Excerpts from Olivia’s Paris Journal: Chapter VI

This week started with a slow recovery from my cold, and a whirlwind day trip to Chartes, France, with my high school friend, Brooke.

I am always pushing myself to grow, and one of my goals while in France is to say yes more, and give into my anxiety less. In a lot of ways I’m doing great (see: international dance battle). Obviously I have not figured out a perfect formula, because I excitedly accepted Brooke’s invitation even when I knew I was coming down with something.

Still, we had a wonderful (achey, sniffly) Saturday exploring.

Chartes is a small town just over an hour southwest of Paris by train, and is marked by a Gothic cathedral and tiny river. Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral was built 874 years ago, and is actually one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, and learning that now makes it seem even more special that we got to explore it.

I have been in more cathedrals and churches than I can count (La Sagrada Familia and Catedral de Santiago de Compostela are my favorites) but I still love wandering around, admiring the stained glass and architecture, and thinking about all the candles lit. Mi Mamita, my dad’s mother, always told me that everytime we enter a new church, we should ask for three graces, or tres gracias. (Read this interesting take on the tradition.) I still think of it every time I enter a church, and it makes me feel closer to my family.

We also stumbled upon a random Latin dance workshop in the middle of the town’s main square. It was magical. I don’ know how these things keep happening to me, but I pray they never stop.

In Chartres I made the most exciting discovery of my time in France (so far) when we wandered into a bookstore and all my stationary dreams came true.

We chose that bookstore out of all the millions of tiny French bookstores because I saw a rack with greeting cards out front, and immediately made a beeline. (Where there are cards there are often notebooks, and where there are notebooks, there are often stickers and pens.)

It should be noted that I normally find a lot of pleasure in stationary and the creativity that it breeds (writing, craft making). But this was even more exciting because I have been feeling disappointed about not being home to be able to go to Michael’s (or my mom’s craft closet) and get supplies to hand make Valentines. So when I saw the rotating rack of cards I felt hopeful.

It turns out that the book shop with the tiny storefront was gigantic. Like, three store sizes across, with two stories. It wasn’t Powell’s, but still. As soon as I walked in I found the cutest stickers in the world. Some of them are little animals dressed in hipster and renaissance outfits (weird, yes, but cute) and some are girls and cool clothing and accessories. I JUST LOVE THEM. I really like to use stickers in my bullet journal (again, these cute little paper products just bring me inexplicable joy).

Then I noticed the familiar Leuchtturm1917 banner (this is the kind of notebook I have been using for my bullet journal for years). This banner is a very good sign that there will be paper products that I like. Beneath it there was a long table covered in stacks of books, several of which immediately stood out to me as hand lettering books, which I think are great but I do not use. And then I saw it. The Flow Book For Paper Lovers.

(I realize this has quickly become a love letter to paper products, but I can’t make myself edit it down.)

I happily spent my non working hours this week in some sort of happy crafter Valentine’s trance. By the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, my bedroom looked something like the department store in the movie ELF after Buddy spends the whole night preparing for Santa’s arrival.

I wrote another post about how I kept my favorite Valentine’s (and Galentine’s) Day traditions alive in Paris. You can read it here.

At work we celebrated World Radio Day with multilingual live broadcasts from the World Heritage Centre here in Paris, and mini workshops about the craft. One of the most exciting part of j-school so far has been learning more about the world of audio journalism, so it was exciting to see so many people coming together to celebrate the ways that radio can connect and empower communities around the globe.

We are also working tirelessly to prepare for Mother Language Day, which will be celebrated internationally next week. As I understand it, this day is huge for UNESCO every year, but given that 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, we are really pulling out all the stops.

It has been exciting for me to grow more and more in my social media and engagement skills in this position and adapt to the pace of an organization of this size. Although my position is primarily with The Courier, I am lucky to be able to dabble in many different areas and really feel like I am broadening my journalism skill set every day.

This weekend I will have the opportunity to introduce this magical city to one of my greatest role models — my friend Malika Andrews is visiting Paris for a long weekend. Malika hired me for my first journalism job at the University of Portland Beacon in early 2016 and mentored me as I came to the realization that I wanted to pursue journalism rather than clinical psychology. I have grown so much from watching her at the University of Portland and then as she went on the the New York Times and then ESPN. Near and far she has always been such a good friend to me and I am so excited for a little piece of home to visit me in Paris — I am giddy as I type this!

I think Paris is equally as excited as I am, because the past few days have been warm and sunny. I couldn’t be happier. I don’t want to jinx it but I think spring has sprung in Paris!


Olivia R. Sanchez is a journalist and M.S. candidate at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. She can be reached by email at oliviarsanchez18@gmail.com or on Twitter at @OliviaRSanchez.

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