Life Recap: June + July 2018

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. 


I can’t believe we are already heading into August. As I type this I am gearing up to head on a two-week vacation– the first week in Scotland, and the second week in Spain (Ibiza, to be more precise!) The two locations could not be more different, but I am excited to get out of Lille for a bit, as the first two weeks of August can be especially dire.

The first two weeks of June consisted in me being very busy at work, with the Baccalauréat, finishing up in collège, and preparing for the two-week student trip to Malaysia. I also spent a weekend in Paris celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday.

In July, I spent another weekend in Paris, a spontaneous weekend in London, and lots of time at the gym and cooking healthy meals in my kitchen once back in Lille. I’ve been dissatisfied with my body lately and have been really trying to get back into gear!

**As a disclosure, I’ve also been trying to write some more in-depth pieces about the political situation in the USA, as well as my thoughts about it.  I’ll admit has been a bit exhausting to do, but I’ll try to be caught up on blogging by the end of the summer.

Places Traveled:

Paris + Lille, France: I spent a quick weekend in June in Paris celebrating my friend Shiana’s 30th birthday weekend (we went bowling and did karaoke!) and then a quick weekend in July following my return from Malaysia, during which I attended the Ed Sheeran concert, as well as finally hit up the Catacombs! I did actually return to Paris for my semi-annual dentist appointment with the American dentist, and took full advantage of Paris Plage and some new reads. Otherwise, I spent several very quiet yet productive weeks in Lille– Gay Pride, World Cup matches, mixed in with getting stuff done around my flat, conquering tasks I’ve been putting off since the beginning of January, and spending lots of time at my gym doing Body Attack and Body Pump (classes to which I had been a regular in the states.)


Pride Parade in Lille, June 2018

The Catacombs, July 2018


Ed Sheeran, Stade de France


Paris Plage


World Cup Semi-Final vs Belgium

London, UK: Super spontaneously, I decided to take advantage of Eurostar Snap to score cheap last minute Eurostar tickets to London in the middle of July. Eurostar Snap, which is an application linked to your Facebook or Twitter, gives you the option of traveling to London, Brussels, Paris, or Lille on the Eurostar, and then asks you for your dates of travel, and if you have a morning or afternoon preference (there are also price indications.) Then, you pay for your tickets, and only 48 hours before are you given your exact train times. This works well for teachers on summer vacation whom are flexible with dates and have kind friends whom are gracious enough to give me a couch to crash on. I ended up having a really nice weekend– I even got to go to the Trump protest! It felt pretty cool to be apart of something for the USA, even over here in Europe. Other highlights included a hike in Hampstead Heath, a walk along the river Thames, lunch across from the Shard, and catching up with friends.

Trump Protest

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia + Singapore: I spent two weeks with 21 students and two colleagues doing a humanitarian project in KK, Malaysia (more specifically, working on house building projects with HFHM.) Although we spent most of the time on the site, we had two or three site seeing days at the end of our trip. The island of Borneo is gorgeous, and I’d love to go back there on my own time. For fun, here are a few teaser pictures (of the days we did not work):


Sunday Market




Sapi Island

De Haan, Belgium: My friends Amber and Fred took me out with their family to the beach in Belgium. It was lovely!


Humble brag time: my students did amazing on their Bac! My class median was 18! I am slowly working on stuff over the summer, but am mostly just taking time to enjoy the holidays.


Handmaid’s Tale: I’ve finally finished Season 2 and holy moly, what a cliffhanger! I applaud the cast in the fact that they are tackling real-life issues (ie: separating parents and children) whilst at the same time creating an accurate continuation of Atwood’s novel.

Queer Eye Season 2: I loved the second season of Queer Eye so much! If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, get your Netflix on, boys and girls!

Orange is the New Black: The newest season has just been released! I’ve been diving into the continued storyline after the prison riot. I can’t wait to see what happens!


Mamma Mia 2: Full disclosure: I LOVE MAMMA MIA! I’ve seen the theatrical version FOUR times (London, Marseille, Appleton, NYC), and I know all the songs and movie by heart. I really, really enjoyed the sequel’s adaptation, despite some questionable time jump aspects (ie: the fact that it should have taken place in 2004 but Sophie had an iPhone… and let’s be honest, no one has aged five years…)

Ocean’s 8: Such a kick-ass lady cast and a kick-ass storyline. All the men played supporting roles– it was such a cool concept and much needed change! This is a perfect film that will make you laugh and have you on the edge of your seat!

The Incredibles 2: I don’t normally watch animated films but absolutely loved the Incredibles when it first came out. I was also a fan of the continuation of this story, especially the fact that it focused on Helen, working moms, women, etc.

Love, Simon: I’m hoping to teach this book (Simon vs the Homosapien’s Agenda) next year in my Seconde class. I thought the film adaptation, although made for teens, was a spot-on analysis and experience! Simon is a 16-year-old who is struggling with coming out as gay to his family and friends.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: I fell hard for Eleanor, and thought this was an enriching story. Eleanor’s point of view and experiences set the reader up for a large cliff hanger, as you get more and more curious about what happened to Eleanor to make her the way she is today (quirky, clearly mentally ill, distant, etc.)

Simon vs the Homosapien’s Agenda by Becky Albertalli: The book version of Love, Simon, i tore through this coming of age experience in a little under a week.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: This is one of my all-time favorite books, although I hadn’t read it in years. I forget how much more detailed the writing is, as well as how gripping the story is from three different ladies’ perspectives. It’s always good to re-read an old favorite.

I’m now off, on typically French’s style, on holiday until mid-August!


Let’s be frank– I’ve been listening non-stop to the Hamilton and Mamma Mia 2 soundtracks.



8 thoughts on “Life Recap: June + July 2018

  1. What a busy summer!!!

    You’ve seen all the movies I wanted to go see, but never found time for. Except for The Incredibles 2, which Dan and I saw in Denver.

    Also yes to listening to Hamilton all the time. 🙂

  2. Hi Dana! I have been reading your blog ever since I decided to apply for TAPIF back in 2014 as a guide for what to expect during my TAPIF year. Even though I have been back from TAPIF for 2 years now, I still love reading your blog and seeing what you are up to. I really admire everything you have accomplished in your time in France. I know this comment barely has anything to do with the post but I just wanted to let you know you have a long time reader.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Erin, This made my whole week 🙂 It’s because of people such as yourself that I keep coming back to write. xoxo

  3. Very impressive how you’ve done so much in July! Love how much you’ve traveled: Malaysia and Singapore are on my bucket list of places to visit, and your photos look like they’re worth visiting! I’ve also watched Ocean’s 8 and The Incredibles 2 and thoroughly enjoyed them– it’s great to see that such films are putting female characters in the forefront…finally! Enjoy your time in Scotland, and live it up in Ibiza!

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