♥ Paris ♥

Monday was a bank holiday in the UK, which is the equivalent to a national holiday in the States. Basically, it means businesses were closed and people had the day free. This Monday was the UK version of our Labor Day, marking the end of summer/beginning of fall. Because it was a national holiday, my boyfriend Jarin and I decided to take advantage of the free day and go on a weekend trip to Paris.

3 Jarin and I in front of the Arc de Triomphe, a war memorial.

43.1 Fondue-really fun experience!

16 The Louvre.

25 The Cathedral of Notre Dame.

37 …I’m assuming this is self-explanatory.

52 In case it wasn’t, this is the Eiffel Tower at night (the one above is the Tower in daytime).

It was incredible. In my opinion, Paris is much more scenic than London-at least along the river. The buildings along the Seine were all beautiful: big bricks, tall buildings, iron-railed balconies with planters on quite a few. The river walk itself was much more uniform and enjoyable than the one along the Thames, simply because it was more eye-pleasing. However, we stayed within a 3-mile radius so we only saw a small chunk of the river walk and the buildings along the Seine. The metro was easy to navigate, the lines for monuments moved very quickly, and the pace of life seemed much slower than in London.

I think Jarin and I both discovered we are not big museum people. We can only take so much time walking around looking at artifacts before we start getting bored or tired, which then leads to impatience and just general crabbiness. The most enjoyable times of the trip for me were lounging in parks (usually near enough to a monument to appreciate the view as well), taking advantage of the summer weather, people-watching, and relaxing. It was worthwhile to see all the beautiful monuments and also visit the Louvre, but we were definitely on the same page when we opted out of doing any other museums during our vacation.

The language barrier was evident, but not as much of a problem as I had worried it would be. A lot of people spoke enough English to get by. That being said, I’m not convinced I would want to live there…but for a weekend trip it was a fantastic experience!

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Thrift stores saved my (social) life.

London. Cosmopolitan city of dresses and posh, put-together outfits galore. Where seemingly no one walks outside without meticulously layering an outfit that could be photographed on a runway, coupled with perfectly-in-place hair and stunning makeup. The guys, too (minus the makeup, most of the time). Or at least that’s how I felt the first week here.

Now that I’ve settled in I realize the put-togetherness of Londoners isn’t as prevalent as I thought, but my first stroll around my neighborhood left me feeling absurdly under-dressed and out of the style loop. I bolted home to reassess every piece of clothing I packed, and realized I was sorely lacking in the one item which almost every female chose to wear that summery day: dresses. I only packed two. Ugh.

The next day was spent semi-frantically journeying from store to store, trying to find a decent dress that wasn’t £20+ over my seriously reduced college kid budget. It took me much longer than it should have to realize that regular-price stores wouldn’t cut it. Thrift stores, hand over those dresses. And skirts. Aaand since I’m here and haven’t quite grasped that I no longer have an income, let’s check out the jewelry too…right??

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t find ANY thrift stores when I walked around looking for them. Which was weird because I had been advised to get as much as possible from the thrift stores in London. Then I figured out that in London thrift stores are called charity shops. Because they’re associated with a charity. Logical. Dang London phrases, throwing me for a loop again. Consequently, they have the title of the charity as their name. You sneaky charity shops…

Blog3 There are   -count ’em-   5 charity shops in a 2-block radius of my apartment.

Now that I know my way around a bit better, I am continually amazed by the abundance of thrift shops everywhere. The great thing about London charity shops is that each shop is SMALL. Unlike cavernous Goodwills or overwhelming Thrift Worlds, I can browse each store in about 15-20 minutes (which means I can hit 3-4 instead of just 1…sorry, bank account). And the prices and lack of crowds are much more friendly than the Oxford Street shops. Plus, because they’re so small, inventory is rotated more often. Which means prices on current merchandise are reduced more often. Which means I buy dresses more often. Hey, it’s for charity.

Blog4…and they’re pretty darn cute. Because frumpy is not in a Londoner’s vocabulary.

I should probably start stretching out my suitcases for the trip home.

Takeaway tidbit #2: Charity shops will save your (social) life. And budget.

 

It’s “takeaway”, not “to-go”.

One of my thought processes when deciding to move to London:

They speak English in England. We speak English in the States. Therefore, I will be fine moving to London because there’s no language barrier. I know they say “loo” instead of “bathroom” and “chips” instead of “fries”; bring on the nuances. I enjoyed living in Mexico despite the language barrier. London will be a piece of cake.

Sidenote: clearly my audacity sometimes gets me into trouble, but sometimes it’s a really fun part of my personality (ie: the thought process that led me to quit my wonderful, rewarding, salaried teaching job and move across the ocean to an exciting, vibrant, expensive city to pursue my personal dreams and live on a college kid’s budget again). See what optimistic pictures I take when I’m feeling fearless?–

p1.1 So presh. So exciting! …and a little presumptuous, but who isn’t on Instagram?

Back to my language math at the beginning of my post. I don’t remember much from maths, but one formula that stuck with me was the one that says “if a=c, and b=c, then a=b”. So in my audacity (or imprudence, you decide), I figured that if England=English, and the States=English, then England=the States.

Obviously I know they’re not the same place. I just figured if I can thrive in the States and successfully handle studying abroad in Mexico then the transition to life in England would be effortless.

Effortless. Oh hey, imprudent Audrey. Let’s see how you get on.

I landed at Heathrow and had a very calm, reasonable experience getting from the plane to customs to baggage claim to exit. Each uneventful checkpoint left me feeling more and more confident about life in London.

  • “I was able to follow the huge yellow signs from the plane to customs…Feelin pretty good about myself.”
  • “Hey, the customs guy asked me a question and I answered it. I’m gonna be great in London!”
  • “Wow, I was able to get a cart AND grab all my luggage by myself…Look out London, here comes Audrey!”
  • “I followed the huge white pictures and found the large, highly visible bathrooms AND was able to get in and out with all my luggage? Elizabeth, honey, let me borrow that crown for a sec.”

By the time I got to the Costa (a coffeeshop chain here), I was confident I had London life figured out. So when the barista asked “here or takeaway”, I scoffed–“Sweetie, I don’t understand you. And I KNOW how to live in London”. What I really said was probably more along the lines of–“Uhh, what?”. She repeated the question, and as I frantically scrambled through all the London lingo I knew (which took all of .56 seconds) to attempt to translate “takeaway”, I mumbled something about a to-go cup. When she slid over my drink, it was in a porcelain mug.

Your Majesty, please take your crown back. I don’t want it anymore.

Blog1(Cute Turkish restaurant near my place)

#TakeawayTidbit for your day: If you want to leave the premises with your food or beverage purchases, it’s  “takeaway” not “to-go”.