Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Learning to be Parisian

I've been a hermit. While Gui runs off to work each day, I usually do some form of organizing that we've been putting off, and do laundry (gosh, I've never done so much laundry in my life!), and clean and organize and clean. It seems like the quest to furnish and organize our apartment is never-ending. I feel like there's so much to do.

As much as I'd like to say that the cause of my hibernation is that there's so much to do at our apartment, I know that it isn't. There's a part of me that's becoming a little intimidated. The feeling of being a foreigner is starting to set in for me, and that feeling has been keeping me at home everyday, away from the strange world that I'm now calling home. I'm just now realizing that I'm no longer that young college student, eager to put myself out there and dive into a foreign place and culture without hesitation. I reflect on my summer abroad in Rome and remember how brave and resourceful I was. It never crossed my mind that I should be worried about what people with think of me, of my accent or my appearance. I was so ready to submerge myself into a new culture and become one of them. The same goes for my time in England. Now, I question more, I think more, and I do less.

If I was my therapist, I'd probably tell myself that I've been feeling the need to nest as a way to make my own comfort zone in what I feel is an uncomfortable place. I'd diagnose myself with STDS (no, not that kind of STD, but the "Scared To Do Shiz" kind) and prescribe as a treatment, a day outside of my comfort zone in an effort to expand it.

So, I took that prescription on Monday and shortly after Gui left for work, I walked to the metro stop, boarded line 9 and headed toward the opposite side of town. I've been meaning to sign up for my French class, and I decided that there was no time like the present to get off my arse and do it. It takes an hour to get to the school, but I only have to change lines once, which for me is what matters most (for some reason Guillaume always looks for the shortest distance even if there are a gazillion stops, which in theory maybe saves 5 minutes if you're lucky and get a metro right away on the next line, but in practice, I'd rather save my legs some walking and leave 5 minutes earlier).

The metro is a great place to people watch, and I spent enough time on the metro to remind myself how attractive Parisians really are. Sure, Paris has its fair share of ugly folk, but it doesn't take much effort to find a really good-looking Frenchie around these parts...not that I'm looking or anything!

So, after getting off the metro and searching a few minutes around the neighborhood, I found the school (score! it happens to be 100 meters from Paris Plage) and after a little waiting, I signed up for my summer French class, and I did it all in French! It was really easy to understand the lady at reception, and everything she asked me I actually knew how to respond to in French. I think being in an environment where it's OK to sound like a jackass definitely makes me more confident in my skills. It took about an hour to get all signed up, and after that, I headed back home, across town. I made a much needed pit-stop at the post-office (I'm still a little intimidated about going there to send something other than a letter stateside because then I actually have to talk to a person, not a machine), and came back to my little comfort zone.

I'll have to find a few good reads to keep me occupied on the metro - as much fun as it was looking at the pretty people, I can only check out someone's fab 'do or swanky shoes so many times before I want to stick a heel in my eye. (In the words of my adorable nephew,) mmmmm...BORRRING. I'm taking suggestions for books to order on Amazon or to search for in the few English bookstores around town. I'm hoping to catch up on some classics that I've missed (Catcher in the Rye, War and Peace, Jane Eyre, The Prince) or philosophy (Plato, Camus, Aristotle), but I'd be interested to see what else is getting readers' attention these days.

My classes start June 30th (20-hrs/week, yo!), so for three weeks, my hibernation will cease to exist. I'm hoping to meet some new people (from what I gather, there aren't many Americans/Brits/Aussies enrolled at this school, and it has a high population of students from Eastern Europe, Asia and South America...sweet!) and I seriously can't wait to have the confidence to be out on my own in the city without such a large language barrier. Je suis très content!

4 comments:

lulu said...

Bien joué mon amie! Keep it up darlin. Maybe you would like a scavenger hunt around Paris to make you look, do and talk... in French. Hmmm...

Irisa said...

WOW! I can't imagine how you are doing it. I'd be scared shitless for sure. Then again, that's how I was in NYC, but I managed to break out of my shell too. Thank god that was in English though! Haha...I admire your courage, but I can also empathize with your hesitancy. You are right though...once you start classes, you'll meet new people and your network/friends in Paris will expand. That's just the way it works...one day at a time! Love and Miss you too! :)

JV said...

Hey! Where's my adventuresome daughter who took me all over Paris and wasn't afraid of speaking in the native tongue?

You did a fabulous job!! You GO GIRL!

Love,

Mommy

Pascal said...

what a subway adventure !
try to use 3 lines next time !! ah ah ah! ;-)