Oxford, a year in the life: Spring

I’m not going to lie, Spring in Oxford is all a bit of a blur now. Between coursework deadlines, revisions and finals, it’s hard to remember anything else that happened. Usually I can tell when going over my photos and looking back at moments I’ve captured but this Spring has been pretty skimmed. So this is it:

There was the shoot we did for the Oxford Women International Society where a few of us wore the traditional dresses of our respective cultures.

There were many pre-library breakfasts at the Missing Bean.

There was a lot of #wisteriahysteria.

Basically, I tried, whenever I could, to get shots of beautiful Oxford and its colleges in between revision tutorials, and library sessions to have something to remember this Spring by other than work.

More Nice on film

Something stupid happened: I dropped my Pentax (not from very high) on the carpet of my room. It works fine but the fall managed to disconnect the ISO/shutter speed button and the lightmeter meaning there was no way for me to know if my photos were properly exposed. So during my short stay in Nice, well I just had to wing it. The few pictures I had the courage to take didn’t come out too bad, so here there are !

I hope the bright blue of both the sea and the sky give you a sense of how lovely it feels to walk along the pebble beach and breathe the fresh air of the Mediterranean. I never get tired of it.

Oxford, a year in the life: Winter

First of all, I would like to apologise for my long absence on the blog these last couple of months… I’ve been so busy with my studies at Oxford this term, I haven’t been able to sit down and think about content for the blog. But rest assured, I’ve still been taking photos and travelling dans la mesure du possible, so I still have stories to share with you.

This last term at Oxford has actually been one of my favourites so far. I had more important work to submit  which will count towards my degree, but much less small deadlines every week which means I was able to organise my time freely, and work continuously while actually managing a balanced life. Something I would have thought impossible the previous term.

This morning my mom told me she thought this winter had been particularly long and tough. But in hindsight, I find all winters are long and tough. Having lived between the Tropics for a good chunk of our lives, my family and I are not really made for the weather in England, so we find things which make us cope. Personally, what has helped me survive the cold, the rain and the wind in January and February was making new friends, finding shelter in Oxford’s cosy coffee shops, and going on long walks in Port Meadow when the sun dared to show its nose.

So I bring you some of my film photographs from the last winter I’ll ever spend in Oxford (I think).

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Taking 2017 head on

I’m jumping on the “end of the year-happy new year” bandwagon a bit late but believe it or not I was busy spending quality times with loved ones. And eating. Of course.

2016 is over… It is a relief for many who want to see the new year in an optimistic light. I really want to be optimistic too. But truth be told, I’m tired. And nostalgic.

The year 2016 will go down in History as the year of Brexit, the absurd election of a 70 year old child. The year horror went on in Syria and the year horror crashed our shelters.

And yet, I look back on 2016 wondering what I can do in my life to make myself as happy as I was then. Because yes, 2016 was the happiest years of my life. I enjoyed every second of my life in Paris where I made the most movie-like memories, finding a direction thanks to an invaluable internship at Le Fooding, encountered the most interesting people from chefs to writers and photographers. After 4 years of long distance relationship, Julien finally moved back on the same continent as me, and so did many of my best friends who had chosen to study so far away.

I never travelled as much as I did in 2016. Visiting my family in Vietnam after being gone for over 4 years, exploring more of France, crossing the Atlantic ocean one last time to see my loving boyfriend in DC and discovering more of the East Coast. I explored Italy with my two best friends. I saw tulips in Amsterdam and ate Pasteis de Nata in Portugal. I travelled back and forth on the Eurostar between my adoptive and my favourite cities. Jumped on a train to Cambridge to finally understand what all that Oxbridge rivalry was about…

2016 was a dream.

I had to wake up.

And in October, reality’s alarm clock rang. It rang loud. It rang hard. It kicked me in the butt so bad I had to battle with my body to at least make it through Oxford’s dreaded return-of-the-year-abroad term. Since then, I’ve just been tired. And in my worst breakdowns, I wondered where it all went. The restful nights of sleep, the super active days bursting with energy, the free time to meet up with friends, the exciting walks with camera in hand, simply smiling for no reason. It was so easy to have it all when I lived in Paris for some reason.

And I realise I can have it in London, even in Oxford ! It’s going to take more work. But I need to make it happen.  I can’t sob in the staircase anymore, hoping it will all magically come back. It won’t. I have to make it happen. Or I won’t make it till July 22nd. The day I finally graduate. And leave Oxford student life with its best and its worst behind.

I don’t think I’m bad at balancing work and life. But my body is. It let me go 2 months ago and I’m still dealing with the remains of whatever that shitty virus did to me. I need to gain back control over my body, and thus over my life. I need the energy that fitness and wholesome eating used to  bring me in order to fight the stress exams will bring upon the next 6 months. And then deal with the abyss of the question: “What next?”.

But one challenge at a time. The finish line is mid-June, the day I jump in that river covered in confetti after I complete my very last exam.

Whether 2016 was a great or horrible for you, let’s make sure 2017 is a good one and let’s do so by taking control over it and all the things in our lives that try to step in our way.

Happy New Year everyone !!

Instead of one picture, I thought I’d share now some of a little review of the highlights of 2016 as seen on the blog.

Kicking off 2016 with some cold winter Paris

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My trip to Vietnam

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Many water colour Promenades sur Seine
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Exploring Bordeaux

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Exploring Nantes

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Eating the world’s best cupcakes in Georgetown with my other half

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Discovering Philly

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Falling in love with Venice

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Missing a train to Florence !

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Walking 20k steps daily in Rome

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Amsterdam during tulip season

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Seeing some castles outside of Paris: Sceaux

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Watching the best sunsets from my dear friends’, Maia and Andrew, flat before discussing Game of Thrones

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Les eaux nocturnes de Versailles

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Landing a job at Le Fooding

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Visiting the most beautiful French castle: Vaux le Vicomte

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Time travelling in Paris during La Traversée

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I said goodbye to this daily view

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Hello Portugal !

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Cambridge, finally !

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My Pentax K1000 thanks mother nature for blessing us with beautiful seasons

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Landing back in Paris where this incredible year started

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Instagram friendships

As people are more and more opened to online dating and it becomes mainstream to have met your other half on Tinder, the internet has become a favourable space for relationships to start, including friendships.

How do you make friends on Instagram ? 

People often ask me: “did you just message that instagrammer ?” And the answer is usually: Yes !

Remember that behind the Instagram feed you follow is a real person. It turns out, you go to the same cafés, walk around the same neighbourhoods, eat the same food and have the same interest in books or photography. They follow you back, you like each other’s photos all the time and sometimes even leave a comment. It seems you’re bound to bump into one another so why not take charge instead of hoping fate will do the trick ? It’s really worth dropping a private message, letting them know you’d appreciate meeting them in person. And who knows, you’ll really hit it off and will become great friends ! I’ve been lucky enough to experience this many times and truth be said, it’s harder to build a true or deep relationship with someone you’ve only ever interacted virtually. I am more likely to open up about feelings and personal things over coffee than in a private message; the things I don’t mention in my captions because they’re not “Instagram pretty”. Social media is a great way to start and to connect, but at the end of the day reality is the real deal. Your phone is a great tool, social media, the internet and apps are great means to feel informed, connected, part of a community, but nothing beats a 2 hour conversation in the corner of a café.

Sometimes things won’t always click with the person, but that’s fine. You gave it a shot.

Sometimes people won’t answer your messages. It can be hard, it’s true it does take some guts to reach out to someone. Account with thousands of subscribers probably get 20 messages a day and to be frank some of them can snob you if you’re not as “Instagram famous” as them. You’re probably not missing out on the best friendship of all times in this case.

Sometimes people will be super nice and friendly. I really got that feel when the @seemyparis organised an Instagram walk around Montmartre this summer. I had one of the best evenings, meeting many people I had been following for ages, exchanging with them, sharing stories, discovering many common interests. I think it was the first time I realised Instars could be “real” people. Inspiring, friendly and approachable people. I think it’s the best thing about Instagram – despite all its flaws, it’s a wonderful platform for connecting.

Thank you to all the wonderful people I have met thanks to social media who make me smile on a daily basis with their creativity and humour and to all the people who have become my friends. It’s not the numbers and stats, but you that give my “Instagram existence” a meaning.

Lots of love,

Signed: Pauline

 

Some photos taken from the #walkmyparis walk <3

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