11 Articles You Should Read on Appelez-Moi Ana

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As I am planning (quietly and slowly) a relaunch of my blog, I thought I should dive into the archives and share with you some of the best entries I published - a mix of articles I personally cherish and posts that readers seemed to like. Bonus? You get to see the photos I took in 2016 that were initially rejected, but did deserve to see the light of day. (Also, I could really use your feedback in regards to that whole relaunch thing - but more on that in a minute)

"Fashion Forward" at Les Arts Décoratifs. Held back in 2016, this exhibition became the first one I have ever visited at Les Arts Décoratifs. Encompassing over three centuries of exquisite clothing and accessories, it presented a striking visual evolution of fashion - the field I both study and work in. In this article I shared my impressions of the exhibition, as well as photos of some of the most stunning pieces.

A series of blog posts aboout Marseille. I travelled to the capital of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region to attend the semi-final game between the football teams of France and Germany, but I managed to squeeze in quite a bit of sightseeing too. This series is one of those I am proud of the most, as I really like how vivid the photos turned out (merci beaucoup to the wonderful climate of the region). You can find the first part of my photo diary here, and the second is right here. I have also published an article containing 5 reasons to book a ticket to Marseille and a list of 4 things you should buy when you get there.

Travelling by bus. As a student living on a rather tight budget, I am always looking for tips and tricks to save up a little bit of cash while travelling. A few years ago I discovered that buses are, in fact, a great option to move around Europe - if you do not mind some minor discomfort, of course. After a 12-hour trip from Paris to Marseille I shared a few tips on what to wear, what to pack and how to prepare for a night on the bus to ensure that you have a pleasant time on-board. So, if you are planning to travel with MegaBus, FlixBus or Lux Express this summer, I suggest clicking here to read more.

Travelling with anxiety. Another topic that always hits close to home when it comes to travelling, is how to deal with anxiety (unfortunately, some of us have a really weird nervous system - the one that does not really give a damn whether we are running from a lion or sipping rosé outside). In the article entitled "How to Travel When You Suffer with Anxiety" I talk about the stigma that surrounds it and also share some of the tricks I try to use to minimize the risk of having a panic attack when all I want to do is enjoy an enchanting new place.

Couchsurfing. Even if you yourself have never had enough courage to ask to stay in a stranger's flat, you've probably heard of other people doing just that. Since I registered on Couchsurfing, I had both amazing and awful experiences, and in this entry right here I am discussing the pros, the cons and the little things that will increase your chances of having a safe and fun trip.

Mid-century style in "Breathless". A short but sweet blog post that my readers seem to like is dedicated to the outfits of the character that Jean Seberg depicted in the nouvelle vague film "À Bout de Souffle". Even if fashion is not something you care about, I would still recommend checking this brilliant movie that was shot in black and white!

"Parlez-vous Français?" series. When I founded Appelez-moi Ana, my intention was to have a creative outlet (I had a pretty stressful office job at the time), but also something that would motivate me to keep moving toward my goal (which was, in a nutshell, moving to France). In the "PVF" series I talked about the ups and downs along my thorny path of studying French - from switching schools after realizing I was wasting my money on lessons with a teacher who really does not know how to teach to some little things that helped me go from zero to hero (yes, level A2+ does make me feel like a hero).

Now that I have shared the most interesting, beautiful and useful articles from the archives of this blog, it is time for you to share your thoughts in the comments section down below! I do not have the ambition to grow Appelez-moi Ana into something that will bring income, invitations to red carpet events and parcels of luxury goods piling behind my front door, but it would be nice to know that there are people out there who appreciate my effort of delivering high-quality content and look forward to the new posts - as much as I look forward to putting them together.

What would you like to read about on Appelez-moi Ana? Maybe you want me to talk about my studies and things like TOEFL? Maybe you want me to stop blabbering on and on and share more photos from my trips? Or maybe you really do not see a point in my reviews on fashion exhibitions? What about the design and the layout - is the website user-friendly or not? You can be as general or specific as you want - any feedback will be appreciated as I am trying to figure out the new direction for this online space. Thank you!

Photos by me. Editing by Sergey Povoroznyuk

In Transit To...

Tonight is one of those nights when you suddenly have this burning desire to update your blog and finally break the (7-month long) silence...but you quickly realize you have no idea what you should talk about. It does not feel quite right to share my intimate thoughts and feelings with hundreds of potential onlookers - private things belong to a private journal. Lists of places, movies and exhibitions do not quite appeal to me either these days - it seems like every other blog has transformed into a glossy calendar of social events, doesn't it? Same thing with tips: the internet is overflowing with advice on this and that, and I doubt I have anything valuable to add.

During the last 18 months I have been working really hard to get to a place where I would not scroll through the photos on Instagram and wish I was somewhere else living someone else's life. I had to overcome many obstacles; I had to train myself to ignore that subtle yet intrusive voice in my head that made me feel hesitant and afraid; I had to force myself to get up and keep going - even when I was so exhausted I wanted to give up. The period from September to the beginning of April truly felt like a whirlwind of work, endless trips to the university and my French language school, exams and assignments, growing piles of documents and notarized copies, questions, emails, deadlines, lists. But I managed to prove to myself that nothing is impossible - that is, if you choose not to resort to excuses and stop justifying your own lack of action with miserable conversations about not being fortunate enough or not having enough resources. As they say, seek and you shall find - so it is probably wiser to seek solutions rather than problems.

This transitional, weird, vague period is coming to an end - and I am slowly starting to write the new chapter of my life. This jump into the complete unknown that I am preparing for scares the hell out of me; but it feels incredible to take control over my own life and start making my dreams a reality.

At the moment, I do not really know what this new chapter is going to bring and how exactly it is going to transform me (and this blog). But I am thrilled to find out.

Parlez-vous Français? #6: Bienvenue à l’Institut Français

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As I've already mentioned on my blog, this semester I decided to switch French schools: back in April our classes at Excuse My French were put on pause, and in August I signed up for classes at Institut Français - the official international language center of the French Republic which made its first appearance on Russian soil back in 1992.

Just to make things clear: I really like the concept of Excuse My French, I think it's a great school and I will definitely keep recommending it to people around me. However, when choosing a language school, remember that the most crucial thing is that your teacher is a high-level professional who has the required qualifications and experiences. Because in the end, it's your teacher who will decide what are you going to study and how much time you will spend practicing certain grammatical constructions, what are you going to do at home and how the exercises you will do will contribute to mastering the language and «digesting» what you've been working on at class.

Unfortunately, my teacher at Excuse My French didn't live up to my expectations. Upon arriving at Institut Français, I quickly realized that I don't know many of the grammatical constructions and rules that my classmates studied at level 1. It turned out that I didn't know a lot of the essential verbs and nouns - what I knew instead were some ludicrous words that are not on the frequency lists and that an A2 student really doesn't need to know. Moreover, I found out that some of the phrases I was taught pretty much do not exist - French people simply don't understand them. Looking back, I realize that for the better part of the 3-hour classes with my previous group we would just chat, drink tea, eat sweets and watch videos (when you don't understand a single word the people in those videos are saying, it's quite frustrating, 'cause it doesn't contribute to neither your knowledge, nor your self-esteem). Like-minded people gathering together to have a good time, you know. Not quite what I needed.

Luckily, I didn't waste too much time: the amount of time I studied at EMF pretty much equals the amount of time I needed to reach my current level at Institut Français. It's just that my actual current «level» differs quite a lot from my classmates'. I don't remember how to form Futur Simple, I don't know anything about Conditionnel or Subjonctif Présent (we sort of studied them with my previous group, but, honestly, I pay more attention to the amount of milk in my morning flakes than we paid to these two very important topics). Finally, I have no idea whatsoever how to use «y» and «en». Thereby, I have to catch up on all of this myself - which is quite tricky considering how busy this pre-graduation semester is and how much homework we are being given.

Anyway, enough about the sad things! I really like it at Institut Français. Our teacher, Alexey Igorevich Tarasov (with years and years and years of corresponding work experience), ensures we are constantly being challenged and doesn't let us use simple grammatical constructions. Things we study give us an opportunity to learn a bunch of useful words and phrases - the ones that we use in our native language all the time: «crème fouettée», «retraité», «employé municipal», «bricoler», «en cachette», «les voisins du dessous», «connaître de vue», etc. And we also speak lots! After hearing quite a few ex-students complaining about not having enough opportunities to practice speaking French at class, I was a bit concerned, but in reality our teacher is giving enough time to every one out of 10 students to make sure everyone gets to talk.

We haven't studied any major grammar topics so far, but during the last 1.5 months we learned about such things as gérondif, ne ... que, omission de l'article après la préposition «de», different ways to express negation and reason/cause. I like that we use «Le Nouveau Taxi» textbook a lot and that we check homework in class - it should be mentioned that Alexey Igorevich makes sure every single student understands the rule and can repeat it out loud on their own. What's more important, thanks to the type of homework we are being given and the way the programme is built I noticed that I really use actively the new constructions and phrases.

There's finally some sort of structure to my French, and I couldn't be happier. Learning it doesn't give me any negative emotions, I don't see it as my worst enemy anymore - it seems unbelievable, but I feel like we may even become friends soon! I promise to keep you posted on how our relationship evolves from here.

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For the Love of the Beautiful Game, Football

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Zenit 3-1 Real Sociedad at St. Petersburg Stadium | Europa League, Group Stage | 28.09.2017

I've been writing and rewriting and rewriting again what could've been the introduction to this entry for the past 15 minutes. Turns out it's not that simple to compose a love letter - even if that letter is devoted to football, a game that, oddly, became an essential part of who I am during the last 10 years.

I genuinely don't know what to begin with. I suppose it would make sense to start off by telling you about the very first time I went to a football stadium in the late 1990's - although back then I was much more interested in the concert of the Swedish pop band 'Vacuum' (whose single 'I Breathe' I was obsessed with at the time) than in the club legends fixture. Or should I recount that Sunday morning in November when I was watching the derby between CSKA (Moscow) and Zenit (St. Petersburg) together with a handsome dark-haired young man that 15-year-old me was in love with? Needless to say, I was cheering for the 'militarians' just to tease the aforementioned guy. But maybe I should've started this entry by describing how I listened to the live match commentary on the newly founded 'Radio Zenit' - instead of listening to what my preparatory classes professor at St. Petersburg State University was saying?..

Then there was the game against Bayer Leverkusen - my first ever game at the stadium which I attended together with my school friend - and the epochal two-legged tie between my hometown club Zenit and FC Bayern Munich in May 2008. I remember how I was walking home and how I passed by a few supporters in our blue-white-sky blue scarves; deep down, I really did not believe that we could win against the team that had the great Oliver Kahn to defend their goal. But that night St. Petersburg couldn't sleep: we won 4-0 and a couple of weeks later our players put on the golden jerseys and brought home the UEFA Cup. In June of that same year Andrey Arshavin made the ball go right between Edwin van der Sar's legs - and straight into the net, earning the Russian National Team the bronze medals of the UEFA Euro 2008. Despite my family's explicit protests, I rewatched that game on New Year's Eve.

Four years later, I traveled to Ukraine to take part in UEFA Euro 2012 as a volunteer. There I met Keisha who became one of my closest friends - we rented an apartment next to the National Opera of Ukraine (cockroaches and all), worked as part of the Hospitality team for a month and spent our evenings watching the games at the Khreshchatyk fan zone. In the end of the month we visited Donetsk to attend the semifinal match between our beloved Spaniards and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal - and during the final we were there, on the front rows of the Spanish fan sector, waving flags and making up chants about Sergio Ramos, who we met a few days before that. It's funny, but 5 years later I'm still passing the exams I had to miss because of that trip - but I've never regretted going to Kyiv, to this day I still consider it the time of my life.

Shortly after, I heard the news about Total Football (the only magazine I read from cover to cover in 2008-2010) being shuttered, and my full schedule was not allowing me to watch the games regularly or follow all the latest news about Zenit and Real Madrid.

But once you let football into your life, don't expect it to ever leave you. And it doesn't even matter how often you tune in to see the game, whether or not you know the names of all the benchwarmers and how long it's been since the last time your team lost. It only takes 90 minutes - 90 minutes at the stadium, where the atmosphere is charged with electricity, at the stadium that sings as one and where people truly feel united by the love for this beautiful game. You will want to come back, you will want to jump out of your seat again, you will want to support your team until you lose your voice. Because football truly makes us experience the most pure and unfiltered emotions.

Dear football, thank you for all those unforgettable memories I got to make thanks to you. I'm looking forward to many more adventures together.

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September Update

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"Firebird Descent" installation by Poetic Kinetics at New Holland | Trench coat - La Redoute

It feels like I didn't have a spare minute ever since this photo was taken on the first Sunday of September - which has been exactly a month ago.

Over the course of these 30 days I've managed to pass 7 exams, translate 3200 descriptions from English to Russian, go to Helsinki for a one-day trip to pick up this perfect camel coat for chilly autumn days to come, attend 6 French classes (more on that soon!) and a football match between Zenit St. Petersburg and Real Sociedad, watch a couple of movies (including the absolutely charming Un Profil Pour Deux) and TV shows, catch up with a few friends - and, somewhere in between all of this, browse through approximately a myriad of photos from Spring/Summer 2018 collections.

As you can see, it has been a truly intense September - and it has also been a very vivid preview of what the next 9 months have in store for me. The key to surviving the schedule that's overflowing with errands, meetings and obligations? Set weekly goals, don't stress out over things you're not working on at the moment, be realistic and don't be afraid to say 'no' to things that are not your top priority - and, pleeease, stock up on some good vitamins.

I think that's gonna be it for today's update! Keep an eye on this space though: over the next few weeks I plan to (finally!) publish my photo diary from French Riviera, a mini guide to Helsinki, my thoughts on the incredible "Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve" exhibition and a bunch of summery photos from Paris.

Photo edited by Sergey Povoroznyuk

Always Pack a Party Dress

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As a final year Theory & History of Arts student who's been working in fashion since 18, I've profoundly enjoyed reading Amanda Brooks' "Always Pack a Party Dress". If you are aspiring to build a career in fashion, I would highly recommend reading this book - it is very honest, very well-written, very funny. I am sure that those who already have some experience in this field will definitely relate to the love/hate relationship the author has with the industry - as much as it is inspiring and exciting, it is also quite exhausting and at times it can also appear shallow and superficial, making you want to either switch to something 'more serious' - or just move to England to make jam, as Amanda Brooks has done.