Thursday, December 17, 2009

little things

Things I missed while I was in Paris/look forward to coming home to (in no specific order):

  • friends and family (of course) and the holiday season!
  • showers that actually work and that are not disgusting
  • english speaking people
  • a comfy bed
  • cupcakes
  • in n out burgers
  • good chinese food
  • the beach
  • warm weather- sun that actually gives warmth!
  • Target! and american convenience stores, where things are not so expensive.
  • space. everything in the city is so compact and cramped.
  • a complete wardrobe (i've been living out of a suitcase for 4 months here)
  • no more public transportation! I really don't have a huge problem with it, except when it closes at midnight, and after a tiring day of class when everyone is squished in the metro during rush hour getting all up in your personal space. Talk about claustrophobia.
  • just being home.

I know my list isn't very deep, but sometimes, its the little things in that make home, well, home.

my parisian life

I can't believe I'm packed. I'm currently sitting on the bed in my empty room, waiting to go to the airport.

How did these months go by so fast? My time here went from 4 months to a day in a blink of an eye. When I go out, I walk the streets completely aware that it may be the last time I see any of it, for a long, long time. I savor the leaves on the sidewalk, my walk to the market, the smell of the hallways in my building. As much as I've missed life back home, and I'm really looking forward to going back, don't get me wrong, a little part of me is sad to be leaving. 

I'm really going to miss this place. I know that very soon, I'm going to be caught up with life back in San Diego, applying to a new job or grad school, and Paris is going to seem like a distant dream. That makes me a little bit sad. I'll have the memories and the photographs, but it won't be the same. Standing under the Eiffel Tower is thrilling every single time no matter how many times I've done it, and looking at a photograph just doesn't do it justice. The same goes for Notre Dame, and the Louvre. 

In the course of my 4 months here, Paris became home. I have the route I take to class, the market I go to, the boulangerie I like to stop at after class. I even have my favorite staircase at the Louvre. I have my list of 'bests'- the best bread in Paris (the market around the corner), best tarte au citron (eric kayser), best crepes (le petit grec), best falafel (the marais). I know the metro routes I frequent like the back of my hand. I've seen the Luxembourg gardens in the fresh green of summer, the changing leaves of fall, and the snow covered branches of winter. 

Somewhere in the middle of getting lost on the way home from class and the whirlwind of final exams, I stopped being a tourist, and began to live in Paris. 

I stopped worrying about seeing all the things I wanted to see, because I had seen them all. I stopped noticing the differences between life in Paris and life back in California. Life in Paris wasn't so different from back home- I had class, ran errands, met up with friends- it just took place in the backdrop of the Pantheon, Eiffel Tower, and Montmartre. My life here became the norm, a home base that I looked forward to coming back to after my excursions. After all, home is something you always come back to, right? And I have a hunch that from now on, Paris is one of them. 


It's snowing in Paris!! 

Due to final exams, I was up at an ungodly hour this morning, when the streets of Paris were still dark and no coffee shop was open. So guiltily, I set up shop in a Starbucks right by campus to cram in some last-minute studying and defrost my fingers. Just as I was getting ready to walk to my final, it began to snow! By the time I got out of my exam 2 hours later, the streets were blanketed in a sheet of white, and snow was falling through the air like rain. I walked over to the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero, then the Champs Elysees and the Louvre to say my last goodbyes, and got my shoes soaking wet. It was worth it though. Snow! In Paris! 

What a way to end my stay. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009


In Morocco.


(I'm the one in the very front.)
it. was. awesome.

As you can see, I've been getting some vitamin D into my sunlight-deprived skin.

I also went off-roading. I never knew that driving over sand dunes could be so bumpy... good thing I don't get car sickness anymore, otherwise that wouldn't have ended well. We got to drive along the coast and see all the fishing villages. Here, the desert and barren wasteland turn into sand and shore, not like the marshes and lagoons we have in San Diego. I'm a little bit wary of going into the water after seeing a decaying dead dog on the beach yesterday. While its wonderful to be by the sun and shore again, I have to say that I've been spoiled by SD, and being here makes me miss it a little bit.

Coca Cola cans in Arabic and English!

Stop sign

Chicken and vegetable couscous. You can also get camel. Except Camel meat is expensive.

A normal street view of buildings and cars.

They cook in these clay pots. Our plates of food came with the fluted clay lids on top.

A snack bar at the airport. I love the mosaics and patters I saw in Morocco- so insanely beautiful!

Random shop I saw on the street.

The fountain inside the hotel. I've developed a new love for blue and white patterns.

How Agadir, Morocco is NOT like SD: Everything is in Arabic, if its not in French. There are still crepes and delicious bread, but there is also couscous and meat in clay pots. The scenery? Sensory overload-- beautiful arches and mosaics, blue and white patterns, kiln baked pottery... its so foreign and lovely. The cultural gap is a little weird though-- walking the streets without a burka like other women warrants stares from the locals. They call out and holler "Suede?" at my friends... and as for me, I haven't seen another Asian person since landing here. When I walk by vendors at the market, i'm followed by endless ni hao and konichiwa's. They don't seem to understand that I can be American yet Chinese at the same time. So here, I'm just Chinois.

Monday, December 7, 2009

faux fur

fur in Paris. photo credits
Women in Paris have this thing about fur. Or faux fur. Not just the lined collars, but the all-out mink coats and rabbit skin vests. I see them on the metro, in my classes, and on the streets. Worn by trendy young girls as well as rich old ladies. 

I mean, there has to be some reason they're exploding onto the shelves of H&M. People actually buy this stuff and wear it on the streets. And its not cheap. Just google "winter fashion in Paris."

Maybe its because I live in an area of CA where you never need more than a sweatshirt and flip-flops, or I'm used to laid-back UCSD where people look at you funny if you're not in the compulsory jeans/sweats attire. Maybe its a cold climate thing? In LA/SD the closest I ever get to animal hide is Uggs and the occasional leopard-print clubbing attire (worn on other people, of course). Maybe if I visit New York City, people will be trooping the streets in their furs. (Actually, deep down I fear PETA will come after me if I don the animal pelts) Either way, whenever I see people walk the streets in their furry costumes my mind can't resist the "I can't believe she's wearing that" comment. I'm by no means one of those crazy animal rights activists, and I'm not one to preach on what they should and should not be wearing, but you'll never see one of those on me. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

blue skies

the sunset from tour montparnasse. photo credits

I'm going to
 miss the blue winter sunsets of Paris. All my favorite colors, in every single shade.

Around 5pm, right when I get out of class, it begins to get dark. The sky will gradually turn all shades of blue, sometimes with streaks of pink, but most often its just blue. The one tonight was especially pretty- no pink and no clouds in the sky, just a gradient of blue going from a glimpse of sunny sky blue in the horizon to a true periwinkle to the steady blue of the night above.  I wish I could contain it in a bottle and take it home with me. I'd let it out every once in a while so everyone could enjoy it.

The sunsets in San Diego are streaked with purples, pinks, and oranges- just as pretty,  and I like them just as much (except blue is my favorite color). I've taken plenty of photos on my own camera, but they just don't do it justice, so I managed to find one that does to show you all. 

p.s. the Eiffel Tower really does light up and sparkle like that every night. When it gets dark, at the top every hour, it sparkles for 5 minutes. quite breathtaking. gets me every time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The clock tower in the village of Amboise

Uber-late post, but better late than never, right? I went to Amboise way back in October, which is in central France, in the Loire Valley. It was kind of like Germany in that there are SO many castles around here... I got the chance to visit 3: Chateau Loire, Villandry, and Usse. They were quite impressive, and they weren't even the huge main ones (Chenonceau is a pretty well-known chateau in the area), and I was cheateau'd out. 

In the region, there are lots of rocky mountains/cliffs- many houses are carved into the cliffs, which I thought was really cool. I saw entire apartment buildings carved into the mountainsides- complete with balconies! Imagine living in a cave house. 

Loire Valley/Amboise, taken from the tower of Chateau Amboise

Chateau Villandry- prettiest gardens I've seen while i've been here! 
This place was HUGE- and very manicured.

My favorite was the love garden. If you look closely, the four squares are different, symbolizing the 4 different types of love (tender, passionate, fickle, courtly). Get me one of these in my yard...

View of the chateau from the end of the love garden

Then we went to Chateau Usse- the inspiration for sleeping beauty. More commonly known as Sleeping Beauty's castle. The guy who wrote Sleeping Beauty actually stayed here for a while, and it was his inspiration for writing it. Its beautiful from the outside, but the inside is an absolute freak show- complete with mannequins of sleeping beauty and prince charming. And the evil witch and her cauldron at the top of the tower. It resembled a disneyland ride, but done very badly, and with mismatched period dress. Random. They could have done a wayy better job with the interior. And lose the freaky looking mannequins.

All in all , the Loire Valley was beautiful. The French royalty built chateaux all over the Loire Valley to get away from the bustle of Paris. In fact, most of the French royalty ruled from here, and not in Paris. That way they weren't harassed/taken prisoner by their constituents. Good times. There's not much to do here besides enjoy the countryside scenery, which I can only do so much of. What can I say- I'm a city girl!