMG_2908_zps98f40ae6.jpg
I wished I'd had my tennis pro aunt sipping special edition French Open Perrier at Rolland Garros by my side.

WDunc,
 photo IMG_9152_zpsdafcea16.jpg
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

 photo IMG_9241_zpsff2aebc7.jpg
and all things bike related.

Meems,
 photo IMG_8929_zpsae90d3d8.jpg
{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.
 photo IMG_8750_zpsc4ce6051.jpg
And like you said, St. Chapelle
 photo IMG_8924_zps80423454.jpg
and Sacre Coeur are certainly superior in beauty to the more visited Notre Dame.

Jimbo,
 photo IMG_9069_zps59994687.jpg
 photo IMG_9072_zps8476f5d3.jpg
The food! Ah, the food. The taste but also the menu descriptions.

 photo IMG_9195_zpsf255583f.jpg
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.

 photo IMG_9275_zps16c992d6.jpg
 photo IMG_9283_zpsc5270d58.jpg
Oh how I wish you were here to lick the hollandaise sauce or bourbon-infused syrup right off my plate.

 photo IMG_9320_zps6d376823.jpg
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?