Paris is at my fingertips, but I realized much faster than my previous time in London, that I am still me. Paris can only be what I make it to be, if I choose to panic and freak out because I’m nervous about the different scenarios and situations that are in my future then that is what I’ll pull out of this semester. Just the same, I admire the way that most people, including myself, are able to put the negative memories or minor heartaches and panic attacks behind them and remember the silver lining of most every event of our lives.
However, I am really trying (after only recording a small amount of information, personal thoughts, and journal entries last time), to record the memories, mess-ups, laugh out moments, and awe-inspiring lessons of this semester. C’est le meilleur gardien du blog. (The best goal of this blog).
Armed with my study guides, study abroad folder, visa information, and all the Paris guides to life that I could possibly afford to bring with me, I was still very unsettled at our Paris orientation meeting on Friday morning. I was tired and although some of the information was a repeat common sense lesson from last time, there were many things that France just does a little bit differently than England does. You wouldn’t think that the 22 miles between France and England would make that much of a difference, but the languages and the locations, one being in Central Europe are quite influential upon the individual state of affairs. There are beaucoup de choses to do, see, and travel to, and lots of little things to remember along the way, but it really is one of the most privileging experiences that I have ever had the pleasure of doing for an entire year. With my bundled up nerves and a copious amount of water in my system that just did not seem enough, we headed out for a short lunch before returning for another part of our orientation meeting.
Lunch was petits sandwiches provided by our programme complete with “Coca-Cola Light,” (Diet Coke in the USA), “Coca-Cola,” and the ever-present, infamous “Orangina.” It’s literally everywhere here and it comes in a whole variety of flavours as well.
I tasted some of it, but it really didn’t satisfy my tastebuds at the time, so I opted for another copious helping of water. Jet lag, dehydation, jet lag, and more dehydration. I had to make that peristent three day headche go away!
It’s hard not to erase the American influence on the entire international world. Some type of potato chip was also being served at lunch and/ or with a une petite salade that I really loved. Since I was still a little bit hungry and off set in my eating schedule from home, I ate one a French apple as a part of my lunch. C’est incroyable! Imagine that it actually tastes like a real apple and is not all shiny like the ones in the states. I’m already staying here permanently! Yes, not just for any old reason, just for the French apples. seriously. 😉
I think that there may have also been a self-diagnosed Monoprix shopping spree that happened during that lunch as well as a little internet browsing as well. Those were both designed to distract myself and buy yet another thing at Monoprix. Yes I like to shop, especially in Paris. I’m only human and it’s this city….hope that you get that joke as well. Trust me it’s hard to reign in your shopping instincts here, but you must to keep afloat and truly live a fulfilling life here.
Armed with distracted nerves, we were then guided through an orientation of what living with our new French host families would be like. Yes, well this is where I started to panic suddenly, I was very red (or at least I felt like it) and I was having a little trouble breathing. This lecture was helping, as one of our directors, Jim, is incredibly nice and entertaining, but I was freaking myself out entirely too much as usual. Too much French to know, what if I greet them wrong?! Then I thought, they will probably hate me more than they already would because my French is so horrible right now. So I needed water and a trip outside of that room fast, not before I broadcast to the entire classroom and my director that I am experiencing a mild panic attack while I am turning fifteen shades of white.
Except that there was really nothing to be afraid of, my parents and the people that have raised me thus far in my life as well as the experiences that I have gone through have brought me to this exact point. Prepared me to be happy even in the most disconcerting situations, to make the most of what I am given and to only pull the best from it. Who cares if I am horrible right now, in six months, the progress that I will make here will be incomprehensibly different than what it is now.
So it was Jim’s talk and my own self reassurance that everything was going to be just fine that made our Welcome dinner at the <<Bistrot du Coin,>> my first real traditionally French meal that much more relaxing and deserved.
And I will live out my French fantasies and fairytales…because this city, no matter who you are or what you are coming to do here, it truly is magical. No doubt about it.