Virtual Blog Tour: My Writing Process

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

As the child of two artists, and  lover of art in all capacities, I am always extremely interested in hearing about the process behind the artists' work, especially writers. So when Morgan of The True Life of KMK tagged me to participate in this blog tour, I was extremely excited, and incredibly grateful! Some of my favorite blogger-friends have written posts as part of this tag, so I'm really excited to share my writing process with you all too. :)

1. What am I working on? 
All the things.

Just kidding. I feel like I'm working on a lot of different things at the moment, and I'm having a hard time keeping track of it all. For this blog, I'm just making sure I keep creating interesting content about my life in France. I really don't want to make a post just summarizing the things I did in France. I'm also working on posts for the API Study Abroad Blog, and the University of Denver Study Abroad Blog. Plus I have homework, NBD.

2. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre? 

Every blog is different, because we all have different things to say and different stories to tell. I have different interests from other lifestyle bloggers, therefore my blog and my work is different than others. I like to write about my inspirations, interesting stories, cool people or things I encounter, etc. I have written about objects I like, reviews of products, etc. but I tend to stick to the less concrete stuff, and more abstract stuff. Also, museums. That's a big deal. 

3. Why do you write what you do? 

Because it's part of my story. I've written about this before, but I'm a history major and thus believe in the power of sharing stories. When I blog, that's what I do. I write the pieces of my story, and hopefully by the time I'm finished with my blog (hopefully not for a while!) I will have a record of part of my life story. I write about my life, I share my story, and I encourage others to share theirs. It's really that simple.

4. How does my writing process work? 
First and foremost, I have to have an idea for my post. I have a little notebook that I like to think I keep all my blog ideas in... but they are actually all over the place. I have sticky notes in my planner with ideas, various ideas scribbled in the margins of my journal, in a random note in Evernote where I have a lot of ideas for titles of posts, or ideas for post graphics, etc. After I come up with the initial idea, I usually write the beginning and the end. That helps me make sure that I don't rant too much, and don't get off topic too much. Then I fill it in. Sometimes, if I'm having a hard time with the structure of a post, I will outline it, but for the most part all the work happens in either a blogger post, or in a googledoc. Then I will leave it for a little bit, come back and edit it. Sometimes, I have a friend or my dad read a post before I publish it... but most of the time it's just me, my brain, and a thesaurus.

After I have the post written, I make the post graphic or choose the pictures to put with the post. I use Canva and Picmonkey to edit my photos, and to add quotes/text to them to make the graphics. This usually happens after I have the post written, but sometimes a post will be inspired by a particular picture or graphic, so it just depends.

Then I hit publish and hope for the best! Just kidding... I share it with my family and friends first (via Facebook usually), then with my blogging networks.

My Nominees:

Noor, of Noor's Place

Noor is one of the most inspirational bloggers I've had the chance to get to know through the Her Campus Blogger Network. I'm always inspired by her poetry, photos, and very honest telling of her life. 

Paulina, of Color Me Brave
I met Paulina through the Blog Life Chose Me group (check out the banner on my sidebar!) and absolutely fell in love with her blog. She is great at blogging, and social media, and I would love to learn a little bit about how she works! 

Lisa, of Adventures of a Dream Catcher
I also got to read Adventures of a Dream Catcher through Blog Life Chose Me, and it was still Améliorer La Vie! Lisa is a wonderful writer and storyteller, and I know that we would be friends IRL too. 

What's your process? How do you like to write? Let me know in the comments! 

Make it Happen Monday! #11

Monday, September 29, 2014

Things have really picked up here, and everything is starting to happen so fast! The last two weeks have been an absolute blur, and I can't believe that I've already been here in France for a month. In some ways, it seems like I'm fresh off the plane and in others it feels like I've been here for ages. No matter what, I'm so glad that I'm here and I've been able to learn so much.

The next few weeks are going to be super busy, so I definitely have to make some goals to keep myself centered. Since my last Weekly Wishes/Make it Happen Monday post was 2 weeks ago (eek!) I won't recap those wishes, and I'll just say it was a great week. It was my birthday, and my friends here in Caen took me to dinner and we had a really fun night. :)

Join the link-up at The Nectar Collective!

This Week:

1. Make my Gastronomie & Patrimoine presentation.
For my gastronomy class, we have to make a presentation about a dish or food that is special to our country and how it relates to our "patrimoine" or history/heritage, and I don't know what to choose for mine. I really want to do mine about Thanksgiving because it's my favorite holiday with my family, but the actual story behind Thanksgiving isn't that great. I could also do the 4th of July, but I feel like the food is just not as fun. So decisions must be made!

2. Buy a watercolor set.
I have refused to consider myself artistic for the longest time, but I've been really inspired by my surroundings, and want to try to do something vaguely artistic. I have always loved watercolors, and saw a watercolor pencil set at the store the other day... and it just might have to happen.

3. Submit my second post for the Academic Programs International Blog.
Right before I left CO, I found out that I was going to be a student blogger for Academic Programs International, the company that I'm studying abroad with. My first post went live about a week ago, and I'm really excited to submit my second! Spoiler alert: it's about school, but not in the way that you think.

My favorite picture from this weekend, which I posted on my Instagram. Follow me!

October Goals:
I haven't really done this before, but I thought that I would try it this month. My schedule has been super fluid and ever-changing, so it's hard to plan my life in the detail that I am accustomed (and would sometimes prefer). Instead, I thought I would make a few goals to just guide the month ahead.

1. Have some cool adventures.
I have a few trips lined up for October, as well as an excursion with the University, but I want to do more impromptu stuff, even if it's just exploring Caen or Ouistreham a bit more.

2. Figure out all the different ways to pronounce the letter "e" in French.
It's hard. BUT I WILL GET IT.

3. Be nicer to myself.
Last week, I wrote about how it's good to be wrong. I have been feeling better and better about it, but it's still a struggle. This weekend, I was feeling really down and anxious, and I just kept beating myself up and telling myself mean and negative things. It wasn't necessarily that I did anything wrong, but that I just felt somehow... less than worthy. After a while, I realized how making myself feel worse wasn't going to do anything to get me out of my sad place, so I tried being nice to myself. It's a struggle, but something that I really want to get better at. 

What are your goals this week/month? Let me know in the comments or feel free to send me an email! I hope this week is wonderful!

We Must Lose Our Fear of Being Wrong

Thursday, September 25, 2014

There are a lot of things that I don't like. There are a few things that I really dislike. There are only a couple things I hate. But there is one thing that I absolutely DETEST. 

I detest being wrong. I don't just detest it, I fear it. I fear what I think other people must think of me when I'm wrong: unintelligent, unkind, stupid, etc. I am afraid that being wrong is somehow weak. 

I have been wrong plenty of times. I have shouted out a wrong answer in class with confidence. I have said things I shouldn't have said. I have neglected friends and invested too much time and energy into toxic relationships. I have worried over nothing. I have been wrong, and I hate it.

However, here in France, I have been wrong so many times already. I have been lost. Hopelessly lost. I have said the wrong thing multiple times. At one point, my host father actually gave me a lesson on how to conjugate a verb that I had been conjugating very, very incorrectly, as well as a pronunciation lesson over dinner one night (apparently, I had been pronouncing the "s" at the end of mes amies when you actually don't do that in French... but then why is that letter there? I digress...).

For the first few days, I was embarrassed any time I said something wrong or incorrect. Before I said anything, I would go over it in my head to try and translate from English to French. At some points, I would even excuse myself from the table to go look up a word in my dictionary to contribute to a conversation at dinner. 

In my phonetics class, I struggle sometimes a lot. The French language is very different from English, and there are a lot of sounds that are similar but have nuanced differences. There are 4 or 5 ways to pronounce the letter "e" and the similarities are just so close that sometimes I just cannot hear the differences. At first, I was hesitant to speak up in class or volunteer my answers, but I wasn't really learning anything that way. Only by really offering myself up to be wrong, I have learned how to speak the French language correctly. I have learned about the parts of the language I struggle with, and it has allowed my professor to offer great help in how to work on overcoming those challenges (she calls them the "particularités de Zoe). My language level has already increased more in the past week than it had in the years I had been studying the language before. 

It has only been here in France that I have started to realize that being able to let myself be wrong is incredibly liberating. My fear of being wrong was holding me back from really trying to experience everything that this new place has to offer. I have realized that you can fail royally at something like speaking another language, and life will go on. Letting yourself make mistakes, be wrong, and mess up allows for exploration, experimentation, and the opportunity to figure things out at you go along. 

If you allow yourself to be wrong, you are completely and totally free. In some weirdly counterintuitive dichotomy, being wrong can be a good thing, and here is why:

1. The surest way to learn is to do, and to do doesn't mean to do perfectly. It means stumbling, falling, mispronouncing words, misconjugating verbs, and misunderstanding people, but it also means standing up, brushing off, and throwing yourself wholeheartedly into the next adventure. Being wrong is the only way to figure out how to be right.

2. You learn to trust yourself. Usually, when I'm wrong about something, I beat myself up. I hurl insults at myself, and tell myself that I'm unintelligent, not creative, or not a good person. Of course, none of these things are true, and I can only work on trusting and loving myself when I feel like I cannot be trusted or loved. Being wrong is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of being willing and able to learn... and that is very much a strength. 

3. You discover other things that you could have missed otherwise. As I'm wandering the streets of Caen at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon, I am desparately lost and there is not a soul in sight. Right when I'm ready to call my host mom, I happen to cross the street and I find myself in a beautiful garden. I walk around the perimeter, noticing all of the beautiful flowers and grasses, and something rings a bell. I remember my host father talking about a garden by a church... and the Abbaye aux Dames? Sure enough, I have wandered straight to the garden of the Abbaye aux Dames in Caen, one of the most peaceful places in the city. From here, I can use my map to figure out how to get home. However, had I not gotten lost just by wandering around the city, I would not have found one of my now-favorite places in the town. Similarly, if you are wrong about one thing, it could lead you to be right about another... how many times have you heard about accidental discoveries? 

Therefore, I would like to change the quote at the beginning of this post. Instead of, "In order to live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong..." I propose that in order to live a life of value, adventure, and substance, we must lose our fear of being wrong, and embrace the freedom that comes with letting ourselves make mistakes and learn from them.  

I have begun the process of losing my fear of being wrong, and I have felt incrementally freer. 

How have you overcome your fear of being wrong? Have you? What makes you feel better about being wrong? 

Heaven in Caen

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Imagine a place where books line the walls and the tables. People mull around the room, eyeing titles and discussing classics in hushed tones, knowledgable book junkies offering their help from their perch on one of the various ladders, grabbing ancient-looking leather-bound volumes for Albus Dumbledore look-alikes. You choose a book, and when you open it there is a light scent of paper, mixed with rain and a little bit of cigarette smoke. Climb a small, narrow, and somewhat claustrophobia-inducing staircase, and arrive in a room where you can smell the sweet scent of apples, pears, chocolate, and various different types of tea. You wedge yourself in a corner table surrounded by some of the most famous names in literature - Shakespeare, Voltaire, Rowling - with a pot of Earl Gray tea and a slice of Normandy apple pie. Sounds like heaven, right?

This place is heaven, and it's real. It's called Memoranda, and it's located in the Centre-Ville de Caen, in lower Normandy France. So far, it's been one of my favorite places to go after class. It's so easy to waste away several hours in the evening with a book, my journal, and a pot of tea. 

Our resident director here in Caen told us about this wonderful place when we were at the market, which is only a short distance from Memoranda in a large plaza. 

The street that Memoranda is located on is nicknamed the "rue froid" because it's cold all the time, as it is in the shadow of one of the many large churches you can find in Caen (or basically any European city). 

It is a great place to do homework, read a book, or just have some quality journal time. I also like to come with my friends. We have had many great rant and oh-my-god-French-is-so-hard sessions over pots of Sakura tea here! 

Every time I've been (and, let's not try to count), the same nice woman has been working at the cafe. She is so patient, and if I mispronounce something she will teach me how to pronounce it correctly. It is so helpful, and definitely something that makes learning (and sometimes failing at) another language much easier.

Caen is a wonderful city, and this place is definitely another jewel. 

One of my favorite things about studying abroad in Europe is finding all of these little places tucked into unassuming corners and small streets. We don't really have anything like Memoranda in Colorado, and it's really a shame. There is a place called Kaladi's near DU's campus, which is a locally owned cafe and I do love to spend hours doing homework and reading at Kaladi's, it just doesn't have the same vibe as Memoranda. 

When the overwhelming pressures of living in a different country, speaking a different language, and being away that all of the things that are familiar to me, it is nice to have a place to go where I know I will find comfort in a pot of tea and some quality marathon-journaling. 

Do you have a place that you like to go to just relax? What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day? 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

As if living in a different country, speaking/thinking/dreaming in a different language, attending classes at a different University, living with a different family, and navigating a different city wasn't enough change for me...

I cut my hair.

I know, it's kind of drastic. But I have been wanting to chop it off for a while, and there is truly no time like the present!

I cut off about 8 inches (don't worry... I donated it! I would have posted a picture... but I just find hair kinda gross) and it is so nice so far. Washing it is easier... I don't have to mess with braiding it or putting it in a ponytail or trying to do something fancy. It's seriously so much more adept to my lifestyle. I've only had it this short once... when I was in high school. 

I went with one of my friends in the same study abroad program, and we certainly had a grand adventure figuring out how to get a haircut in France. I was really impressed with myself, as I was able to communicate pretty clearly that I wanted my hair to be cut short, cropped close to my neck, and longer in the front. The hair stylist was SO nice, and for an occasion that could have been super stressful, it was actually relaxing and kind of fun. 

You know what they say... 

"A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life..." - Coco Chanel

Have you ever cut your hair drastically? What was the result? Ever tried doing it in a different language? 

Liebster Award, #2!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hello again, friends! I wanted to write about my second Liebster Award nomination, from Lala and Zoya at Confederacy of Confessions. Thank you so much for the nomination ladies!

You can see my first Liebster Award post here.

First up, the rules!
1. Post 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the person who nominated you asked, and then come up with 11 more questions for the next group of nominees.
3. Nominate a few other bloggers (5-11) for the award, and let them know they've been nominated!
4. Nominate blogs with less than 200 followers.
5. Thank the person who nominated you, and link them in the post.

11 Facts about Zoe: 
1. I knew I wanted to study abroad in a French speaking country due to the fact that I've studied French for so long and I have a French minor. However, if I didn't study abroad in France, I would have gone to South Africa, London, or the Netherlands.
2. I'm obsessed with elephants. They are so cute and wonderful.
3. My favorite colors are navy blue, turquoise, and purple.
4. The number one thing on my wish list right now is an Erin Condren Life Planner (in Zen Gems).
5. Sharpie pens are my favorite pens, as well as the Pilot G2 pens. In France, I've been using the Stabilo fineliner pens... they're amazing.
6. I love to craft things (ask my sorority little sis). If I could get paid to craft (or pin things), that is what I would do!
7. I have two last names, but I love monograms. Whenever I get something monogrammed, I do my initials like this: DZM, so my first name is the big initial.
8. There are so many classes I want to take at DU when I get back in the winter... I can't wait to register!!!
9. It is one of my life goals to learn Latin. My best friend is a biology/classics double major in college, and it just seems so cool!
10. I basically fail at names. It takes me a few times until I get it.
11. I have a super short attention span, so I can't focus on anything for more than 15 or 20 minutes.

Questions from Lala and Zoya:
1. What makes you smile?
A lot of things make me smile. I would say I'm a pretty cheerful person. Any time I see my family or friends, I smile, or when someone does something nice for me or someone else, cute dogs, cute babies, pretty flowers, my favorite song on the radio, etc. A lot of times I find joy in the little things I notice throughout the day.

2. What movie character would you like to be,for a day?
Hermione Granger, hands down. But only when she's at Hogwarts.

3.Why did you start blogging?
Well that is a very long story. I technically started this blog two years ago, because I was obsessed with The College Prepster and wanted to be like Carly. Then I stopped, and didn't really think about it for about year and a half. Then I decided to study abroad, and thought it would be good to blog during my time abroad. I wanted to start posting during this past summer so I could get the hang of it by the time I went abroad, and actually really loved it. I applied for some blogging networks, did a lot of research, redesigned my blog (by myself!) and now blogging has become a full blown passion of mine! It's a great creative release, and it's a good way to find other blogs and meet new people.

4. Your guilty pleasure/s?
Reality TV shows, especially the Bachelor/Bachelorette and American Ninja Warrior. 

5. Your personal style in 3 words?

Simple, timeless, casual

6. A habit you are trying to or want to kick? 

Waking up late/sleeping through my alarm/snoozing my alarm for too long/oversleeping for things.

7. Last movie you saw, and your honest opinion about it?
The Fault in Our Stars - I preordered it #sorrynotsorry. I love that movie, except for the whole Gus/cigarette thing. I hated that part in the book, and just thought it was stupid in the movie. But other than that, I bawled because I love the story of Hazel Grace and Augustus, and the fact that they go to Amsterdam, and Hazel Grace is just so unapologetically honest and herself. Of course.

8. Your favorite time of the day?
When I do get up early, I love the mornings. But usually I love the evenings, and watching the sun set over the mountains.

9. Best memory from your childhood?

I had a great childhood, so thinking of just one memory isn't so easy... but I always look back fondly on the first time I went to Washington DC. I went with my dad and my older cousin Brianna, and we were 11 & 13 at the time. It was amazing to experience the subway for the first time, see a big city, visit all of the cool museums, see lightning bugs for the first time, etc. It was a fun trip, and one that I'll remember for a long time.

10. Best advice given to you?

"Trust your dreams, trust your heart, and trust your story." It's a quote I found on Pinterest, but the perfect way to describe what my mom always tells me, which is to remember where I come from, be myself, trust myself, and not sweat the small stuff. I would also have to say that both of my parents' advice to follow my dreams has served me well, and will always be one of my favorite mantras. 

11. Where do you want to live/be in 5 years time?

In 5 years, I will have been out of college for 3 years, which means I would like to either a) Have my Master's degree and be living and working in Washington DC, or b) In graduate school for my Master's and be working in Washington DC. In either scenario, there is some graduate school involved, working (at a museum!), and Washington DC. 

Alternatively, and much less likely/realistically, I would be living in a different country and making it work there. I would be a writer, or a freelance graphic designer (not that I have any of those graphic design skills, but a girl can dream!) and be happy living somewhere different.

Questions for my nominees: 
1. What is your favorite article of clothing that you own?
2. What is your favorite blog/ Who is your favorite blogger?
3. If you could learn any language, what language would you learn and why?
4. What is your greatest passion?
5. What do you wish you had more time for?
6. Facebook or twitter?
7. What is your favorite animal?
8. What is your favorite quote?
9. What is your favorite flower?
10. Pandora or Spotify?
11. If money wasn't an object, what would you do for the rest of your life?

My nominees:

Corinne, of The Feminist Feline
Kristie, of Kristie's Blue Jeans
Brielle, of J. Crew Joy

Museum Love: Mémorial de Caen

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If you've been reading my blog for a bit, you know that I absolutely love museums. Museums are always on my list of places to visit whenever I go somewhere, and my future career goals include getting an advanced degree in museum studies/museum education, and working in a museum.

It is no surprise, therefore, that one of the first things I did when I had free time in Caen was visit the Mémorial de Caen (the website is in French, just so you know), the museum and memorial to WWII, or the "Deuxième Guerre Mondiale" in French. It was especially exciting to be able to visit this museum as this year is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and many of the towns around the landing beaches have various celebrations and commemorations of this event.

I did not take many pictures inside the museum, although they are allowed. I am a huge fan of museums allowing visitors to take pictures of the artifacts, but for some reason it just felt kind of wrong to do so in a museum that was dedicated to the painful memories that most of us would probably rather forget.

If you do visit this museum, give yourself at least a full afternoon, if not a whole day. Although it doesn't look like it from the outside, this museum is actually quite large, and there is a lot of stuff to see and do. There are also several gardens, which are great places to go and sit and decompress a little bit, especially after the very difficult subject matter.

Basically, the Mémorial tells the story of the world's plunge into the Second World War. It truly is a story, especially after WWI and the fallout after that war - "the war to end all wars." However, as you may or may not know, and as you discover over the course of your visit, WWI did not - and could not - accomplish that lofty goal.

You begin your visit with a timeline of events from WWI, through the 1920s and 1930s, examining events in the United States, Europe, and Asia, particularly China and Japan (remember that Japan was involved in WWII). It traces Hitler's rise to power in Germany, and examines the German state post-WWI.

You are then taken through the fall of Europe to the Nazi's Third Reich. Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the other countries in Eastern Europe, Hitler's invasion of the Sudetenland, and then the fall of France. There are rooms dedicated to telling the story of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust, and the history of anti-Semitism, prejudice against gypsies, as well as prejudice and forcible sterilization of people with disabilities and homosexuals. There were also several movies of footage from the era, including footage and a time-lapse of D-Day, as well as a movie about how WWII impacted the Cold War, and even into events that are transpiring today. If I took you through a detailed explanation of each room in this museum, this post would be 20 pages long, and only I would be interested in that.

So instead, I will tell you about how I felt.

It is emotionally draining, to say the least. War is always a heavy topic, but to tell the story of one of the most destructive wars in the history of mankind is particularly difficult. It would have been easy to sugar coat it, and only tell the parts of the story that included bravery and heroism. There are those stories as well, but the bulk of the narrative tells the gruesome cruelty that humans inflicted on other humans. For me, that was the most powerful thing. We as humans, and as citizens of the world, have a responsibility to recognize when there are such abuses and such injustices occurring, and it is our duty to do something about it.

That is why museums like this exist. You may not want to go because you know it will be hard to see the pictures, to read the accounts of atrocity, and to watch the footage of people running into certain death at the hands of other people. But it is necessary. It is necessary to know that there is a capacity for every person to inflict unspeakable horrors on other people.

It is also necessary to know that there is the same capacity, even a greater capacity, for people to be good, kind, and compassionate towards each other. We can be good, and we owe it to our world to learn how.

This museum was one of the most important museums that I have ever seen. The emotional impact and fantastic (fantastic in the sense that it was incredibly well told, written, and displayed, not fantastic as it is a horrible thing that happened) storytelling was only matched by the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. I don't think there will ever be a way to properly remember and honor those who died in the Holocaust, WWII, or any war. However, the Mémorial de Caen comes pretty close.

If you are ever in Normandy, you owe it to yourself and to everyone else to visit this museum and really think about what you learn there. It is more than recounting facts from your high school social studies class. It is raw, real, graphic, startling, frightening, depressing, and hopeful all at the same time.

Have you ever been to this museum? What is your favorite museum?

Make it Happen Monday #10: Birthday Week

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bonjour, mes amis!

This week is (hopefully) going to be one hell of an awesome week, because it is also my birthday week. Just kidding, I don't need a whole week for my birthday, but it is tomorrow which is fairly exciting. 

Last week, I really liked having a Make it Happen Monday/Weekly Wishes post in France, and you were all so tremendously supportive which was very nice. So this week, I have more goals to try and accomplish! 

The Nectar Collective
Join the link-up at The Nectar Collective!

Last Week's Wishes: 
1. Make an Editorial Calendar for September.
Kinda.... sorta... I have a general idea about what days I want to post, and a few ideas for next week's posts on this blog, but I need to write it all down. 

2. Finish all my homework!
Yep. Even my grammar homework.

3. Find a backpack.
Also yep, although it's a bit small, so we'll see how it goes. 

4. Visit the Musée de Normandie and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and plan a visit to Monet's House.
I was going to go on Saturday, but I ended up going to Ouistreham and the beach instead. Great decision. Tomorrow, I have break from class from 11:45 until 2:30, and the museums are really close to the University so maybe I'll go over my break. 

5. Go back to the adorable café/teahouse/book heaven and remember the name of it. 
Done and done. I went and had some Sakura tea (which was heavenly) and a red fruits/apple tart (also heavenly). The name of the bookstore/café is Memoranda! Easy to remember. It's basically one of my favorite places here in Caen. 

This Week's Wishes:
1. Plan a trip to Rouen. 
My friends and I have decided that we definitely want to take a trip to Rouen, which is also in Normandy. It is where Joan of Arc was famously tried for witchcraft and burned at the stake. We just have to decide on a date, book our train tickets, find a hostel, and make it happen!

2. Write a post about the Mémorial de Caen. 
I may have told you all last week, but I visited the Mémorial de Caen, which is a large, beautiful museum and memorial for WWII in Caen. It was amazing, and I really want to write about it and share it with you all, but every time I sit down to write about it, the post just doesn't feel right. I really want the caliber of the post to match the caliber of the museum.  

3. Have a picnic by the Château. 
I think it's going to start getting cold soon, which I'm kind of excited about, actually. But before it gets cold, I just want to have a mini-picnic by the Château with some nutella, crepes, or something like that. 

4. Have an awesome birthday.
'Nuff said.

5. Re-adjust my Academic goals for this semester.
Last week, I wrote about my goals for this semester in terms of my academics. After the first week of classes, I think I can re-adjust some of my goals and make them more realistic in some cases, and more challenging in others. 

What do you need to do this week? As always, leave a message in the comments or drop a line by email! 

A Day at the Beach in Ouistreham

Salty air, soft sand, frothy water... it's seriously perfection. 

After this week, I have officially been to the beach more times in the bast 9 months (Belize and twice in Caen) than I had in my previous 19 years of life. 

I have found that I love the sea. 

We don't have a beach in Colorado, unless you count the Boulder Reservoir which is just basically a man-made lake. I went once when I was a kid, and really didn't like it. However, nothing can compare to an actual beach with actual sand and actual seawater and froth and seashells. It's beautiful, majestic, powerful, and free. 

I think I finally understand why everyone is so crazy about the ocean. I get it. I finally get it. It is seriously magical. The movement of the ocean is calming, and the sound of the waves breaking on the sand is incredibly therapeutic. Walking on the beach, letting my toes be licked by the foam, I truly felt like I was at peace in France. When I looked out as far as I could, the water and the sky were barely separate, and I was in awe of how big this world is. Being at the beach, and taking several minutes to just look out over the water and let myself feel happy, sad, awed, overwhelmed, and amazed at the same time was so incredibly powerful. 

 I could have spent all day at the beach yesterday, and I'm seriously considering going again this week. 

Do you love the beach? 

Make it Happen Monday! #9: France Edition

Monday, September 8, 2014

I wasn't planning on writing a post this week, as it's already 9:00pm (probably later by the time I actually hit publish) in France, but I was inspired to because today was my first day of classes, and you know I love to make goals. So, I present, my 9th installment of Make it Happen Monday, as part of the Weekly Wishes Link-Up on The Nectar Collective! 

The Nectar Collective
Join the link-up at The Nectar Collective!

My last Make It Happen Monday was 2 weeks ago, so here's an update about those things:

1. Plan out posts for the days I'm in Paris.
I ended up not really having to do this, as I just posted from Caen once I got here.

2. Come up with an editorial calendar for September.
Ah, yes. Editorial calendar... check back next week on that one. 

3. Go to the bank - and call them so they don't freeze my account.
I may or may not have called them 10 minutes before boarding the plane to Paris in Washington DC... but nevertheless I accomplished it!

4. Have frozen yogurt with my little sis who lands in Denver the day before I leave! 
Unfortunately, her flight was delayed so that didn't happen. :( But we will be reunited soon enough, and then we can have all of the froyo in the world! 

5.  PACK. 
Done. Obvs. 

This Week:
1. Make an editorial calendar for September. 
I need to have a schedule to stick to, especially with my posts not only for this blog, but also for the API Blog and the DUSA (DU Study Abroad) Blog, and some other publications I am contributing to. Also, I just need to find a place to print out a monthly calendar because I was a dummy and didn't bring my American planner (and I cannot for the life of me find a planner here in Caen that has a monthly layout! It's infuriating). 

2. Finish all my homework! 
I already have homework. Not a lot, but it's grammar homework which I don't want to do. I'm sure I will get other homework too, and I really need to actually do my homework. It's just too tempting to try and walk around and explore Caen.

3. Find a backpack. 
I love my tote bags, and I'm usually morally opposed to backpacks when traveling because I think they're ugly and make you look like a tourist... but I need one. I had so much crap in my bag today... it would be so much easier to use a backpack. I just want to find a cute European-looking one (I'm not sure what that means, but if I find it I'll know!). 

4. Visit the Musée de Normandie and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and plan a visit to Monet's house. 
This past weekend, I went to the Mémorial de Caen, and it was absolutely breathtaking. It was heavy, intense, sad, and painstakingly researched, meticulously explained, and entirely emotionally draining. But it was amazing. I am going to write a post just about that museum, so definitely keep a lookout. 

Anyways, this weekend I want to visit the Musée de Normandie and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which are both in the Chateau de Guillame (William the Conquerer). I walk through the chateau every day on my way to class, and I always think about just visiting the museums. This weekend seems like as good a weekend as any!

5. Go back to the adorable café/teahouse/book heaven and remember the name of it. 
The resident director for the API Program here in Caen took us to the big market on Friday, and on the way we passed this little bookstore on the corner of this super tiny street, and she pointed out and said it was a great place to do homework. Naturally, we went back and it was AMAZING. I do not remember the name of it, but I want to go back so bad and try the Sakura tea. I had earl grey, and it was heavenly (and only like, 3 euros for a whole pot of really nice, fine tea which is an AWESOME deal). 

This Semester, my Academic Goals:
So, I know I have written a lot about my study abroad experience and what I would like to get out of that... but I thought I would talk about the actual studying part a bit more. I have had to readjust my goals for this semester already, and it's only the first day! So, I give you the goals I have for this semester, as part of my studying during studying abroad.

1. Do not put pressure on myself to get As.
For whatever reason, one night over dinner in Paris we were talking about the grades we get in school, and being the over-achieving person I am noted that I really want to get As here in France. My resident director kind of chuckled and then explained how French grading worked. Long story short - I probably won't be getting As. Seriously, the whole grading system warrants its own post.

2. Spend at least 10 minutes every night reviewing grammar.
I only have grammar as a class twice a week, but my grammar needs some serious work.

3. Give myself alone time. 
Being the introvert I am, I can get really tired and crabby if I'm around people too long. I need to do better at taking care of myself and being okay to do things alone if I feel like I need to.

4. Do things besides school. 
I have this bad habit of only doing things for school. Only reading for school, only writing for school, only thinking about school. I am in freaking Europe. I need to do things besides school! Although Studying is part of Studying Abroad... I need to remember the part where I'm abroad. 

5. Read an entire French novel in French. 
I do have a literature class, so hopefully this won't be too hard. I just really want to say that I read a French classic in French. How cool will that be? 

Wow, that was a long post. Anyways, what do you have to accomplish this week? Let me know in the comments or by email, and we can link up and make a blogger support network! 

First Week in France: It's OK

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's OK to only understand about half of the stuff your host family is talking about.
It's OK to want to drink coffee ALL THE TIME.
It's OK to eat ridiculous amounts of cheese.
It's OK to take a break halfway up the hill to the University.
It's OK to be glued to your email to find out your schedule.
It's OK to royally fail at speaking a different language.
It's OK to not like wine. 
It's OK to get lost. Like, really lost. Like, not even a map can help me lost.
It's OK to be tired at 2 in the afternoon. 
It's OK to blame everything on jet lag.
It's OK to be excited about everything! **but actually, it's now a running joke among my group of friends. They call me the girl who couldn't frown.**
It's OK to wander around aimlessly just to try and find your way.
It's OK to take pictures of everything. Even the wall of pens at the office supply store. 
It's OK to call yourself and your friends "Les Turistes Americaynz" when you say something only an American would say.
It's OK to miss your parents.
It's OK to be fine without your parents. 
It's OK to be glad to have a break from your life in the United States.
It's OK to rationalize your need for a café au lait with the excuse, "But I have to find the best café!"
It's OK to want classes to start already. 
It's OK to want to eat an entire jar of Nutella.
It's OK to want to eat crepes for every meal.
It's OK to be so incandescently happy to be studying and living in another country. 

I love France, and I cannot wait for the rest of the next four months. 

À Toute à l'heure!