All posts filed under: Study Abroad

Smell the Roses

In dark times, sometimes we just need to be surrounded by flowers. Being fall, it’s not so easy to find many flowers in nature, so I thought it would be a perfect day to throw way way back to a beautiful and flower-filled place I visited back in 2013, when I interned in Paris. Then, I saw from the Chicago Art Institute that yesterday was Claude Monet’s birthday, and I knew my idea was meant to be. In June 2013, some friends and I took a day trip out to Giverny, famous for the residence and gardens of renowned impressionist  Claude Monet. The village is about 80km west of Paris. To get there, we had to take the train to a slightly larger town called Vernon and then a shuttle bus to Giverny. I remember that we all had major issues purchasing our tickets, because the machines in Gare St Lazare only accepted cards with the little chips. We were so afraid of missing the train that we dared not wait in the long line at the ticket …

My Suitcase Can Only Weigh HOW MANY Pounds?! And other packing concerns.

I’ve gotten a few questions recently about packing for TAPIF. Figuring out what to bring for seven months, in a strange country, for a professional job, which takes place over mostly winter-y months, all while keeping in mind airline limits is not a simple task. My number one recommendation is: make sure you can carry what you pack. You’ll inevitably have to lug your luggage through the airport, onto a train, through a metro system, across cobblestones and up 5 flights of stairs, and while passersby are generally kind to someone in need of an extra hand, you’ll be much more confident if you know you can at least manage it on your own if no one is around to help. After that, what you bring and what you leave behind is more or less your prerogative, but here are some of the guidelines I used.


I wanted to take some time today to bust or confirm some popular American stereotypes of the French people. (Disclaimer: this is entirely based on my observations over the past 2 months and certainly does not characterize ALL French people!) Here we go: Yep, they really do smoke ALL THE TIME. Actually, no one I live or work with smokes, but it’s impossible to go to a café, stand at a bus stop, really be anywhere outside without finding either a cloud of smoke or a giant pile of cigarette butts. They really do eat baguettes, cheese and wine for every meal. A tradition I am more than happy to take part in! People actually do say Oh là là! Rather than the sort of coy expression it’s become in the states, it’s used here as the equivalent of “Oy vey” or something along those lines. In fact, the number of là-s you add, usually directly corresponds to the amount of stress you are feeling at that particular moment. As in “Oh là là là là là là là là là là là là!!” Strikes really …

11 Things that Improve Anyone’s Day

When the proprietor of the little fruit and vegetable market across the street you’ve been patronizing recognizes you passing on the street Interactions with store clerks where they don’t automatically respond to you in English When your host mother tells you that you have a very good accent and then proceeds to make fun of the French accents of the English people she knows Successful interactions with co-workers that include more words than “oui, d’accord” Seeing a Molière play in French at the Comédie Française and actually understanding (parts of) it Smirking at all the American tourists looking for the Louvre on a Tuesday Realizing you know a shortcut to get somewhere Figuring out a metro route without looking at the map Surviving any phone conversation, no matter how short When you accurately use a complicated verb tense in casual conversation and you don’t have to think too hard about it When seeing this reminds you of where you are, a fact that still hasn’t ceased to amaze you: