Summertime

Every year I anxiously anticipated summer. Freedom. Sunshine. Fun.

This year? Summer just brings good-byes, no time off and loads of good-byes. Not the childhood memory I was so fond of.

It’s the end of June and we have yet to see summer weather. July marks the end of several people’s time here in Paris. And don’t even get me started on how insane work is. It is times like this that I wonder why I took lazy, sunny San Diego days for granted. Honestly, I just want to plop my butt in the sand and soak in summer. Yet for some reason this summer I am exceptionally stressed out and frustrated.

I don’t know what I want. I love Paris. But I also hate it. Truth be told. I talked about my serious relationship with this city awhile back but now it has turned slightly abusive and I can’t break away. Work is honestly eating my soul and I keep having to prepare myself for goodbyes. No consistency, no control. I am spontaneous and go with the flow but I am not going to lie… I am a bit of a control freak like the rest of my family and lately I feel like I have no control.

Thinking about moving back stateside gives me serious anxiety. This has been my life for 2 years. And I see what happens to some of the expats that return–they just want to figure a way to come back. I know I could come back if I wanted to but moving back seems like an even bigger decision than the one I took to move to France. I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because I know I have changed or the people I knew so well changed, or both. Or maybe it’s because I have I don’t think I will really fit back stateside. Or maybe it’s just my weird obsession with Paris.

I know going back to California would not be the end of the world. In fact, I am sure it would be good. There are days I can’t think of anything else besides moving home but then it seems like something in this city all draws me back in. I am so proud of my experience here. It was honestly the best decision I made. It seems weird to end it all. But I know one day I probably will. As much as I love it here, I am not convinced this is the city for the rest of my life. I’m a mover… I think I will experience several cities before finding my home.

Until then, I would really like if Paris could get its butt in gear and give me some summer!!!

Week #6: Indie Travel Mainfesto

Week 6 prompt : This week for the Indie Travel Challenge 2012, we want to know what you think about the Indie Travel Manifesto.  Does it resonate with you? Do you think, based on the tenets of the Manifesto, that you are an indie traveler? Create your own manifesto for the way you travel, and share it with the community!

One of the reasons I wanted to take part in the Indie Travel Challenge is because I can associate myself with the ideals and values the website showcases. The articles tend to focus on things I can relate to and have interest in. They recently put out a manifesto that can be read here .

Although I travel a lot, I do not often analyze why I love it so much or how it has helped me grow. It was refreshing to read the manifesto and examine what I take away from my travel experiences. Traveling has opened my eyes to new cultures, languages, and ways of life. I have been able to see and do things I thought I would only be able to read about on the web. Each experience leaves me with something I can take away. Whether it is learning how to say hello and how are you in Russian or a new perspective on an old topic. Travel has made me more aware of the world around me. It has given a hunger for more. For every city I cross off my list, I think I add about 3 more! It is incredible to me to find that although some places seem worlds apart of where I grew up and what I know, I can find similarities and connect with the people there. I have found that similarities connect people but the differences are beautiful as well.

There is probably nothing more different from the French mentality and the American mentality. My French friends say the same thing. They have no idea why Americans are so happy, confident, and emotional; while we Americans are still scratching our heads over the horrible service, apathy, and complex nature of the French. However, it is my time in France that has taught my patience and acceptance of things beyond my control. I have learned to slow down and enjoy the smaller things in life. And I like to think that my constant smiles and humor has brought a bit of light into my office. I no longer romanticize my life in Paris, I understand it. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart but I am happy to see it for what it is and truly love it, not just the idea of it.

My goals as well as the things I find important in my life have been altered. I guess falling under the category of the manifesto: Defining your values, exploring your beliefs, and crafting your own meaning for life. This also leads into dynamic possibilities because now all I see is a world of opportunity rather than the box I thought I had to fit into in California.

This is what travel is about for me. Taking something and leaving something behind. Dispelling the stereotypes or perceived opinions and searching for the truth. I search for the experience, not something to cross of my to-do list. I want to share drinks with the locals and learn about their life… make a meaningful connection. I want to see the city for what it really is and not what the guide-book tells me.

This is just my beliefs. I am not cutting down different ways of travelling and I too pick up the occasional guide-book. The point is, travel is about experience and about personal growth. I constantly forget the names of cathedrals I have been or paintings I have seen, but I almost always can tell you about the conversations I had with the people I met or the exact taste of the food I tried. When talking about my trip to Belgium, I might not mention the Church of the Sacred Heart but I will tell you that my best friend and I got lost and spent over an hour taking pictures of the street art in a little neighborhood. When highlighting my trip to Austria, I probably won’t tell you much about what I saw in Vienna but can go on for hours about the typical Austrian lunch I shared with Aggie’s family. To me, these are the moments I value. I love seeing the wonderful tourist attraction the cities provide but I also love to feel the city and find out what makes it tick.

I am not sure how well I hit the prompt on the head and I think it might be another case of serious rambling. But thank you BootNAll, you inspired me.

Having Two Places You Call Home

I am currently sitting in the Philly airport (and will continue to be sitting here for the next few hours), listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and reflecting on my last 2 weeks. The lovely view of gray skies, … Continue reading

My Year in Numbers

Number of days spent in France: 366

Vaux sur Seine’s population vs San Diego’s: 4,000 vs 1,223,400

Miles between Southern California and Paris: 5,600

Number of countries visited: 7

Size of my very own place in Paris: 15 square meters

Visits to the Prefecture: 10+

Average number of roses given to me in a night out: 2

Number of trains I have been stuck on a runaway train and had to jump off: 1

Number of months the French pension strike occurred: 2

Number of years ago France had such a cold winter and as much snow as 2010: 25

Amount of Euros I was paid  per week as an au pair: 90

Cost (in euros) of a (cheap) pint of beer in Paris: 5

Number of trips up 6 flights of stairs to move: 8+

Number of baguettes eaten on average per week: 2

Average number of liters a French person drinks of wine a year: 57

Average number of people who read ride the Paris every day: 4.5 million

Average number of minutes daily spent on the metro for my work commute: 50

Average rainfall in inches in Paris vs. San Diego: 24 vs. 12

Average number of times I still talk to my mom A DAY: 2 🙂

Number of marriage proposals I have received this year: 5+

Number of times a night random French guys will tell you “you are ze most beauuteeefulll gurl in ze world”: 15+

Number of scarves I own: 15

Average number of times I had to clean up caca a week as an au pair: 5

Average number of people who visit Paris a year, in millions: 30

Times I have gone home since living here: 1

3 things I don’t know how I lived without: unpasteurized cheese, lebanese food, boulangeries

3 things I could definitely live without: France closing down on Sundays, French administration, lack of sunshine in the winter

 

Number of times I have regretted my decision to move abroad: 0