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Sophie à Paris

diary of a girl with an appetite for adventure and a tendency to wander

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May19

Work and Play: Finding a Balance

Posted on May 19 by

Making our finals a little sweeter :) Bonjour! This post is a guide to balance. Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to broaden your horizons, to immerse yourself in a new culture or family, learn a new language, see the world and overall have a great time. All of this makes it easy to forget about the “study” part. Not only for those of us actually studying abroad, but for those who are at home flipping through the Facebook and Instagram and blog posts of the adventures and thinking that study abroad is a semester long vacation. I wanted to write this post to remind everyone–including myself, now that finals are upon me–that a huge part of why I’m here is for the education. As an English major, nothing is cooler than writing my essays about Expat writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald from the actual cafes that they worked at, or wandering the streets of their novels that I’m currently reading. And to me, nothing is more rewarding than painstakingly studying a building or painting for my art &...

May08

Vineyards and Villas: Spring Break Under the Tuscan Sun

Posted on May 8 by

Ciao! Though I’m back in Paris now (and writing to you from the terrace of a Frenchy-French cafe near my house, surrounded by second hand smoke and happy chatter), my Italian Spring Break is still fresh in my mind. I filled you in on day one of my adventures, and while it ended up being wildly fun to be so spontaneous, the rest of the vacation was all itineraries and guided tours, courtesy of my mother’s penchant for trip planning. Lucky for me, because if I had been left to explore Florence my way, I would’ve missed out half of what the city has to offer. Much of Florence’s beauty lies within the walls of her museums, and within the context of her rich cultural history. While the narrow backstreets and bridges certainly made wandering a pleasure, it would’ve been missing the point to only skirt her exterior for the weekend. As a student traveller, I’m often guilty of doing that. I travel to experience the local spirit and eat the local food (lots and LOTS of the food)...

Apr24

Florence

Posted on Apr 24 by

Ciao from sunny Firenze! Buon giorno! Admittedly, I am not the world’s most organized traveller. This semester’s causalities have ranged from booking an apartment much farther than anticipated from Amsterdam’s city center (I got a little overeager looking at Airbnb photos…) to leaving behind my only European converter, my wallet (twice) and laptop (once, and both valuables were promptly recovered. Sadly, the converter was not. I like to think it served some other traveller well). Too lazy to research my destinations or plan itineraries in advance, I “adventured” around Bruges and Amsterdam, which resulted in me wandering to McDonalds every few hours so I could use Free WiFi to figure out where to go next. But, it also let me stumble upon all the stuff that’s in the guidebooks on my own and feel like I’d discovered it myself, which was pretty thrilling. Despite this questionable method of trip planning—if you can even call it that—everything has seemed to work itself out for me so far (knock on wood). This was the logic that led me to believe I...

Apr21

View from the Top ~ Le Tour Eiffel

Posted on Apr 21 by

Coucou! (That’s slang for “hey” in French). Whether the Parisians like it or not (they don’t), the Eiffel Tower is a universal symbol of Paris. Shooting up out of the skyline of Haussmann apartments, it represents every romantic ideal of Paris that has been propagated by innumerable songs, movies, novels and Instagram posts. But to Parisians, it is a highly-resented monstrosity that disrupts the elegance and uniformity of the rest of the city’s architecture, never mind a tourist trap. And though I visited Paris twice last year and have been living here for several months, I had not joined the league of tower-climbers until just a few weekends ago. A friend studying in London came to visit for the weekend, and naturally a visit to the tower was on her agenda. Realizing how little we’d seen of Paris’s tourist attractions, Kate, Emily, and I resolved to join her. So at what was easily the best and worst time we could have gone—mid-afternoon on a balmy and sunshiney Saturday, aka peak tourist hours—we bought our tickets (heads up—you need to buy...

Apr13

Provence

Posted on Apr 13 by

Bonjour à tous! I am currently writing to you from my sunshine-soaked balcony, drinking a beer, and wearing a tank top and shorts. I’m sorry, what time of year is it again? A girl could get used to this weather… And as a matter of fact, I sort of have. Last weekend, our entire program was whisked away on the TGV (a high speed train that basically took us from one end of France to the other in under three hours) to Provence, where we explored a handful of picturesque cities and were treated to some serious sunshine for three days. The group excursions that Skidmore has put together for us (such as this one and our extraordinary orientation trip to the Loire Valley) have been extremely well executed and well led by our much-loved tour guide, Vincent. Each morning, he dragged our sleepy/hungover/lazy butts out of bed at 8:30am to provide us with funny and informative tours of Roman ruins, ancient fortresses and elaborate gardens. You can check out his site here—our entire program would vouch that he’s definitely...

Mar30

Springtime in Paris

Posted on Mar 30 by

Bonjour! Springtime in Paris has a magical connotation to it: cherry blossoms blooming against rows of Haussmann apartments, afternoon strolls through the perfectly manicured Jardin des Tuileries, balmy bike rides along the Seine. All of these images fed my desire to study abroad here, especially when I compared them to the ever-lastingly dreary weather (I mean, winter wonderland…) of Saratoga this time of year. But I was informed early on that these romantic visions would go unrealized until early April, when Paris typically begins to bloom into something that more closely resembles a fairytale than a mere season. I packed accordingly, and the indistinguishable mass of noir that inhabited my suitcase served me well right up until two weekends ago. Overnight, the Paris of oversized-scarves and layers that I’d come to know and love transformed into a leafy, green, temperate, practically unrecognizable city. Green buds peeked out from balcony gardens, trees made themselves known above the rues and boulevards, and the sun warmed the smiles on all of our disbelieving faces. Waking up to springtime in Paris is exactly...

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