I’ve been in Paris for four days now. I figured I wouldn’t update this blog, though, just to bore you with things like observations about French culture, or what it’s like to go grocery shopping in France, or my visit to Notre-Dame. Those things are all boring and pale in comparison to my first real adventure, which happened today.

First, I woke up and went to the bathroom. Then, I did a quick workout in my room, and then I went to the bathroom again. Then I took a shower, and then went to the bathroom again. Then I had breakfast, and then went to the bathroom again. This all happened before 10:30, within an hour and a half of waking up. Perhaps you have noticed that this is not a normal number of times to visit the bathroom in a 90-minute period. I drank a lot of water. I went to the bathroom several more times, feeling very grateful that the family member who informed me that France just has holes in the ground instead of toilets is completely wrong. I began to accept that I probably have a UTI.

I called my school to find out how to go about seeing a doctor, and a few minutes later, I had an appointment set up for 4:30 today. I leave for orientation tomorrow, so I really needed to start on antibiotics as soon as possible. Not to mention the fact that UTIs are just insanely uncomfortable.

I left really early for my appointment because it was kind of far away, and I wanted to factor in some extra time in case I got lost. I didn’t get (too) lost, so I got there 45 minutes early. I waited for about fifteen minutes, and then the doctor called me in. She spoke English really well, so I didn’t need to use the index card of medical terminology I had looked up this morning. She wrote me a prescription and gave me directions to a clinic down the street where they did a urine sample. The receptionist at the clinic didn’t speak English, but she was very nice and spoke slowly. Numbers are my weakness in French, so when she asked for my date of birth, I said one thousand nine hundred four twenty ten nine, instead of one thousand nine hundred four twenty nine (1999 instead of 1989), and she gave me this incredulous look and said, “You’re not fifteen! You mean 1989.” I am taking this as official confirmation that I actually look like an adult now. Victory!

After the urine sample, I took my prescription to the pharmacy next door. The prescription was for antibiotics that dissolve in water. I already took the first one, and then there’s only one more dose that I have to take in two days. This is amazing. I wish all antibiotics were like that. No enormous pills to gag on. It tasted kind of like Gatorade. And guess how much the antibiotics cost even without insurance? Ten Euros. The moral of the story is that if you don’t have insurance and need to get an infection, try to be in France. (I do have insurance, and they’ll be reimbursing me for the ten Euros. Even better!)

I ran into two other significant things on my way to the doctor today. I’m enough of a tourist that I felt the need to snap a picture of my first Eiffel tower sighting:


And even more importantly, I also saw this:


If you don’t recognize it, you don’t watch enough Cupcake Wars. This is the Fauchon as in, “And Florian Bellanger, owner of Mad Mac Macarons and former executive pastry chef at the world-renowned Fauchon.” I thought about getting some macarons on my way back, but decided to wait until another time when I’m not feeling crappy when I can pay proper homage to my cupcake judging hero.

How to Pack for a Year Abroad

Baggage restrictions make packing for a year abroad a challenge. Luckily, the internet is full of advice for how to do this, and I decided to take a stab at my own approach. So, here are what I consider to be the essentials of an effective packing list.


1. Yarn in a variety of colors. A few neutrals plus one accent color is standard packing advice for clothing, so I’m just applying this idea to yarn, too.


2. Knitting needles of various sizes.


3. Knitting notions, including a cable needle, tape measure (for measuring your knitting), tapestry needles (for weaving in the ends in your finished knitting projects), stitch markers, and a knitting gauge, because there is no way you’re going to remember which size all those knitting needles are.


4. A book of knitting stitches, for inspiration.


5. Some finished knitting projects, because it’s cold in France.

6. All the yarn you will need to knit a sweater. You’ve never knit a sweater before, but you bought all the yarn for it a year ago, so might as well bring it with you and put it to use!

7. A knitting book or magazine with the pattern for that sweater you’re going to knit, because you should probably not improvise on your first sweater.

8. A stylish bag for carrying around all of your knitting gear.

After packing all of this, there is obviously not a whole lot of space left in your luggage, but don’t worry. With this method, you won’t need to pack any clothes! Just knit yourself an entirely new wardrobe once you arrive at your destination. Or even on the plane, if you’re lucky enough to be on an airline that allows knitting needles in carry-on luggage. (Sadly, not France. Sniff.)