Do I Regret Moving to France?

We might as well jump head first into the deep end. I don't like living in France.

I spent a few months denying this to myself. I told myself that I wasn't approaching the situation with the right attitude; that I wasn't giving the country and the city I live in a chance. I wrote during study abroad about choosing happiness after all, and I fully believe that a shift in perspective can help you leaps and bounds. But it's been a year now and my opinion on the matter hasn't changed much.

Let's get real. France is a gorgeous country. Stars dance across my eyes when I take a trip and see the variety of landscapes that the country has to offer. But ask me to dodge human pee and dog poop every time I walk outside, or stand for 30 minutes in the rain waiting outside the Prefecture for the 3rd time in a month in hopes that they might be done with my residence card (that I applied for a year ago), or listen to my racist landlord who condescendingly corrects every french noun that I use the wrong article for... and you could say I'm over it.

Of course there are cultural differences at hand. People like to think the rules don't apply to them here and drive mopeds on busy sidewalks, exploit labor laws, and pass responsibility on to others when you're just trying to ask for help. There's less individualism, meaning less competition between peers. And yet I'm an avid fan of rules, and it's still hard for me to wrap my head around someone NOT wanting to be the best at what they do or the hardest worker.

But just because I can respect the culture, doesn't mean I have to enjoy it or like it. And that's just the thing.

Living in France is not for me.

Do I regret moving here? Absolutely not. If I hadn't packed my bags and two cats to come here, I would have spent the rest of my life wondering what would have been. I'd be living, breathing, and sleeping with rose-tinted glasses about a life I never got to live.

But I've done it now and marked a huge thing off my bucket list. 

Is this somewhere I can see myself spending the rest of my life? Naw man, I'm good.

Life As I Know It

Two happy (and cool) cats at Park Guell, during our trip to Barcelona in February.

Boom! And just like that, the first 3 months of 2017 are in the bag.

But I’ve been a little silent on here. Shocker, I know. Despite this, I wanted to give everyone an update on what’s to come in the next few months. It’s major and I wake up pumped and motivated every day just thinking about it. It makes me wiggle my toes, shake my booty, and bob my head to the music.

You know why?

Because we’re going on a road trip!

That’s right party people! In just a few weeks, we’re hitting the roads and circling the roundabouts as we weave our way from Saint-Etienne through the South of France. Ever since I arrived in Aix and saw the lavender bunches one block from my school, I’ve been dying to see the fields where they come from with my own eyes. (I was a few months too late last time around!). And carpe diem, right? We won’t be in Europe next summer, so we’ve decided to make the most of our summer here.

Here’s a rough outline of the places we want to visit:

  • Valence
  • Orange
  • Avignon
  • Lavender Fields
  • Roussillon
  • Aix-en-Provence
  • Marseille
  • St. Tropez
  • Cannes
  • Nice
  • Monaco
  • Gorges du Verdon

After our southern adventure, we’ll head back to Sainte to (hopefully) meet some family here before we each make our respective voyages back to the USA. I’ll be heading back for around a month in July to gorge myself on hot Cheetos, tacos, Sonic, peanut butter, and any other trendy food I can get my greasy hands on. I’ll be visiting friends and family too…. But FOOD.

And that’s it! A summer full of sunshine and new destinations.

And of course, I’ve gotta give you a general life update.

So far, I’m finally starting to shed my homesickness and culture shock. I’ve found a rhythm to my daily life, and I feeling less and less discontent. I think this must also be a side effect of better weather recently, as well. I’m no longer bundling up in a shirt, blazer, scarf, coat, and snow boots every time I leave the house. And my daily commute by foot and bus just feels a lot more enjoyable!

We also totally lucked out by being in Saint-Etienne during the Biennale for the Cité du Design. It’s a month-long celebration of art and design hosted by the city. And the place comes to life! It’s so refreshing to see new installations fill the city, not just around the Cite du Design, but stretching to even further destinations. Despite the rain this week, we’re going to visit a few of the expositions. I’ve wanted to go for the past few weeks, but since everyone was preparing for finals, there wasn’t much time to spare.

And yes, I said finals. Today was Austin’s last day of exams for the semester. He still has a few projects left to complete, but his classes are finished… in March. I know! Crazy.

Well, that’s about it!

I will be documenting all of our adventures on YouTube, so make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing ❤.

Free VSCoCam Presets for Lightroom

The Nate Photographic VSCO Cam presets for Lightroom. 

If you LOVE editing your photos in VSCoCam, I have good news...

So many photographers love to talk about their workflow. "Here's my system that rocks and why you should use it!" But since I started taking photos in 2012, my editing process has done a total 180. More than half of the time now, I don't even edit my photos on the computer.

I picked up the Sony a6000 about a year ago. This lil' baby is perfect for travel lovers because you can send your photos straight to your phone by wifi, which means instant sharing. Score! But it also means I rarely edit my photos in Lightroom on my computer anymore. Most times, a photo goes straight to my phone, gets edited in VSCoCam and Snapseed, then makes it way to Instagram. 

My go-to preset in the VSCoCam app is A6. I've tried finding a similar preset from Mastin, and I even bought a few VSCo packs, but I just couldn't get it right.

Last week, I found some awesome presets designed by Nate Photographic, that emulate the VSCoCam ones that we all know and love, to a T. Best of all... the presets are FREE!

If you're like me and addicted to the app, but unable to find something similar for Lightroom or ACR, head over to his site and get the presets today!

*This post is in no way sponsored, I just seriously love these babies. Photos were taken at the Union Train Station in Denver.

New Year's Resolutions for 2017


A lot has changed since my last blog post...

I visited New Orleans and Puerto Rico, Iquit my job in Oklahoma, I moved to France, I started teaching, and fast-forward to now and it's already 2017! This past year evolved into something I never could have expected. I had always dreamed of one day moving back to France, but I figured it would be something that happened in 10 years or so. But look at me now, living my dream.

But 2016 really taught me that what is projected to others and your expectations of an experience, don't always match reality. From the outside looking in, I had an amazing year filled with experiences that many could only dream of. But what I didn't share were the struggles. I was unhappy at my job in Oklahoma and this really affected my overall life. I was constantly stressed and I found myself taking this stress and frustration out on the people in my personal life. When I learned we would be moving to France, I thought a new environment and a new career would be the answer to my unhappiness. SHOCKER... it wasn't. 

From the beginning of the process, I faced a lot of difficulties; my initial visa request was rejected 2 weeks before we were supposed to leave, I arrived in France and we spent three weeks in a hotel trying to find an apartment and get a bank account, I found out that I couldn't work with my visa until I went to the Prefecture, it took 4 months of going to the Prefecture to get my recepisse... I could go on, but I'll spare you.

Instead of France being the answer to my problems, I found I was having stronger and more frequent anxiety attacks than I have had in quite a few years. I began to question if moving was the right decision, which led me to question everything else, like whether I would ever find a career that would make me happy.

I don't want to go on too long, but 2016 really was a mixed bag of chips! This leads into many of my goals for 2017, because each is centered on a problem or a struggle I experienced in 2016.

Below, I'm going to lay out my big plans for the big new year! 

1. Content Machine

My first resolution is to really dedicate myself to achieving my goal of being an instagram model. JUST KIDDING! But I do want to dedicate more time and energy to growing my presence on social media this year. The connection that social media allows and the ability to flex my creative muscles brings me so much joy! I want to truly dedicate myself to creating and sharing more content with you all in 2017. In addition, I would really love to earn at least 50% of my income from content creation in 2018. So, to make this happen I need to build my online presence AND I need to consistently produce good work.

2. New Life

Moving to another country is a way more difficult than I thought it would be. In 2017, I want to find my peace with France. I have been missing the USA so much, and because of this, I've focused on a lot of the things that make me unhappy in France. But this year, I want to make France my new home. I want to feel settled and comfortable being here, just like I did in Oklahoma.

3. Reduce Distractions

I spend way too much time on social media, and it's negatively effecting my productivity. If I really want to be a content machine, then I need to use social media in a more intentional manner. My third new year's resolution is to reduce the time I spend scrolling online to just 1.5 hours a day. Wish me luck... I'm going to need it!

4. Less Perfection, More Action

My final new year's resolution is to spend less time worrying about perfection. So often, I find myself trapped and unable to finish things because they "aren't good enough". I must waste so much time each week trying to attain perfection! In 2017, I want to give myself a break and shift my attention to finishing projects. 

Tell me your resolutions for the new year in the comments below!