Find me a job. Or EU nationality.

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

Advertisements

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!!!

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.

Métro-Boulot-Dodo

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.

9 to 6 is overrated.

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…

Riding VIP in the RER

I really think everyone should experience riding the RER A or line 1 during the morning rush. It is impressive to see a human sardine tin stuffed full of people in suits. Now with winter just around the corner, I find it much more amusing now that the sardines are wrapped from head to toe in scarves, jackets, mittens, and hats. Seems a bit like torture, right?

I do believe that over time, as awful as this situation may sound and actually is, it becomes more entertaining and quite humorous. There is no point to get frustrated every time the metro decides to come to a halt because the matter-of-fact is it is going to happen regardless. Clearly being stuffed being a over-perfumed woman just short enough to where her hair is up your nose and a large, heavy breathing business man simultaneously checking his BlackBerry and wiping the sweat off his forehead is not appealing in any circumstance let alone the one where you are stopped in the middle of your route on an over packed train car. However, the story that I am about to share makes these situations doable. Because even though this is rare occasion, you have to laugh at the efficiency of RATP.

It was a normal day. I was rushing to work, as usual, because no matter how much I try to prepare I still manage to find various things to pull me away from getting ready in the morning. I scurried to the RER and found the usually mass of people. Like cows being herded to their unfortunate demise, me and the other disgruntled suit filed into the RER. This was one of those times you get on and think it is so crowded that the RATP employee in the neon vest is going to rip you off the train moments before the doors shut. But no, quite the opposite happens today. Someone manages to lunge into the group and squeeze their body between mine and the doors. Pleasant. The next stop goes routinely until the doors attempt to close 3 times with no success. After much patience (3 minutes can feel like hours when in the sultry atmosphere of the RER), the conductor announces something along the lines of, “Les portes ne seront pas fermées. Il ya un problème. Tout le monde doit de sortir du RER. ” (The doors will not close. There is a problem. Everyone needs to exit the RER) 

I had to collect my thoughts over the loud roar of dissatisfaction through moans and grunts. Because I pressed against the opposite door of the one that we were supposed to exit out of, I was going to be one of the last to be able to get off. To me, this would work in my favour because then I would be at the front of the line for people waiting to get on. However, when the last few people were about to exit (myself included), the buzz rang out indicating the doors were going to close. I didn’t think they were actually going to close but when they did, I thought this was just another malfunction and that they would re-open so I didn’t worry much. But they never re-opened. The small group of people left standing in the RER and I all looked at each other with confused faces as the train began to move. The angry herd outside the train laughed and waved thinking we were heading to who-knows-where. Although part of me was scared this was going to be another Indiana Jones episode, I found relief I wasn’t in it alone this time. I sat down happy that this was one of the first times I was able to grab a seat on my morning commute. For about 5 minutes none of us knew where we were going but were more than content to have left the chaos. Soon we arrived at the next stop and to my surprise, the journey continues like normal. The whole doors not shutting thing may have just been a way for the conductor to clear out his over crowded train. Who knows? There is rarely ever a time a decision made in France makes sense to me.

All I know is—I got a VIP ride to work. And that makes me smile.