Since this is my third time around living in Paris, I’ve had the time to thoroughly grow accustom to specific likings, develop good and bad habits—and begun to unwittingly become more familiar with French culture in the process. The way people adapt to their surroundings so quickly is interesting in itself, but when you start to realize the little things tweak your personality or your outlook on more grandiose subjects, it becomes fascinating. Brèf, I think I’m beginning to become Parisian; well, in a sense. At the very least, I’m developing Parisian-like qualities.
Certainly, I’m American in a multitude of ways. The US is my home. It has left an indelible mark on my morals, opinions and wanderlust. Surely, the fast food, the ease of life, my family, Ohio in the fall, 24-hour stores & English keyboards all come to mind as things that are missed. Even with all the exciting changes, the transition to life here has been challenging—personally, emotionally and physically. When I first came back to the US in January, it hit me how sedentary my job had made me. The ease of buying food at all hours, a 9-5 desk job and owning a car make everything so quick, convenient and simple. Within just weeks back in Paris, the pounds were already shedding off me. The general movement of life here is much quicker—and more physically demanding—something I’ve come to prefer. Taking public transportation and walking to most places is now a must-have in my life.
What is more, I realized that I had long taken for granted the little ways in which being at home makes life easier. Relatively simple tasks such as opening a bank account or engaging in a basic business transaction (e.g., buying groceries, drying clothes, etc.). Until you’re plopped yourself down in a foreign country, one is very rarely confronted with challenges like these as an adult. My overall approach to setting myself up—and how I’m still doing it in this country—often gets things wrong. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I’ve got to have originals of documents, plus copies, and copies of copies, or nothing will go well. I’m starting to prefer going to fresh markets for my produce, to the butcher for meat and to the fisheries for my fish. I’m enjoying the discovery of beauty products and having an occasional glass of wine midday. Granted, there are still daily and long term frustrations I have, but the little things remind me why I came here in the first place.