Friday, September 28, 2018

Host Family and Transportation in Dijon

ZARA blue chambray off the shoulder dress | Mango denim jacket | Tory Burch double pearl earrings | red bandana | Sperry classic top siders | RayBan classic aviators 

I have officially been living with my host family for two weeks now.
I live in the suburbs of Dijon, about a 15-minute bus ride to the center of the city.
My host parents are very warm and fuzzy unlike the stereotypic cold and rude French.
My host mom is a twin, just like me and loves to sing just like me as well.
They have three older daughters and four grand kids.

We have family dinner just about every night! I thoroughly enjoy eating dinner with them because it helps me with my French and I get to teach them some English too!
They are very sweet and helpful! They even edited a writing project I had to do, because French grammar is close to impossible.

My host parents have a cute little cat named Tiger who loves to give me kisses.

And how could I forget, my host parents are SO PREPPY! Omg!
They were the perfect match for me. My host dad always wears gingham and a sweater tied over his shoulders and my host mom is always in navy blue and white. They are both so preppy and classy except when I tried to explain to them what preppy meant, they had no idea what I was talking about... it was fun to try to explain it to them! I used Ralph Lauren as my point of reference!

So that’s my home life, now let’s talk a bit about transportation.
Most of my friends and me took it for granted how lucky we were to live on campus at Wake and walk 5 minutes each day to breakfast, lunch, dinner and all of our classes.
We live in a city, so that means public transportation!
Fortunately, living in NY and taking the subway and the Long Island railroad, I am not shy from mass transit, however some of my friends were and still are having a bit of difficulty figuring out the transit system.
Thankfully I have my New York brain and my New York sense of direction and common sense that I was able to easily figure out taking the bus for the first time very easily.
The bus and the tram-way in Dijon are very easy, clean and reliable.
The bus is a bit annoying, but I really like Dijon!

I have learned a lot about myself already from studying abroad and I can’t wait to continue to learn and grow these next three months!

This is a good transition outfit! 
I know I look like I’m wearing a potato sack, but I don’t know what to wear anymore!
I am trying to work with my “capsule collection” but it is hard!
I am going to post a blog post all about my capsule collection at the end of my study abroad time and show you how I made it work! 
But for right now, here is my ZARA potato sack with a little denim on denim and a pop of red!


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

3 Day Travel Guide to Val de Loire, France

I just went on a 10-day trip with my Wake Forest Dijon program; 3 days in the Val de Loire, 5 days in Paris and 2 days exploring Impressionism.

Val de Loire was amazing because who doesn’t love touring and exploring some beautiful castles.

Our first stop was Chateau de Chambord. 

In class we studied all about antiquity, classicism, baroque, and renaissance architecture and art. This is the biggest chateau in the Val de Loire and it incorporated all of the styles of art and architecture that we studied. 
Everything in this castle shows richness and power.
This castle was MASSIVE! 

The symbol of the salamander and the Fleur de Lis decorated the panels all over the chateau.
This chateau showed a return to antiquity with marble busts.
There is also classicism in the tapestries.

This chateau is famous for the double stairs in the middle of the chateau.

This first chateau showed us the transition between chateaus as a symbol of power and pleasure and not just for military purposes.
This chateau was also interesting because all the roofs are circular and are slate.

Chenonceau was the next stop on our Val de Loire tour.
This chateau was way more feminine than Chambord. We learned that this chateau was the house for the wives or mistresses, which made sense because the minute we stepped onto the grounds we saw the beautiful pink and purple gardens and the cone shaped roofs.

The interior was also painted white which represents femininity and purity, whereas Chambord had wood floors and ceilings in natural wood color.
This chateau was also just a engineering marvel because the main part of the chateau rests above the river, Cher.

A little history on this chateau, Henry II gave Chenonceauto Diane de Poitiers and when he died Henry II’s wife and queen, Catherine de Medici wanted the castle that she rightfully owned despite Henry II’s mistress inhabiting Chenonceau. Quite the scandal.

I loved Chenonceaua lot more than Chambord. They were both gorgeous and I highly recommend going, but I just loved how feminine Chenonceau is, specifically in the gardens.

After touring the chateaus, we took a tour of the city of Tours, which was where we stayed during our visit of Val de Loire.
Tours is another big college town with a tram-way, very similar to Dijon.
Originally, Tours was a fortified city that was settled by the Gallo-Romans.
There are still the towers from the corners of the walled city.
It was interesting to see that in Tours, brick was used by the Romans to construct their buildings.
The Romans also created a straight road in Tours.

The train station is beautiful and was designed by the famous architect Victor Laloux, who also designed Grand Central Station in NYC. I just can’t get away from New York! It follows me where ever I go!

A little fun story about this city is that the Barnum Circus (Greatest Showman!!) came to town and the giant elephant got loose and terrorized the town. The towns people killed the elephant and now it is memorialized in glass next to the art musuem.

Tours is also famous because it is where Jeanne d’Arc told the king during the Hundred Years War that she was going to fight with him.
Tours also used to be the capital of France.

After our tour of Tours (HA!) the next day we went to the chateau de Blois.
It’s François I’s chateau in the middle of the city on a hill.
This castle’s architecture was really fascinating because on the interior square you can see all the different styles of architecture from over the years. There is classicism, Renaissance, gothic and flamboyant all on one castle.

In the palace, which is now a museum, there was a description of what all the symbols of all the kings and queens were. 
If you care to know: the salamander was the symbol of François 1, the Fleur de Lis is the symbol of power and religion, the porcupine is the emblem of Louis XII and it symbolizes invulnerability of the royal power.

I LOVED touring the castles, because I still dream of being a princess, and I am a princess in my own mind… 
After our three days in Val de Loire, we drove to PARIS, the city of love and the city of lights for a week full of adventure, love and laughter.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Public Relations and Social Media Internship Round-Up

Watch my video HERE or HERE!

I have been waiting to post this blog post for a while, but I was waiting for the commercial to be finished! 

This summer I worked as the Social Media and Public Relations Intern for AROS Communications in New York City. I worked from May to August 2018.
You can read more about my internship experience HEREHERE and HERE.

I was given amazing opportunities and had hands-on working experience. I created a multimedia press release: written, digital and a video for Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), which is the video linked above. I advised clients on social media accounts. I represented AROS Communications at Revfluence, an influencer event with a client. I also, coordinated with clients for events. I had an amazing summer!

During my time at AROS Communications, I wrote four press releases: 2ndAnnual Avenue Altruism Awards Children United Gala Benefitting Save the Children on September 13, 2018 at the United NationsSpend a Magical Summer Day on Madison AvenueEvery Shoe Lover’s Dream Can Come True on Madison Avenue, and Dress like a Princess on Madison Avenue.

My press release titled, Spend a Magical Summer Day on Madison Avenue, was loved so much by the client, Madison Avenue (BID), that the client wanted to turn the press release into a YouTube commercial. I took the press release that I wrote, made a script out of it, contacted the locations for the video shoot and then starred in the YouTube commercial.

This internship gave me amazing experience writing press releases and collaborating with clients. I gained valuable work experience as well as life long experience that I will continue to use in my professional and personal life.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

5 Days in Normandy, France

J Crew Factory navy and white striped top | American Eagle high waisted tall jeggings | Sperry classic boat shoes | Baublebar gold large script monogram | Tory Burch brown leather wrap bracelet | Tiffany pearl studs | Maui Jim sunglasses

Our first stop on our trip though Normandie was to Reims, home of the champagne.

The main attraction in Reims is the gorgeous gothic cathedral. It was actually bombed during the Second World War and rebuilt. This cathedral is famous for being the spot where Clovis was baptized as well as crowning many other French kings under the name of God.
This church also has the famous smiling angel next to the door, that smiles at you as you walk in. 

This church is also famous for many beautiful stained-glass windows. Words do not describe their beauty nor do photos.

That night we went to Québec hotel in Rouen. 4/10 would recommend this hotel. This was by far the worst hotel we have stayed in so far. The rooms were tiny, the carpet was dirty, the room smelled bad and it was in a very sketchy part of town.

After sleeping few hours, I went to the cathedral in Rouen. Our tour guide informed us that Rouen is the capital of Normandie. The city was originally settled by the Romans because it is right on the Seine.
The cathedral in Rouen is the 3rd tallest cathedral in the world! It was breath-taking, as all of the churches are!

Our tour guide also showed us around the city. We got to see wooden houses, like in Burgundy, the big clock, le gros horloge, the Palais de Justice, and the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the steak.

Following that tour, we went to the Normandie Memorial and museum in Caen. This museum is on top of a German bunker, General Ritcher’s bunker from the Second World War. We went inside the bunker and it was very creepy.

Banana Republic iron free blue button down | American Eagle tall high waisted skinny jeans | J Crew Factory gold tassel earrings | Tory Burch brown leather wrap bracelet | Tory Burch cheetah Reva flats

That night we stayed in Le Lion d’Or in Bayeux, the most beautiful and spacious hotel ever, with the best shower.

The next morning, we visited the Bayeux cathedral, where we watched wedding attendees wait for the bride and groom!
We also saw the famous Tapestry of Bayeux. It is 69 meters in length and illustrates the story of Guillaume the Conqueror and his life! It is an amazing piece of history.

Another amazing part of history was D-Day during the Second World War, when American, British and Canadian armed forces stormed the beaches in Normandy to liberate France from the Germans.
Our class visited the American and Germany cemeteries. It was extremely emotional and sad regardless of which side you were on because there was so much loss of life. 

We also visited Omaha Beach and the Pointe du Hoc where we got to see the German bunkers and gun stations.

It was a very emotional day and I am so proud to be an American. All the men from WWII who lost their lives and sacrificed everything to liberate France paid the ultimate sacrifice and I will forever be thankful for their service to America and the world.

Another hour or so on the bus and we made it to the amazingly picturesque Mont Saint Michel. I could see if for miles from the road. It was so mystical and magical.

J Crew Factory bow shirt | high waisted flare jeans from French boutique | J Crew Factory black belt | Quay black cat eye sunglasses | Tory Burch double pearl stud earrings | Tory Burch black Reva flats

Sunday was our tour day of Mont Saint Michel. It is an island with a stunning Abbey in between the Normandy beaches and England. Only 19 people live on the island, and they are monks and nuns from the Benediction chapter. Saint Michel, the name of my dad, is the saint of the army.

From our very expensive hotel in the town of Mont Saint Michel, we had to take a 10-minute bus ride, or a mile and a half walk across the newly built bridge. This island didn’t used to have a bridge and could only be reached by boat or walking when the tide was low. Once the bus dropped us off it was a solid 30-minute walk uphill. Huge incline and my Tory Burch Reva flats were definitely not the proper shoe choice...

The Abbey of Saint Michel underwent a lot of transformation over the years. Originally the chapel was created by the Duke of Normandie. The chapel was built in the Roman style but over time was transformed into the gothic style. During the French Revolution, the beautiful abbey became a prison.

The abbey is built on top of a giant mountain in the water. So, there are so many steps to get up to the entrance of the abbey but also once you are inside the monastery. The chapel is built above the crypt which is next to the dining room, where all the religious men and women eat in silence. The cloisters have a beautiful view of the water and England. There is also a bible copying room.

Our next stop was Chartres on Monday, another home to another famous cathedral.
It has beautiful stained-glass windows with two bell towers; one in the gothic style and one in the Roman style.

Sunday night after dinner we went to the light show at the cathedral. All these beautiful lights and designs were projected onto the cathedral. There was music and all. It was kind of like Disney world or Saks 5th Avenue in NYC at Christmas time. 
I keep comparing the US to Europe... It is kind of a problem because I am not embracing my new life in France. I didn’t even really notice that I was making these comparisons until my French professor stopped me. Yikes! It is hard to not make comparisons, but I am going to work harder to not compare or make assumptions about life in France.

Monday morning, we had a guided tour of the cathedral. We got to see angels, Saint Elizabeth and even a demon above the door as we walked into the church.

This church is special because of the two clock towers but also the three different stained-glass roses. Henri IV was even crowned in this church.

This church also has the holy shift of the Virgin worn by pilgrims/the veil of the Virgin made out of silk from the 5th century.

I also got to see a statue of Saint Elizabeth, my namesake, visiting Mary after saint Gabriel blesses Mary with Jesus. It was very cool to see Saint Elizabeth, and I felt very special!

Seeing Saint Elizabeth was a nice way to end our trip!
Our longest trip and one of the best ones yet!
Next week, Val de Loire and PARIS!!

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