Monday, September 27, 2010

Has it really been less than a week?

So, France is wonderful. Here are some things I'm grateful for, followed by a few stories:

1. My hostel. I'm staying at the 3 Ducks Hostel until apartment searches become more fruitful (things are actually looking pretty good there; I should know more in the next day or so), and it has been such an awesome experience so far. I've met so many great people here, which has been helpful because on my first day, I was feeling extremely down and pessimistic about moving here. Problems of logistics, plus having no sleep during my long journey, plus a rather emotional layover in the South... overall, I was not feeling this whole new-country-new-life thing. But fortuitously, I met a gregarious English fellow while I was holed up in the dorm room being lame, and we chatted and eventually made our way down to the bar at the front of the hostel for some much-needed socializing. There, I met another English guy and a Dutch guy, and we all talked about language and travel and food and such for hours. I've met and talked to people from Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Mexico, Germany, and probably more. Everyone is so cool and has that distinctive traveler's mindset - in love with culture, adventure and friendship.

2. An American boy named Michael. It's a very long but good story that I may or may not tell here.

3. Internet. It's spotty most of the time, and so far I've probably paid way too much for access, but I am so thankful that I can even get internet here haha. I knew I was relient on it, but really... I'm surprising myself. I've been using it to set up meetings with the slowly-expanding group of contacts I have here, but mostly, I am addicted to the lovely emails I get at all hours from people I care about. You guys are awesome, and I apologize if I haven't sent you a proper reply just yet! Today I think I'll go to a library with free access so I can get caught up. I hate having a full inbox. ETA: I should have remembered, municipal stuff tends to be closed on Mondays...

4. My French. Nobody, including me, seems to know how I managed to get so dang good at it (haha, modesty!), but it has helped enormously. I feel more confident than I ever might have in college if I had studied abroad, and it somehow seems more legitimate to be using my French in a more real-world context (finding housing, buying a cell phone, trying to open a bank account, etc.).

Story time!

a. On Friday, Roland from England mentioned that he wanted to take the train 200 miles east of Paris to see the Musée de Rimbaud in a town called Charleville-Mézières, and invited me along. It ended up being one of the most awesome, spontaneous things I've done in a while, and we were a good travel team. He didn't speak much French so I helped get us the train tickets and do some general navigating, and his enthusiasm for Rimbaud really made the whole thing fun. Charleville-Mézières was also the site of my most hilarious French fumble so far: I ordered a citron instead of a citron-pressé at the bar we went to at the end of the day. A citron-pressé is a drink with water. lemon juice and sugar. A citron is a lemon. ... A LEMON. I ordered... a lemon... in a bar... wow.

But anyway, the trip was quite a success! Tiring, but fun, and the tiny town was just adorable. I could easily picture American expats living there and having the peaceful time of their lives.

b. Other stories will have to wait because I've been trying to publish this post for 24 hours and I don't want to postpone its publication any longer haha.

Hope everything stateside is good.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I think this first post should be a shout-out to everyone who has offered their confidence in me during my period of doubt about going to France. So many of you have given me firm but kind reminders that I have all the tools I need for thoroughly enjoying my time abroad.

I consider myself a fairly optimistic person, but I still go through patches of weirdness where I feel, among other things, doubt about my ability to remain optimistic. One such patch struck when I realized that I'll be going to a foreign country completely on my own, with no fixed place to live already secured, few contacts or friends, deep nervousness about my linguistic and cultural prowess, etc. It's all too easy to let these nuggets of negativity overpower the fact that I have navigated my fair share of real life and tough problems over the past four years. Quite successfully, in fact, I dare say. So I'm reassuring all of you that I'm working at putting panic aside and embracing the idea that life is a playground. (Thank you, Yes Man.)

Now, doubt stuff aside, a blog is a weird thing. I've grown up writing deeply personal thoughts into blank pages and text boxes, but I hesitate to burden you readers with that kind of intensely personal and unabridged nonsense. So this will be a continuing challenge - to give a taste of my time in France while carefully crafting the experience that I want readers to have. I guarantee you that by reading this you won't get the whole picture. But that's ok. Just consider this a letter from me to you, where "you" is Luciolita, a pretty little fictional allegory for an audience. :)

A la prochaine!