Life in Another Country
Today is my Birthday!! I’m weird! I actually like celebrating other people’s birthday’s more than my own. So today instead of something silly, I thought I’d share something more personal to me about my life here in France. I hope you like it! :-)
When you live in a country that is not your own, your life suddenly becomes a whirlwind. I was prepared for the ups and downs due to unfamiliarity and of course being homesick, but it’s been more because of constant activity and new experiences. That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been bad days.. there have. Just nowhere near as many as I thought there would be.
Something I thought of the other day really brought it home to me. Of course this is common sense but it’s something you don’t think of until that moment when you need to. When you’re home in your native country, you’re doing things that you’ve been doing your whole life. You know the cultural norms, how to do all those easy little tasks you learned watching your parents do as you grew up, how to act in everyday encounters, and just so much more. It’s something you’ve learned through years and years of immersion.
When you move, you have to relearn all of those. Every little easy task becomes a bit of a struggle.
Now that’s not to say living as an expat in a different country, with a language you’re not as familiar with as you like is bad. No! It’s just different. And if you’re up for it, a very good different. One that opens your eyes, and helps you to appreciate all that you have in life.
When you first come it’s constant exposure to new things you have to figure out because it’s done just a bit differently than you’re used to. How do people know which apartment is mine if there are no numbers on the doors! (I actually think this is quite ingenious.. better security!) How do I use the very cool looking key I have to get into my apartment?? This took some practice. haha!
Silly silly completely normal things! Tasks that in the US would take me seconds, take minutes. Something easy can suddenly have multiple steps and take a lot longer than you first thought. I thought I was patient before I came here but now I have to be. Just saying the words “French Bureaucracy” can bring chills to anyone that hears it.
The first 15 days I was here I slept really weird hours- going to bed at 3 or 4am and waking up at 12 or even 2 in the afternoon. Part of it was probably jet lag but the other part… maybe it was the exposure to so many new stimuli, like a newborn who falls asleep on a long walk overcome by the colors and sounds. I took a lot of walks those first couple of weeks. :-)
But then that magic that you first felt when you arrived starts to fade, and everything falls into place and starts to feel normal. Those tasks that were so difficult at the beginning are now easier. I’ll walk by the Eiffel Tower on my way to class and not even look at it. Not even a glance. It sounds absolutely ridiculous even writing it here, but it just becomes another monument, just like the Statue of Liberty for New Yorkers. Everyday life takes precedence and you know you are where you belong, at least for that moment.
It’s an incredible experience. One that pushes who you’ve become in life. Who will you be when you come out on the other end?
The best advice I can give is to be open. Be open to new and different ways of doing things. Neither way is the best… it’s just different. :-)
oh and do a bit of research!!! ;-) I won’t offer examples but there’s times that I’ve wanted to call myself Canadian in embarrassment! :-D
There’s frustrating moments but there’s times when you take a look up from avoiding dog poop on the sidewalks and think- gosh darn it, how can life be bad. How? I’m living out a dream of mine in a beautiful city, surrounded by amazing people, and far too many sweets that magically don’t seem to go to my waistline.
Before I left for France I was approached by several very concerned people worried that I would lose who I was in a country known for it’s negativity. And yes it has affected who I am, how could it not? But in a good way. :-) Our experiences make us who we are.
I’m stronger, more sure of myself, and very very happy.
Just like in other countries, you can’t let others determine who you are. You are who you want to be! No matter the situation or country. It’s as simple as that.
France has become like another home to me. I fell in love with it 6 years ago and every day since then. Of course Texas is my heart and where I will always call home but France has always had a hold on me.
I don’t know what will happen in the future. But I can tell you that right now, maintenant, je suis très très contente. :-)