Walking to the marché this morning, I started thinking of how I felt the first time I traveled across the world and what thoughts and emotions were running through my mind. My first trip outside of the States was to Trinidad and Tobago (yeah, that was awesome), and then I took a trip to England before making the big move to Nottingham for a few months. I was young, so carefree, so wide-eyed. My summer in Rome was the first time I'd been in a non-English-speaking country, and being in a school setting, having friends and knowing people in the same situation as myself was, I think, what made communication so easy and kept me distracted from my nerves or self-inflicting complexes about speaking another language.
Having lived in and around Paris for a total of about seven months, I can say that many of my initial ideas about this city have changed, but not all for the worse. Reading blog, after blog, after blog of people who've been here and done everything I've done has undoubtedly made the transition so much easier. I thank the blog gods for giving people a place to rant and rave about their woes and joys so that we might all learn from them and feel just a little more normal when our lives begin to unfold like a comic book.
So, in an effort to offer my Paris-bound friend some advice about what to bring, what to leave behind and what to expect, here are a few odd things that cross my mind about my move here.
- I desperately wish I would have bought more shave gel on our last trip to TX. I seriously can't bring myself to pay 5 euros for a can of Gillette shave gel when I know I can get the same for less than half the price on the other side of the world. Some things are just too hard to let go of.
- I'm cursing myself for thinking that I'd somehow expect my mom to go through the bags and boxes of clothes that I've left behind in order to pick out what I might need for the winter time so that she could send it to me. I should have been more organized and made more of an effort to gather and label my things for easy reference and shipment to France instead of pawning it all off on my poor mom. Now, I'm left with a very boring and monochromatic wardrobe that's getting old really quickly and will no way last me through the crazy winter we're bound to have. (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I find a job so I can do some guilt-free shopping at the winter soldes.)
- Flats are my best friends here. I wish I had the insight to buy more flats before coming (even those cheapy Target ones) because one really can't have enough with these crazy cobblestone sidewalks popping up all over the place. If I could, I'd buy a new pair everyday, but we all know that's not possible!
- And, by flats, I don't mean tennis shoes. I brought four pairs of "trainers" or "tennis shoes" with me here, - and I don't mean the New Balance track & field kind, but the cute brown and gold Coach tennis, sporty Pumas, and stylish Diesels - and I've found nothing says not à la mode more than a girl in sport shoes. So, my tennis shoes only come out when I'm moving stuff or actually running (uh, that's pretty much never). Comfy flats are where it's at!
- Resisting the urge to pass a friendly smile to strangers hasn't been as difficult as I imagined, but the guilt I feel after flashing a blank face out of habit to someone trying to be friendly is mortifying. For me, it's harder to revert back to being smiley after I've already conformed to my newfound survival tactics.
- All the friendly peeps in Paris make up for those unfriendly ones. I've learned to take the bad with the good here - it's usually not always one or the other. One friendly smile, or short conversation about the weather from a complete stranger (especially an older one) is enough to keep my spirits up for the rest of the day.
- I don't mind walking around the city or through the marchés and shopping centers, but I really hate walking to my metro station. It's only a 6-8 minute walk from our apartment, but it's the walk I despise the most. I don't know why. I'm thinking it's a subconscious reflection that comes from my years of car-dependency, and walking any further than the garage makes the part of my brain that deals with laziness start going crazy with fury. Hmmm.
- As much as I gorged on Tex-Mex on our last trip, I wish I would have eaten more.