31 December 2011

Review: My life in 2011.

- Finished Freshman year of college: Freshman year was... interesting. My roommate and I met and we became good friends. But I was introverted and found it to be tougher then I thought to make friends and get out. The rain started to get to me even though I have lived here my entire life. All these resulted in me battling depression.

- Battled Depression: probably one of the toughest things to admit, yet something that has made me the person I am today. I am learning to take care of myself and put myself out there. Locking yourself in your dorm room without talking to anyone and watching too much TV results in low self-esteem and general unhappiness. Now that I know this I am trying to figure out how to change my habits. It's tough shit.

- Had a job all year: I was blessed to grow up in a family of construction workers and Boy Scouts. Hard work is a foundation of our lives. In the Spring I worked two jobs and went to school full time. This past summer I finished my fifth year selling berries for a local farm. I got to manage more which was nice to my bank account. This Fall I could only fit one job in my schedule because I studied a lot, but they want me to come back next year which is so nice. I was extremely blessed.

- Got into a Study Abroad program: It took a lot of hard work, two consecutive classes, lots of summer homework, and saving up but I got accepted to study abroad in France. In two days I will be leaving for Grenoble, France for six months. It is one of the most life changing experiences I have ever had, and it hasn't even started! I am eternally grateful for this opportunity.

- Started Running: This is one of the things that I think has helped me battle my depression. I have started to hate my body, but running has taught me that it isn't all about appearance but about strength, commitment and faith. I know that running will be something I can have forever. Next year I am planning on running a half marathon.

- Went down a pant size: This was so exciting. I haven't be this small since... Shit I don't know. And my New Years' Eve dress? I feel pretty in this dress. And I never feel pretty in dresses. Since I will be celebrating New Years' Eve at a party, which I never do (usually it's on the couch in Pjs with Ice Cream) and in a foreign country, this is so important for me.

- Turned 20: It was nice to not be a teenager anymore, but now all I can think is I am an adult. I need to get a boyfriend and an apartment stat.

- Got a haircut: And I kind of like my hair shorter. I swore I would not get it cut since last time they cut it short, I looked like yield sign. True Story.

Overall, it was a weird year. I wasn't too happy with myself. But I feel like 2012 is going to be my year. I will be living in France for 6 months, traveling, running a half marathon, turning 21, and getting my first apartment. Perhaps a boyfriend is in the cards too?

Be nice to be me 2012, I really need it.

J'aime Paris.

I am in Paris.
I am currently eating a croissant and drinking coffee.
I am wandering down the rues and taking it all in.
I am snapping pictures of everything.
I am in Love.

"The mistake most people make when they come to Paris is thinking that it is just a tourist destination. Paris is a real place where people live and work; Parisians don't live to please tourists and speak English. However is you make a little effort discovering the city you will get way more out of it. And you just might fall in love with this place."

29 December 2011

My bags are packed.
My wallet is filled with Euros.
I had some sad goodbyes.
See you in Paris.

A Letter to France.

Dear France,
I will be there soon. I can't wait to meet you and get to know your secrets. I will miss my Northwest, but I feel like you and I will get along. We will have 6 wonderful months and I to treasure it.
Meet you in Paris.
Love, Me.

27 December 2011

T-minus 2 days!

In two days I will be boarding a plane for France.

I am getting so excited. My stomach is in knots and I am figuring out how to arrange my suitcase to maximum efficiency. I have been packing and cleaning my room all day and trying to mentally prepare myself for this trip. I am freaking out only because I am so nervous about my classes, meeting my family, speaking French for 6 months, and the general unknown. But every time I start to freak out something keeps me calm and I just picture myself walking in the countryside, skiing in the Alpes, struggling through my classes with my peers, cooking with my host sisters and some how it all just seems to be okay.

Yes, I will miss my friends and family so so much but I am too excited to dwell on that. And it is only six months. I will be back in this boring town before I know it, working and living my life. This is my time for adventure. I am young and free. I am trying to treasure that.

I need to finish packing tomorrow, because I leave Thursday afternoon for Seattle, then board my plane Friday!!!

I also bought the prettiest New Years' Eve dress. This is kind of important to me, because a) I never party on  New Years' Eve and b) I will be partying in a foreign country at a dance club. It is dark blue with flowers on the bottom. It is much prettier then I make it sound.

My packing is almost done! I am so proud of myself! I got everything I wanted to take into my suitcase. There are three levels of rolled up clothes and shoes and random things. Total weight 48.2lbs! (Maximum allowed is 50.)

Still To Do:
- Gather FASFA documents for parents
- buy host family a present
- Call Credit Card Company
- Copy paperwork
- buy Rain Jacket
- 9am: haircut
- 6pm: Babysit
- 9pm: coffee with Best Friend

23 December 2011

One week.

In one week I will be on a plane destined for France.

I am freaking out. There is no other sophisticated way for me to say it. I wish I was cooler and could eloquently say how excited and nervous I am but instead I shall fumble a little. Forgive me.

I can't figure out what I am feeling. I think I am supposed to feel nervous and worried, but right now I am just excited. When I close my eyes I am not seeing the difficult time I will have understanding my professors, I am seeing the beauty of the country, the way my French will improve, the way I will bond with my host family, and the way in which I will change.

Will it be like Eat, Pray, Love? Certainly not. But I will be eating a lot, pray to understand the language, and loving everything I can. But I am not setting out to try to live someone else's story. I am going to write my own.

I am nervous for those moments when the unknown gets overwhelming and I feel lost. When all I will want to do is call up my friends and watch a movie without subtitles. I am nervous for my exams that will be in French and for that chance that I will not understand anything they are saying. I am nervous about meeting my host family. I am nervous about insulting someone with my pitiful accent.

But it is almost Christmas and my excitement is building. I have started to get together my stuff I am taking. And I am figuring about how hard it is to pack six months of a life into a 50lb suitcase. Maybe I will upload my packing list later so you can see how silly some of the stuff I am taking is. I haven't started packing all of the big stuff yet, but I have made lists. Let's just pray that it all fits!

I have started thinking about the things that I want to accomplish when I am over there and what I think I will get to experience, but they are mostly just flashes of my imagination. I want to wander the streets with my friends, shop at farmers' markets, go hiking in the Alps. I will travel to foreign places, and meet strange people. I will put my camera to good use, travel with my appetite, and hopefully when this is all over I will be able to speak French fluently.

I pray that at June 4, my passport will be bursting with stamps, and my life's story will forever bear the marks left by those places I've visited and people I've met. My wallet may be empty, but I'll be all the richer for it.

17 November 2011

Thoughts before snow and turkey.

It’s supposed to snow on Saturday. I am praying that it does. I would love to walk the sidewalks in my black pea coat, a scarf wrapped around my neck, and mittens holding a cup of hot cocoa. I would love to wake up in the middle of the night and look out my window to see the city quiet and covered in a blanket of white snow. I would like to snuggle under the covers until my nose is hot and then spend the rest of the day in my pajamas, painting and listening to Christmas carols. It would be magical. Everything is magical when it snows.

On a less dreamy note, I am extremely nervous about taking my roommate home for Thanksgiving. I have no doubts that it is the right thing to do, since she would otherwise be all alone, thousands of miles from her family in Japan. And she is super nice. But I am nervous because it will be five days of her having to deal with my family. My family is… Loud. I love them to death. I would not trade them for anything, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea. This I know. Sometimes they aren’t even my cup of tea. But this I deal with. But my roommate is a tiny, Japanese girl that is not used to the loud American stereotypes, which my family is. Hopefully she survives.
Thanksgiving in my family only rivals Christmas and Easter. Every year we eat a feast of Turkey and mashed potatoes and corn, and drink too much cider. Then we clean off the table and play poker and blackjack and rummy until late at night, and the women pull out their newspapers and plot their Black Friday shopping Marathon. We drink more, then in the evening when we are still full from lunch we go to the movies as a family and see the latest in commercial comedy. It is a wonderful affair.
I think that my roommate will enjoy Black Friday. This will be her first one. I have explained to her that it is the biggest sales day of the year, and most stores up at 4 or 5 in the morning and that one year a lady died from the stampede. Yes, I think she will enjoy it. We will get up early and go shopping and when our legs are too tired they just can’t carry us anymore we shall return home to eat leftover turkey sandwiches and sleep the day away.
After our naps, we will help my dad get down the Christmas lights and begin to set up the decorations. In the evening mom will call us in for dinner and hot chocolate and we will sit on the couch to watch either The Santa Claus with Tim Allen or Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation. On Saturday I will let her sleep in late, which is a rarity in my family but I am sure she will still be exhausted from Friday’s shopping and activities. I will go to coffee with Sage and we shall chat about our lives (her new job, and trip to France, etc.) and then we shall eat and get dressed for Portland. I really want to show my roommate the Portland Christmas tree and the Zoo lights. I think I shall invite some friends should join us and make it a real outing. Then we shall do some more shopping at Pioneer square, where I sure we will spend too much money. A trip to Buffalo exchange maybe in order as well.
Sunday we will pack up all of our things. My family might drag Aoi to church or she will sleep whilst I go with them and run into people I haven’t seen in a while. And then we will come home and pack our stuff and I will call Kelsey, who will be running late. And we shall drive back with Kelsey and I chatting about kids from high school, and trips, and Christmas break.
These are my traditions for Thanksgiving. They may seem like regular boring tasks but to me they are so much more. They start the Christmas season, which is my favorite time of year. I don't like the presents or the commericalization of it. But I love the get-togethers and lights and music. I am an old soul, but I deal.

I think it will be a grand weekend. I can’t wait!

11 November 2011

My love, San Francisco.

San Francisco. I didn't want to leave this magical city. This city has completely exceeded my expectations. I absorbed it all in like a child and never wanted to leave. Every person I met was friendlier then the last one.

We left the airport in Seattle at 7am and took a BART from the San Francisco airport to Market Street. The first person I met there was a nice German girl from Munich who was there for vacation. As soon as we got to our stop I was blown away by the beauty of the buildings. I am the child of two builders and architecture is the thing that I admire first when I arrive in a city. Even the most run-down apartment buildings and houses oozed charm and character.

We had breakfast at Cafe de la Presse where we munched on chocolate croissants and I had my first machiato. We sat next to an Australian couple who conducted a meeting with their blackberries. We went to the French Consulate to get our student visas, the whole reason for this trip. I was shaking the entire time. But I had everything (almost) and will be receiving my visa in two weeks!  I was so nervous because I think that it has actually become real to me. Soon I will actually be in France, striving to make it in the real world.

After the Consulate we wandered over to the street car and became very touristy. We hooped on and rode on the outside, which was thrilling and scary and new. It was something straight out of a romantic comedy. We wandered over to the Chocolate Square then along the wharf. We bought chocolates and mini-turtles made of bread. Delicious sourdough bread. We ate lunch at a Creperie and sipped on Sprites. We wandered back up the hills towards Chinatown where I fell in love with the laundry hung on strings outside of windows and markets outside of every store front. The streets were crowded with people, shouting in Chinese and honking horns. It was beautiful mess of sounds.


The two of us took in Lombard street and a beautiful park where people were soaking in the last rays of sunshine. We stopped by H&M and I bought a $7 dress and a poke-a-dot shirt for France. Our day ended with dinner and coffee and a plane delay but it seemed lovely just the same.

San Francisco has stolen my heart and some day I shall return to get it back. And stay forever. 

08 November 2011

What a Wonderful World.

my night is consisting of listening to Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and all the rest of my friends whilst I work on verb conjugation.

I am freaking out about leaving! I am still in the "Honeymoon" phase right now. I am just so excited. Today I told my friends I would love to visit Paris when it is snowing. It would be magical. I want to walk along the Seine with the snow melting in my hair, the light of the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the night, and a scarf to keep me warm. We would duck into a quiet cafe to warm up over a cup of coffee and some bread. It would be magical. Come to me France.

06 November 2011

Ce week-end avec ma mère.

This weekend it was cold here in Seattle. The wind whipped at our noses and we bundled in scarves and thick coats. We drank lots of tea and took pictures of food. We shopped too much and I bought two sweaters. We wandered along the markets and stayed up late watching "Friends". It was beautiful.

side note: I leave to get my Student Visa on Thursday! Wish me luck!

20 October 2011

What Kate Wore is having a giveaway! but no one should enter because I really want to win! Just kidding. Kind of ;)

I have a mild obsession with the Royal family and frequently follow gossip. Especially if it relates to William and Catherine, Prince Harry or Princess Beatrice. I love them. I am shameless.

19 October 2011

Doesn't matter where I am in the world. As long as they have coffee.

I am preparing for my trip and looking at plane tickets. It is hard to worry about the expense when you know that in two months you will be seeing things you have never seen before. And that's what payment plans are for right?

Bon nuit.

01 October 2011

Rendezvous à Paris.

Let's meet in Paris, at our favorite haunt, for a little tête à tête over café au lait. Then we'll stroll the Champs Elysée, explore bookstalls along the Seine, throw coins from Pont Neuf and watch the sunset from Sacre Coeur. All to the tone of a Paris beat. We shall. Soon. 

Soundtrack to my night: 
Adele (19 album), Brigitte Bardot, & Pink Martini

26 May 2011


Bonjour Mes Amies!

France update: I have a meeting with my class next week to talk about financial information, homework for summer, and other basic info! This still feels kind of like a dream to me. Maybe when she tells me how much it will cost it will start to seem more real? Also, I had a dream that I feel in love with a sweet British boy while in French. My own Prince Harry, that would be swell.

While it will be slow on my blog for now, I thought this would be a good time to answer any questions you have about me, France (not that I am an expert), or my trip. I would also love to hear about any exciting trips or advice you have for me!


24 May 2011

Excitment or Woes?

Bonjour Mon Amies!

I wanted to let you know that I probably will be updating inconsistently until the fall with planning for my travels goes into full swing. But if I have a travel related thought I will promise to post them.

I wrote this little diddy whilst at work (bored out of my mind and homework-less) about my current feelings toward traveling:

What is it about traveling that is so exciting, to everyone? Is it the conquering of a new place, the fresh ink in the passport, or the people you get to meet? Is it striking out on your own in hopes of finding someplace where you belong or simply taking in other cultures? To my limited personal experience of traveling it seems like such a new and wonderful thing.

You start out with excitement. From the moment you decide you apply to a program, sign up for a cruise or purchase a ticket, you are thrown into the planning process. You are so excited about what you will see, who you will meet (tall, dark Italian anyone?), where you will go, even what you will eat. So much so that you don't worry about the semantics, like paying for it or getting ready. At first.

But then eventually the reality sets in and you start to figure out how in the hell you are going to pay for this. Where are you going to get the money to fly to San Francisco to get a visa and then the money you need to actually go to France? And what about the money you will need to travel to all the places you want to visit? And what about getting ready for the classes you have to take (taught in French!)?

Even now, all these questions are already starting to freak me out. I mean, am I ready for an adventure of such massive proportions?

But then you think about what you will get to experience while you are on your trip: traveling on a train through the Aix-en-Provence and taking in the lavender fields. Walking along the Seine, looking at paintings. Standing on the Alps (even through you can't ski. It'll make a Great facebook update). Wearing a beautiful dress in the City of Lights on New Years' Eve. Flying to Ireland with your best friend to drink and pubs and talk to cute redheads. Eating pasta in Italy and wondering how Chef Boyardee was ever considered "Food". Speakig French over tea in a crowded cafe before you head to your French cinema class. Coming back to the States with a full passport, a tan, and a little more confidence in yourself, prepared to share stories with everyone.

These are the reasons I put up with the complicated questions. Because I really want to experience new things, even if I have to sell my soul to get them. Well maybe not my soul, but I do have some jewelry laying around...

23 May 2011

New Years' Eve.

I am so excited about this coming New Years' Eve. I know that it still so far away but I will be celebrating it in PARIS. Did you hear that? Paris. I am so freaking excited! It will not just be another year of making a list of resolutions like get organized, lose weight, travel, then losing it and trying to remember them. I will actually be taking my life and seizing it by the balls (sorry gma)! Gone is the New Years' of drinking cider in my pjs, watching movies in the dark. I am a grown up now and it is time to start acting like it.

Also to prep myself I have purchased the most stunning dress. Ever. I will be wearing it for New Years in the city of lights. It is a size or two smaller than I am currently but it is a dream dress that will become a reality very soon. It is the prettiest dress for the prettiest city for the most exciting evening.

I am so psyched.

19 May 2011

le premier.

This is my first official blog post here. I have had many attempts at blogging before (I even had a diet blog for a while) but I found that there was no purpose for these. I also discovered that I lead a very boring life. I mean how many times can you write about your love for warm socks and watching Vampire Diaries with your girlfriends? But this is different. There is a purpose for this blog. To share my travels with the loved ones I am leaving behind as I head off to Europe (!).
Background: I have been to another country once before. I drove to Mexico where I build houses with my old youth group. I didn’t get my passport stamped, we didn’t get lost, and I didn’t have to speak in another language. It was a great experience but this does not count as going abroad to me. Sorry for any confusion but I shall refer to this experience as “The First Time That Jen Goes Abroad.”
Did I mention that my name is Jen? (Well, Jennifer technically, I hate being technical) I grew up in the beautiful Northwest of the United States. I have a mom, a dad, a younger brother and a beautiful dog. My family is a very big part of my life and one of the reasons why I am able to go on this trip. I also have a large extended family that is very close. We are the typical large, potato-loving, Catholic family. I started this blog because I know that my Grandmother will kill me if I don’t share my stories with her.
More about me? Well I am an art student who goes to college in Seattle. I love tea (hot or cold), Cheese, Chocolate, laughing, sitting in the sun, watching trashy television, wearing scarves, listening to Frank Sinatra, and talking to my mom. When I grow up I want to work in the art department for a magazine and design the page layouts and take photos of food. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
Why France? I took French in high school for three years because that is the language that the “smart” kids took. My French teacher was an awesome, white-haired lady from the northern part of France named Madame Hughes and she was great. As a college freshman I was required to take a foreign language but I didn’t think to test out of it. I am so glad I didn’t. I love my classe de française. And my French Professor is amazing. She is the one who encouraged me to apply for the study abroad program. Merci Madame!
When? I will be leaving for France in December!!! Oh my god. I am so excited. The current plan is to fly into Paris the last few days of December, celebrate New Years in Paris, then drive down to Grenoble (southern), France for school. But plans change so stay continued.
I am nervous, excited, scared, and thrilled about this experience. I am so glad that I can share all my travels with everyone I love.
To be continued…
à suivre ...
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