What. A. Year.

I will always remember 2014 as the year I didn’t take “no” for an answer. The year I lived in Europe, and made it my playground for the first 7 and a half months of it. The year 16-year-old me fantasized about. The year dreams were made into reality.

It’s already 2015 in my part of the world, and most of the world for that matter. But I couldn’t not talk about this past year. Because it’s been the best year yet!

A year ago I was ringing in the new year in Paris, France, with my famille française – and to this day I am still touched by the kindness and hospitality that I was showered with. Followed by several days in the City of Lights – in a 17th Arrondissement studio apartment – with my French pen pal whom I’ve been exchanging letters with for around 3 years now. How does one top that for a start to a new year?

Then, it was time for my semester abroad in Toulouse. Five entire months of 3-hour long business lectures taught in French that were actually spent on Buzzfeed, Facebook, travel sites, and 2048. These distractions made “study” abroad a bit more tolerable. That and the best distraction of all – the ever-elusive Colombian exchange student: hi Manu if you’re reading this ;)

All jokes aside, the best part of my time abroad (and of 2014) was all the travel I got to do. Paris, Carcassonne, Tarn, Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Budapest, Prague, Nice, Monaco, Barcelona, Venice, Rome, London, Cambridge, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Ios, and last but certainly not least, Dublin. I left Europe not only with a few more stamps in my passport, but also with a yearning to return for a much longer stay. I also came out of it with newfound knowledge and life-long friends from all around the world. A dream.

And then it was time to return to a bittersweet reality. I completed the penultimate semester of my college career. Soon I will be off into the “real,” adult world and the mere thought of that is terrifying. And I think I finally have a clue of what I want – in every aspect – which has got to be even more terrifying.

But most importantly, I believe that 2014 was a year of tremendous personal growth. The Jasmin that started 2014 is different than the one ending it, and it’s a change that was inevitable and must be embraced. I’m ready for you, world.

So with that, I would like to bid adieu to 2014. Thanks for another amazing year, ’twas truly a dream come true.

How to: Celebrate NYE in Paris


A year ago, I was in Paris, France, ringing in 2014. It was my first time doing something different to celebrate the new year, and it has left a lasting impression.

So, whether you find yourself in Paris this New Year’s Eve, or if you’re at home wherever in the world that may be, here is: How to Celebrate NYE in Paris.

  1. Preparation. The whole evening is centered around the dinner table, so the day is usually spent in full prep mode. The menu consisted of somewhere around 5-6 courses, with dessert at the end!
  2. Avoid hangriness. It varies by family, but the dinner is usually set to begin around 8PM, and will last until midnight and beyond. So, if you’re used to early dinner hours, make sure you get a snack in. No one likes to be hangry.
  3. Dress to impress. It is, after all, the French who we’re talking about. If it’s not their food, it’s their fashion.
  4. Greetings. The kiss on both cheeks that the French are also well-known for. Every time someone new arrives, you get up, say hello, and faire la bise.
  5. Bon appétit! The rest of the evening is spent at the dinner table, with the occasional toilet/cigarette/faire la bise break.
  6. Never leave a glass empty. I like to believe this speaks for itself.
  7. Converse!! Being stuck at the dinner table when there’s no conversation = hours of agony. If you’re the sole American like I was, try your hand at the language of love. It proves to be the best ice breaker there is.
  8. Traditions. A lot of families have their own traditions, so if you are ever so lucky to be invited, participate!
  9. The New Year’s countdown. I believe this is a NYE tradition that transcends all cultures. So of course, in France, it’s done in French: dix, neuf, huit, sept, six, cinq, quatre, trois, deux, UN! 
  10. More bises. Individually wish each other a Bonne Année/Happy New Year with kisses on both cheeks, aka les bises.
  11. Ring in the new year. At this point, it is just necessary to make a whole lot of noise.
  12. Dessert. The perfect way to end the evening, and don’t forget to have another glass of your beverage of choice.

Read more about my personal Parisian NYE experience here.