I have recently realized that moving alone to a foreign country has realigned my priorities and interests. I mean, I believe I have always been somewhat independent but lately I have noticed how much this whole independence thing has been kicked up a few notches. I have only had to look out for myself for a while now. I don’t have a boyfriend. I don’t have family here. I don’t have room mates. So really there are two things I care about: my friends (that I usually only get to see on weekends and occasional meal dates) and myself. I didn’t quite realize how much I have enjoyed this lack of responsibility for others until recently. I have developed a routine. I enjoy my freedom and get stuff done during the week. I do my laundry, buy groceries, clean my flat, take French lessons, work a bunch, go shopping, and make plans with friends when they are free. On the weekend, I literally spend 2 ½ days straight with my best friends here. They mostly live in the suburbs or with their au pair families so my flat turns into their weekend home—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love having my weekend room mates and hate the empty feeling the little 15 m² flat I call my own gets on Sunday nights. My friends are my family here and I have been lucky enough to be blessed with an incredible family We all live for the weekends and cannot wait until the week finally reaches Friday so we can have another few days of adventures. Now I believe I have arrived upon this realization of complete happiness of my independence because I am finding it hard to balance when another thing is thrown into the mix. I haven’t really dated out here too much—partly due to my extreme want to do this by myself and partly because I have yet to find someone worth hanging out with for more than a few hours. Not to come off as a bitch but guys are not so much a priority. I think after I reached the year mark, I was more open to the idea but still really hesitant. Why complicate my pretty awesome life? I mean it’s not like I don’t enjoy getting driven to work on the back of a Frenchman’s motorbike but the whole thinking of someone else and finding time to squeeze in time for yet another part of my life is creating a challenge for me. A challenge I am somewhat resisting. I realize this sounds selfish and probably stupid but whatever. I’ll take it. I know I am being selfish but I have done this whole thing for me and it scares me to let someone else in and change what I have created. I just don’t think I am ready or willing to change, but if that can be accepted then I guess I am ok with it. I have no idea why someone would decide to sign on to someone who refuses to give up even a fraction of the weekend to anyone besides her friends but hey, if that works for them, then I am willing to give it a shot.
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.
Where have I been? Honestly. I do not know why I have not been writing. I think it is a combo between the fact I have been incredibly busy and that I no longer can use an American keyboard very … Continue reading
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 🙂
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