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!!!

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 🙂

French Summer= Rain for Days.

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 🙂

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

My Year in Review

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

Silly Sorrows

“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.

Well Hello Again World!!!!

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

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 🙂