The other day, I was walking down the Champs-Élysées back to the RER station after an afternoon exploring and I suddenly became very very aware of the fact that I live in Paris. I know what you’re thinking, I’ve been here a whole two months now, surely that would have hit me a little bit sooner. But the weird truth is, I’m not sure that it will ever hit me until I leave. As incredibly and overwhelmingly cheesy as it sounds, not that I’m one to avoid being cheesy, I think I am living so much of a dream that it will never quite sink in.
It’s the little everyday things that make me happy, the things that make me feel like I fit in, the things that remind me that I’m not just on an extended holiday. I tut under my breath at tourists when they stand right in the center of a pavement trying to figure out a map. I go to the post office. I know whether you get off the RER A at Charles des Gaulle Etoile or stay on until Châtelet to swap to Metro line 4 without consulting Google Maps. I can tell you which of the many Zara shops in Paris is in fact the best one.
I have learnt that when you move to a new country, especially when they speak a different language, for a long time everything will feel like a struggle. Things you would never think twice about at home take days of perseverance and effort to complete. Paperwork for example. Filling out a form would take a few minutes at home, but here it’s an Everest of a task. First there’s the translation, then there’s the completion of it, making sure to find english equivalents of the information you are asked for, if you dont understand something you might need to call someone but phone-calls in french are PETRIFYING, then you have to figure out where and how to print it, and potentially get someone else’s signature on it, which involves finding the right person and then explaining to them what the heck you actually need. *deep inhale of breath*
It does get easier though, you get used to things and less scared of things. You find pride in completing everyday tasks which you couldn’t do when you first arrived.
Having a year away from uni and deadlines to be here has really made me realise how badly stress affects me when I’m in Aberdeen. I haven’t felt as genuinely content with life as I do right now for such a long time. That is why I have promised myself that next year I am going to try so much harder to literally just chill out a bit. I know there will be people who know me very well reading this and thinking ‘Lauren? Chill out? Never.’ and that is probably true, but it shouldn’t be. I miss out on the enjoyment of day to day life because I stress myself out too much, Next time I am having a bit of a meltdown, someone please refer me back to this blog.
Back to being content. I literally spend my weekdays doing my job which I enjoy, or freelance writing on not so busy days, and my weekends are spent exploring Paris. Every evening I have hours free to watch movies or series completely guilt free, to read and write to my hearts content and to spend time with friends (usually with wine). If I want to do something I go and do it, I dont have a list of ‘oh I should probably stay in and do this’ things holding me back like I usually would. I miss my friends from home indescribable amounts, which sometimes isn’t the easiest when social media lets me see everything they’re up to, but someone reminded me the other day that me being away isn’t forever, and I am having so much fun here too.
As for what I’ve been up to, I’ve had some good little outings these past couple of weeks. A group of us went for extremely pricey drinks in the latin quarter, where the bar was about half the size it should have been to accommodate the number of people in it, but we boogied anyway. I have attempted to go up the Arc de Triomphe at least three times, being put off by the queue length every time, but I WILL do it soon so watch this space. I got hungry on a walk so I bought a chocolate tart and sat and ate it at the side of the street, as you do. I went to Galeries Lafayette, saw my first Christmas tree of the year and just about dropped dead from excitement. Oh I also went roller skating at the top of a 59 story high building with an old friend I shamefully hadn’t seen for a whole lot of years. I wonder what our 10 year old selves would have said if you had told us at guide camp that we would end up both working in neighbouring towns in Paris aged 20. Life is crazy.
Absolute 100% no doubt about it highlight of my month though is definitely that my Navigo card has FINALLY BEEN DISPATCHED. After two months of confusion and sending documents and having documents declined and difficult phone-calls, we have movement.
Thanks to everyone who has dealt with my Navigo related moaning,
Best wishes from Paris x