The French Connection

Being stuck in the first great blizzard of 2016 has its advantages, in that now I have time to do all those things I’ve been meaning to do! In my New Years Resolution to write more, I need to update about my winter break travels. First there was skiing and Star Wars in Idaho.

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Snow! Skiing at Bogus Basin near Boise, ID

Then there was a sailing trip from Jacksonville, Florida to Miami. I got sick a lot (the winds were straight from the south the entire time, so there was a lot of tacking back and forth in addition to rough seas) and sadly, did not get to party with Pitbull on New Years Eve despite being parked next to the superyacht where his NYE party was being held.

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It wasn’t for lack of trying! We bribed the security guards with water bottles, but to no avail. I guess we should have used Dom Perignon instead.

I just got back from our class trip to France and Luxembourg last week. What a great experience that was!

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Paris is SO much more fun when you have travel buddies!

This was my second trip to Paris; my first was last year on my mini-honeymoon turned solo Eurotrip (link). I had a blast this time around, even though we were so busy with our class project that there were times we forgot where we were. (To quote one of my teammates on the night before our big presentation: “We could be in Luxembourg right now, or I could be in Dallas, Texas. I truly have no idea because all we’ve seen is the inside of this hotel room.”)

It wasn’t all work, of course. We did get a chance to do a few touristy things, since many of us arrived a day or so before our official start date, and stayed for the weekend after our final presentation before heading back to DC.

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I made sure to actually go INSIDE Notre Dame this time. Worth the wait!

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We did at least have an evening to walk around Luxembourg (after our project was done, of course.)

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However, I got tired of the baguettes and foie gras fairly quickly this time around. On day four I went on an open rebellion and had dinner at a dim sum restaurant. Although I did make sure to pair it with a rose from Provence, so it sort of counts.

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A definite highlight of the trip: a VIP tour to the Pommery winery in Reims. While the champagne tasting wasn’t as good as the Veuve Cliquot event I went to last year, Pommery’s cave was far more impressive! They had turned it into an art gallery, in addition to being a place to age champagne.

Our main purpose for being there, in between the Seine boat tours, champagne tasting, fine dining, and everything else, was our school project: working on a marketing strategy with Ferrero Worldwide; specifically, their Kinder brand. (Or as Americans may know it, “that heathen company that puts toys in their chocolate eggs, what are those guys thinking trying to choke their children?!” This is where I was going to rant about how the reputation is unwarranted because kids almost never choke on the things, but my team informed me that there was an incident in France recently. In fairness, the child was under the recommended age limit, but it’s still sad. Supervise your children, everyone.) Anyway, after many nights of working until 2am to perfect our project, we got to present to a panel of judges at the Kinder headquarters in Luxembourg.

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We’re here for serious business, you guys

Sadly, my team did not win the competition, but we came away with alllll the chocolate anyway. So much, in fact, that I had to send it off to relatives as soon as I returned to the States so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it all! Even though I’m a dark chocolate connoisseur and I find most Kinder products a little too sweet for my taste (which is typical of many Asians, as I learned during this project) there are a couple that I could happily eat all day. Kinder Buenos? Just leave those with me.

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Our spoils of war

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I’m glad I signed on for this whirlwind tour even though doing so meant that my winter break was reduced significantly. (My mother was not happy that I was video teleconferencing with my team while I was visiting the family in Idaho over Christmas.) My resume, I’ve found, is chocked full of leadership experience thanks to my time in the military, but sorely lacking in industry experience. This was one of many projects that I’ve taken on over the course of the year to help fill in those gaps. I have the privilege of attending one of the top schools for international business in the country; why not take advantage of it? Especially if I get chocolate!

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