Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Cold Shoulder

It is school vacation now, and I have about a week until I go back to the high school to see my classes for a final time. There's really no work left to do, just goodbye games and probably snacks. (Let's gloss over the tangent I could go on here about snacks and how I've legitimately gained back all the weight I worked hard to lose last year.) And I have about 12 days till I go home for good.

People keep telling me, "Oh, it's gone by so fast! You really have to take advantage of your last few days, enjoy Paris while you can!" They judge me silently when I say I still haven't gone to this or that place and that I'm actually not planning anything for this vacation other than a weekend trip to Strasbourg. People worry and fret on my account for the immense regret I may incur within my own soul if I don't DO.ABSOLUTELY.EVERYTHING.NOW!!!

I don't know if I will regret anything about this trip or not. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow, much less months down the road when I look back at this experience. I can guess that I won't regret anything, simply because I accept and affirm the choices I make for myself as the best ones, whenever I can. (Sometimes I make bad choices for myself, but even then I try not to regret but to understand.) But my point is that I have no interest in "enjoying Paris while I can."

Paris, for me, has absolutely nothing on New York and San Francisco. The French, to me, have absolutely nothing on American hospitality and kindness, and the qualities they do have don't really make up for that. This not-so-tongue-in-cheek article about France sent to me by a friend even cites some study that found French people were less likely than many other countries to have performed an act of kindness in the last month. And I believe it!*

If I lived here for longer, if I had the time, I would take that time to comfortably explore Paris, maybe even call it my own at some point. But despite my enthusiasm for it, despite the way I made a forty-five minute to an hour beeline to it several times a week, I was still turned away. Cold, rude encounters, unfavorable situations, and even THEFT, were what met me. Sure, I'm inspiring a lot of sarcastic pity violins right now, but I'm being honest in saying that I don't like the part of France where I have been.

I think the problem is that France is not as used to foreign transplants as America, maybe. Just a hunch, and maybe I expect everyone to be as accommodating as Americans, which I admit is unfair. I'm pretty done trying to solve the unsolvable mystery of how to get on the French people's good side. In any case, I have seen some nice things here, I've had a lot of valuable life experiences, and I have certainly met some wonderful people (a couple of them French). But... this week, I'm just content to stay home, try to run a bit, eat some healthy food, study, and forget that I'm somewhere other than America.

* - However, tonight when I was coming home late from Paris after Japanese class and dinner with friends, I was on the RER train when I recalled that I wouldn't have a ride back from the train station because my host lady is on vacation. I called a few taxi dispatchers that I had in my phone for such an occasion, but apparently you need to reserve in advance. If you've talked to me in the last few months, you know that I live a 30-minute all-uphill walk away from the train station, and the town has been known to turn out the streetlights after midnight and cast an absolutely petrifying darkness over that already-scary walk home. But a lady on the train heard me on the phone with the taxi dispatchers and actually offered to drive me home. We had a nice, easy conversation all the way back and she stated that I didn't even speak with an accent. "C'est vraiment incroyable," she said. I like to think that's the kind of person I'll remember from France when I look back on it all.


  1. Very sweet blog with a most joyous last paragraph. Glad you are on the best track to complete your French "experience." Love, Mom

  2. I read this and felt a little depressed inside. I am sorry your France trip has had more downs than ups. You can't live life with regrets! It's hard to do, but you do have to live in the moment of things.

    Anyway, I hope the 13 days left in France will go by smoothly and leave you with more positive memories!

    Love you lots and can't wait till you are home so I can call you on a phone and not skype!!!