Wow, uh, huh. So that happened. I’ve been back a week tonight, sorry for not checking in before I left so that I could have a more awesome check in around now. Life kind of sneaks up in unusual ways and the last few weeks were pretty ultimate. I’m really way too lazy to upload some of my final snapshots, from Cirque du Soleil and whatnot, but maybe I will later, you never know.

I’ve been thinking about this blog entry for awhile, and I haven’t been feeling well since I got back so it took me a week to motivate myself. On the bright side, I’m getting this done before my birthday on Saturday because after that I probably wouldn’t care enough to write anymore.

I think, the important thing to remember with a trip like this, is that you should be honest with yourself. Don’t try to overestimate or underestimate your abilities. Before I really go into what will be a long post if I don’t get bored, I want to thank everyone that helped me throughout this process, which has been a long one. I’ve been planning the trip for most of the year and then went through it. Thanks to Rachael Vause first and foremost for helping me out so much! To UArts for the opportunity. To my parents for supporting me, and to my cat for still loving me now that I’m home.

The problem with this post is I think that I tried to write too much of it in my head without having written any of it. You really learn a lot about yourself and the way you want to live, and then when you get home from something like that… well everything else seems a little different as well. Nothing is quite the same and the rest of the world has gone on without you and you are left to catch up. It’s scary. I think it is almost as difficult to handle as the initial part of the trip itself, but it is also what makes the entire thing worthwhile. The ability to cope with all of these things comes with the experience that you gain and despite it being overwhelming everything looks a little bit easier to handle. It is all about perspective.

As for the trip itself (which reminds me, thank you to everyone at Parsons as well), it was unforgettable. It was difficult, and rough, but everything was worth it and I don’t regret anything. Parsons Paris is an absolutely wonderful and charming school. The work is hard but there is a close knit community and a ton of people willing to help you. Not to mention, for all your hard work you come out with some GREAT portfolio pieces. I’ll probably have another post encasing all of my work. Everyone is kind and helpful and wants you to succeed. Paris itself is a beautiful vibrant city, although absolutely insanely expensive. I really hope that more students will try to embark on the journey I went through because it is definitely awesome and everything everyone says it will be.

I will miss working in the dorms, learning a new language, hanging out by famous buildings, and all the people that I met. If any of you are reading this, please please please keep in touch. I guess that’s all I have to say… if I come up with more I’ll put it in my image post in a little while.

Peace out, happy holidays.

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Christmas on the ‘Champs’

I haven’t been writing anymore, not just my blog, but my own personal things. I haven’t been reading either and after my visit to the Virgin Megastore book area, that kind of depressed me. But it’s during finals and there isn’t much I can do. Also, in my own defense, it was a pretty crappy weather day today, so that’s why my hair is all messy, and I was eating a kebab.

To pull away from my studies and look at the finer side of Paris, I realized today that the Champs (or Champs-Elysees as it is more formally known) is pretty much around the corner from the dormitories. And during the Christmas season they line the entire boulevard with a gigantic Christmas market stretching from this large Ferris wheel all the way to where the store start, so about half the boulevard towards the Arc. Chocolate shops, scarves, candles, wooden carvings, kebabs, crepes, waffles, sausage, hot wine… everything! Also, lots and lots and lots of polar bears. I’m a big fan of polar bears so it was really fun to see all of them everywhere.

And, sorry I didn’t get a picture of it… but the Abercrombie and Fitch store had a LINE out the door to get in. The store here is guarded by this HUGE golden gate and it’s really elaborate and kind of scary to be honest. I mean, come on guys, it’s a clothing store. But okay, you want to run like that, feel free to run.

So I went on this little excursion with my friend Sean, the other RA. He can be seen standing in front of some bank vault door at Virgin. I had some hot wine, which is what is in that plastic cup, and I have to say it is VERY weird. I’m not sure but I think it’s practically non-alcoholic. Whatever it was, it was weird. Not bad, but not super nice either.

So enjoy this small break from reality because later tonight and tomorrow it is back to the grind. And I’m home in almost under two weeks now!

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The End… Almost

This entry is going to be short, honestly I forgot about this blog. Parsons is pretty brutal. The work can be fun, and I adore my classes, but in UArts when finals start to hit (also we have no breaks in the Fall, so I’ve been going and going and going) at least you only have like 3 major classes and some liberal arts. And in those major classes, you’ve been working on the assignment for the entire semester and the teacher clearly sets out a list of exactly what they want. And the liberal arts classes are always fun for me so the finals never seem like work.

Here, I have 6 classes and they all want an exorbitant amount of work. This is totally unheard of to me. I honestly haven’t done this much work since High School and in HS it was all easy stuff… this is a serious amount of difficult work and it’s really pulling me down, hence why I don’t really care to work on entries religiously right now. The thought that I am 3 weeks away from going home to my cat and friends, my apartment, my family and my birthday is almost unbearable. It really takes a toll on your motivation, and for once I don’t have any advice on how to cope. The only thing to do is push through and know that nobody would be happy to see you fail out in the final push.

Oh and I’m also all registered for Spring… and I’m hoping to get my tutor job back *crosses fingers* still working on that one….

I think I’m going to Cirque de Soleil next weekend and then I’m buying luggage and packing (to make sure I don’t need to ship anything home.) I guess that’s all… oh and here’s my workload, if you were curious:

(This is partially a tracker for myself.)

Web: continue working on website (2 hours a week)

Collab: design a game, make the poster (far more complicated than it sounds. 3-4 hours a week)

French: two ten minute presentations and a worksheet (she is insane. 3 hours a week)

DsnMgmt: assignment3 (2 hours a week)

MotionGraphics: Fabrica project animation (4-6 hours a week)

Editorial: design a magazine cover (2-3 hours)

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Space Dragons

This is necessary. I am exhausted and dizzy. So here is a photo-filled entry in which I hope you can guess what I did over the last few days. Sorry some of the photos are bad. Also, the picture is Flat Stanley, he is my brother’s homework. I took him dancing. Also, yes, that is Eurodisney, how nice of you to notice.

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Before I Forget

Today I feel better. There are no forced smiles, no feelings of hopelessness or loss. I simply feel like me again for the first time in a long time. I think part of this has to do with being over my sickness and part of it with some self-realizations.

It took me a long time to get to this point, most of my trip in fact, but honestly I think the timing is perfect. Perfect to do what I need to do and to enjoy my last few weeks in this wonderful city. I think I understand myself a little bit better every day and I definitely understand all the ugly thoughts I can have about myself and my situation when things aren’t their brightest. The most important thing to remember is that there is a time limit. You either buck up or you go home miserable full of regret. I know that my response to my trip will be different from most of the reactions, but I don’t regret how I spent it. You have to do things for you, without worrying about what others expect. If you’re not happy the way you’re doing something, change it, but don’t let other people boss you around over it.

In my boredom and misery (and sickness), I had two of six classes last week. Worst week and a half ever, to be honest. That is, until last Thursday, which was probably the best day of my life. I think I can honestly say that was the most fun I have ever had here so far. I went to a museum for my French class and ended up being paired with this girl Talah, who I had never really spoken to before. She is from Kuwait and lives with her sister in an apartment across from the Eiffel Tower. (Most of the pictures that follow were from our travels that day, both at the photo exhibit and around Paris.)

For the first time, the most valuable thing that could have happened… happened. I found someone to talk to who didn’t expect me to listen to her in return (although I did, because she had some great advice.) But unlike a therapist, she was my age and we could be friends. And for the first time, I did all these things I would never have done. I made a spontaneous decision and it was the best thing I could ever have done. She took me on a walk all around the side streets of Paris, to beautiful places I’d never been. The ‘real’ Paris, I like to say. And then she took me to lunch at this really deliciously amazing American-style cafe called The Real McCoys. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures but it was so splendid and so full of all this delicious American food and stuff to buy. I had a BLT and potato wedges and a root beer float, and she shared some of her Philly cheese steak with me. (Though, let’s be honest, true Philadelphians, it was more like a really really yummy steak fajita sammich.)

We then went back to her place and she has two dogs and a cat. Perfect views, lovely animals, new friend = best night ever.

And so now it’s time to get back to work and back into the rhythm and finish up the semester. I have a plane ticket set for December 15th at 5pm (Paris time), and I’ll touch down in America at JFK 8pm, hopefully to be back in Philly 3-4 hours later. This week is rotation, so the people from Rome are leaving and we’re getting another batch in. Super long next few days…

Tuesday: 9am-7:30pm, extended first class+museum visit

Wednesday: 8-2 as per the usual, meeting at 2 about Rotation

Thursday: My friend Lauren, from way back in high school, is coming. I also have to be up at 6am to sign out the Romans and I have class at 2. (By the way, Editorial still ROCKS. We watched The September Issue, which is a GREAT documentary. HIGHLY recommended.)

Friday: Touring the city with Lauren, possible need to spend some time with new module.

Saturday: Lauren leaves in the morning, spending the day at… wait for it… wait for it… DISNEYLAND. I am so so so so so so excited!!!

Next weekend are the Christmas Markets and I’m going to the Aquarium next Sunday as well. And then it’ll be Thanksgiving, and then I think I’m spending a weekend in Belgium on the 3rd of December. Enjoy these photos for now!

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It’s the final countdown and I feel fine.

I owe everyone a new entry and I suppose an explanation for my last very bitter entry as well. Well, to be honest, I don’t owe anybody anything but I don’t want to leave my blog looking like this. If we’re still being honest, I’m REALLY sick of taking photos everywhere. I’ve run out of things to take pictures of, and I don’t really do anything interesting these days. When I do, I forget to take my camera. I promise it will come with me to Disneyland next weekend though. (Though, if it makes it back, that’s another story entirely.)

The truth: I don’t like France. It’s really hard to get along here. This has no affect on Parsons, as I still adore the school and is probably my favorite place to be in the entire city… though I wonder what that says about Paris? Or does it say something about me? You’ve been reading this blog with me, good and bad, so you decide what you think of me and the city and choose for yourself. I think I overestimated my ability to be ‘okay’ with this whole thing. I also think I overestimated my ability to suddenly pick a different hobby, like walking around instead of playing video games. That can only work for so long until I get bored. I have a really short attention span though, like many of my generation.

What’s been going on with me? I can’t really say. I had a lot of plans for this weekend, most of which would have put pictures in this post today, but won’t because I didn’t go anywhere. I spent the entire weekend in my dorm room, sleeping and watching Netflix. Why? I’ve been seriously sick. Of course, when I’m finally feeling cheery and ready to tackle Paris… I get sick. My throat has been sore and it has been a back and forth battle to get well all weekend. My first and only long weekend and I wasted it on sleeping. On the bright side, I did a lot of my homework and got ahead in a lot of assignments… or so I hope. I still love Editorial design more than ever and will definitely put up more of my work over the next week.

I’m thinking of trying to figure out how to put all my stuff on youtube. We’ll see how that works up. (Look I didn’t use another elipses.) After this week only five remain, so I’ll have to figure something out. Next weekend I am probably going to go to a museum and see the movie I didn’t see this weekend. Then Disneyland the following week, and then probably another museum and who knows what else. I have a lot of work to look forward to, something to keep me busy and occupied.

I have a B+ in Intro to Design Management, and a C in French. It’s really difficult. I also have a C in Motion Graphics. It’s sort of funny how I have all this time to devote to my work, unlike in Spring, and I’m doing worse than I did in Spring. I think I’m facing different problems than the ones I faced in the Spring. It will be interesting to see how I cope upon my return.

Which, by the way, I’m REALLY looking forward to. Good old U S of A. Laundry machines. Kitchens. Supermarkets with recognizable brands. People that speak my native language. A real bathroom, with real shower. My own bed, and my entire wardrobe to work with. It’s the little things you miss. I’m really glad I became the RA here, otherwise I think I’d have gone home a long time ago. (I’m surprised I didn’t. Are you?)

Anyway, there will probably be shorter posts for a while after this. I look forward to seeing everyone from home in a few short weeks… and I hope you’ll comment about my blog when I see you again in person. A bien tot!

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I’ll Get Back To You On That

I’m sort of getting tired of people asking me how I am. The trivial social etiquette that requires you to ask a polite question for which you don’t necessarily care about the answer. I am also sick of answering this question and so I have decided not to from now on. If you don’t really want the answer, don’t ask. I don’t like to lie and to think of my current state is a rather complicated question. I’m alone in a country thousands of miles from home going to art school, how do you think I am?

Also, I’ve noticed that despite all the family that claims to read my blog, they don’t leave comments. I instead have comments from people that definitely just look like a load of spammers and I am not sure how to handle them. I think I will just enjoy the attention and smile benignly at your sorry attempt to plague me with meaningless chatter.

I apologize for starting out a little harshly today, I’m not really sure why I think I’m just annoyed with several things. I won’t have any pictures for this week, and my post is late as usual. I had mid terms, so I hope I can be forgiven. I had a very up and down week and there are so many factors playing on my mood that it’s difficult to pin down one to analyze my behavior and/or my adventures. It’s the regular every day stress of school adapted to a foreign country, not to mention backtracking by living in a dorm where freedom is just so limited. But what you can do for free you should always try!

Maybe you care about what’s going on and maybe you don’t. Heck, if you don’t, you wouldn’t be reading. I only had tests in two classes, French and Intro to Design Management. I’m thinking about dropping one as I really… don’t like either of them terribly much. How many credits do I need to remain a full time student whilst abroad? Anyone know? Aside from that there isn’t much to report. Classes are progressing, I have plans settled in for the weekend of the next few weeks and then I’ll be home soon enough. I’m still kind of stressed out because of the school work, but it is still interesting and I’ve been feeling sort of positive about the experience lately.

It really takes a lot to leave home and there are a lot of things I miss. Well seasoned food, my own kitchen, the smell of my house, cuddling with my cat, seeing my friends and boyfriend, talking to my family (which really hasn’t changed all that much, oddly enough.) That’s stuff that is all irreplaceable to me and it’s hard to live without. It’s weird to take a life changing trip with a time limit. It’s as if it is imposing upon you, descending like the shadows in the night. I’ve had a lot of conflicting feelings about leaving. I have a lot of conflicting feelings in general. Every day I am plagued by different thoughts and emotions. I don’t remember what it felt like to just have plain and normal worries. To not worry about myself or the situation I was in. To be comfortable with everything around me and not have to cope or make myself feel okay with everything.

I think I’ll feel relieved when I go home, despite missing it here desperately. It’d be nice to not question myself. How are you doing today, Jen? Are you lonely? Do you miss home? What will you eat? How will you get it? Will I have to stay up until I fall asleep just to sleep? Did you do all your homework?

Sometimes work seems trivial by comparison. All the things to cope with and I concern myself with homework. It seems silly at times. I’m looking forward to finishing up the second half with a bang so as I like to say now, when you ask me how I am:

“I’ll get back to you on that.”

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No I have not secretly been in America this entire time. Actually, the surprise is that a took a sudden very unplanned trip to Normandy. I’m pretty exhausted and this will be my excuse for not writing a real entry this week. Have a 70 image gallery from the trip… (I discovered a new button! For easy posting! <3)

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Mid-Term Blues

I know. I know. It’s been awhile. Wow, I went an entire week without updating? What did you guys do without me? I’m pretty sure all of you survived just fine, I know I did, although probably only barely. It’s been a really rough week for me so I haven’t had the chance to update in the timely manner you are all used to. I didn’t think I’d have a lot of pictures for you but when I went to get stuff off my camera I realized that I have way more than I ever have had. So I hope it’ll keep you entertained for a bit and make up for my one week absence.

The truth? I’ve been pretty down lately. The weather is miserable, cold and dreary. Normally, that wouldn’t bother me (as I love rain and whatnot), but here in Paris it really is just the biggest downer ever. The whole sky goes dark and it’s like some creepy film noir horror-detective …thing. It sort of makes me think of that movie I watched in my uncanny class (last year) “Don’t Look Now”, which is …really disturbing. Anyway, moving on, it’s hard to explain but it’s almost mid-terms.

By this I mean, that I have had work piled on me in preparation for the midpoint which is not this week, but the week after. And guess what UArts kids? I still have class during mid-terms. Not like where you go in and take a test and you can leave. Like where you actually go to class and take a test and continue to sit there and get more homework. I envy all of you your would-be week off. There are no holidays or breaks of any kind for me in sight, luckily I barely spend the week in class anyway so whatever.

To recap I’m taking six classes here and all of them gave me homework for this weekend. I’ll explain how they relate to midterms, if they do, and how it’s affected my already miserably damp weekend. (In other words, no I probably won’t have any life changing revelations in this post, though you never really know with me.)

Web I had to redesign the website I wanted to code and have I mentioned I’ve been having trouble with my software on and off. Serious recommendation: Save up the 400 dollars and buy the darn programs from the School Store. They’re INSANELY cheap comparatively and you can’t buy programs overseas, they’ll be in the wrong language (yes no matter what you do, it will eventually convert back into it’s native language, there is proof.) Ahem. So I now have to do maybe 2-ish hours of research for some new layouts and whatnot. How does this affect my mid term for this? There isn’t one, as far as Assaf told us (he was the cool guy with the curly hair in the last post.) I suspect he will simply review what we’ve done up to this point and continue working. Simple enough.

Collab I don’t even know what to say. I both adore and agonize over this class. I don’t think I’m very good at wayfinding, it’s really tedious and detail oriented and I think I’ll feel better once this project is finished. Although, the work I’m producing is pretty cool, if I say so myself. It’ll definitely be a wonderful portfolio piece. This is my largest class, so the workload is intense. I’m not going to make excuses, but because of the Romans coming to St. John’s last weekend I didn’t have time to do a lot of homework last weekend. (Oh, quick flashback, the Spanish, aka the DTW St John’s students left because they’re doing a rotating program. 3 countries in 15 weeks. 1 country for 5 weeks. So it was time for rotation, which means we got the Romans in. I refer to the group that left as the Spanish, the group that came in as the Romans and the final group will be the Parisians. You can guess what they mean.) This means that my workload layover was pretty intense. I spent 7 hours straight yesterday working on it and need another hour or two today, but then hopefully it can go off to print and we move on. This will be inspected and sent off to the actual housing committee at Les Olympiades, I just hope I get them back. The prints are going to cost me a lot of money and it would be a shame to lose the physical copies.

French My French teacher gives us a lot of homework. …that’s all.

Design Management I… have no idea what we’re doing for our midterm. I think I need to write an essay in class, which means I will cram study.

Motion Graphics Oddly enough, and I’m not sure how this happened but it seems to be a normal thing in art schools, this class which is not a main studio but still a three hour long studio gives me as much as homework as my Collab class. However, this seems to make sense as it could takes hours to get fifteen seconds of animation. I have about 5 hours of homework to do today, after I finish my last page for wayfinding. We will continue working through mid-terms, just doing an overview of our progress so far.

Editorial I actually had editorial homework! It was kind of exciting. I need to get a picture of Taylor to share with you all. We switch teachers every other month. I really love this class and definitely want to gear my portfolio towards work for this field. I don’t know what to say anymore… this post is too long.

All right, for the sake of my sanity, I’ll end it here. I haven’t been feeling well, finally recovering on my sleep, pretty homesick, totally stressed out and running out of time in this great city. And yet, I still take pictures for everyone. I’m so cool. Have a great rest of your weekend, a bien tot! (PS, I’m sorry I didn’t edit all of them, there are too many and I’m too busy. If you really wanna see my pretty face shoot me a message and I’ll edit some just for you.)

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What “Above Average” Really Means

I’ve noticed that my posts started to get boring as of late. I guess it’s because I’ve been sort of busy and internalizing a lot of my more personal feelings about Paris. So much happens to me as a person every day, and sometimes it’s hard to keep track or to find anything worth putting down. However, I really don’t want this to just be a weekly update about school. Sure, that’s a large part of it, but when I started this blog, it was about me too. It was about learning what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to grow.

Do you guys know how you want to grow and who you want to be? I wonder how long it took you to find out, or if you’re going to try what I’m trying. It really forces you to put the world into perspective. Everything isn’t black and white and you’ll need to face things in yourself that you probably wouldn’t normally. I can really only say that if you go by yourself, it might be harder to have a ‘find yourself’ experience if you go with a ton of people who know you as you are and like you for it. There is no one to be critical of you and all your flaws, in an honest way.

I have a lot of treats for everyone this week, in addition to my speculative philosophical rant there will be a HUGE photo gallery of my teachers, my bosses, the school admins, and some of the things I’m working on right now. I did finish that animation for my Motions Graphics class, except it’s about 100mb and I’m really not in the mood to do the entire work around for putting it online. By the end of the semester, everything will get put up somewhere, but until then you’ll just have to be patient! (C’mon, it could be good for you fast paced Americans to learn some patience. We all know I’ve learned a TON of it since I’ve been here… meh.)

I will post the first half of the gallery, and then my rant and then the rest of it. These are the six covers we worked on in my editorial class today, they were so much fun! I really really really love magazine work…. if I could do that for the rest of my life as my paying job that’d be the best. Something to pay the bills you know? 9-5 job, $12/hr, 5 days a week. Anyone know of anything, let me know!

Please click to expand!

I think I grow a little bit with each passing day. It’s like a sunrise that slowly comes upon you little by little, spreading its light and making you feel warm. The more I learn, the warmer and more comfortable I feel. With myself, with my work, with the situation, with everything really. I’ve had to come face to face with every single thing I don’t like about myself and try to do something about it. If not now, I say to myself, then when? This is why I’m here, there is no better time than the present.

Present. That’s a word I’ve been more attached to lately. I always think ahead, into the future, and worry about this unnecessarily. What about tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after? What is really important… is right now, and you let all the beautiful things pass you by when you don’t realize that. What I needed to understand was that if I began to have a good time here and enjoy myself, it didn’t mean that all the good times in Philly would disappear or be gone forever. It didn’t mean they wouldn’t come again, and I had to accept that these memories here, these feelings, would be something I’d need to let go. If I let myself enjoy it here, I would have to be sad when I left.

I made the decision to try and be happy here despite that. To try and make good friends anyway. I wouldn’t let these people go so easily like I have in the past, and I would think of this place fondly rather than with sadness at having lost it. But beyond that, I wouldn’t think about it anymore; I would live in the now. I am living in the now.

None of you in Philly/America are leaving me. You will all be around when I return, and all my friends here will be an email away. There are tons of good times to be had still (despite being 1/3 done already, wow!) and I intend to have them all. This of course, doesn’t mean I don’t miss it… I miss my cat the most, heh. But it’ll be the opposite when I go ‘home’, what about here? These are things that can’t be avoided, so don’t fret and have a good time.

Learn about what you love with all the passion in the world.

So anyway, I’ll end this with the photo gallery and with a comment on my plans for the weekend. Some of the kids in the dorm rotated out for Spain this week, so the kids from Rome just moved in. Tomorrow is orientation so I get food all day and a boat ride, yay! Saturday I’m going to this big anime/sci-fi convention at Port du Versailles and then on Sunday I’m going to Notre Dame for mass. No I’m not religious but a chance to see the inside can’t really be passed up. I’ll post pictures next week! For now, have these!

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