Well, where in the world has time gone? It’s been exactly two months since I have been living and adjusting to this new world around me and have had the amazing opportunity to meet and interact with such beautiful people, buildings, and everything else Paris has to offer. A few words or rather my reflection on my second month here: WOW, Amazing, Homesickness, Friendships, New Thoughts, New Ways of Thinking, and Overall Life. In this moment of my journey, it is no longer trying to “fit in”, but rather living your life in a manner that you never have before (I have no idea if that makes sense!). Only a few words will be shared on this post just because it is still taking me a while to reflect on sentiments towards my journey here (plus it does not help that I have midterms and a paper to turn in tomorrow 🙂 !) Like we say here, Au revoir! but only for a while!
Salut, salut, salut! Winter is coming in early…48 degrees in October, which is completely unheard of (for me course!). Therefore, I am little by little freezing and will soon have the appearance of a snowman if I don’t buy a jacket that could withstand this weather! Today I had such a unique experience where I went to go visit the Catacombs of Paris where an endless number of people we’re basically thrown inside the earth because there was no place to…well…bury them. I will not lie, I freaked out about the fact of even going in, which is why I declined the invitation that my friend offered me two days ago from today. Somehow I mustered the courage to say yes when I was indulging in a burrito…yes, a burrito (Chipotle exists here my dear friends!). There we were, a couple of friends and I, talking about life, and how Paris (and even just studying abroad) changes your life. We all seemed to have discovered things about ourselves, and it’s only been a month and a half(will be about 2 in 8 days!). You can say the honeymoon with Paris is now over and after the honeymoon stage is where you get to see what Paris is actually really all about. You realize that real people live here, people laugh, people cry, people eat, people are being, well, people. When one arrives at a city, it is like there is a curtain in front of your eyes, that magic curtain which makes you feel like you are in a dream. But when that curtain is pulled, you realize that the same fears or desires you had at home, are still alive and within you in a different city. I’ve started falling into a routine of school, work, taking the metro, school, work, metro…repeat, and I believe the word “foreigner” has finally been erased from my forehead (remember my previous post?). There are things that I still find quite amazing, for example, I’ll be talking to my mother and explain to her “Oh you know, I had a picnic by the Eiffel Tower, and yesterday I went to go see some Picasso after school!”. (Her expressions=> priceless!) So much history, culture, it’s everywhere! Just the other day, I got off the metro by Notre Dame and walked an hour and a half exploring along the Seine. I passed famous museums, the famous lock bridge and other sites and I lie to you not, I almost cried, because when does one have an opportunity to live and experience such things! After it stopped raining, I sat along the Seine and wrote in my journal, looking at the endless river that sat in front of me. Adjusting to life somewhere else is not easy, and even harder when your family and loved ones are 27 oceans, 200 countries and a world away (all in exaggeration of course! 🙂 ) You learn to be independent, make strong friendships and really immerse yourself in the culture. Sometimes it does not make sense to your friends or family back home, this whole idea of traveling and unveiling the world before you. Sometimes it feels like you have to justify your reason for going somewhere abroad. I’ve learned that the only person you have to justify is yourself and if you know you want to go somewhere: GO! Live your dreams, live with no regrets and make the best out of every decision you’ve made and will make. A great person here told me that those who travel(ehem=>study abroad) live in a different bubble than others and that they might never understand our passion for traveling the world, and I most certainly agree. Passion is to not be understood, but felt and the only way to be felt is to GO.
Bonjour my fellow readers (if I have any O.O) and welcome to that one post where I announce that I have officially been living in Paris for exactly a month. Time flies my dearest friends and I have come to the realization that it’s been exactly one month that my life has changed. No, no this won’t be one of those nostalgic moments…well, possibly, where I reminisce on all that I’ve learned so far. That would take about three books to achieve! The people, the language, the food are so familiar to me now that sometimes I have to remember that I’m not home. For example, today I was on the metro staring at the line of metro stops when I heard the usual French chatter: “Mais oui?” “No, c’est pas possible!” ‘Ah ouais, c’est genial!” that it hit me that this isn’t at all my natural state. It’s become so natural that I don’t even notice it anymore. Another exciting story is my growing love for vegetables! Now, I was not your “bring on those tomatoes and mushrooms” kind of gal, but since I’ve come here, well…there’s no other option to eat them. I’ll never forget that dreary day when I had my first full tomato (when I didn’t even like them). Yes, I had some tears in my eyes and it literally felt like I was swallowing down a brick. Fast-forward to yesterday, and there I was eating a baguette with a full tomato…and green beans….and cauliflower. Oh! One minor detail I’ve forgotten to add is that water is drank from the sink. Yep, the sink. I was astonished at first, and pretty much refused to drink it until I realized how good AND clean it was. Water bottles aren’t as popular as they are back in the states and for that reason can cost up to 75 cents when purchased.
If there is anything else I’ve learned is how to dress more “proper”. Now, I still haven’t gotten rid of my beautiful converse and no way am I going to ever give up my Queen shirt! But in the past couple of weeks I’ve learned what fits to my style and what does not. This past week, for example, I purchased winter clothes (yes, it is already 50 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s not even December…or October..). Everyone here dresses so lovely, it’s almost blinding! It’s almost blinding because it seems like no effort is put into looking, well, effortless! (yes ladies, these men also look effortless…blinding even 😉 …)
Something else that I’ve picked up is the habit of picking up a newspaper in the morning and reading it on my way to school. Keep in mind that my metro ride to school takes about 40 minutes or so, and it gets pretty tiring looking at the floor the whole time. Just the other day I was reading an article about the debate of guns in America, and I lie to you not, there was a picture of people in a restaurant with the servers having guns strapped to their backs! Imagine the horror of the French and myself! America is very well present in France and, whether we like it or not, everything our country does, from regular citizens to politicians, everything is under the eye of the world.
Well, those are my only lingering thoughts as of now…as for me, my mission is to buy a baguette…and some tomatoes 😉
Yesterday, I was walking down the “Gare Montparnasse” when I realized I stood out. I didn’t need to be told, because I felt it..felt it from that uncomfortable coat I was wearing, all the way down to my wet shoes. For the first time in about 3 or 4 weeks, I finally listened to my music walking down the street (which everyone at school considers a ‘no-no’!) trying to ignore the world and taking in the samba that I was listening to. Then, I switched the song over to rock in Spanish that almost made me tear up a bit because for a moment I thought “Wow, I’m not in Kansas anymore [ well you know, California 🙂 ] ” and at that moment I wanted to be different. Over the past few weeks, I have learned that the French don’t smile as much as people do at home (not wanting to generalize, but it’s basically almost everyone!) I am on ‘smile’ withdrawal because who the heck am I going to smile to? I mean, eye contact in Paris might as well mean “Come and get me!” (and they do!). Sometimes, I miss smiling to random people on the street because for me it’s a form of greeting, warmth, etc. So I did just that yesterday (not to mention today at the supermarket, and the metro….and the street!) Anywho, back to my ‘wanting to fit in’ rant, sometimes I just want to be ignored, be another Parisian on the street and with that I hold my most serious face ever (which I was told was not even serious!) and try not to look at anyone in the eye. As one of our coordinators told us when we started the program, we have to prepare our “witch” face-(translate that to whatever you want!) Other days, I want to be different, I want to be known for what I truly am, how much I love to smile and crack jokes with others. I realized sarcasm scarcely exists here and I have to keep apologizing to my friends for ‘oversarcasm’ because they are the only ones I can joke around with. Today, for example, I could NOT stop laughing at the metro, there was a violin playing in the background, and I looked like the clown of the circus, which I was completely fine with until peoples stares become too intense! (Mind you, I wasn’t even laughing loud!) There are many rules, but what can I say? This is what makes the French, well, French. They don’t go around smiling to strangers because a smile to them is a gift only to be shared with those they love. It’s a learning experience, and while I typically keep my ‘witch’ face on, sometimes I have to #rebel.
<img src="https://viviendominhalife.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/0211.jpg" class="size-full" alt="Le Mur de L'amour
It’s been quite sometime since I have last written, but my goodness has Paris treated me very well and….well….the opposite of very well. This week I moved in with my homestay people, Madame, as we shall call her and I am officially living life as a Parisian. My dearest readers, this world that I have come to live and love for the past (almost 3 weeks!) still leaves me astonished, answering many questions, but creating endless others! Sometimes I’ll find myself in the metro (otherwise known as the subway!) and I’ll be thinking, “This isn’t just a metro, it’s a metro in PARIS!”. There are very unrealistic moments where it feels like your part of a movie…and others where you feel like your watching the movie and being bothered by that noisy neighbor who’s not only noisy but does not even let you watch the movie! This week I happened to meet another student who came here to study from South America, her name, which shall remain as Student#1. I talk about her now, because I got to listen about what she thinks of Americans (which by the way, left me astonished!) Yes we have billions of fast-food places, yes we drink a lot of coffee (which the French do too!), and yes we do utilize a trash can in the restroom (which is something that I just can’t understand of how they don’t!). First, let me share with you why and how beginning with one of the first dinners I had with Madame. Student#1 and I were given 2 small potatoes, green beans, a slice of ham, a WHOLE tomato, let me repeat, a WHOLE tomato to eat for dinner. Somehow the conversation turned into one of those “Yeah, Americans eat a lot of junk, etc”. I just stayed quiet, because I mean, what does one say? Rebuttal? By saying what? I just nodded, but made sure to tell them that we have plenty of veggies as well. Later that night, Student#1 and I went to go get crepes (This is the best snack in the world ya’ll!) where we happened to meet a very proud man who not only judged us on our accent but claimed that he spoke English perfectly. That’s right. I answered by saying “No, but I’m practicing my French” (in french of course!) and he looked away, looking to save his ego rather than gain our money. Of course we left, but I was left astonished as to what it feels like to live somewhere where you don’t belong because you weren’t around to belong in the first place. Let’s just say I was no longer in paradise anymore. Of course all of that changed when I got to witness Montmartre and several other places and re-discovered my love for Paris. Being a foreigner is tough, especially when your without your family to defend you, or when you want to share something with a loved one, but their 5 planets, 200 seas and a world away. What can one do in the City of Lights? Continue to fall in love with it…
Today is Thursday. As I sit in my apart’hotel, I begin to think “I’m in one of the most desired places in the world, yet I’m in my room?”. Exactly. It didn’t make sense to me either and I don’t think it’ll ever make sense. Oh wait, I remembered, things are crazy expensive (true story, true true story!). Even if I’m in my apart’hotel, there’s absolutely no way that I feel like studying. Why you may ask? Because I’m in Paris and let me tell you that no one feels like studying when there are so many things to do. Like we say in spanish, no se antoja, or “not in the mood for it”.
Any who, today I was able to find out who I was going to stay with for the homestay program. A homestay program is where an international student has the opportunity to spend time with an actual family of that specific country. It’s a great opportunity for those who really want to immerse themselves in the culture (such as I did/do!) I’m really nervous, I mean REALLY nervous! I think one the things that comforts me is the fact that I will not be the only one living with “Madame” and the fact that it is a duplex and she will take the 2nd floor while me and my future roommate (or rather next-door roommate will have take the first floor. Today I was told that Madame could be a bit nervous about things (perfectionist, doing things correctly/incorrectly, etc.) and I just thought “GREAT!” (enter sarcasm note here). It’ll be quite an experience, and my fellow bloggers, “j’ai peur” or otherwise known as “I’m scared”. I guess it’s normal to feel this way, I mean after all…well, I don’t even know what’s normal anymore (you know that whole thing about normal being different with everyone). But heck, I’ll accept it as normal! 🙂