I originally started blogging in order to create a helpful and informative TAPIF blog as well as to record my travels during my “Year in France”. However, as time has passed on, the style and purpose of my blog has shifted. I have also realized that I simply like having a dedicated space where records of my life have been documented over the past few years. One of my favorite parts of this blog is going back and reading my old stories, glancing through old photos, and seeing how I’ve evolved. Although this blog holds (many) of the bigger events in my life, I’d like to start recording the little, daily things that make me, well, me: books I’m reading, restaurants I’m trying, TV shows I’m watching, and things I’m doing.
Although I am still on a semi-blogging break, I am slowly but surely starting to post again. August feels like absolutely forever ago, and September seems to have flown by and left us all in the dust. With that being said, there has been A LOT happening behind the scenes over the course of the past sixty-one days, and while I’m not quite ready to go into details, I’ll say that there are still a lot of big changes to come. So, without further ado, I give you the best recaps of the past two months.
- Appleton, Milwaukee, and Waukesha,Wisconsin: Although it seems like an eternity ago, I actually spent the first half of August at home in the United States. I had a wonderful stay back in Southeastern Wisconsin and felt really refreshed upon coming back to France. Highlights included a family Brewer’s baseball game, a night out in Milwaukee with my sister, a weekend in the Fox Cities, spending a night up north in the woods (and a visit to the family bar, Jack’s Tap), and of course hanging out with close high school and college friends.
- Chicago, Illinois: My good friend Erin and I have a longstanding tradition of spending our days in Chicago! I was able to take an Amtrak train direct from the station in Milwaukee. We had great weather; I enjoyed a free walking tour, a ferris wheel ride at Navy Pier, and incredibly tasty sushi.
- New York, New York: Before heading back to Europe, I hopped on an incredibly cheap Southwest Airline flight to NYC from Milwaukee and spent four days in the Big Apple with a good friend from high school, Michelle! Overall, the weather was absolutely fantastic, and I was able to squeeze in a ton of activities over the course of just four days! Stay tuned for future posts, but for now, a few teasers:
- Iceland: Not quite ready to let the vacation slip away, Michelle and I finished the month of August by meeting up with my friend Jo and road tripping for six days around Iceland! It was an absolutely incredible trip, and I am so lucky to have such amazing women in my life. Again, stay tuned for future posts, but for now, some (more) quick teasers:
- Lille, France: I arrived back in Lille just in time to start la rentrée and begin the new school year. The best way to kick off September was of course La Braderie de Lille, Europe’s largest flee market! Even better, my friend Sharon came to visit and ran the 10K with me! The third weekend of September also marked the well-known European Heritage Days 2017, or La Journée Européenne du Patrimoine 2017. I was able to squeeze in a free walking tour of my neighborhood, Wazemmes, learn some history, and discover a few hidden crevices.
Wazemmes, Lille, France
- Les Ardennes, France: The last weekend of September, I accompanied 93 sophomores on a voyage scolaire d’intégration, or an “Integration Weekend” to the Ardennes region of France, about three hours south of Lille, right on the Belgian border. Although exhausting, we were able to canoe, zip line, and participate in a ropes course!
Les Ardennes, France
- Big Sick- Long story short, I LOVED this modern day Rom-Com, and I think it is a solid choice for both males and females alike looking for a little light hearted comedy. Based off a true story, Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love, but begin to have problems as their respective cultures (ie: arranged marriages) begin to clash. When Emily comes down with a flu and enters a coma, Kumail finds himself forced to face some tough decisions about who he is and what he believes.
This film is a story about a single man raising his gifted niece, Mary. Despite her profound prodigal abilities in mathematics, Frank is determined to give her a “normal” childhood in Florida. Eventually, conflict of interest in what is best for the child leads to a custody battle with the girl’s grandmother.
- 120 Battements Par Minute: A 2017 French drama about the AIDS epidemic in 1990’s Paris, the story focuses on the LGBTQ+ population, and in particular on a young man named Nathan, who joins an activist group, ACT UP. The story follows Nathan and other group members for the better part of a year, as some group members take radical approaches to protests and public awareness. This was an extremely moving film involving a topic that is not discussed nearly enough. It is an amazing portrayal of French cinema at its finest.
- Mad Men: I finally finished Mad Men (Farewell, you glorious train wreck!) I must say, I blew through season 7, but I was a bit torn about the fate of some of the characters in the series finale (*cough, Betty, Sally, cough*) although I love what became of Peggy and Joan, and even Roger.
- This Is Us: Season 2 of This is Us is FINALLY underway! I already cannot wait until next week’s episode (talk about cliffhangers… who else is watching!)
- Dear Sugars: I have my mom to thank for introducing me to this podcast. I think I’ve now listened to almost all of the episodes to date, despite having only started listening to them last summer. Described by the New York Times as “A radically empathic advice show hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond,” Dear Sugars tackles all kinds of questions, no matter how dark or complicated, and gives heartfelt and extremely well-thought out, non-judgmental, advice.
- With Her: Originally beginning while Hillary was on the campaign trail, Clinton came back to talk about What Happened?, and What Now?. As an HRC supporter from the get-go, this was an important podcast for me to stumble upon.
Do I even need to explain this one?
- Café Hollander: Little did I know that I can get a little taste of Northern France back in Southeastern Wisconsin at Café Hollander! A hipster style restaurant that specializes in Belgian beer, it’s classy rooftop locations were the perfect spots for me to indulge in quality beer and catch up with old friends. If you find yourself in Brookfield or Wauwatosa, I highly recommend you check this place out!
- Moules Frites + Beer: Of course, no Braderie would be complete without mussels and fries!
- Pole Dancing: My good friend Megan convinced me to take a trial Pole Dancing course at Brookfield’s Miss Pole while I was home this summer. I had such a fun time learning to use my dance moves and incorporate muscle movements on a pole. It was such an enriching and invigorating experience to use pole dancing as exercise (not to mention, inspiring to be surrounded by such a variety of kick-ass women!) When I get my new budget under control, I hope to enroll in classes here in Lille.
- Les Mills: My old gym let me come back for free this summer on a month-long membership, which allowed me to get back into the swing of things and attend various Body Pump and Body Attack classes (not to mention, yoga and Body Flow.) I love weight lifting in a group exercise setting and I love how it makes my body look and feel. This is another goal for this year in Lille!
Teaching: In a nutshell, year two is SO MUCH EASIER AND SO MUCH better. I knew this was going to be the case, but sometimes I just can’t believe it. I was able to have a much smoother start knowing what to expect and what my students were capable of. Even better, some of my classes stayed the same, which meant less names to learn and less time on classroom management and determining level and capabilities.
I’m really looking forward to October. Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year, leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. How as the start of your school year?