paris day two

My first full day in Paris was simply magical. No other word can describe the wonderful experiences I encountered. I must warn you my day was action-packed, so brace yourself for a long post.

The day began with and early breakfast at our hotel. We departed to the city centre and went through the Jardin des Tuileries en route to Notre-Dame Cathedral. I’ve been dying to see the Notre-Dame and go up the Bell Tower. On our way to there we saw witness much more of the atmosphere and scenery.

There exists in this era, for thoughts written in stone, a privilege absolutely comparable to our current freedom of the press. It is the freedom of architecture.
—Book V, Chapter 2

When my eyes first laid upon the cathedral, my heart sunk. Notre-Dame is majestic in its beauty. The intricate details in the exterior took my breath away. Luckily, the line was incredibly short and entered the cathedral quickly. Unfortunately, the Bell Tower was close. It did not minimize my experience. Notre-Dame is stunning.  There is an abundance of beauty, emotion, faith and history in that one building. My mind could not process so much emotion.  I’ll be honest. I’ve never read Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre-Dame”. But after witnessing the power/momentum/feeling of Notre-Dame, I am eager to read/consume the literature that pretty much saved Notre-Dame. When I left the cathedral, I met a group of three Mexican students who were studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. I love great meeting people who are living similar experiences as I am.

Afterwards, Karrisa, Hillary and I visited a quaint nearby park.  Soon after we departed to the Latin Quarter and then the Panthéon. The Latin Quarter is definitely my favorite neighborhood. We couldn’t fin the Pantheon but we did find the University of Paris I: Panthéon-Sorbonne. The building is huge I met some French students and asked for directions (in French!). We finally arrived to the Panthéon.  saw the tombs of Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie. Apart from a chemist’s wife, Marie Curie is the only woman buried in the Panthéon.  We explored more of a the neighborhood and met a French student who recommended this great cafe with WiFi. My sandwich was delicious! While there we met two French students who were actually helping me with my French. I really wanted to learn to pronounce arrondissement (district).It was definitely a struggle but they were so eager and kind to assist me.

Our next stop was the Jardin du Luxembourg. Similar to everything else I’ve encountered in Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens is filled with history and beauty. I fully enjoyed observing the locals in such a relaxed environment. It reminded of me having lunches in Chicago’s Millennium Park during the summertime. We went back to our hotel for a little rest.

Hillary, Karissa and I departed towards the Eiffel Tower for a guided night bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours. I’ll be the first to admit I am not an expert on riding. It didn’t cross my mind that I was going to be riding a bike on the streets of Paris at night.  Woah. Step back. Is this for real?! I could barely ride a bike. How on Earth did I think I could ride a bike with cars, taxis and busses?! Luckily, I already embodied my new”adventurous” persona, so I masked by fear with humor. We had an an awesome tour guide named Pete who was also hilarious. I asked Pete “on a scale of riding around the parking lot to Tour de France, how hard is this going to be?”. Luckily, I trusted Pete and I was very eager to see and learn more. It was definitely an adventure. Alas I survived! It was a challenge but I am so glad I overcame that fear. I had so much fun. I learned a lot. I was with my girls. I was constantly laughing. I also met two Australian students who were also in the bike tour.

We went all over Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower, and the Wall of Peace (really regret not being able to snap a picture). We pretty much went all around Paris. We saw Notre-Dame, Saint Chapelle the Louvre, the Ille de la Cité, the Pont de Arts, Champs-Elyséese, the Arc de Triomphe, Princess Diana’s Flame and Academie Française. We bought delicious ice cream from Berthillon and ate during a quick break on the Pont St. Louis, which connects the Ile de la Cité and the Ile St. Louis. The night concluded with a boat tour on the Seine, red wine included!
October 22 was definitely one of the greatest days of my life.

An American in Paris [une journée]

Looking out to the wonderful Parisian streets

Looking out to the wonderful Parisian streets

Upon arriving to Paris, we went to our hotel. Afterwards, our programme director gave my classmates and I a brief walking tour round the center of Paris where he left us to wander on our own. A few of us decided to get lunch in the Latin Quarter. We never made it there that day. But we did visit the Jardin des Tuileries, saw the Louvre, walked on the Pont des Arts, one of the love lock bridges.

paris day 1-1

From the city centre we walked through the Jardin des Tuileries and found the Louvre. The image on bottom right was where we had our first French meal.

Paris Day 1-2!

On the Pont des Arts bridge that crosses the Seine. Love lockpads are attached by couple to show their eternal for each other. The world map can be seen looking to the bottom right of the bridge.

After, we finally found a place to eat lunch. My first French meal was a Croque Madame and a Coke. None us are fluent in French. My friend Jordyn knows a good amount of basic French. And I am very eager to break out the few French phrases I’ve practiced for most of my life. Fortunately, most Parisians know at least some English. Needless to say, we got around the city pretty well. After lunch, we walked back to the hotel. We quickly departed to La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre.

Paris Day 1-3

The beauty that is Sacré Cœur. The two other images are of our walk to Sacré Cœur. Finally, a flashy image of Moulin Rouge.

Our walk to and from Sacré Cœur was very adventurous. We strongly depended on strangers for directions. Night had fallen upon us but the city still look beautiful. We finally made it to Sacre Coeur. Unfortunately, it was too late to go in. But the exterior was gorgeous. We were so high up we got a beautiful night view of the skyline including the Eiffel Tower. While we enjoyed the view on the steps of Sacre-Couer we met two young women who were also studying abroad. They were studying in the Netherlands. They were the first many tourists and Parisians I got to meet. Looking out at the City of Lights, I knew very well that I was falling in love with Paris. On our walk back to the hotel, we wandered around a different route. We ended up at the red light district. Of all the places in that area, the most infamous is Moulin Rouge. On our first (half) day, I managed to view many things on my to-do list. Needless to say, my first day in Paris was simply amazing.

Sacré Cœur has the most amazing view of the city. First time viewing the Eiffel Tower glitter at night.

Sacré Cœur has the most amazing view of the city. First time viewing the Eiffel Tower glitter at night. I fell in love with the City of Lights.❤

6 Ways to Combat Homesickness


Witnessing the beauty of Ireland.

Although temporary, moving to a different country can still be very threatening. I have never lived outside of Chicago nor have I ever been away from my family longer than two weeks.  I love spending time with my family and friends. And I love living in Chicago. I never had a desire to live in any other city until my involvement in politics intensified. Prior to applying for study abroad, I knew homesickness would be a very real feeling I will have to conquer. I’ve been living in Ireland for almost a month. Surprisingly, I have yet to experience to any serious or long-term homesickness. This is most likely due to the following suggestions.

1. Acknowledge and Accept Homesickness.

You will be living in a completely different country (and in my case different continent), living with new people, going to completely an unknown school, and even working in a different institution. At some point throught your 3+ month stay, homesickness is very likely to occur. Acknowledge and accept it!

2. Remember why you are studying abroad.

Thankfully, my homesickness is rare and very short-term. One of the reasons for this is because I am constantly reminding myself of the various benefits of studying abroad and reasons why I am enjoying this amazing experience.

You are living one of the greatest, life-changing experiences of your life.

I am living, studying, interning in IRELAND! I have a great host family and wonderful roommate. My classmates and classes are grand. I am constantly meeting very interesting and friendly individuals (both locals and tourists). I am accomplishing some of my biggest goals. I am interning for an great senator in the Irish Parliament. I love exploring this beautiful country, filled with a wealth of history. And I will be traveling to a couple of other countries in Europe.

3. Hardwork Pays Off. Enjoy it!

For most students, prepping for study abroad is not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work to prepare yourself mentally, academically, and financially. All the research, meetings, planning, hours working and stress you endured to make this experience happen should not go to waste.

4. Keep In Touch with Your Loved Ones

Skype, Facebook and Twitter are obvious choices. I also strongly recommend downloading Viber and WhatsApp to communicate with your loved ones via your smartphone (text and phone calls for FREE). (Read my post on phone usage while abroad). Definitely, download any phone apps prior to departing. Don’t disregard email. I love emailing long updates to some of my closest friends, and I love reading updates on their lives.

5. Share Your Feelings to a Friend

If I’m missing my loved ones, Chicago or even specific food, I talk about it with my roommate or friends back home. Discussing homesickness with friend who is also studying abroad is very beneficial. It’s comforting to know my roommate understands how I am feeling when I’m homesick.

6. Mediate and Reflect

Personally, praying and writing are greatly important to me. It’s crucial to be able to mediate and reflect on your life from time to time. You can also accomplish this by working out. Think positive and be happy.

Day Trip to Belfast

My day trip to Northern Ireland was the first day trip I took while studying abroad. My host parents thought I was insane for doing a day trip instead of devoting a weekend to Belfast. But my roommate and I were determined for the sake of our wallets to succeed in exploring Ireland via day trips. The day began with a very early morning and ended with a late night, Nonetheless the trip was a great start to exploring Ireland.

Various Political Posters

Our guide prepped us for the trip by explaining a bit of the Irish history and the conflicts with Northern Ireland. When we arrived to Belfast on that very muggy day, we had the option to either visit the Titanic museum or go on a political taxi tour. My roommate and I are both greatly interested politics so we definitely chose the taxi tour.

African American Poster

African American Influencers

We had a fascinating and informative local taxi driver who took us around the Catholic and Protestant sides of Belfast. The stories and experience he shared were heartbreaking. He gave us a more human side to the political conflict. He explained the political posters around the city that change every few years.

Belfast Peace Line

The peace lines in Belfast. The walls are used to separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods

Belfast Peace Line

Peace Line

We saw the Peace lines which at their highest are 25ft high walls separating both sides of the city. I signed my name on the wall. I’m positive the groggy weather also had an impact on our experience. Our visit to Belfast was eyeopening but also very melancholy. I strongly recommend a taking a political taxi tour around Belfast so you can witness first-person experience on the effects of political turmoil.

Giant’s Causeway


After our time in Belfast, the next stop of the day was Giant’s Causeway. This natural phenomenon is also located in County Antrim.  The two hour to the site featured amazing scenery. Giant’s Causeway occurred about 50 to 60 millions years ago after volcano activity occurred in County Antrim.  Unfortunately, we had limited time to really explore the area.  I strongly suggest spending one full day to exploring the beauty that is Giant’s Causeway.

Giant’s Causeway was given its name to due to a legend.

“The two Giants hollered across the sea of Moyle, each demanding a trial of strength. This was agreed, and hospitable Finn offered to make the contest possible by building a rocky causeway between the two countries. But to do this he needed some helpers…

… But across the sea in Scotland there was a rival giant called Benandonner.

The two Giants hollered across the sea of Moyle, each demanding a trial of strength. This was agreed, and hospitable Finn offered to make the contest possible by building a rocky causeway between the two countries. But to do this he needed some helpers…”  Source

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With my roommate Karissa

First Week in Dublin Sept 10- 15

As my first week in Ireland is winding down, I’m reflecting on the experience I’m having so far on what seems to be the longest week. Surprisingly, I haven’t felt too homesick. I do miss my family, boyfriend and friends very much. Nonetheless, my dream of studying abroad is finally coming true. I will be taking full advantage of this wonderful experience


IPA is a school of University College of Dublin (UCD)

Tuesday: In the morning, I arrived in Dublin with my future roommate and we headed to the IPA. We met Michael, our programme director, and our classmates. Afterwards the director took us out for my first Irish meal. Then, Karissa and I departed to our home stay in Dalkey. It is a beautiful neighborhood right outside of Dublin. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel homesick.


The home of Dublin’s mayor


The River Liffey separates the north side and south side of Dublin

Wednesday: Orientation week continued. After class, Michael became our guide during a bus tour around Dublin. I really got to see the city centre. Afterwards, my new friends and I decided to get a pint at a nearby pub.


A Dublin Street


Making new friends and meeting new people

Thursday/Friday: Both days were spent doing similar things, After class, some of my classmates and I headed to Grafton Street and explored more of the city centre. Later, we met with a few of our classmates and spent the night exploring Dublin’s night life.


Amazing view from Killiney Hill


Like Find Home on Facebook

Saturday: Two of my friends and I explored Dalkey where we encountered “Find Home” an two acoustic Irish musicians. After their wonderful performance, we hiked to Killiney Hill where we witnessed a beautiful, breathtaking view.


Mackelmore’s Aftershow at The Academy

Saturday night was spent with my new friends at the Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis Aftershow at the Academy. It was such an electrifying and fun show.

Sunday: I attended my very first European Catholic mass with my homestay dad. I spent the rest of the rainy day relaxing, reflecting on my week and writing my first study abroad essay.

The Introduction to The Dublin Diaries

My quest to seeking adventure has led me to study abroad in Dublin for the Fall semester. Thus, the beginning of a new chapter, “The Dublin Diaries”.

The River Liffey divides the city into the Northside and the Southside

The River Liffey divides the city into the Northside and the Southside

Even now on my second day in this city, it feel very surreal. I am actually across the ocean, in Ireland, alone. Well technically not alone. I traveled here through a study abroad program in my college. I’ve never traveled alone. I’ve never been on a plane by myself especially for over 7 hours. I’ve never been away from home for more than a month much less 3.5 months. This whole summer I’ve been nervous about my trip. I’m a planner. I need to have information and specifics to be able to relax. Unfortunately, my school’s program wasn’t specific on any part of the program. I had to do intensive online and personal research to feel somewhat at peace about leaving abroad with so little knowledge of what will occur upon arrival. Luckily, it is all working out.  As I write, I am in my bedroom looking out my massive window to the streets of Dublin. Since Ireland is a small country, I hope to travel to as many places as possible. I want experience the present life of a common person. I want to immerse myself in the history of Ireland to better understanding of the present. I want to explore my self-identity and conquer my fears. And I’ll write about my experiences accomplish these personal and physical missions.

*To learn get more encouraging words, advice and information on studying abroad check out my Pinterest board.