Thursday, April 7, 2011

The last one... in France

While I am typing this out all I can think about is the daunting task of getting all of my junk into two bags and not having to pay extra luggage fees. But I can’t shake the idea that this is coming to an end. And the fact that if I am packing “junk” then why don’t I just toss it and go. But memories are attached to each item. Each piece reminds me of something special of the time I have spent in France. A time that has shaped and change the person I have become.

While there were days in the beginning I could never imagine making it alive or happy out of the place I had landed. Two years later, I can’t imagine a life any different than the way it is exactly right now. It is fun, adventurous, fulfilling, life changing, and beautiful. I have friends that I love to be with and laugh amongst. I have a job that I understand and can be competent in. I can mostly understand the language, but who needs to communicate fully anyways… I have made myself a life and home in France.

There are so many things I am going to miss about this place. I am going to miss the crazy weather that I always complain about, the long summer days, but probably not the short winter ones. I am going to miss hoping into the city and taking strolls around the city of love. Wearing scarfs daily, having lots of visitors and playing local city tour guide, the small moments where everything comes perfectly together and you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And knowing that not everyone gets to live in the moment that I am living right now.

I am so incredibly blessed to have so many great friends and family members who have helped love, pray, and support me through my times of “oops I did it agains” times. When I couldn’t see anything but the mess I was living in. And they helped me get to the place where I see beauty in all things French and living life overseas. I can’t imagine what life would be like, not being here.

Above all else I am going to miss the people. All those who, I spent endless amounts of time with. My roommate, doing nothing but watching tv series on Netflix, dinners at special families homes, greeting hugs and smiles in the office, the new girls who became instant best friends when they arrived in September, and my two special friends who when we met, created our own mini “sex and the city” luncheons- (me being the conservative Charlotte of course;) ). All these people helped make my life and experiences what they were, each adding their own flavor and textures to make the perfect French palate of life.

I can’t pinpoint all the ways I know that I have changed while being here. But I know that it’s true. There is a different feeling deep within me, that I am not the same naive girl who arrived two years ago. But who has been transformed by this place, and that I will forever carry with me all of the lessons and experiences I was fortunate to learn.

Merci tout le monde!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Joyeux Anniversaire!!!

Today I am celebrating my two years of being a Frenchie!!!

Happy French Birthday to Me!

Bring on the Fromage and Vin! Okay, Okay, Okay... and the Pain too, who am I kidding?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Illuminating into 2011

This year my roommate and I decided to leave grand ol’ Paris and go across the canal to the great land of London! We spent two days taking in the sites, eating delicious pub food, and walking around the streets.

I had such a great time and know that it was just the beginning of all the great things that are ahead for 2011! I made some observations on how what took place as we rung in 2011 is a foreshadowing of what is to come in the year ahead.

First- We were in London. And what is my favorite thing about London… THEY SPEAK ANGLAIS! English! English! English! So much English to be heard all around. This year I will be transitioning back to the United States, where they also speak English, being in London was perfect to readjust my ears to the English language and a great reminder of the change that is up ahead in the year to come.

One of the greatest things about being in a place where you are fluent in the language, is that you can speak to whoever you want to. And understand everything being said to you, Or… about you as the case maybe. On our way to Westminster a group of friends on entered the underground and while standing talking amongst one another, one of them made the comment, and ended the sentence with, “Stupid Americans.” My roommate and I laughed, and he turned and asked, “You’re American aren’t you?” We then had a five minute conversation comparing the highs and lows of Americans, Italians, the British and the French- all in good fun and humor. After some friendly banter we exited the Underground and walked away with a fun brief conversation with a complete stranger we’ll never see again. I miss having these small interactions. We had so many small insignificant conversations, over our time, but each one filled me with glee. I can’t wait to start having these interactions consistently again this year.

We decided we wanted to ring in the New Year with the firework display London puts on by the London Eye. We stood on the bridge right in front of Big Ben facing the London eye and waited for the show to begin. As we waited we made lots of friends with the people around us and danced to the music playing over the speakers. I think this year with all the changes ahead, I am most looking forward to the new people I will meet, and even more spending time with those friends so near and dear to me and all the fun we will have fun together.

At the stroke of midnight with the chimes of Big Ben ringing, the sky lit up with a 10 minute firework show sparkled the sky. As I enter to this new year- while I don’t know exactly what will all take place with year, I am sure it will be like a firework show, new and exciting, moving forward and illuminating my life with great things ahead.

I am looking forward to this year ahead and all the places that it will take me. I had a great time with my roommate in London for New Years, and I can’t wait to see all the great things that this next year has to bring!!!

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Train to No Where

We all make wrong turns, get lost. But somehow, when you live in a country that doesn’t speak your same language you seem to find yourself in more of these situations… than say when you are in the town you grew up in.

Last week my family and I were headed to London for a trip of bonding, memories, and discoveries. We were planning on taking the Eurostar to get from Paris to London. This is the best way to get to London from Paris. Two hour train ride and you are dropped off right in the center of the city.

The key is, you must first get to the train station, that takes you to the train, that goes to London. On any normal day, this would probably be a simple task to accomplish. Like anytime I do anything in France, I give myself extra time to arrive at the train station. I have learned that nothing goes as smoothly as originally planned- and simple tasks quickly become more than I bargained for.
I had it set. We would wake up and catch the 7:00 am train to Gare de Nord. From there we would take the escalator up two levels and arrive at Eurostar and take the train to London at 9:00 am. Plenty of time and arrive blissfully in London at 10:00 am. I could see Big Ben already.

Our trip started out exactly as planned we boarded the train from my town and headed to the city. Forty minutes later we arrived at Chatelet les halles. When we arrived, everyone who was left on our cart, exited the train. This was very normal for this stop. It is a main stop in the center of the city, with lots of connections so it would make sense, for all the people to have exited the train. While my family sat there for a few minutes waiting for the train to depart, I briefed them that we only had one train stop left till we arrived at our stop.

The train doors closed and the train began moving once again. The only problem was the train was now going in THE WRONG DIRECTION!

The train began moving backwards ! “Stop! Stop! Stop!” I yelled as my entire family of 6 begins trying to push our luggage through the narrow seats and make it to the train doors. The train is moving faster now and is in the land of nowhere and utter darkness. It doesn’t pull up to a stop continues to go out to the middle of nowhere. “ To the place where trains go to die.”

As I begin to panic and my family is looking at me for what to do- I wonder where the heck we are going, and how the heck we are going to get back to where we need to be? I see a red box with the words “Emergency” and decide that this is my emergency and pull the switch!

The conductor comes on to the intercom and we have a conversation something like this:

Conductor: “C’est Qui?” (Who’s there?)


Conductor: “Quoi?!?” (What?!?)

Dad: “MONSIEUR! MONSIEUR! Stop the train! STOP THE TRAIN!!!!!!”

Conductor: “Ce n’est pas possible. Cinq minutes. (it’s not possible. 5 minutes)

Moi : “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease stop the train. Unless you are going to London, which I highly doubt you are. We are going to miss our train to London. “

Conductor: “C’est n’est pas mon problème” (That’s not my problem)

Moi : What do we do ???

Conductor: “Cinq minutes.” (5 minutes)

We stand waiting impatiently and in wonderment on where this train is actually headed and when will it come to a stop. After probably 5 minutes, though it seemed like an eternity and that we were so far away from our train to London, we mine as well have been in Germany- the train came to a stop.

The train coming to a stop at a platform would have been too much to ask. But because our train was taken to the train grave yard- we were stuck with 6 people, 6 suitcases, train tracks and lots of snow to be trudged upon.

We finally met the fate of facing our conductor, who leads us through the land of nowhere, to another train station, stopping along the way to fill up his coffee cup, and chat with a pal or two along the way. He ensured us we have 5 minutes till the next train would come so we had time. We make it to another platform; the signs say the next train is headed to Gare de Nord. Our original destination of choice.

We make our way to Gare De Nord. This time on a train that actually went to Gare de Nord, not to the place where trains die, and began our process of customs, to be cleared to enter the British land. Customs was full of passport stamps, forms, and metal detectors. We are running for the train platform just as the train is closing its doors and pulling away.

We missed the train.

Thankfully we were put on standby and able to catch the next train leaving in an hour for London. Exhausted, I sit and wait for our next train. I couldn’t wait to get to the land where everything I saw I could read, and where every word spoken I could understand. Let’s just hope this train actually goes to the center of London- and not to the place that we no longer speak of.
All Aboard!

*this story is not my own, I took the account and wrote it on behalf of my beloved friend and her experience this past weekend.

New Year- New Changes

There have been lots of people this week asking, “so, what’s your new years resolution?” New Years resolution!?!?! What? How can I possibly be expected to make a new years resolution. A choice to make something new and different with my life, like spend less money, work out more, floss, when I know that this year, I must decide the rest of my life! So many changes are on the horizon I possibly cannot fathom coming up with another conscious choice of change.

The official countdown to me leaving France has begun. Dun nun nun nuuuuu.

I will be moving back to the United States on March 31st. That’s 3 months, 12 weeks, 84 days, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 52 no 51, wait 50, okay 49 seconds.

I remember the times with I longed for my departure to be this close. And now that second by second it is getting closer and closer I am overwhelmed with the idea of leaving. When I left the states I was not really sad to be leaving, but excited for the new adventure I was about to embark upon. I knew that my friends and family- while I would missing them greatly, would be there. However, with Leaving France, I know that once I board my final flight out of Charles De Gaulle and head for San Diego, that I am not just leaving my home that will always be there, but leaving a chapter of my life.

While parting with France is heartbreaking, for I have truly fallen in love with the country, people, and my life here. I am curious to see what is around the corner and all the God has in store for me next. Will I return to the states and find a job? Love? A place to live?

My first year here in France I was given my dream job, travel, conference planning, learning French- but what will I do next? I literally have no idea. I wish I had a direction to go in next, and maybe I have some ideas, but none of them quite seem practical. How do you move forward, when you don’t know where you are to go?

Oh Paris, the land of Romance, love, where every girl who walks along the cobble stone roads falls passionately in love with the charming French men. BLAH! While the city it’s self is romantic and charming, the men are what I refer to as poodles. Much too small for liking. And while they are all persistent, in the summers they also tend to smell, unless they are the kind that take longer than me to get ready. So while I haven’t found the love of my life here in France I am hopeful to find a boy back home.

While my parents truly have won the greatest parents awards over and over and over again these last two years in being so supportive of me, I know that living in their home is not the support I will need for a life time. Moving back, I am so thankful they have offered to let me stay at their place, but I don’t want to over stay my welcome and need to find a place to live, before it expires there.

There is lots of change on the horizon in the year ahead. I am really hoping that I land on my feet, back in California. That the sunshine brings with it, the fulfillment of a great job and a great man to spend the rest of my life with. I feel that the choices and paths that I take this next year, could directly impact the rest of my life. And that reality- is both invigorating and terrifying.