So we're at that point lives, out of college and just beginning our professional career (or grad school), where we have learned to appreciate the finer things in life yet have absolutely nothing to afford them with. Does this mean that we are stuck living dorm-style where we will forever stick pictures on the wall in the form of [insert your favorite shape] and hope that it looks somewhat like a piece of art? Not at all. Here are a few tips to indulge on the finer things you want but still keep it within your budget.Read More
There are things in life you fall in love with at first sight. And there are others, that take time. I never believed in the latter.
"I love it or I don't, it's as simple as that," I told W.
"You know, things in life are not always black or white. Why do you always have to make them out to be," he repeated a phrase he often said to me.Read More
Every year this time around my birthday, the wind comes and the leaves begin to fall. I walk out in my boots and scarves and just can't help but feel a tingle of warmth inside me. There's something words can't describe about the beauty of this season, about the moment you step outside into the crisp autumn air, and discover, that almost over night, life around you has turned into these fabulous shades of reddish golden brown. And that those beautiful leaves around you, even in their parting, bid farewell in such splendid fashion, choosing not to mourn the end of their time, but rather celebrate the beginning of something fresh and new ahead.
And so Fall is a time of gathering of friends and family. In New York, it would have been over coffee at the latest coffee shop or perhaps a stroll on the High Line before seeing the view of the Brooklyn Bridge at nightfall. But in Paris, it's about secret places and intimate ambiances, either below in a cave or up on a rooftop.
Tucked away at the back of a posh children's clothing boutique in Saint Germain des Prés, this Modern Japanese European restaurant is the perfect spot for brunching on weekends or just an afternoon tea or coffee.
Inside, soft pillows and wooden chairs provides an atmosphere of comfort and intimacy. Outside, the charming private terrace allows a quiet backdrop for long conversations.
All foods are fresh and organic. The brunch bento box mixes the perfect blend of meats, starch and veggies that leaves you feeling healthy and refreshed.
2) Le Perchoir Rooftop
A random queue in front of a no-name entrance, before you're ushered up a small elevator to this gorgeous rooftop. Although Le Perchoir may not be as much of a secret as it used to be, it still remains one of the most intimate Parisian spots for drinks before sundown. Share a bottle of rosé with a whole new view of the Parisian landscape before you.
Finally, a little update about me:
My weeks have been flying by since classes began in September, front-loaded with 6 hours of class per day (!!!) first half of the week, then followed by a long busy weekend of engagements. I've been living this sort of double life, a student on campus turned grown up when back in Paris, getting my fair dose of HEC campus parties and events (more on that later) all the while doing such things like...visiting new born babies, inviting future parent-in-laws over for dinner, going to apartment warming crémaillères, receiving friends from Hong Kong, Singapore, Atlanta and New York, and of course dinners and soirées that is just...that...no more clubbing (oh la la). So I apologize for disappearing off the internet for a month without notice. Alas, I am alive and well, and missing, of course, blogging. :p
I woke up today to the sound of obnoxious morning traffic, unusual for our quiet little street off of the main boulevard. September 1st, also happening to land on a Monday, unofficially marks the end of glorious summer vacation for the French, and the beginning of nothing more exciting than the daily grind of work…
I got up, tied my hair in a bun, put on my glasses, and sleepily made myself a cup of coffee in the kitchen. When I came back to the salon, I came across my boyfriend’s French version of the Harvard Business Review.
What better way to get ready for school than a proper dose of Business French!
Let me tell you, the French translated version of the review is a wonderful way to brush up on your French. Here’s why:
- Due to the international nature of business, French business words are similar in roots to their English counterparts, with some even adopting the word itself (“marketing” and “business plan”, spoken exclusively in a French accent of course). For this reason, especially for those with a business background, it’s easy to decipher the meaning of foreign business words.
- Business writing prides itself in simplicity, both in verb usage and vocabulary. French written verb conjugations are notorious for their variations, with some changing up the verb so much that it can become indecipherable. Verbs are kind of important in understanding a sentence, so having conjugations in mostly present and past with an occasional conditional? It can’t get better than that.
- The review is translated from English after all. Even though my boyfriend claims it’s perfect French, I still find it oddly similar to the sentence constructions of the English language…
So there’s my Monday French reading with a business twist. Any other recommendations for brushing up on French?
Once you've stayed in one place long enough, it begins to feel like home.
We landed in Paris. Outside in the drizzling rain, flashed red and yellow lights while Parisian police cars scouted the runway. The plane erupted into a clap, the children happy that they've arrived home. It was 10pm and landing procedures went faster than ever. The French were efficient, when they wanted to be.
We exited the plane into the airport. And for a moment, I felt oddly safe and secure. The familiar rhythmic hum of French conversation, somehow always a notch softer than English speech. The sound of cheeks kissing among reunited friends and relatives. The faint smell of smoke lingering in the air. French children dressed like miniature adults, who were expected to behave no less than such. And their impatient French mothers who didn't blink an eye before insulting their little ones, always followed by a s'il vous plaît that sounded more like a threat than a nicety.
"Hurry up!", a French mother once yelled impatiently at her two young children in the bathroom. "What are you two doing! The whole table is waiting for you to eat CAKE!" nearly screaming the last sentence under her breath. "But Maman, please, the toilet has not been flushing," her five-year-old daughter replied calmly, entirely undisturbed.
I walked out onto the streets and realized that I had forgotten I was in a foreign country. Everything seemed so normal and exactly how I thought it ought to be. I had to remind myself that I was actually in Europe, a land far away from where I came from. That's when I knew that I was finally feeling like home.
It is a little acknowledged but universally true fact that every girl has at some point in her life experienced a sudden fluttering in her chest the moment she sees a little object of something or another, that for a thoroughly inexplicable reason, has wholly and irrevocably captured her heart. "Oh my gosh, this. is. SO cute!".
Immediately following our vacation at the end of August, we will move in once and for all to our new apartment! And so these days I've been scrolling along Le Marais, little streets filled with boutiques of every kind (especially home décor), contemplating which and what kind of arrangements would be appropriate for our new home. White or color picture frames? Paintings or modern art? Eclectic or matching? Wholly white silverware or with some fine detailing? It is really quite difficult shopping for a home you have yet to live in.
While we bought most our furniture already during a massive trip to Ikea last week (we decided on the two primary colors so far: white and wood. It's going to be contemporary on the modern side with a splash of light wood hues), I'm still scoping out where I can buy the little things.
I love things that have meaning, so everytime I look at them, it reminds me of a moment or event in my life that made me feel something. This diffuser that I bought on Tuesday is small and simple, but it will always remind me of three things: 1) my friend in New York, 2) the girl at Jo Malone, and 3) that things are always better when you wait for them.
Diffuser for the Home: English Pear & Freesia by Jo Malone
I was first introduced to Jo Malone by a friend in New York, who begged me to smell the scents at their store. I had a coup de foudre with English Pear & Freesia, which reminded me of a little girl playing with clean linens her mother had just washed. It was so simple, fresh, and pure, not to mention the gorgeous black and white packaging with a small black bow. I left that day thinking I already had one too many perfumes.
Many months later, I was now in Paris, and saw their stores everywhere. Each time I would go in and smell the scents, but would never buy it. I never had a reason.
Finally, this week, it was an Asian girl working there who greeted me. Soft spoken and with a lovely smile, she had none of the motives of a typical sales person. She was genuinely interested in sharing the scents with me, and we began talking. I soon learned that she was a student studying in Paris, just like me. We also liked many of the same things.
When I couldn't decide on the perfume, I saw the room diffuser that was the perfect décor item for our new apartment. A scent in the foyer that I'll come home to everyday and be able to share with W and friends (who come over for tea, hehe). And even though the girl and I never exchanged contact information, I know I'll never forget her.
And what do you know, I scented our room that night and W absolutely ADORED it!
Six whole weeks and twenty-something apartment visits later (no joke), we finally finally secured our apartment in Paris. It was also at this moment that I truly understood what the French mean by "Bonne Chance" when they hear news of an apartment hunt. Apartment hunting in Paris is not for the feeble-minded. It requires patience, persistence, and a lot of time.Read More
I arrived for the Wine & Cheese soirée at La Vinotheque in the 1st arrondisement, an event organized by Native Native for Paris expat bloggers. This was my introduction to the Parisian blog scene, and I was about to discover just how big it really was. Paris, after all, is the perfect city to blog about art, history, fashion, food, life, travel and adventures abroad.
Today's soirée featured a wine and cheese tasting presented by Parisian startup Les Nouveaux Fromagers, a cheese subscription service that delivers different high-quality cheese each month, no doubt the perfect solution to many here's cheese obsession.
One by one, eight other bloggers arrived, many of them already famous for their works, whether it be writing, fashion or photography. I met the very chic Ylena from Mexico, whose fashion blog Ambiteuse follows her as she makes her mark in the fashion industry; Jennifer from the US, who's famous for reviewing more than 200 types of cheeses on Chez Lou Lou; Lillian from Maylasia who's fluent in French, English, Chinese and Malay, and loves to explore life's adventures in Paris and beyond; and Ella from New York, who will be coming out with a book soon about her crazy Parisian adventures from robberies and expired-visas to dead-end jobs and embarrassing break-ups. I soon learned that there was a network of hundreds of bloggers in Paris. What I was seeing was just the surface.
The tasting began as the co-founder of Les Nouveaux Fromagers introduced to us in French his work. He had gone to one of the top business schools in Paris, worked in Media strategy, and then quit his job to create his own startup (yes, there were some uncanny similarities). The night continued on and as I learned about the stories of other bloggers, I felt nothing but inspiration.
Here I was with so many young professionals, many of whom left their home countries to follow their dreams. Whether it be launching a startup, creating an organization, writing a book, or pursuing fashion or photography, they had found their niche and excelled at what they do. With the advent of technology and social media, they are among a new generation of artists and writers, whose work represents the culture, experiences and ideologies of today's generation.
As I looked around, I thought about where I was heading with my career. In many ways, all careers are similar in that you must capitalize on your strengths, find something that truly interests you, and consume yourself with your work. But most importantly, it is the understanding that the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself, and that we are all capable of making our marks - to do good, create value, and give back to our world. Oh, and have a hell of a time while doing it, bien sûr.
I finished my morning French class and joined W near his work at L'Opera for lunch. We sat down at a posh new-concept Italian restaurant with wood and metal interiors that gave the place a modern yet earthy feel. The entire exterior wall had collapsed and opened like a window, allowing in so much sunlight that it felt like we were on a terrace.
We ordered a delicious tomato mozzarella thin crust pizza and pasta salad to share, then proceeded to poke fun at eachother until the food arrived (apparently now our favorite past time, because well, being nice is just not fun). I demanded that we speak in French, and was surprised by how easily my sentences were forming. I had only been here for two weeks, yet the mentality of a permanent move has given me such enormous motivation that I jump at every opportunity to speak. Even when alone, I find myself sounding out phrases and new expressions, obsessively listening and correcting for pronunciation.
W and I parted after lunch, and I headed back to the 6th arrondisement, an area by Jardin du Luxembourg filled with beautiful 17th century architecture and boutiques. The weather had been extraordinary since my arrival, with nothing but glorious sunshine at a constant low-70s weather everyday. I had never seen Paris bathed in such warm sunlight from morning to night, with days so long that darkness would not fall until nearly 11pm. This made for wonderful outdoor dinners and festivities that lasted well into night (the music festival was just last week).
As I walked around the area window shopping, I felt oddly comfortable and at ease. For sure, language barriers led to moments of frustration and anxiety, dealing with French paperwork and processes prevented all my efforts at efficiency, and there were inevitable moments of angry ruthless comparison to other cities. But I was adapting and the city was growing on me.
It's imperative to keep an open mind, I told myself, and to understand that Paris may never offer what New York had given me, and I should never force upon it what it is not and cannot be. But if I am willing to learn, discover and love it with my heart, it is more than capable of granting me the most extraordinary experiences beyond my wildest dreams.