Thursday, November 3, 2016

Monthly Rewind: October

The best way to keep up with my travels this semester (and the next!) is through Instagram where I post quite frequently! All my pictures do not make it to the blog, sadly, but feel free to follow me on Instagram!! 

3 Things About My Life This Month 

Hydra, Greece
1. I did a LOT of traveling. It didn't feel like a lot, but in retrospect, I visited cities in five different countries! I went to Greece to visit my aunt and cousins who I've never met, but I adored my trip since I got to spend so much time in Athens as well as on a cruise visiting three different Greek islands, of which Hydra was my favorite. I was in Lyon, France for a weekend--the third largest city in France--and it was beautiful! Like Paris, it's surrounded by rivers and the old cobblestone streets, bridges lit up at night, and delicacies in all the windows made me fall in love. I also went to Barcelona, Spain for a weekend and was shocked by how much I loved it! Some of my favorite meals since arriving in Europe were had on this trip and the city, such a mish-mosh of modern and funky architecture, stole my heart. I must, I must, I must return.
Lyon, France
Lastly, I went to Italy with my mom, stopping by Venice for a day before heading south to Rome, Naples, and the smallest country in the world, Vatican City. I desperately fell for Venice, but I do have to admit that Rome took awhile to grow on me. The city wasn't as tourist-friendly as I imagined, with very few people knowing any English at all, and without an efficient metro system, my mom and I were clocking anywhere from 12-15 miles a day. It was exhausting. By the end, though, I think I did grow slightly fond of Rome but I doubt I'll be returning. Italy, though, I plan to visit again--probably with an Italian-speaker if I can, next time.

Venice, Italy
2. I've been restless, lately. I know this sounds bizarre, considering all the traveling I've been doing, but I feel as if I'm not doing enough; not using this time to its maximum ability. I think it's just a general feeling of anxiety that I'm not doing my study abroad the "right" way, but there is no "right" or "wrong" way to study abroad and I've been slowly coming to terms with that. Alternatively, it could just be that I've got the travel bug and after two decades of essentially never traveling, I'm now obsessed. I constantly want to go, go, go and just jet off to a different city, a different country. I hope I can find more meaningful ways to just enjoy the present, too, because--hey!--Provence is a pretty sweet place to be.

Pizza making class in Rome!
3. My traveling has given me a new appreciation for my life in Aix, this semester. I hadn't realized how much I'd come to rely on fresh croissants for breakfast or a crepe stand at every corner until I left the country. I've become so comfortable using French that I floundered while trying to communicate with locals in Spain and Italy. Somehow, against all odds, this place has started to feel like home and when I finally stepped into my room after eight days in Italy, I was relieved. I don't know where the transition between homesickness and feeling-at-home happened, but I find myself pleasantly surprised that it did! I'm sad to be leaving in just another month and a half and though I still want to go, go, go to other places, I'm contemplating slowing down a bit to enjoy the life I've built for myself right here.

Top 3 Books I Read This Month

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Obviously, Crooked Kingdom was everything I wanted it to be and more. Bardugo just does not disappoint and I already want to re-read this perfect, perfect duology. Harmon's The Bird and the Sword was a fantasy stand-alone I had heard mixed reviews of, but I actually really, really loved it. It's part fairy-tale, part fantasy, part romance, and utterly beautiful in both its characterization and prose. Hopefully I will find time to write the gushing review this book deserves. And, lastly, The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron. I contemplated putting The Midnight Star by Marie Lu up here, but at the end of the day, the latter felt like a peaceful conclusion while the former felt fresh, original, and just so mature. It's my favorite of Cameron's books--and I've loved her steampunk/historical fiction novels!--but this is a whole new level for her, I feel, and I really adored it. October was not a large reading month, but it was a goooood reading month.

Most Popular Post This Month

Post I Wish Got a Little More Love

(Only because I absolutely ADORE this series and the final book in the trilogy, which just released, was SO AWESOME. If you like fantasy at all, pick up this series--it won't disappoint!)

Post I Starred in my Blog Reader this Month

I adore this article about shaving and how it's not always a choice for women of color. As a feminist and someone who attends a women's college (when I'm not studying abroad, that is), this is something I hear and see a lot--that you are more feminist if you don't shave and conform to beauty standards that men have erected. I can totally see how that's a valid argument, but it's also not a huge deal if you're hair is light and barely noticeable on your skin in the first place. For a curly-haired girl like me, it's the same as someone with straight hair with the tiiiiniest wave saying that they're going to get rid of their hair straightener so they can have healthier hair; their hair is frankly straight already, so the sacrifice doesn't mean a lot. Obviously, this article delves deeper into this issue and does a better job of addressing it than I do, so give it a read; it's worth it.

Obsession of the Month

Um, Quantico, actually. I saw all of Season 1 in less than a week and am now waiting every week for a new episode of Season 2. I began Quantico back when the show first released, mostly because I was immensely proud of Priyanka Chopra (a huuuge Bollywood actress) for making it onto American television, but I found that the first few episodes of Season 1 were painful to watch episode-by-episode. I can now confirm that my initial thoughts, that this is a show that would thrive off of binge-watching, is correct. I returned to the first-half of Season 1 and then sped through the second-half within just two or three days and now I'm enjoying Season 2 episode-by-episode a lot more than I did Season 1. Anyway, I highly recommend the show! It's smart and the viewer is kept guessing till the end, which isn't easy to do. The characters, especially the secondary ones, have fascinating story arcs outside of the seasonal arc and the diversity on this show, not to mention the feminism, lack of slut-shaming, and female friendships, are all FANTASTIC. It helps that the men are quite cute, too. ;)

3 Things I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

1. Going to London!!! I am SO EXCITED to go to London, you guys! I've read about this magical city in SO MANY BOOKS and I'm finally going there myself! I'll be meeting Jasprit from The Reader's Den, which is so incredibly exciting since she's one of my very first blogging friends and I can't believe I'll finally be meeting her in person! I'm also going to Oxford to visit my best friend of ten years and I'll be attending the choir concert of one of my best friends from the Wellesley College Choir (I MISS THE CHOIR SO MUCH!). I'm also (obviously) going to go to all the major touristy sites and, unfortunately for my suitcase, I have a looong list of books with UK covers that I want to own, so I'll definitely have to pack light so I can return with a suitcase full of books. ;)

2. Thanksgiving! Obviously, Thanksgiving isn't a holiday here in France but in my program, all the students make a traditional Thanksgiving dish with their host families and all of our host families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving together. I'm really excited for this to happen and it's going to be such a wonderful melange of cultures! I'm especially looking forward to meeting other host families since we've all been talking about our families so much, so I feel like I know them all already!

3. Sweater Weather! It's only now getting a tiiiny bit cold, here in Provence, so while I'm going to miss the warm weather, I'm ready for the weather to decide if it's warm or cold. Right now, we have cool mornings and HOT afternoons so I kind of just want to be able to wear my jacket without sweating in it and pulling on my tall boots without regretting wearing them that day. Plus, I miss the fall colors and fashion from the US so much so I'm ready to embrace that and skip the horrible winter part of it altogether. :)

What did you do in October? Any Halloween celebrations? I, for one, did not celebrate Halloween or the two biggest Indian holidays, Navratri or Diwali, so it was a celebration-less October for me, sadly, but I'd love to hear about you all did! Any exciting November plans? I want to hear in the comments below!! 


  1. Mmmmmmm croissants, now you made me hungry

  2. Wow, you did a lot of traveling last month. How exciting though! I'm glad to hear you are settling into your life in France though. And yay for London! I wish our trips overlapped so I could have met you, but I hope you have a great time. It was so wonderful for me and I really want to go back again. It was the first time I'd never left the country, so just doing that was a big deal.


  3. I'm happy to see you are traveling that much and discovering many new places and that you enjoy France too.

  4. Oh I wish I could travel, but I'm having fun seeing it through your eyes. I did see the pizza pic on instagram and it looks like I need to get my hiney over there more often. :)

    I also think the books you listed are ALL on my wishlist. See what you do to me? :) ...and can I go to London with you? :)

    I think you need to celebrate right now to make up for Oct. I didn't do anything special but I did make the Halloween wreath and now I'm "commissioned" to do a holiday one for Dec. :D

    Have fun traveling!

  5. I love traveling, Keertana! I'm living vicariously through your post and wishing I got to visit all those cities! I'm heading to France on Thanksgiving Day, although I'll be quite north of you. We're starting out in Loire Valley, then onto Bordeaux and then finally Paris. I'm so excited you get to meet up with Jasprit! I want to see lots of pictures!

    I've heard good things about The Bird and the Sword. I want to read it sooner rather than later after hearing your thoughts! :)

  6. Wow, it seems I've missed so much. Travelling seems so amazing and I have to say a lot of my friends are doing that and it looks incredible. Although I'd just have trouble speaking the language, I took from each but I'm not very good at it anymore. Haha. I'm so glad your coming to London, it is amazing, if I do say so myself and you have to visit Foyles in London to get your books, I can spend all day in there. Great post Keertana. :)

  7. Your travels sound so exiting, it’s wonderful that you’ve been able to visit all these places.

    Have a great November! It’s amazing that you get to meet up with Jasprit. I hope to see lots of pictures!

    I haven’t heard about The Forgetting. I’ll check it out since you loved it so much.

    PS. Sweater Weather?! It feels like winter in Moscow now, cold wind and snow.

  8. I;m so jealous of all the travelling that you get to do Keertana, I really wish that I had more time to visit Europe and all its beautiful cities. My cousin visited Rome a few years ago, and she experienced some of the same issues you did especially with the language barriers. And I've been seeing The Forgetting everywhere lately, I will definitely be checking it out after seeing that you enjoyed it! :) Also I can't wait to see you either, I need to get planning on our day :)

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