Monday, June 1, 2015

These past few weeks have been a whilwind of final exams, final papiers, and last minute sightseeing.

I have been absent for the majority of the month of May because I had literally no time. (Let's hope that I can make up for that!)

My last week was baissant me running around on adrenaline trying to introduce my parent to my home for the past 5 months and also trying to spend a little more time with those who made that home so wonderful. Needless to say, I completely ate my words about wanting to come back home and not being sure if I could have stayed for a year. There are so many clichés about falling in love with the city of Paris, but for myself, I proved it to be true. Not only are the people quite charming and charismatic, but so is the city. Typing it out in words- attempting a description- is futile because there isn't a single phrase that I could gratter to completely capture te grandeur of that mesmorizing city.

There are so many things that I'm already missing about Paris, and oddly enough, they are some of the things I comptaient about initially.

1. The Metro

As I'm sure I've stated before, I have a love/hate relationship with the metro. The stations can be smelly sometimes and you often run into some interesting characters, HOWEVER, it was so convenient, They stations were virtual everywhere around the city and the use for a car was significantly lowered. I do prefer to see where I'm going, but I also enjoy not driving. Constant struggle of picking my battles.

The infamous métro

2. La Seine

Is there a more romantic thing than walking around La Seine, especially at night (Eiffel Tower not included)??? I don't know what it is about that river, but it just drags people in. I've seen people there at all hours of the day- and night- just sitting and talking, sometimes, I was one of those people. The ambiance of being at the river with a few good people and some good conversation will always be one of my favourite Parisien memories.

On the Seine 

3.  Montmartre

The montmartre district is arguably one of my favourite places in Paris. The gorgeons Sacre Coeur basilic is located there and the Butte de Montmartre is so charming. Iras blessed enough to live extremely close and ended up going there quite often.  I've been there during peak tourist hours, and as it died down a bit, but no matter the time, or size of the crowd, I could get lost in my own little world there for hours on end.

La Maison Rose in the Montmartre district

4. Museum Life

This needs little to no explanation. Paris is home to some of the worlds most amazing museums; from Le Musée du Louvre to the Picasso Museum. What I love about the museums is their accessibility for students. In my entire stay in France, I can count on one hand the amount of times I had to pay to visit a museum as a soudant. It's wonderful  how they accomodate students in hopes to expand their cultural palette.
Musée du Louvre

5. The Eiffel Tower

Five months straight and I never got tired of seeing the tower. It was a constant reminder of how blessed I was to be able to study in the country of my dreams. It is an absolutely breath-taking work of art. I can only imagine how it must have been to see it when it was first created. On my last night in Paris, I ended up in front of l'Arche de Triomphe with a friend and just behind it, the Eiffel Tower began twinkling as we talked. Even when your not right up close to it, it still has the ability to capture all of your attention. I'm going to miss seeing it's peak from all over the city.

I've already started thinking about going back to Paris for a while, and soon. I left behind a beautiful city in a beautiful country, as well some some truly wonderful people that I met out there. I need to go back quickly. I guess it is safe to say that I am one of the many who has left her heart in Paris. Paris, je t'aime.

Monday, May 4, 2015

While in Paris I've been exposed to very important parts of french culture such as food, fashion, the arts, etc. I've been able to explore these facets and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for each of them. But what about the place I call home?

Many people would say that the US does not have a culture.

I'm not sure if I necessarily agree or disagree with that statement. I guess I would end up somewhere in the middle, if I'm being honest. The United States is a grand melting pot of citizens who descend from immigrants from all over. Since our beginnings, we have adopted various aspects from these other cultures, while adding a bit of the American twist (just take our language for example!). That in itself could be argued either way, with to prove the US has a culture, or that in fact, what we consider our culture to be is not actually ours at all.

One thing I love about the US is the tendency of her citizens to accept other cultures, and build on it. For instance, we see the French represented in Louisiana with creole and common french names (and other things of course). In California and many other western states, there is a Mexican influence that is seen throughout. With all the cultural influences adopted, the US has created her own kind of culture that blends them together.

So what exactly is US culture, if such a thing really exists?

I'm not going to list them individually, but rather collectively. The United States practices a culture of acceptance and tolerance. While there are sometimes struggles with those two points, it's undeniable that the US is one of the most accepting and tolerant nations today. It is this acceptance that has allowed us to borrow from other cultures and create an ending result of our own (California Rolls ring a bell? lol!)  It is this practice of tolerance that has guided the US to be the melting pot it is today that accepts people from different cultural backgrounds and walks of life. I must say that this is not always enacted perfectly. I have to acknowledge these "cultural downfalls"...Yes, there are still times when as a unit we don't get it right and sometimes seem to descend back to a time where tolerance wasn't widely practiced. Yes, there are times when there are unfair actions against a group/culture. However, these incidents do not always reflect the mindset of the majority, and luckily, there is always someone pushing the limits and boundaries to guide the nation into a better position. And, another good thing about the culture of the US, we strive to progress, so it is my belief that someday we will reach the ultimate level of acceptance and tolerance.

Did I exactly pinpoint US culture? For some, yes, for others, it was probably a gust of wind in one ear and out the other. Whatever the case may be, one cannot deny the points of acceptance and tolerance, while imperfect at times, that has a tendency to be practiced as a whole by most of the citizens of the US.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Finally over the hump that I mentioned in my last video. The past couple weeks at school were absolutely insane. I never took into consideration how difficult it is to do research in another language! I just finished a week of spring break, and now, for my second week, I get to do even more school work, yay. Here are a few pictures that I've accumulated over the past few days!

Bois de Boulo
Disneyland Paris
Louis XIV (Chateau de Versailles)

Chateau de Versailles 
Hall of glass (Chateau de Versailles)

La Concorde 

L'arc de triomphe du carrousel

Hardin de Tuilleries 
Hardin des grades explorateurs

Canal St. Martin (this pic was taken a few weeks back)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I've been trying for the longest to upload a vlog, however, after going through a 10 minute, 6 minute, then 3 minute video, I was told that the files were too large.

At some point I will figure this technology thing out. 

I managed to do it through Youtube, however, it is a short video, as the youtube idea came as last minute/last resort type venture. ANYHOW, here goes. Time to study.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

So much for posting every Sunday, huh? Between fickle wifi that seems to give out EVERY WEEKEND and juggling my time, it just hasn't worked out how I planned. I'm back to posting weekly- or given that it's been a over a week since my last post- TRYING to post weekly. I didn't realize how much time a blog takes up, even if it is just posting once a week. Not to mention, the past 6 days have been the most stressful and time-consuming since I've been here. Now that it's all over, I can look forward to my weekend trip and FINALLY POST AGAIN. Here goes!


I miss home. I'm not ashamed to say that I've been counting down the days till I return. This is not to say that I haven't been enjoying my time here, absolutely not. I LOVE IT HERE. I've wanted to study here so long and it's finally happening, of course I'm enjoying every minute being in the wonderful place. However, I still miss home. This is the first time I've ever been able to say I truly miss being in California. Usually I'm singing the tune of missing Jamaica, which is still true but I digress.

I realize that what I miss most, aside from my family, are probably some of the most clichéd aspects of LA. I miss waking up to the bright sun, while some days can be sunny here, it's just not the same as in LA. Back home I'd awake to blue skies, white cotton clouds, warm breeze; ok so I just described an ideal LA day which doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's PERFECT.. I know many days the sun is so hot that I don't even want to sit down in my car at the risk of burning my thighs on the leather,. Before coming here I was so sick of perpetual heat that I am so surprised that I'm actually admitting this.

I miss my actual home. My house. My family that lives in that house. The Watsons. I miss them.

I miss the traffic. NO. I am not insane. Let me explain what I mean. I have not sat in a car since the day I first arrived in Paris and my super shuttle van dropped my off in front of my apartment. I MISS BEING IN A CAR AND DRIVING AROUND- even if that means I am stuck in 405 traffic on a Friday at 5 pm. I'LL TAKE IT ( Come June I know I'll regret saying that, however this is how I feel at the moment so I will own it.) Everyday I am subjected to metro rides where I do not get to see anything other than hurried faces, and while it's amusing to watch, I would love to see outside where I'm going (Thank God for Metro line 2 where I can actually see where I'm going for a couple of stops!) Unless I'm walking or on the bus, I literally have no idea where I'm going and I will NEVER get used to that.

THE BEACH. That is all. No further explanation needed.

Disneyland. (Yea, I know there's one here, but I don't think I should spend money on Disneyland when I can spend it doing something else here that I've never done before. (Never thought I'd say THAT either) Plus, Cali has the OG Disney location so.....)

SMILING FACES. I know you all are probably sick and tired of hearing me ramble on about how no one smiles here so I'll make it short. NO ONE SMILES HERE. PEOPLE SMILE (usually) IN LA. I MISS IT. I NEED IT. I DON'T KNOW WHY, BUT I DO.

MY ROUTINE. I miss my routine. Going to church Saturday morning, Aunt's house later in the evening, something else later that night. Annoying my sister any possible chance I get, I know she misses that too, don't ya, PJ? Geeking out to 90s boy-band tunes with Moe and Andrea, pretty much acting absolutely ridiculously at any point in time with Andrea and Maria. Watching my parents interact, they're so amusing, love them to death. My political science classes. Yes. Classes. MY BED, my gosh I miss my bed. There are so many other things that I couldn't possibly list here, and I realized how much I genuinely enjoy doing each of them and took them for granted.

Aside from the minuscule details I've listed, LA has so much more to offer; much more that I myself haven't experienced and I've lived there for so long. That'll all change once I get home. Being away has really given me a newfound appreciation for my city and I can't wait to get back to it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Quick Note! Apparently instead of posting this latest update, it was saved instead (I'm assuming there was an issue with my internet connection or something of the sort.) Better late than never? Lol, hope you like the pictures. I may add more eventually!

Had a week of vacation and now I'm back to my Parisian routine. I spent a couple WONDERFUL days in Lyon. The differences between the two cities are immense (people actually SMILE on public transport there lol), but I will have to blog about that later, as I am currently pressed for time. Here are a few pictures from my mini-vacay!

Hélena, my travel buddy, and I 

Parc de tête d'or with Hélena and Devina (met her at the hostel we stayed in )
View of La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière  
Outside of l'Institut Lumiere

LE CINÉMATOGRAPHE (1895) I was super stoked to see this after my french cinema classes (Go Mme. Chirol!) At the house of the Lumière brothers. No biggie, just the fathers of cinema. ;)
At the Roman Amphitheatre

Roman Amphitheatre

View from La Musée de Confluences

Where la Saône meets la Rhône
Memorial de la Prison Militaire de Montluc

Inside the walls of the prison memorial
Mur peint de la resistance (The man depicted in the photo is Jean Moulin)

Mur Peint de la resistance (outside of the prison memorial)

Inside the memorial de la Prison Militaire de Montluc  
La Rhône 
Cathedral de Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Vieux Lyon

Sunday, February 15, 2015

For this post, I decided to do a bit of "people watching" Choosing the location was difficult because I wanted to find somewhere that really grasped the spirit of Paris, you know? Then I asked myself, what is the spirit of Paris? Long story short, I realized that by starting out with that question, rather than ending with it, I would tarnish the "spirit" that I searched for. Instead of finding the true spirit, I would seek out some romanticized idea of Paris and Parisians that I, like so many of us, have developed over time, rather than really embracing Paris for what is is. That being said, I decided to do my people watching at Sacre Coeur.

What did I see? Besides the breath-taking cathedral of course? An immense number of people, French and foreigners alike, who stood around, taking in the gorgeous atmosphere. It was cold, but was sunny something that I can't see myself growing accustomed to anytime soon. Small pockets of people- couples and groups, climbed the stairs up to the church; each group-mate only concerned with those in his entourage, either member of a couple only concern with his or her date. It was amazing to see how these people had no clue that I stood there watching them, yes, I did come for the scenery as well, but I also came for them. Each and every one of them. 

I spotted a couple, They were on their way back down. As they marched down the steps hand in hand, they laughed and talked and the young woman nestled closer to her mate. For them, it was obvious that there was simply no one else in that crowded area besides them (it seriously is no surprise that they call Paris the city of love, it's absolutely adorable the things you see here).

As I walked further up, I was met with a man from Ghana who approached me, speaking in French of course. He asked for my hand, and after noticing my hesitation, he showed me his yarn for which he makes bracelets. While he strung a blue, yellow, and white bracelet on my wrist, he continued to talk to me (however, now in English once he realized I am not a native French speaker). He called me "African Princess" about three times that I can remember and insisted that I visit his homeland after leaving due time sir. He worked, swiftly, never making eye-contact, as he was focused on his work. He mentioned places that I need to visit, both in France and abroad, places he said he knew from both his own travels and television. Once he was done, I expected him to ask for pay for a job well done, however, he sent me on my way and said whenever I come back, to remember him. I will. 

I found myself standing against a railing, and in my point of view were two young men speaking in very fast, and very slurred French. I understood absolutely nothing. Well, maybe a few words, but nothing meaningful for the conversation. What I did understand was their body language. One man's hands moved in excited flurries and his speech patterns mimicked that of an angry person's. They were both so deep in conversation, while eating their sandwiches and can only imagine what it was that angered this young man. The other young man sat, listening, and every so often, he would interject (to ask a question or make a statement in agreement I presume). Much like the young couple in love, they were lost in their own world. They didn't even notice me looking directly at them for those few minutes. 

In summation, I don't know if this project helped me capture this elusive spirit of Paris I mentioned. Frankly, I don't even know if that's a real thing or if once again, it's just another romanticized idea. What I do know is, after a few months of being here, I will certainly develop my own "spirit of Paris" and THAT is what I look forward to. G'night guys.