Conference Calls at the Eiffel Tower

It’s busy season and work consumes my life. I recently just got back from a week long inspection trip and ever since I cant seen to find a way to cross everything off my to do list each day. I understand that people don’t think I should complain while gallivanting around France trying out hotels and restaurants and yes, I understand my job is pretty cool. But hey, an 18 hour work day is an 18 hour work day. There is a huge amount of stress involved because the amount of money my clients bring into my company. And as big deal American clients… they expect the best, which sadly is sometimes more than the French want to give.

Anyways, I basically sleep with my Blackberry. I get woken up at 8am on Saturday morning from calls from my guides after working for 7 days straight. I am not complaining. I love working and I love my job. I cant believe the opportunities I have gotten working for this company and I am very appreciative of the chance to work in my field abroad. It just that my job is actually taking over my life. However, I do have some pretty entertaining stories.

Yesterday I found myself at the Eiffel Tower for the second time just this week. Just so everyone knows… I love the Eiffel Tower. Its awesome to look at. From a far. I despise going there and battling the crowds of tourists and illegal immigrants selling cheap trinkets. Sorry to ruin your romantic view of Paris but I cannot stand venturing over to this area. However, it is a must see on the tourist trail which means I have to suck it up sometimes and go. The reason I have frequented the Eiffel Tower so much lately is because they have decided to do renovation on all of their lifts except one. Awesome idea to do during tourist season, right? Not so much. There is around a 2 hour delay to get up the tower. Not so great when my clients are on a jam-packed tour. My little trips to the Tower are trying to find some way around this debacle but yep, you guessed it! It’s France and things don’t work efficiently. Deal with it.

However, yesterday was a new experience. And the debacle was mine.

I had to meet a group there in order to give them the tickets to go up. I was supposed to meet them at 16h30 but due to the delay caused by traffic we didn’t get to meet until 17h. Well the problem was I had a conference call with another group at 17h30. As I braved the crowds of the Eiffel Tower while schmoozing with my clients and Blackberry in hand, I carefully checked the time to make sure I was available for the call. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to avoid the crowds completely and found myself almost sprinting down the stairs of the Eiffel Tower in attempts to make it to a quiet place before the call. Timing clearly wasn’t perfect causing me to take my call during the journey down the stairs. Quite an interesting atmosphere if you ask me.

In my wildest dreams I would have never imagined I would have to take a conference call on top of the Eiffel Tower. Don’t worry though—it was a success. The power of multi-tasking is seriously incredible.

Spring… Are you here yet?

There has been a record-breaking amount of sun lately… 3 days in a row! I can hardly believe it. What has gotten in to Paris?!?

It is beginning to stay later longer and I have the feeling Spring is just around the corner. I had almost forgotten how beautiful this city is in the sunlight… I know this is all one of Paris’s sneaky tricks and spring is much further away than I think but I like to pretend that maybe sometime soon the forecast will have temperatures all in the positives. I cannot wait to picnic or leave the house without four layers of clothes on. I like the seasons but it is time to move on. I want to see the blossoming flowers and take walks along the Seine.

I want my favorite Paris to come back. It is like I have missed an old friend.

Rêves, Soirées, and My Week

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!!

Fluctuat nec mergitur

I stumbled upon anonsparis’s article on Saint Génevieve while sorting through pages of unread blogs and articles. Although an interesting article, what caught my eye was the phrase “fluctuat nec mergitur.” Having never heard of it, I immersed my self … Continue reading

Speaking French, Saying Goodbye, and My Future

Life has been crazy busy lately. And I love it. I have always been someone who thrives off of being busy. It is incredible the limited amount of time you have when you work 40 hours a week. I alluded to it in a past post but I honestly do not have time to do laundry/clean my flat/go grocery shopping… you know the basic necessities of life. And now that I am friends with au pairs again it seems I have fallen into the routine of being responsible during the week and acting like a 20-something during the weekend. Two lives are quite tough to fit into one week. On top of this, I am now going to French class 3 times a week. Although my schedule is tiring, I am excited to get back into class.  My French skills are splotchy… I thought I wrote better than I spoke but my enrolment test told me otherwise. Probably because my specialty is business emails. I just need to have confidence in my speaking. It will come. But class will also help with the rules I don’t get when speaking at work or with my French friends so I am looking forward to it. I do have to say I am quite impressed how far I have come. From knowing nothing to being able to understand and hold a conversation without taking very many classes is pretty good I think. I do wish that my last year was more like the how it is now because then I would be much more progressed. I would say 90 percent of my French ability has been achieved in the last 6 months. So it is a bit of a shame that the other year I was here lacked in very much progress.

It is really weird to think about life any other way now. I think that is why I have so much anxiety about going home. I really, truly love it here. It just feels right. And I love all the people I meet and all the things I am learning.

The more I hang out with and interact with the French, the more I like them. The American culture and the French culture are so very different—which at first can be quite difficult to get over or understand. Even people that come here for a short time get their opinions based on the limited interactions and make their generalizations (which in French people’s defense, it is unfair to base all your opinions on Parisiens—they are not the vrai français. I have to say it did take a long time. I have always loved France but the differences in culture made warming up to the French a difficult task.

A few of my friends are leaving this week. Goodbyes are something you have to accept as an expat. And as much as I wish they got easier, they don’t. Because I am one of the rare few that has decided to stay longer than a year, I have had to go through various waves of goodbyes. Each one just as difficult. Two of my friends that are leaving was not by choice but rather by the iron fist that France has around issuing visas right now. Although I have been through a rocky road and worked my ass off to get where I am now, I still feel lucky that it managed to work out. It is awful to get something you want to get taken from you with no control over it. I guess this is the reality of trying to live in another country. It still is really sad how incredibly difficult it is to move here or find a job.

My good friend was asking me what I think I will do after this. I have a work visa for a year and I have the option of extending it. But, as sad as it is, I am not sure I have the energy to go through another visa process here in France. I think the last time just about destroyed me. I am not sure. I have no idea where I will be in a year. As of now, I love my life here. I am enjoying it so much and I would never change it. But, I know this isn’t a forever thing. I think next year I want to move somewhere else. I haven’t fully decided what continent I want that somewhere else to be but I think I will be ready to move on. Not because I don’t like France, but because this experience was so rewarding and I want another opportunity to do it again.

I have been looking in to a bunch of things—nothing too serious yet. Masters programs, immersion programs, jobs, etc. I actually even looked into jobs in the states. If I move back, I want to do something that involves travel. I was researching international event planning and it seems I need to know Spanish for the most part. Now, I do know a bit—as in I can get by or tell my friend Christy that the Spanish bartender is actually hitting on her and not just being friendly—but clearly not enough to land me a job. So, I think that’s my next endeavour… anyone in for a Spanish immersion program?? But really… how cool would it be to put French AND Spanish on my CV… German next…

The point is. I am not done experiencing things before settling down. And I don’t just mean the whole husband, house, kids sh**. I mean I am not ready to go back to what I know. I want to be challenged more, learn more, grow more.

So where am I going to be next year? No clue. But I am sure it will be awesome 🙂

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