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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Graduation Day at the Sorbonne

A diploma! Well, a fake one, but it looks good!

Defending a thesis in Paris is anticlimactic at best. When I became a full-fledged doctor in December, I celebrated with sparkling wine and cupcakes (courtesy of my pal Cat), but it lacked the pomp of my university graduation from NYU.

Granted, those ceremonies took place at Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium – I couldn’t expect the same thing from the Sorbonne. But not even a cap or gown? Come on now.

This year, however, for the first time, several schools within the Université Sorbonne Paris Cité system got together to celebrate Paris’s newest doctors. (I was channeling some major Love Actually: “And it’s the first time all the local schools have joined together, even Saint Basil’s.”) The result was a very, very good showing for the Sorbonne. I was extremely proud to be a part of it, and I consider it a worthy send-off after five years.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Louis Vuitton in Paris for Under 15 Euros

Seen from the Jardin d'Acclimation...


I had very little interest in whatever was inside of it. When I hear the words “contemporary art” in Paris, I immediately lose interest. The Fondation Louis Vuitton, despite opening in late 2014, never made it to my list of priorities. Last week though, that finally changed.

I like being efficient, so when I had to go pick up a race bib for the Bois de Boulogne 10k, it seemed like the right time to check out this fancy Frank Gehry building. It’s located in the park, not far from the pick-up spot, so I planned my route.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Paris's Little-Known Cabinet of Curiosities

Oh...hello...

Eight-legged lambs? A two-headed cow? A baby mermaid? It may sound like some sort of freak show, but it’s actually just another day at a Parisian museum. 

The veterinary museum, the Musée Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire – also known as the Fragonad museum, but no, not the perfume one – has been on my list of things to do for a while. This month I finally visited it, and it was worth the trek.

Located towards the end of the metro line 8, the museum is just outside of Paris’s city limits in Maisons-Alfort. It began in 1766 as a way to educate the students in the veterinary school, and today, after renovations back in 2008, it’s one of the quirkiest and most interesting museums that Paris has to offer.

Monday, March 7, 2016

French Student Visa Perks

Check out that vintage early 2000s photo...
Many people come to France on a student visa, thinking it’s some sort of foot in the door to a fairy tale life in France. Well, that’s only half of the truth. Yes, getting a student visa gets your foot in the door, but it’s not a foolproof solution for staying in France beyond your first year. There is a healthy dose of effort involved. But the effort pays off, if my experience is any proof.

I was lucky that I already had a short-term job in Paris, so my visa procedure was a bit different at the embassy in Washington DC., where I had to apply. Still, the first time I came as an undergraduate student in 2006, I went through the consulate in New York. The part I don't remember ever having to do was creating an account with the Campus France service, which provides you essential papers for getting your visa. It's straightforward, but I hear it can be a little temperamental at times.

If you’re already here in France, maybe as an English teaching assistant, you can change your status if accepted to a school into a master’s program for example. And then once school starts, you’ll actually need to go to class (at least a little) to keep up appearances. Buy a file box, as well, to give all of your fancy paperwork a new home. It’s a solid investment.

Despite the hurdles, getting a student visa is a great start to a life in France, and there are definite  perks beyond obviously letting you live legally in the country. Let’s take a look.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Experiencing Paris through TripAdvisor

When Heather Stimmler-Hall published her recent article on Medium, it really made me think. I had been researching travel media for a while, including TripAdvisor, but it was refreshing to get someone else’s opinion on it.

I try to give the website the benefit of the doubt. Really. I still am trying. But after a lot of discussions, it’s clear, painfully, that TripAdvisor is really just a mess. A mess that once held promise, but that today is really kind of worthless.

Casual tourists don’t see it, however, since they don’t know a destination as intimately as those who live there. But if you know Paris at all, then a quick scan of TripAdvisor’s rankings will give you a good laugh. Here are some of my recent favorites.

Monday, February 15, 2016

One Hour and Ten Minutes from Paris


Off to the train station!

I love a good train. In the past few months, I’ve taken advantage of the French rail system for some fantastic day trips. I’ve written about them for various publications (like Thrillist and EuroCheapo), but it had been a while since I’d taken a proper cheap train ride outside of Paris. Orleans in 2014 was actually the last real day trip, or at least memorable one.

Over the past few months, I made it a mission to get out of the city. These three destinations were all perfect for a day of wandering and exploring, but I wouldn’t go too crazy trying to spend too much time. 

Plan on about one hour and ten minutes to get to each, but be sure to book a direct train. And pack an umbrella, because if you have my luck, you'll visit all of these places in the rain.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Paris Travel Writing Workshop Launches

Paris: Creating world-class writers for centuries...

My dad always told me that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. I assumed this to be a subtle jab at some high school teacher he didn’t like that much. When I decided to go into academia, with visions of being a university professor, I thought that this was my chance to surprise dad and prove him wrong.

I teach journalism at the Sorbonne to French students, but I still keep one foot in the profession, and I always have. I still write and publish for outlets, even if it’s not always hard-hitting political analysis. I’m in the loop. I’d like to think I practice what I preach, and, while I may overuse idioms at times, these professional experiences have been a touchstone of my academic career.

While 2016 holds a big old question mark for my future teaching prospects, I decided to take it into my own hands. I’ll be finished my teaching at the Sorbonne in May, but the educational adventures aren’t about to end. Along with perpetual running buddy and colleague Heather Stimmler-Hall, we’ll be offering our new "Travel Writing Workshop" to educate those who always tell us, “Your life sounds so amazing.”