Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's On

If you want to learn to value your relationships, try moving to another continent and restricting your communication to email and Skype. Then see where you stand.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm not débordée de travail (overwhelmed with work) like I was in New York, to pass the time. Maybe it's lots of things. But I have never missed anyone until this year. I think it's doing me some good to get a little sentimental; it's a counteracting force to my years of heartlessness. At the same time, I find it very difficult sometimes to be without an established support system at my fingertips - and I don't mean just on Skype. Skype, in fact, drives me up the wall sometimes by its very nature. It's the symbol of my inability (voluntary though it is) to be physically present among the people I care about when, sometimes, that's all I want. I'm making friends here, certainly. But home and the people who tug at my heartstrings with their emails (and there are several of you) are always on my mind.

Being in college doesn't really make you an adult. I realized that long ago. You're not required to do hardly anything on your own, and although life is definitely hard in its ineffable way during college, it's not the same as the real world. I'm hardly claiming to be part of the real world right now. I'm just getting a feel for how hard it is to maintain your friendships and job and emotional health all at once. I'm lucky that I found a good balance of introversion and sociability while in college. I think it's exactly what makes me tick. In fact, I know a lot of people close to me are like this too.

For instance, I feel perfectly satisfied in the social sphere on the days I work; I estimate that I have a total of about 200 students (is that true?! *checks math* hmm yup). I love working with them. Sometimes they are incredibly frustrating (like the girls I had to send back to their main teacher last week when they wouldn't SHUT UP laughing about nothing), but then there are days when I do a freaking sweet lesson and all my students leave the room chanting "Please call Stella..." You have no idea how much I love that.

But then I get home and, while I relish the downtime and snacking and, especially now that it's winter, curling up in cozy clothes, I'm alone. My schedule isn't packed to the brim with "extracurriculars," as it were. I have Japanese, which is a weekly joy. But that's really it.

Sometimes I go to parties on the weekends, and then, today was my flatmate's birthday. She invited her close friends and family for "lunch" (we didn't eat till 2:30 or 3) and I spent a solid 7 hours letting French flow from my mouth like it was nothing. I felt like myself, I felt bilingual, I found the company warm and accepting, and I ate so much that I now have a killer stomachache. (I was also complimented on my tarte à la citrouille [pumpkin pie]), even though baking pies in the microwave is the bane of my existence. The crust never turns out quite right.

But I don't want to feel like I'm wasting my time in France anymore. Conversation groups, volunteering, a second job... it's on, haha. Some assistants and I are planning a Christmas movie marathon next weekend, which I'm super excited for. I can't express how pleased I am that so many of the people I've met here, French and otherwise, are as free-spirited and open-minded and warm as I always try to be. It makes life so much more fun, when I get off my butt and experience it.

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