The French Art of Picnicking

Hi All!

Check out my recently published article about my obsession with picnicking in Paris on My French Life here!

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May. The month of visitors.

A lot has changed recently. And it is all going fast. Mostly good changes and other inevitable changes.

This month I moved into my new place.  I seriously can’t believe that I have been here a month already but in a way it seems so mine that I feel like I have been here longer. I really love where I live and the fact I live alone. However, I only have had this alone-ness during the week because I have had a visitor every single weekend in May. It’s so awesome to get to host people. Some of my best friends came and it is always nice to have a familiar face from home. My friend Karina, who is currently living in Berlin, came and it was really nice to not only catch up but also be able to have someone relate to you. People back home and people where you live never will understand what it is like to be an expat. And although Karina lives in a completely different country, our experiences have been very similar.

More recently my friend Christy came and it was really cool to see someone just starting their year abroad. I remember exactly what it felt like. And had no clue what was before me.

I can honestly say this was the greatest, but hardest year of my life. I had no idea what I was getting into. And although sometimes I didn’t/don’t think I am going to make it… it has been more worth it than anything I have ever done. I never would change any of it. But I really have learned a lot about things and especially myself. I have made a lot of mistakes (and had a lot of successes) and grown up. Things are falling in line and the things that aren’t I am starting to realize that it is ok. Everything is the way it is supposed to be. It is hard being the control freak I am to not have everything in line though. It is like when one area of my life flourishes… the other goes to shit. I hate that. I want everything to be ok. I don’t like things not working out the way I want them to. But I have had my fair share this year and you know what, it all works out. the thing is I just need to do a bit better at preparing. I screw myself because I don’t waste my time with things that don’t matter to me. And as soon as they do I put my whole heart into it. Usually it works out (and scores me a job in Paris) and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t is when it kills me. I know everything is going to be ok but it makes me tired. Makes me wonder why I gave all the energy. But then the “everything happens for a reason” part of me kicks up and I get back on track with something new… vicious cycle ha!

When I started this post I didn’t know it would lead this way. And now I am exhausted. Hopefully this post makes a bit of sense and I am not just rambling in my over-tired state of delirium. Maybe I will write again about my actual visitors hahaha. Or maybe the adventures will remain a secret 🙂

Learning and Loving a Language

Now that my stay in France has turned slightly more permanent… as in I have no idea when and if I will ever leave… I have had this new take on French. To be honest I was lazy when I … Continue reading

And so it begins….

I did it. I am here. I can’t believe it. My own studio in the center of Paris. I honestly thought I would never see the day. A year ago, when I decided to move to France, this is what I had envisioned. Yeah I knew it wasn’t going to be this magnificent life in the city because I (semi) knew what I was getting into, but this is what I wanted. And now I have made it. I have made my dreams happen.

On my last working night in Vaux, S didn’t even eat dinner with me. Hurtful but expected. Shocking how you can disregard the last 10 months of your life and someone who not only shared living space with you but I also basically raised your kids. I didn’t let it ruin the night however; I grabbed the kids and put Mama Mia on my TV in the room. They sat on my bed playing with their toys and helping me belt out “Dancing Queen.” They were my 10 months and I love them so much. Yes, there were times I wanted to kill them but I truly am going to miss them. Today was the first day I didn’t have to think about going to home to get my little monkey or worry about cleaning up all the morning dishes that weren’t mine. I woke up to the sound of a fountain, busy people rushing to work, and the view of Sacre Coeur from my window. A little different.

The move went quite well. I have so.much.stuff. I have no idea how I accumulated so much stuff in the last (almost) year. I moved to France with two giant suitcases. I moved to Paris with car load. Luckily, my friend Pierre was nice enough to offer his car and help. He showed up in a petite French car of course and all of us were terrified my stuff wasn’t going to fit… and there was no way I wanted to head back to Vaux again. Somehow, with Pierre’s sweet packing skills, we filled his car to the brim. Everything fit… well besides Aggie and a suitcase. She was kind enough to take the train with the last suitcase and meet us in the city. Pierre and I ventured into the city with my feet in my pocket and bags on my lap. I have to point out, to make this even more interesting, that Pierre doesn’t speak really any English and my French is still very limited. Hour car ride into Paris and somehow we managed to talk about our families, work, our future plans… its incredible what you can do with a little amount of language in common and some effort.

Once we got into the city, Pierre managed to park right in front of place (although it’s for pedestrians only—c’est la France, right?). Now, to explain the situation a bit better… I live off a square and my front door is through a café. My front door leads to a foyer where there is another door that leads to a massive amount of stairs I have to climb to get to my place. Because Pierre could not keep his car in the convenient spot for long, Aggie and I decided the best solution was to cram all my things into the foyer. Picture two girls pulling thousands of bags out of a Frenchman’s illegally parked car, walking through people casually enjoying their lunch, and stuffing it all into a little foyer. Quite humorous.

After we managed the pack the foyer to its capacity, we started the long journey up the stairs a few bags at a time. Aggie and I switched off between guarding my stuff and making the trek. Later on, some of my other close friends came and helped me tackle unpacking. It was such an amazing night. Wine, good friends, and organizing all my stuff… what more could you ask for?

After celebrating into the wee hours, I cant explain how great it was to be able to walk just a couple of minutes and be home.

It is still unreal. I live in Paris.

Sun and Tapas Make Everything Better

I have been under a massive amount of stress lately. Last week I think I cried just about everyday. I realize I am making a giant decision to stay in a foreign country, pick up a 9 to 6 job, … Continue reading

The Difference between Visiting and Living

On the second week of vacances, I had the week off and was stoked. One, because I was sort of at the breaking point of hating my job because I spent over 60 hours with people under 8 years old and two, because my sister and brother-in-law were finally traveling to Europe. Now, I realize I am completely biased because I now live in Europe and traveling has become more of an experience than a checklist. However, when you only have a week and you are paying thousands of dollars to come visit, there is really not any other way to feel fulfilled after traveling unless you try to see it all. And with packing multiple cities in just a few days, the trip becomes more of a to-do list than a vacation. I completely understand this and in no way and I discrediting this way of travel. My sister is a very prepared and organized person. To be honest, if it wasnt for her I would have never even known certain things existed in Belgium. She had plotted and planned an incredible trip and I am still thankful that due to her thorough nature I was able to see things I would have just disregarded.

However, it made me realize the difference between visiting somewhere and living somewhere. When you visit somewhere that is otherwise difficult to travel to there is a huge sense of urgency and need to accomplish everything. Since living in Europe and having easier access to everything, I have realized my traveling style (which to be honest has always been pretty laid back) has become even more relaxed. And I really feel like I have actually seen more.

As I said earlier, my sister had planned the entire trip and did an incredible job. However, we all felt rushed due to the limited of time we had and the amount of things planned to see. Paris ended up being their favorite spot, which I think had to do with the fact they had a local (somewhat) guiding them and my sister, as she puts it, “took off the boss hat.” We saw so much but it was really at a good speed. They were able to take in the food, the culture, and even the people. I think that is what travel is all about.

So as I realize it is nearly impossible to travel as casually as I gallivant around Paris on the weekends, I urge people to try and take time to sit and soak it all in when visiting somewhere new. In August, the dreaded month of tourists in Paris, I see piles of exhausted tourists laying outside the popular spots. Now, I understand the amount of things to see and do in Paris, but c’mon people, passed out from exhaustion does not sound like the way I want to experience a city. So, step back, grab a baguette and a bottle of wine and sit down. Experiencing a place is not the same as seeing a place.