trés belle

My program in Paris has come to an end. Not to say that my time here is over-- I will be spending 10 more days in Europe, both in Interlaken, Switzerland and Paris. But there's no denying the fact that I will miss hanging out with 40 other kids my age, two absolutely fantastic TAs, and one incredibly generous and loving professor. 

Our last night spent together in Paris was, coincidentally, on Bastille Day (French Independence Day). This was, of course, entirely on purpose (thanks Teo!). Sitting on the Champs de Mars while munching on baguettes and goat cheese and laughing with friends was surreal. It almost feels like high school graduation... Except we haven't really completed anything academically (the take-home final is due in September, hehe) and we'll see each other back at UCLA. 

Before I get incredibly nostalgic, let me just say that while the city of Paris is breathtaking and intriguing, it was the experience of developing friendships with such an incredibly unique, hilarious, and compassionate group of people that will always stay with me. The Lord blessed me beyond belief on this trip and I'm so excited to see how He continues to use what He's taught me these last few weeks in the future! For those of you who kept me and my class in your prayers, I am both humbled and grateful for your diligence. I have never felt the prayers of my brothers and sisters in-Christ as much as I did on this trip! 


Last few days

Best meal of the trip thus far: Entrée



Mini Cooper... LOVE
They're everywhere!


Cooking with Class

For those of you who know me even just a little, you know I like to cook. I consider cookbooks to be totally legitimate bed-time reading material. I could happily spend several hours in any kitchen supply store. And I often wish it was culturally acceptable to spend more money on food than clothes. 

Despite my love for the culinary arts, I don't plan on turning this passion into a career anytime soon. I have so much respect for professional chefs (or even people who survive culinary school in the first place), but the long evening hours, constant shouting from perfectionist chefs, and overall high stress is too much of a contrast from my home kitchen for my liking. 

Long before coming to Paris, I knew I simply could NOT spend four weeks here without going to a cooking class (all made possible by the generosity of my sister!). And so yesterday, after many weeks of anticipation, I set off with my friend Christine for the Morning Market class (one of the many classes offered at Cooking with Class). It was at the Jules Joffrin metro station that we met the cutest chef, Constance (I knew I'd like her from the moment I saw her wearing a Levi's jean jacket and cheetah-print loafers), who proceeded to take us from one shop to the next where we bought the meat, cheese, bread, fish, and produce needed for our three-course lunch (dejeuner as they say here, hehe). Constance paused inside each shop to tell us about the importance of each food item in French culture and cuisine, how to pick out the best product, and the background on how certain things are made or processed. (This was especially true for our visit to the fromagerie-- I've never learned SO much about cheese!) Yes, I was that kid with a notebook and pen furiously recording every fact our chef shared with our class (only six of us, actually). 

Fish market where we bought mackerel for our entrée
Constance explaining all of those delicious cheeses
Right side, top to bottom: Seared mackerel with eggplant, tomato, and olive caponata with pine nuts; duck breast with meat sauce, roasted rosemary peaches, and French potatoes; vanilla bean ice cream with Greek olives (!),  pistachio cookie, and strawberries cooked in a balsamic reduction. 
Cooking buddies!
Constance was so helpful and patient with all of us (especially as I struggled to trim the fat off a finicky duck breast) and it was nice to just sit around and talk about the real France, not that touristy crap. Without a doubt this has been my favorite experience in Paris thus far and don't tell Teo, but I have a feeling it will stay my favorite. 

Can I just say for the millionth time I am SO glad God made food taste delicious?! 


Give me some green

Day 8 in Paris! To tell you the truth, I feel like I've been here for much longer, though my French does not reflect that feeling in the least. Of course, in God's humor, the first place I go abroad would be to a country whose language I have absolutely NO previous exposure to. (Hebrew in Israel? Spanish in Spain? English in the UK? Nope, nope, and nope.) Let's just say I'm constantly humbled by my lack of language skills here in the grand old city of Paris. 

Today was one of the highlights of my stay so far because we went outside Paris! We took the last stop of the metro to the Chateau de Vincennes and then ate lunch in the humongous park/forest right outside the castle, the Bois de Vincennes. I'm realizing more and more that while monuments, churches, museums, and boulevards are beautiful, birds, trees, lakes, and flowers never get old. I don't know how much of that is because of my childhood experiences of growing up with a woods in my backyard or mountains visible from every place in town, but the grey and browns of manmade structures were becoming exhausting. This longing for wide open spaces combined with the sun actually shining today (!) made today's stroll to the Bois de Vincennes and spontaneous boat ride such a blessing!


today's adventures

From top, clockwise: Luxembourg Gardens (favorite spot so far), the most delicious gyro around Saint Michel, a delicious and fancy dessert shop, and PEONIES!


Luxembourg, yet again

 the theme of my photo journal assignment-- clouds! 


Bonjour mon amis!

Here's where I am this very moment. Does the background look fake? It's totally understandable, it still doesn't feel real that I'm in Paris. Paris is kind of a big deal. I don't know of any other city that has so many iconic... Things. Museums, statues, bridges, food (macaroons, croissants, cheese, oh my!), music, fashion, etc. There has already been several times when I've been walking around and I have to literally say out loud, "Pam, you're in PARIS right now." Haha, it's surreal.

Getting here was quite the adventure (36 hours awake with only 3 hours of sleep?!), but the important thing is that, by God's grace, I made it to the right place at the right time. It would've been much worse without my three traveling buddies who were on the same flight as me, though my tendency to walk ahead and take charge earned me the name "Mama Pam" by the end of our traveling saga. There are worse things, I suppose....

Each day gets better as I become more accustomed to the language, street names, food, and metro system. I have used public transportation a handful of times over the years, but here the metro is a way of life. And it's really not scary like BART or screechingly loud like the NYC subway. Trying to speak a language you know nothing of is humbling, to put it mildly. Our neighborhood here in the 15th arondissement is off the beaten path of the touristy area, which makes it that much more important to make an effort to speak the language. I've found a cute little take-out lunch place right across the street from my hotel that I will certainly continue to go to over the next few weeks. I love the middle-aged woman who tells me how to say certain dishes in French. She's SO wonderfully patient. 

Strangely enough I'm not the biggest fan of Western European OR medieval history (of which this program is both), but experiencing a new place is making it completely worth it.

The Lord has been so gracious to me during these last few days. Thank you for the many prayers (they are SO evident), from the big stuff like having a heart for the people in my program to not feeling the effects of jet lag AT ALL. That, my friends, is a miracle in itself for this grandma. Praise the Lord! It's definitely a challenge not having my best friends, family, and phenomenal community around, but I have been so encouraged by Colossians 3 (thanks Suz!):

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ [who is] our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 
Colossians 3:3-4

So blessed to have a purpose that is beyond this life here on earth... Even if everything looks reallll beautiful right now :)

Some favorites from today!


Open hands

I've spent the last three hours of my life trying to find a career via Google. Here's a sample of some of my search entries:
"State Department internships"
"college grad dude ranch jobs"
"travel blog internships"
"flight attendant training"
"food publishing internships"
"Smith & Wesson careers"
"do park rangers carry guns"*

*okay, maybe that one wasn't the most relevant. But a tiny part of me wants to carry a firearm for my job. 

To be honest, I almost started to type "What if I just want to serve Jesus and have a job that I like" into my search engine, but then I realized...

Well, I just typed that in and one of the first results was an article about "How do I become a Catholic nun?"

Clearly this is not an effective way to map out my future. In fact, the very concept of mapping out my future is in itself flawed. The minute I think I can control my future is the minute I forget whose life this really is. This life is not my own.

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live shall no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf
[2 Corinthians 5:14-15]

I now live for Christ! His Spirit dwells in me. When the Father looks on me, He sees the blood of the Lamb-- perfection, completion. And how faithful has the Lord been in my life thus far? How faithful has He been in the lives of millions of people before me? In Abraham's life, when He provided a ram to take the place of Isaac on the altar; in Moses', when He used his staff to separate the Red Sea and bring the Israelites to safety; in Job's, when He spared his life and in the end blessed him far beyond any riches he had ever experienced. 

Lord, teach me how to live this life with open hands. I don't want to cling onto anything but You. You have graciously given me so many blessings in this life-- a loving family, precious friends, a world-class education, health, shelter, financial provisions... But too often I turn these things, that are good things in themselves, into idols. I find my identity, my assurance, my purpose in them instead of in the One who gave them to me in the first place.

I think about how I would react if You took away my friends. My family. My financial security. My health. Would I be destroyed? Would I love You just the same, if at all? Would I question Your goodness? Lord, may I only look to You to fulfill my every need. 

For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?
[Matthew 16:25-26]