Saturday, December 3, 2011

Some random thoughts on being abroad

It's funny to me how quickly my life here became as normal as my life back home. I spend most days doing simple things such as preparing for school, cleaning my apartment, grocery shopping, making meals, etc... While this is to be expected, it's also for some reason disappointing for me. When I think about what people must think I'm doing, it seems less than glamorous. 

Is grocery shopping in France more glamorous? Not really, but it's fun to have a ton of new stuff to try ;)

Anyway, here are some of my random thoughts on living and working abroad - 

1. Everyone, even complete strangers, has the right to ask you what you're doing in their country when they detect your accent. Or when they realize that you're trying to speak French really fast but are in fact speaking gibberish. When did you come? How long are you staying? Even the man at the bank knows my story.

2. People here also expect you to be doing amazing, exciting things. At school, other teachers will ask, "So what did you do this weekend? Where did you travel to?" Uhhh..the farmer's market? I know I have a lot of free time, but money doesn't grow on trees, people!

3. When French guys ask for your number, they will usually text or call you later that night, or the next day at the latest. And then the day after. They mean business. Being used to American men, my first instinct is still, "Whoa! Someone's seeming a little desperate!" I can't help it! I've been conditioned that way. 

4. Freshly baked bread never gets old, and I mean that in both a figurative and a literal sense. I'm still thrilled each time I leave a boulangerie with a warm baguette. Said baguette also never gets old, because I usually devour it that day. I have imposed on myself a limit of two baguettes per week, lest the boulanger next door realize that he is my own personal crack dealer. 

5. Wine is cheaper than soda at restaurants, so the choice for me is obvious. I'm just tryin' not to break the bank, people. It's called being thrifty (although I don't drink soda, so I'd be getting water otherwise. But we can pretend).

6. One quickly starts to feel like a "local", and recognizes those who crowd the streets on weekends as "tourists". When I just want to get my farmer's market on, and I cannot move through the throngs of people taking pictures or being herded like cattle in their tour groups, I can't help but think, "Damn tourists!". Then I remind myself that I'm only here until May 1, and that yesterday I took a picture of a really cute medieval house. I'm pretty sure locals don't do that.

7. By the time I finish all the necessary paperwork, I will be back in the US.

8. People my age and teachers at my school are surprised to find out that I don't smoke, and quickly follow with, "Good for you! You really shouldn't." Being a smoker here is the norm, one of the few stereotypes that I've found to be mostly true. 

9. Lunch in France is a serious affair. At both of my schools, lunch is from 11:30 to 1:30, and a typical meal for a colleague would be some type of starch, such as rice, with fish or meat, a slice of bread with cheese, yogurt, and a piece of fruit. No lean cuisines here!

These are only some of the things I can think of off of the top of my head. There are many more, but for now, I'll leave you with images of baguette fairies dancing in your heads. 

Only two more weeks of teaching until Christmas break. Berlin, here we come!!!