For all of you who know me well, you know that I change my mind weekly, if not daily, about staying or leaving Europe. Well, I had basically decided this was my final year and that I would make the journey back to the states this winter. However, I have switched again. But now I have the same problem you will find in my post earlier this year. Continue reading
Sometimes I fell like I am in Edward Norton in Fight Club—you know, when he’s asleep and wakes up in a different spot. The morning commute is difficult for everyone. I guarantee my dad can drive his over 2 hour commute with his eyes shut (although not recommended!). Sometimes I arrive at work, sit down to check my mail, and realize I have no recollection of my morning.
Going through the motions. Métro-Boulot-Dodo.
When I was back home, I frequently was asked what a typical day for me was like. I know it seems glamorous that I am in Paris, and yes, sometimes it is. I do in fact see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Sacre Couer everyday. I realize that these are all different sights from the everyday commute in southern California, but I also cannot boost that I see the beautiful Pacific Ocean everyday. The point is—it is all in how you see it.
I love my life in Paris because it is a challenge and allows me to experience new things daily. Because I work full-time, I have the option to travel frequently using the money I save. I am learning a new language and always find myself trying to overcome new situations. However, take the Paris thing away and you still have me at a desk from 9 to 6.
I am not complaining. I realize that my occasional weekend in Loire Valley or a business trip to London does make my job a bit more pleasant but the matter of fact is—my typical day consists of sitting at a desk behind a computer for 8 hours. I work to get to do what I really love. C’est la vie. And I don’t mind it. There are days that I stare outside the window in my office and day dream of my next adventure, asking myself why I am at a desk. But it is reality. Until I can make a decent living as a writer, I have to earn money somewhere to fund my travels. Sacrifice. I am fortunate because I like my job and work in a field I am interested in but I too am jealous of those who are “backpacking through Europe.” I wish everyday I could drop everything and just travel. But I don’t have the means to so I found something to make it work.
So myth buster time… “I don’t have the money to travel.” Well, if you want it bad enough you will find a way. Save up and take time off. Or suffer through foreign administration and find a job. You are young. You have so many opportunities. And I am a true believer you can get what you want if you try hard enough. The road was not easy to get where I am and I am thankful for it everyday—even when I blackout during my commute 🙂
I have grown to hate the phrase, “You are so lucky.” I am in a sense but in reality, I created my own “luck.” I am sick of people wishing they could do what I do or wishing they could travel or wishing they could move. Stop wishing and get off your butt. There are risks, but there is also great success. You just need to re-evaluate your priorities. Most people you hear quitting their jobs to travel took a lot of preparation in doing so. They gave up everything—sold their belongings, their house, quit their jobs. It was all a sacrifice to get to what they really wanted.
You can’t have it all sadly. I don’t buy new clothes or eat at nice restaurants all the time. I wait to download the new film on movie25.com instead of going to the cinema. I live in a flat easily comparable to a shoebox and frequently find myself choosing Cup of Noodles to eat just because it is so cheap. I know which grocery stores are the cheapest and make it a habit to shop there even if they are not conveniently located.
I make a good salary so why do I still live like I am in college? Because this month I will be going to Venice. And next month Thailand. And in May, I get to explore Prague and Budapest.
I have grown to love my little flat. I have learned to cook healthy meals with cheap ingredients. I realize I already have way more clothes than I should so I have cut back. This all used to be a sacrifice but now I am happy with how things are. I don’t need more space or more things. What I need more experiences.
So although we all want to break out of the métro-boulot-dodo routine, sometimes you have to tweak things a bit and compromise. Maybe one day this will be possible (and I am too hoping my travel writing career kicks off sooner rather than later!).
Look at things positively. Métro-boulot-dodo so you can enjoy-experience-grow.
This week was tough. For one, I was suffering from a case of what I refer to as PTD (post-travel depression) brought on by my return from Copenhagen. Although PTD happens quite often in my life, I have yet to figure out how to rid myself of the blues that set in after a great trip. And of course, PTD is hits especially hard on the Mondays I return to work. Clearly a very scientific term I have coined 😉
Work has been tough in itself lately. I really love my job and I realize how lucky (or how persistent I am) that I found a job in my field and in France. The problem is that I went from being insanely busy in college, juggling a lot of different activities, and living in a sorority house of 35 women to having a 9 to 5 job and living alone. I am not complaining and absolutely love the freedom and independence I have. It is just weird to get used to. I do best when I am up to my eyeballs in things to do—not so much when things have come to a lull. Right now at work, we refer to this time as ‘low season’ which basically means we take the time preparing for the ‘high season’ and doing other various tasks. Again, not something I have a problem with but I miss the stress and high energy of high season. The second problem is all my fault. My French. I understand I have only been seriously learning French for about 6 months but it still frustrates me that I am not fluent. I also understand this is an unreasonable wish. But I love to talk and make connections with people and I feel my lack of confidence in French is limited those made connections. The thing that is the most frustrating is I know it. It is not like I don’t know French. I do. I understand. I can read and write. I even know how to say what I want to say typically but when the opportunity presents itself… I freeze. It doesn’t help that when I speak I dive right into a sea of “ahhhh c’est trés mignon!!” Sorry but I don’t want to sound cute, I want to sound French. Very different things.
However, my company had a soirée last night filled with all of our employees and suppliers. It was a great time and I was quite pleased with my able to not get overwhelmed in an entire room of French speakers. I took the leap of faith that my French skills could keep me afloat and I was right. I was quite proud. But this wasn’t the thing I was most excited about. Over a conversation about the processed food intake and obesity of Americans with a new contact, I received the best possible comment from a French woman. She looked at me and said, “if you hadn’t told me you were American, I would have assumed you were French. You look like a French girl.” Now all of you probably have no idea why I got so unbelievably excited about this but it is a big deal. To me at least.
The other toughness of the week was another thing completely brought on by myself. Note to self: do not text when sleeping. Yep, that’s right. I don’t join the group of the drunk texters, but rather I like to text amidst my sleep. Don’t ask how because that is a question I am still trying to sort out. Now, I don’t want to go into detail about this but I think my brain is trying to sort out a lot of things this week. Which brings me to my next subject: dreams.
Dreaming isn’t my thing. Rarely do I ever wake up and remember anything I dreamt about the night before. I am talking around 5 dreams… a year. However, this week I have already met my quota for the year. I have had multiple dreams every night. They are all similar, too. Every night I have dreams about my family or people from my past. In most of the dreams, everything is normal and pleasant but ultimately something bad happens. At first, it started off about something happening to me, but slowly it turned into things happening to my family. I hate this feeling. I hate waking up worried and knowing that they are thousands of miles away. But that in itself is why I believe I am having those dreams. My brain is doing its best to sort out what I want.
Lately, I have tried to think more long-term than the usual ‘what’s my next trip.’ There are only a few things I know for sure while all this rest is just floating around in my head. One thing I know is that Paris isn’t forever. I love it now and I am not sure how long ‘now’ will last but I know it is not where I want to settle down. But this leads me to the question, well where is it I want to live? Answer: I have no effing clue. If only there was like a halfway house for people who lived abroad but also like America. I need the best of both. Mostly what is driving me most right now is being close to my family. My sister and I haven’t lived in the same city since I started high school. Because she is my best friend, this is a bit difficult for me. Of course, we still talk daily but I want to be able to have the relationship where we can grab drinks together, or cook dinner, or go shopping. Which is all way I think I will make the move to San Francisco next. Plus, I think the city might be the halfway house I am looking for. We will see.
I also don’t really know what I want to do. I love events and now I look the travel and leisure side of the industry. Problem is, ultimately I would love to be a travel writer/photographer (or host a show on the travel channel!) The writing field isn’t the easy place to break into. Excuses, I know. I can make it happen. I just wish I could have more time to focus on it…
My gosh what a ramble. Wow. Well for all of you that are still awake after this post, high-five. I am stopping now for your sanity.
Bonne weekend à tous!!
My life is pretty awesome—I will not and can not argue that point. But I do have to suffer through the mundane tasks that every does no matter where they live. Yes, I realize that I shouldn’t complain because my months are sprinkled with weekend trips to different European countries and at any given moment I can walk the streets of Paris freely. I see that. I appreciate that fully. However, it does not erase the same pain someone in the US (or anywhere in the world) feels sitting behind their desk, staring at their computer, listening to their annoying co-workers as they shuffle through the 8 hours work day.
Right now it is worse for me because it is low season which means work is slower than usual and most of my tasks have to do with preparing for the season, translating, or creating things for the database. Not the usual action-packed, stressful environment I thrive in. In a few months I realize I will be thrown into a whirlwind and everything will be ok. I need to be grateful for this down time and the ability to take a bunch of time off. I get it.
But here I sit. Staring at the clock. I swear the minute hand is actually going backwards…
I am having quite a hard time believe that this is July. The July I am used to is full of BBQs and bikinis, not rain and jackets. Apparently, because we had such a good spring… we are paying for it now. That doesn’t make sense in my head but hey Ill let the French justify their crappy season.
On a high note (well I dont know if this counts as a high note but ill take it), today I noticed myself wearing the same outfit as about 70 percent of the women on the metro today. Beige raincoat, scarf, dark skinny jeans, heels. Have I been here too long? Am I slowly disappearing into the 20-something crowd of commuters on the metro?
I mean, I guess it is about time. I am living here. I have been for quite some time. I know what metro to take when the usual one is too crowded and what lines to avoid. I know where the best falafel in town is and where the best spot is to sit on a sunny afternoon. I now have no fear to ask the sales guy in the tech store if these speakers work with my Mac… in French.
Now, these all may seem like little thing… and they are. But they are little triumphs and that is what matters. In France, I have learned you have to take what you get and enjoy ever second of it. This year has been a test–and one I have struggled to get good grades with I might add–but slowly I am starting to get a few questions right. And it feels good.
I was talking to an old friend of mine the other day and we were talking about growing up. I have known him since 5th grade… so it was easy to be nostalgic. We were wondering when this whole grown up thing happened. Here I am. Hardly a grown up, yet technically living that life. I have a real 9 to 6 (ish) job. I pay my own bills. I do my own thing. But I still feel like I waiting for it to get real. But it is real now. Am I making sense at all?
Sorry for rambling on but it is still crazy to think where I am and what I am doing. Honestly, I would be happy where ever life took me next. After this, I feel ready for anything. Preferably on a year-long travel adventure… but hey whatever works 🙂
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
Its official. One year ago today I was landing in Paris and running into the arms of the girl who helped me get here. I had no idea what was ahead of me and I definitely had no idea what … Continue reading
“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia
Life in France is strange. But I havent completely decided if that is France’s fault or the whole living on my own as an adult part.
Lately a lot has been going on and there doesn’t seem to be a break really. Dont get me wrong… work is incredible and so is my petite Parisien flat but damn, when it rains it pours.
Anyone who knows me knows that I talk to my mama a lot…. A LOT. She is always trying to lure me home and failing but when it comes down to it, she really wont let me give up. Today was one of those days where there is too much going on in your life for your brain to process it all. And there she was pushing me to look on the bright side of things. Honestly–my personal cheerleader. My mom has this ability to bring me back down to reality. The thing about me is I am pretty laid back and low-key until things get out of control and then its like all hell breaks loose… for about 2 hours until I calm down and see the crazy person I am being. 🙂 But today my mom helped me realize all i have accomplished being here and that everyday I feel like this is another day that I am learning and growing.
I have always had an easy life. To be blatantly honest. Yes, things have gone wrong and I have dealt with major things. However, I have always managed to get basically everything I want. Not easily, but still. I have always had an incredible network of people around me. My family was never far away. But now I am in a crazy new place and i have to get used to things being different.
When I have a bad day, I can’t drive 50 minutes to have my mom cook me dinner. Or when I am broke I can’t have my dad come down to go grocery shopping and put gas in my car. I don’t live in a sorority house with 34 of my close friends and room with my best friend. I don’t have a social calendar anymore. I don’t have a boyfriend to escape to when I can’t party anymore or the girls are driving me mad. I don’t live in a country where they speak the same language as me and where nothing is convenient.
The thing is though…. that strangely that is all ok. Sometimes it bogs me down and I can’t see past what I don’t have. But then (after those 2 hours of craziness) i realize what I do have.
I have more than I ever have before. I have more courage and patience. More knowledge of other cultures and ways of doing things. More independence. More responsibility. More flexibility. More freedom. More experience. More choices.
It is completely my life now. 100 percent. And I couldn’t be more proud. I am so fortunate for everything that I have. With everything going on I have realized what is important and what isn’t. I realize how lucky I am and how important it is to never take a day for granted.
You are alive and breathing. Make the most of it.