I'm not complaining, because complaining is very unproductive. Also, I'm not complaining, because I am in France and I have it pretty good here. I don't like complainers, and I don't like to be one either.
I would just like to point out how interesting it is that France has thrown all these crazy things at me so far. Nothing life-threatening (depending on your perspective haha), but let's take a look:
- bed bugs
- brief quasi-homelessness (in French, there's a term SDF - sans domicile fixe, for "without a permanent residence")
- many, many emotions
- transportation strikes
- 2-month delays in bank account setup
- trash strikes (incidental, I admit)
- the $ to € exchange rate
- 15-year-olds (I brought this upon myself)
- endless paperwork with delays that result in a continued lack of health insurance
The remaining staff declined to drive me home, saying either that they weren't going that direction or that the roads were too unsafe to risk it, which is a legitimate concern. One administrator offered a laughably terrible map of directions 3+ km long to get to the RER (commuter train) by foot, using only landmarks like station de service (gas station) and collège (middle school), without road names.
Thankfully (so very thankfully, although unfortunately), my friend Francisca the Spanish assistant, had come into work for the afternoon only to find that classes had been canceled, and she needed to take the RER in the same direction as me. It was snowing like the end of the world, and the ground was sinking deeper and deeper beneath a thick layer of snow every minute. Francisca and I took shelter in the nearby shopping center, ate a warm lunch and wondered what France expected us to do. With no buses, no car, no taxis to be found, and the RER at least a 45-minute walk away in a snowstorm of yeti-horde proportions, it seemed hilariously... French. Like everything else they've put us through so far.
We were about to head out on the path I had re-charted using Google in lieu of the laughably bad administrator's map when we heard a security guard directing fellow sufferers toward the RER in Bures-sur-Yvette, which we needed. We improvised, asked him directions and made to cut through the park he indicated with a gloved hand, hurriedly attempting to follow the couple he had just advised. In the park, we lost our quarry but encountered the KINDEST, MOST GENEROUS FRENCH SOUL EVER IN THE WORLD. A middle-aged man tramping through the snow stopped to answer our desperate requests for help, going so far as to accompany us about three-quarters of a mile along the way, in the opposite direction from his destination, and in the raging snow. He dropped us off where the road branched and told us which direction to take. We followed it, trudging along with a fellow sufferer we had acquired along the way.
My classes had ended at 12h30. I finally got home at 17h50.
Yet, I'm not complaining. I'm not complaining, because I wasn't alone, I wasn't scared, I didn't stress out, I kept warm, I made it home, and I can do anything.
New York taught me to be independent, confident, assertive, critical, open-minded, adventurous and curious about the world.
France is teaching me to be prepared, relaxed, indulgent, efficient, forgiving, sentimental, grateful, persevering, and even more curious about the world.
I don't care how much cheese and pastries other people eat while they're here; I don't care how much money they blow on traveling around Europe to drink and be pretentious like everyone else. This is the kind of experience I value more than anything else - seeing the world by seeing who I am.
Let me make it clear that I am NOT asking for more of this. (Ok, France? Do you hear me?) But I know that this is what life is giving me to work with. I could be spoiled and shortsighted like these Westerners teaching English in Japan, who complain about having small bathrooms and sleeping on futons, and say infuriating things like, "Isn't my couch great? You probably won't get one, but you can just buy one, and you can buy bookcases and a bed too since you'll want those." But I sincerely think it's more worthwhile to cultivate your SELF instead of your STUFF, wherever you are in life.
And whatever you happen to be complaining about today, just think about me being stranded in a snowstorm for five hours. And that even that, really, isn't worth complaining about.