I need your opinion!

I’ve decided to submit photos to my school’s foreign language department photo contest, the problem is, I can only submit two.  TWO!  The rules: photos must be my own (duh?) and of a foreign country.  Let me know which two are your favorite by leaving the corresponding numbers in the comments section!  Also, I’m not a professional, so if you are a professional- I am always open to critique!  Here goes…

1.  The gardens in Monaco

 

2. Cute couple in Cullera, Spain

 

3. Walking back from the Forum in Rome, Italy

 

4. Tuscan Vineyards from San Gimignano, Italy

 

5. View from the Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

 

On a different note (if anyone had the patience to scroll down this far):  I am planning on starting a regular posting schedule soon.  Mad-for Mondays, How-to Tuesdays and Fashionably late Fridays are in the making!  Hope you had a magical Monday!

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Postcards for Papere

(Thank you to Halley :-) for giving me the answer!)

Almost exactly one year ago I made the craziest spontaneous decision: I was fed up with the monotony of my life. School, Work, Study. Bed. School. Work… I decided to drain my bank account and book a flight to Spain with my best friends for the coming July.  (I only have fun when I leave the country and I work hard while I’m here, why shouldn’t I?)

Summer came, July came, I finished vacation shopping, less than a week until departure, and then I got the phone call.  I was on lunch break at work.  Nana had had a terrible stroke, she was being violent toward the nurses out of confusion so they sedated her and moved her into Boston.  She might qualify for surgery when she wakes up.

However, when I was finally allowed to visit her, the reality of it was revealed to be less hopeful. Throughout my Nana’s stay my Papere was distraught, beside himself. But there was one moment of happiness, one enjoyable moment for him:  one day my Nana’s respiratory nurse came in, did his thing, said something to us that I can’t remember and then left the room.  My Papere looked at us, excited, and said, “Did you hear that!?”, “Hear what?” we asked.  “Did he have a French accent?”  And with that he was off in the hallway chasing the nurse.  “Parlez-vous Francais?” I heard him say “Oui” replied the nurse and they laughed and chattered away.

“You have to go” my aunts and uncles told me.  I knew I did, but the morning of my flight I knew what that would mean.  I almost didn’t leave her that day.  I spent the whole day with her, I took the 5:50 AM train into Boston and spent every second by her side, telling her about all the food I was going to eat, and all the pictures I was going to take for her.

When I came back my mom was at the airport.  She hadn’t been told when my flight was landing, I had a ride planned with my friend’s parents and then I would call her.  I knew something was up.  And then there was the emerald ring on my mom’s hand.  The ring that wasn’t hers.

We visited my Nana’s grave on our way home.  Seeing my Papere was the hardest, he was playing cribbage with my dad on the patio in the backyard.  Everyone cried.

After that I wanted to make sure my Papere still had good things to look forward to and fill his days.  One day during lunch with him I asked him if he liked speaking French or English better.  French was his first language so it must come more naturally, but he has only spoken English for so long because so few people in America speak French.  He said he enjoys speaking French but he doesn’t mind English because that’s what we all speak, his family.  That wasn’t a good enough answer so to gauge his thoughts a little better I asked it a little differently: “So when you dream, is it in French or English?”  And he laughed at me!  I was serious!  But it was great to see him laugh. (He didn’t know the answer, dreams can be hard to remember).

This led me to ask him about his travels, both with my Nana and without,  I asked if he had ever been to France: “No, but I would love to go! I’ve always meant to go!”

AHA!

And there it was.  I had to send my Papere to France.  But I had just spent all my money on Spain.  It had taken me two years to save up that much money. And I’m a college student…

That’s where YOU come in!

ANYONE living in, or visiting France: if you are willing to give me some of your time; give my Papere some of your time, send him a postcard!  Include a picture of something important to you and write your favorite thing about France.  Your favorite food, your favorite event, favorite person, thing to do, place to visit, etc.  (In French, if possible).

Realize that in doing this, you are spreading happiness in such a simple way!

If you would in any way be interested in participating in this act of love then please comment!  I’ll update you with a P.O. Box to send postcards to.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

xo Jenn

A magical St. Patrick’s Day

Two years ago, I was drinking beer in Nice, France after a perfect day of shopping/photo shooting in Monaco.  It was my first real travel experience and it was perfect.

I was on a tour arranged by the university I attended through eftours (which I highly recommend to everyone).  We started in Italy, spending most of our time in Rome and Florence with many day trips to smaller areas in the Tuscan region and stopping in Pisa on our way to the French Riviera.  The whole trip was life changing.  I had just taken a semester of Italian so I could communicate with locals pretty easily.  If I made a silly mistake it didn’t matter: Italian men love American girls, and the women just loved me for trying!  It was nice to be appreciated for something I wasn’t even that good at.  But then again, there’s so much to appreciate in Italy that it must be contagious, flooding into and enveloping all areas of everyone’s lives.

In France, the first day was hard for my friends and me.  We’re used to American portions, which are comparable to Italian portions, but monstrous compared to French portions! (I know, you’re all so surprised, right?).  I just remember thinking to myself after our first day “No wonder French girls are so skinny! This is like starvation!”.

So when St. Patrick’s Day arrived it was our salvation.  The Irish pubs seemed to glitter amongst the little French restaurants, with their celebratory, English-translated advertisements for “St. Paddy’s day ladies night”. One look at the menu and my mouth was watering.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE FRANCE and all it has to offer!  But sometimes a girl just needs a cheeseburger to get her through a day of museums and tourist-geared cultural experiences.  So I sipped my Guinness and listened to terribly hilarious karaoke in Nice feeling more alive than I had felt, ever (and I don’t even like beer!).  This trip made me realize that I was exactly where I always imagined I would be.  And for a crazy, confused, lost, stressed out, scared out of my wits twenty-something girl, that was a great feeling.