Ways Paris Changed Me

Ways Paris Changed Me

It was the first foreign country I spent a long time in.

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It has been a common phrase heard time and time again that "romantic" cities- London, Paris, Rome, Krakow, Prague "capture" the hearts of young starry-eyed people from the Americas.


1. I practice my language and words more carefully. 

In French class, I always heard my accent was perfect and I didn't need to practice. It was shocking when I was in Paris people would switch to English upon hearing my native accent (which I thought was non-existant) Somebody can never totally hide their native accent, but I did try to make it so I was more understandable whenever I spoke French.

2. I eat slower.

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Back in my homeland mealtimes are usually hurried, but in France I learned that eating is an art- and I would appreciate the beauty of how the meal is set up, and take longer upon eating it.

3. I pay more attention to fashion.

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Of course, every day Parisians do at times wear casual clothes. There is something to be said about dressing business casual even when you do not need to, putting together your outfit and dressing for success helps you feel good about yourself and to dress for success. Everything down to the shoes you wear makes a statement- and you should own that statement.

4. I read more in French.

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The more you stay immersed in a language the better you get. The secret to French fluency was much more than just casual conversations with storekeepers. I had to think in French, so consequently this led to me listening to music in French, reading as much as I could in French, having my phone in French and keeping immersion up at all times

5. France is "my heart."

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as cliche as it is, there is something about the first foreign country you spend an extended period of time in. You make it your home, and it has a special place in your heart. I love every country of the world, but France has a special place for me- it was the first foreign country I lived in, it was the first place I immersed myself in a new language (that I studied for two years but this was the "big test") it was where I made friends, and learned much about French history and another culture. It always will be a special place for me. It is not perfect, no country is perfect- but it will forever have a special place in my heart.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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10 Reasons You Need To Visit 'Mickey: The True Original' Exhibition Before It's Too Late

Regardless if you're a die-hard Disney fan or not, this is a pop-up you don't want to miss!

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Mickey Mouse has been an icon that shaped everyone's childhood. Walt Disney created a franchise that would last forever and changed the history of animation. In celebration of Mickey Mouse's 90th birthday, this exhibition was created with the help of dozens of artists. Last weekend with some friends I unleashed my inner kid and had the best time at the exhibit. Now I'm giving you a list of reasons why it's a must-see before it closes on February 10th!

1. Nostalgia

Whether it's before your time or not, I think everyone will love and appreciate this recreation of the 1990's Mickey Mouse Club set. There's a jukebox that plays Mickey's very own anniversary playlist and it's also available on Apple Music. Each room is chock full of old memories and as you make your trip through all of them, they will definitely bring up a feeling of nostalgia.

2. Hidden Mickeys

We all know about the subtle Mickey representations that are inserted into the Disney films and theme parks. In the exhibition itself, there are 22 hidden Mickeys total, and I just gave one away for you guys. It's a fun, competitive game to play with your friends, and a great way to get involved with your surroundings. Good luck with your search and if you're stuck, the staff gives us Mouseketeers helpful hints.

3. Game show

As you end your journey, the last thing you can do before entering the gift shop is participate in Mickey's game show. You're separated into teams and asked trivia questions about Mickey Mouse and his pals: Minnie, Goofy, Daisy, and Donald. This was their special way of demoing the game that you're also able to play at home. You're also given a cute pin at the end, so make sure you go inside!

4. Photo ops

Every pop-up has good photo ops, but "Mickey's True Original" has aesthetic shots everywhere. How could you NOT expect me to reenact the Titanic on the steamboat — I mean, come on, it was the perfect opportunity no matter how cliché. I may have also made a boomerang of me imitating Mickey in Steamboat Willie, sue me.

5. Free ice cream

When you first enter the Mickey Mouse Club, you're offered complimentary tastings of Ample Hills Creamery's Disney Mickey Mouse Collection ice cream flavors. I recommend the Triple Chocolate Surprise because it has Mickey-shaped white chocolate pieces filled with fudge that were to die for!

6. The art

We can't forget the whole purpose and focus of the exhibition — the art! Mickey had a global impact on art and pop culture, and the dozens of contemporary artists that showed off their original work paid homage to that legacy and inspiration. This piece by the Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami is my favorite from the exhibit, and I advise you to take a closer look at it in person.

7. The history

We learn a lot about the history and evolution of Mickey Mouse throughout the visit, but in the last room, "The Collection," you get to witness it in its entirety. There's Mickey Mouse: watches, sleds, bicycles, bags, toy cars, figurines, dolls, clothing, games, shoes, and so much more. You truly get the sense of how big and influential Mickey was and as Walt Disney said, "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse."

8. Special Saturdays

Every other Saturday Mickey Funko Pops and pin sets are revealed and sold. As the description says, you'll want to come early because supplies are limited! To give you another piece of inside information, if you have a Disney Visa debit card, you can receive four complimentary special-edition commemorative Mickey prints from the store!

9. Customize your own shirt/sweater

No, not this giant t-shirt — although this would be a cool take on the oversized trend! At the end of your visit, you have the option to make your own t-shirt or sweater. The prices vary by size and additions. You get one print free but each patch and additional print costs you extra. What better way to end your trip and remember it than by creating your own unique Mickey attire?

10.  Cosmic Cavern

If all my other suggestions didn't motivate you to buy your tickets ASAP, maybe this last one will. I think I can speak for all the exhibit-goers by saying Cosmic Cavern is by far THE coolest room in the entire exhibition. Don't get me wrong, each room is special to me and Fantasia is close to my heart, but Cosmic Cavern was a trip. With music blasting and neon Mickeys everywhere, I felt like I was in a psychedelic dream.

I fully enjoyed my time there and I know you will as well if you go. It was well worth the money spent and if I could go back 100 times, I would.

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