Friends to Last a Lifetime

Okay, so I have kind of a gushy post for everyone right now.. I’ve said before how I have the workd’s best friends ever and that will never change. Last year, my best girlfriends sent me a care package in Paris from the States to cure my homesickness and tell me how much they missed and loved me. It was absolutely wonderful and uplifting and I couldn’t believe they did something like that for little ole’ me. They’re truly the best.

And now anyone who knows me, knows that I love my birthday. Like love love love it. I typically tend to celebrate my birthday for at least half of October with my various groups of loved ones in my life.. Yes, I’m that girl. It’s not like I shove it in people’s faces, I just love my birthday and love spending it with the people I care about. And this year was wonderful hanging out with my family all weekend – especially with being away from them for it last year while in Paris.

So, remember how I said I have the best of friends? Well, they’re from all around the world and my best friends from Paris just sent me birthday presents from abroad!

   

Seriously, I love these girls so much.. I’m so shocked that they thought to do something like this for me and I couldn’t be happier that God blessed my life with such beautiful souls.

When I say I have the world’s best friends, I truly mean it. 

   

Readjusting

A week and a half has gone by since I moved back home and I’m still overjoyed to be back!

Since coming home, I’ve spent all of my time just indulging in lost family and friend time. The first full weekend I had my baby cousins the whole time and I didn’t let them out of my sight. I’m so happy just to be able to hug those beautiful babes again. 

    
 And I finally got to go on a movie date with my little bro again! He, I and his girlfriend spent the whole day at the movies and it was so nice to be able to hang out with him again. 

 I’ve eaten enough El Mags’ Mexican food to last me another year.. 

 And I dyed my hair again (finally!!).. Oh, and cut it.. 

 I spent a weekend in the city with one of my best friends, Liz.. I got to finally see her apartment and I loved it! Seriously, I want it. 

 Aaaand the world’s best roommate ever – Amy – drove an hour and a half to see me in KC for lunch. She’s actually the best.. I cannot wait to live with her again in less than two weeks!

Last but not least, I’m soooo happy to have a real kitchen back in my life. Yesterday, I made mini rainbow chocolate chip pancakes and they were a total hit in the house.

So, I guess you could say I’m happy to be home.. I miss Paris, definitely, but for now I’m just overjoyed to be back.

Liverpool & Chester: A Day of Chasing Down The Beatles & Resting at Central Perk

“You say you want a revolutiooooon..”

I’m still in awe at what I did today.. Spending time walking down Mathew Street – Beatles capital of the world! I went into the iconic Cavern Club and listened to some live music, bought a Beatles’ hits record from the 60s and had the time of my life.

I seriously could live in Liverpool, it was gorgeous. The waterfront was spectacular and I mean, come on.. Who doesn’t want to spend their afternoon listening to Beatles’ hits while walking through town? 

    
    
 I love Liverpool.

Then, I headed to Chester – a city of Roman ruins, which also happens to have a Central Perk replica from Friends. The ruins were gorgeous and enchanting but not surprisingly, I spent almost the entirety of my time in Chester at Central Perk. Seriously this place was amazing. Massive mugs, endless Friends episodes, plush furniture, signature character drinks (I had the Joey Java Jolt) and even a signed Friends script from ’96. I had the best time wasting my night there like the gang did in the show. 

   
   
I really just had a magnificent day today.

Happy happy.

How Paris Changed My Life

I remember the first time I thought about it.

I remember thinking, “This is crazy.. I’d never actually do it..”

And then I remember realizing that actually nothing made more sense to me than moving to Paris.

After just one year, my time in Paris has changed me. I’ve grown into a completely different being. I’m more me than I’ve ever been and I’ve never felt such an intense longing to stay put somewhere.

After this short year away, Paris has become my home. She’s a constant in my life that I’ve never known before. She’s the love I’ve never had before. She’s the embodiment of who I am as a person now.

After all of the tears, laughs, picnics, strolls, complaints and wine glasses I’ve gone through this year, I can confidently say that it’s been the best of my life. Paris has opened up my horizons and filled my heart. She made me realize more than ever before that travel is in my soul; it’s the essence of my spirit. I’ll never stop until I’ve seen all that’s humanly possible on this magnificent earth that God created for us. It’s within me now, as is Paris.

Though I adore this city and have seriously contemplated staying, there were times when I wanted nothing more than to go home and be in the presence of my family again. In this year I’ve never felt so completely whole and so entirely split in two before. And as I sit here in my room for the last night, I don’t have a choice than to return to the wondrous love of the family I have waiting back home.

Yes, Paris is a part of who I am today. I’ve changed in ways I’d never anticipated before and have grown into a different woman because of her.. But for now it’s time to say goodbye.

To say goodbye to the family of friends I’ve created for myself here. 

    
    
   
To say goodbye to the city that drastically changed my life.

To say goodbye to my home. 

 

Edith Piaf, Long Lost Professors and Living the French Life

It has occurred to me that I should probably update all of you on what I’ve been up to the past few days – and it’s been a lot. First, let’s start off with the most recent French film I went to (alone again, because that’s my new favorite thing) – “La Tête Haute/Standing Tall.” Centering around a troubled young boy just trying to find his way in the world. He’s abusive and temperamental and a disaster to be around but by the end he’s grown into himself. Full of anger, hatred, compassion, love and a happy ending, it was as uplifting as it was upsetting. Oh, how I love these French cinema experiences that I keep all to myself. Next, I spent my Saturday afternoon exploring the Edith Piaf exhibition. I’ve loved her for years; that dark, smoky voice and soothing lyrics – I’m a sucker for French classics. Immediately upon entrance I was handed an audio guide full of about 50 Edith songs to listen to while walking through the exhibit. With movie clips, vintage mementos and even a live karaoke box inside, I became lost within history. The exhibit even had one of her little black dresses (her signature look) hanging from above in one of the sections. I learned so much about her and her tragic life and I have a newfound respect for the glorious French singer. For those of you not familiar, here is one of her most famous songs, La Vie En Rose:

         Then, I spent all day Sunday running around in a real princess dress at another castle – Vaux-le-Vicomte – but that’s going into a separate post because it was so special to me and deserves more attention than a mention. Then, yesterday two things happened. One, I received my new custom made leather journal cover for my personal journal I’ve been keeping throughout my time here in Paris! I was so delighted when I saw the package sitting in my family’s flat that I literally squealed! It’s so beautiful and personal and everything I wanted. Thank you so much, Megan’s Mark for this wonderful work of art!     And then two, I met up with one of my French professors from university! She and her hilarious other half are in Paris for the week for the beginning of her last study abroad that she’s leading. This wonderful lady is one of the three main reasons I was able to go to France the first time two (!!) years ago and then decided to come back long term. She led my study abroad group back then and it’s only fitting that we met back up at a cafe for drinks while I’m living here.    Finally, last night I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Paris just lounging along the Canal Saint-Martin having a picnic.       Honestly I couldn’t ask for a more perfect life to live, I thank God every day for my abundant blessings. I’m in awe at every moment of every day of this beautiful life I get to live because of Him.

Christmas Break in a Nutshell

So, it has come to my attention that I should probably update some of you on my Parisian shenanigans since we last spoke. The following is my attempt to sum up all the craziness I’ve encountered lately.

Here it goes.

Over Christmas break, one of my best friends, Caitie, came to visit me. We had such a blast and I don’t think I would have been able to get through Christmas in Paris without her. She was a blessing.. So thank you Cait! During the second week that she was here, we went on a backpacking trip from Paris to Brussels to Amsterdam to Berlin to Zweibrücken back to Paris. It was a crazy eight days, to say the least. No matter what, Caitie and I always seem to find ourselves in weird travel situations wherever we go. For instance, during a road trip back from New York City to watch the ball drop on NYE three years ago, we blew a tire and got stranded on the Ohio turnpike and had to drive back to Chicago (about six more hours) on a donut. Another time we went to Vegas for NYE (last year) and ended up all having to take different flights home due to weather. This trip was no exception. I’ll start from the beginning.

We decided to just spend one day in Brussels because we’d been told that’s all we needed. So we arrived at noon and then had reservations for a bus at 4am the following morning. We didn’t get a hostel because, “What’s the big deal? We’re young, we can stay up till four and bar hop!” ..We were tired by 3pm and ended up seeing a movie to just chill out. We’re older than we thought..

Well, 1am rolls around and we decide to go back to the train station, get our bags out of the lockers and just sit and maybe nap till our 4am bus. As soon as we sit down, our stuff in hand, a security guard comes around to tell us that the station is now closed and we need to get out. UM OKAY SIR, WE’LL GO WANDER THE STREETS OF BRUSSELS FOR THE NEXT THREE HOURS UNTIL OUR BUS ARRIVES. So rude. I mean, who closes a train station!? I bet his name was Stove.. “Stove.. Whatakinda name is that?” ..Anyway, we start walking around the city with all of our bags and see this guy wandering around aimlessly as well and it was obvious the he was in the same situation as us and decide to follow him without him knowing. After about five minutes, Caitie runs up to him, “Tu parles français?” “No.” “English?” “Yes.” “YAY!”

Turns out he was, in fact, kicked out of the station too and had nowhere to go either. I announced to him that we’d be sticking with him now and hoped he didn’t mind.. He didn’t. Good thing too, because I would have continued to follow him anyway. So we all start walking around and stumble upon an open Quick (kind of a European McDonald’s) that was staying open until 6am. We happily stroll inside and buy some fries and get settled. We were going to be there for the next three hours, after all. Anyway, Caitie goes to the bathroom and Richie (that’s our new friend’s name) and I move tables to a more comfortable area. Right as I’m about to turn around to grab the fries, the last thing left on the table to transfer, a man comes up to the table, inspects the fries and then grabs an entire handful and walks out. I MEAN WHY DOES THIS STUFF HAPPEN TO US? But oh well, I’m assuming he needed them more than us.

We all settle into our little booth and start a game of 20 questions to get better acquainted for the three hours we have together and before we know it, our peace has been disturbed. A little woman comes in with a young couple and starts throwing french fries and sauce packets at everyone in the restaurant and ends up in a fist fight with just about everyone there, including the innocent Christmas tree in the restaurant window. I mean, the tree didn’t even do anything to her. It was just an innocent bystander in this tiny woman’s he-man strength psychotic break. She ends up being escorted out by police and we’re left sitting in awe at what just happened. Again, I’m telling ya, this kind of stuff happens on every trip we have, no lie.IMG_6159

After the Christmas tree fiasco, we find ourselves realizing it’s almost time for our bus and we start to head back to the bus stop. Richie walked us safely there (even carrying my bag for me, such a gentleman) and we parted ways to head to Amsterdam where even more turmoil was awaiting us, we just didn’t know it yet. But that’s a story I’m not quite willing to tell yet..

Cait and I spent NYE in Berlin at Brandenburger T’or and had a crazy, wild night filled with music, fireworks and champagne. We had a wonderful, yet somewhat crazy time, as usual, throughout the whole trip.IMG_6284

After Berlin, we found ourselves riding the train to Zweibrücken, where Cait’s wonderful family was awaiting our arrival to show us all around the southern region of Germany and spoil us like crazy for three days. We had such a fantastic time getting to know all about Germany’s history, eating hearty German food and drinking dark German beer. We can’t thank the Kerfins enough for all that they did for us those few days – they were wonderful and so amazing to us.IMG_6362

And to finish off our time together, we came back to Paris where we slept like babies for the night until Cait had to be at the airport the next morning to return to the good ole’ US of A. I had an unforgettable time with her and am so thankful she took the time and money it cost to see me for the holidays. I’m already dreaming up our next trip and can’t wait to see where we go next!

Since then, I’ve been kinda chillin’ out in Paris just hanging out with my favorite ladies, doing quiz night at The Highlander, you know.. the usual. I had a great trip but I also realized how much of my home Paris has become.

I’m happy to be back in my little shoebox of an apartment. I’m happy to be able to waste time at my favorite bar (The Highlander, in case you guys didn’t already catch that) again. I’m happy to spend time with my girls before some of them leave soon. I’m happy to be home.

My Christmas in Paris

If you’d asked me at any other point in my life, I would have told you that I’d never spend a Christmas away from my family. It’s the best time of the year and I cherish this time that I get with my family around the tree, cuddled up in blankets, hugging mugs of hot peppermint cocoa watching Elf. I would have told you I’d never put myself through this season without them. That’s if you’d asked me before I moved to Paris.

With time, I’m falling more and more head over heels for this spectacular city. When I first moved here almost four months ago, I didn’t see it becoming home. But now I can feel myself becoming attached to all of the magic that Paris has to offer. I loved it when I came but not in a “home” way. I loved it in a vacation way but today I can proudly say that I call Paris my home.

So, during this Christmas season away from home, I find myself incredibly blessed. Yes, I’m away from my family and that hurts but if I’m going to be away for Christmas, what better place to be than in Paris? Amiright? I know I am. I’ve come to accept that I won’t be with my family and I’m surprising okay with it. This will be the only Christmas I won’t be home for and I am taking full advantage of all that this city has to offer that differs from America. “Like what?” you might ask? Well..

First of all, the Christmas markets. I went to my first Christmas market on the Champs Elysées right after Thanksgiving. It was like a carnival for adults. Everywhere there were trinkets, food, ice skating and “vin chaud,” which is literally hot wine. It’s spiced and delicious and I don’t know why I haven’t been drinking it every Christmas! It’s seriously wonderful. In addition to all of this, there’s a HUGE ferris wheel at the end of the market.View-from-Arc-de-triomphe-of-Champs-Élysées-avenue_17243426_xl-600x400

Second, every single street around me is decorated specifically for that street itself. For example, my street has a string of lights across the beginning of each end that reads, “Joyeux Fetes Rue Vignon,” which means, “Happy Holidays Vignon Street,” and then Christmas lights decorate the rest of the street in between. It’s beautiful and I love looking at them every time I come home every day. Also I live right by Galeries Lafayette and it’s all lit up as well with dancing lights that put on a show all day.

Third, I still get to spend a good amount of time with my family thanks to Skype. That’s right, we’ve been Skyping together quite often this past week to watch all of our Christmas movies and put up our tree and it’s made it so much easier for me to be away since I’m still able to see them and be a part of it as much as possible. Just last night we had a marathon with It’s a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story.

Fourth, my girls here in Paris are like family to me and have made this time so much fun. Last weekend we had our Secret Santa gift exchange and it was a blast. Speaking of, I need to hurry this post up so that I can go meet them for quiz night at the bar..

Last, my best friend is flying to Paris to spend Christmas with me and she arrives in just a little over 12 hours!! I can’t wait and can hardly contain my excitement! So, I will have a taste of home with me!

Even though I’m not at home with my family, I refuse to be sad because if I’m going to be away for Christmas, I might as well be in Paris.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM PARIS YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!