Europe Taught Me…

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If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I’ve been, well, everywhere in the past few weeks. Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Nashville! Oh the glamour. If you’ve been to Nashville, you know glamour, amirite?

I am so fortunate to have a job that sends me all over the world, and not just because I love to travel. The experience of seeing new things and checking the box on a new country is, to me, secondary to the things you learn from people in other countries. For example, in France two weeks ago, I learned that even though my French is “making progress” (which is nice person code for “still pretty bad”) I am still nowhere near fluent enough to be ordering things unsupervised. Especially not cocktails. Some cocktails are delicious, while others may or may not taste like mushroom. What is a martini rouge? Still don’t know, and also do not recommend that you order one yourself. Unless you like your drinks like you like your mushrooms: mushroom-esque.

Key learning #1: stick with wine. This is just a life learning, really.

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The other (and probably more important) takeaway from this trip was around spontaneity. I’m a major planner and I love checking things off a list and getting shit done. I haven’t always been this way, but that’s what we’re working with now. Traveling with a colleague who is the complete opposite of that was a wonderful exercise in letting go of planning and fully embracing a wander mentality. Shall we hop on a train to Milan and wander with gelato in hand? Yes. Shall we hop on a train to Zurich and spend hours touching soft things in their opulent department stores? Yes. Would that have made a daily agenda item? No. Am I extremely delighted it happened? YES. Always make time to wander.

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Other things I learned:

. Swiss people are the nicest people in the world. Courteous, friendly, and kind. And with its big city amenities, college town energy, and alpine air, Zurich is the most perfect city in the world. I’m moving.

. Tina Turner also lives in Zurich. This newfound knowledge neither persuades nor dissuades me.

. Fondue makes a great lunch. And snack. And dinner.

. Do not buy the large bottles of interesting beer at the beginning of the day. Rookie move all the way.

. Italians are too cool for you. They are also too cool to explain things to you, so if you want that panini you gotta throw some ‘bows and yell at somebody until you get it. But seriously, jump in there.

. It pays to leave extra room in your carry-on to bring back chocolate.

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Have you been anywhere recently? What did you learn? DO TELL!

Stereotypes

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Had to laugh when I overheard these snippets in my class in Switzerland:

“The key to life is good footwear” – a French woman

“You can go pretty much everywhere on your bike, no?” – a Swiss woman

“Where did all the lunch go? I would like more of those sandwiches.” – a German woman

Fabulously French Friday

Last weekend, my sweet girlfriends came over for a Fabulously French Friday. Film, art and current affairs were debated, gossip and news were exchanged, the corks were popped and the joie de vivre was fizzing around the room.

Sometimes I look around and I bemoan our lack of grace. Americans run around in gym clothes with wet hair, in sweatshirts and sneakers, talking loudly and listening never. We talk with our mouths full, eat while we run, text while we wait, and are generally a bit impatient and more concerned with instant gratification than anything else. I’m as guilty as the next girl of so many of these, so French Friday was our little way of making space in our week to savor. To sip. To have conversation, good food, put down the iPhones and indulge in a little la vie en rose.

To throw your own French Friday, you’ll need:

1. Good quality chocolate, like Dagoba Organic.

2. Soft cheese, like brie or triple cream goat cheese.

3. A French film of your choice. Midnight in Paris, Amelie, Chocolat or Gigi, anyone?

4. A great champagne. Veuve du Vernay brut rose is my go-to.

5. Something that makes you feel comfortable and sexy at the same time. I’d live in black Lanvin flats, a swipe of red lipstick and a J. Crew stripey long-sleeved tee if I could. And, you know, some pants. Maybe.

Viva la France!