So I’m in Paris… now what?!
This question came to mind a lot at the end of my second week here. I ended up asking the “What do I do now?” almost every day.
On purpose, I only signed up to do 20 hours a week of language school. So I’m in school from Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm. That decision has turned out to be a a very good decision. Not just so that I could arm myself with some French words and phrases – but it’s so much more than that – it’s given me some structure, which I really like, It’s given me the opportunity to regularly interact with people at least while I am in school, and of course it’s provided me a challenge of learning new things. I did have the option to add a couple of afternoon classes, but I didn’t go for that option because I told myself “well, I want to explore and have time to do other things.”
So my first week – I was technically on vacation. I was staying in a hotel and almost everyday, all I did was going to Roland Garros. Then second week – which sometimes I referred to as my ‘real’ first week – was the week I moved into my apartment and also started school. That week – after school, almost everyday, I walked and walked and walked and explored places that though I’ve been to before in Paris, I never really got to explore in depth. But there’s only so much views of the same thing you could see, and don’t even get me started on going to museums! I’ve been to almost all the big museums here in Paris – multiple times before, and again this time. I wish I could sound so cultured and sophisticated by saying “Oh, I can just stay in museums for hours and be with my own thoughts!” I can’t. I’m with my own thoughts almost 24 hours a day! And even I need a break from me since my mind could sometimes work overtime. And there’s only so much of Mona Lisa I could see.
As for eating great food and drinking wine every day and night. My first 1.5 weeks, I felt like I ate and drink anything I wanted. I mean, after all – I am in Paris. But it occurred to me that I would be here for awhile, and I couldn’t afford to eat and drink this way because – well – not only that it’s financially impractical, but I also don’t want to go back to the US as big as a house! I really don’t. And I know – there are some of you are who are now thinking “Oh, she’s in Paris!! Come on! Who cares?!” And as much as I’d love to do the “Who the fuck cares!” on this, I can’t. Those of you who’ve known me long enough – know how hard I have to work to maintain a healthy lifestyle (and there are many times I know I could do better), so I simply cannot just throw the caution out of the window on this and have to keep it mostly balanced at least! I still have my list of restaurants to go to, and I am slowly crossing them off, which is very exciting!
So by the end of my second week – I was getting a bit restless. Could one possibly get bored in Paris?! Sounds bizarre right?! Well, turned out – one can! At least after a couple of weeks and life started to get “normal”. I realized that I had to find my ‘new normal’ or my ‘Paris normal’.
When I was sharing the plan of doing this adventure with my friends…. some of my well intentioned friends told me “Just go with the flow, don’t plan too much!” So I was trying to do that – I was going with the flow…. Wake up, go to class, then I’d usually come home to eat, rest a bit, then go out again to wander. But – I realized I like to have an ‘outline’ of things to do… I can’t help it, it’s just how my brain works! And I also wanted more interaction with people – more than the one I got from the class, and beyond the “Je voudrais un cappuccino à importer s’il vous plait” (I’d like a cappuccino to go, please). After awhile – it got kinda lonely you know! I knew how bad it was when one day – I broke down and went to Starbucks because I was homesick and just needed to be at or with something familiar. Starbucks it was for me 🙂 It was either that or McDonald, but I couldn’t bring myself to McDo! Starbucks – the interior looked and felt familiar, the people who worked there are expected to speak English and not be offended when the customers don’t speak French, and just knowing what to order made me feel so smart …. it was full of awesomeness!!
That episode made me realize I needed to modify my ‘go with the flow’ approach. So…. I did what I know best …. plan 🙂 – which was what I did at the end of second week.
I started planning different things – I signed up for different things. Not everyday, because I actually don’t want to lose the “me-time” I’ve been getting here. It is also challenging me to put myself out there, to interact with strangers whilst hopefully doing something interesting and gain some new knowledge along the way – either about Paris, Parisians, or whatever. So last week – I started doing those things I signed up for.
I signed up to do some food tour in the neighborhood – see Food Tour pictures. I think that was probably on of the most fun things I’ve ever done in Paris. I also signed up and joined a couple of Meet Up group – and this past Saturday was my first Meet Up with the “International” group – we visited an area in Paris sometimes called “Little Algeria” – see the ‘Little Algeria’ tour pictures. This was one of the coolest thing I did too because had it not been because of that Meet Up group, I don’t think I would have found or visited this neighborhood – not on my own! I also signed up to do some day trip tours – this past Sunday I got a chance to visit the beautiful Mont Saint-Michel – see pictures here. Oh I’ve also signed up to meet up with people on Conversation Exchange site where I could meet people who want to practice English and who’d help me practicing my French. I’ve met a couple of people so far – it’s not as successful as the other activities only because the people on Conversation Exchange don’t always have the same motivation – it felt a bit more like meeting people on Match.com really (like the second dude I met whose profile said he was 37…. If he was 37, then I am 20 right now!). Anyway – I am still meeting a couple of more people this week. If anything, it’s more funny material to write about!
I have also just stopped being so “shy” (gasp!! What me?! shy?!) and just whatever – be my Indonesian-American-self who smiles to people and asks them how they’re doing! At this point – even superficial connection is OK, after all – aren’t all relationships started out on a more superficial level first anyway?
As a result of knowing that there are some things to do on my calendar plus making the superficial connections (let’s call it ‘first step’ connection), and just “going for it” – this past week things felt a bit more settled. Though my French is still quite broken – I feel like people some what understand what I am trying to say (and as long as they don’t talk too fast when they respond, I feel like I could ‘guess’ what they’re saying), I now have been going to the same café to get my coffee in the morning on my way to school, I take the same road every morning when I walk to class, I go to the same grocery store to get some food, I also am doing this bootcamp 2x a week, and I now have started hanging out with these two girls in my class (we’re actually planning to go to Zurich this weekend). I also took the initiative to recommend to my classmate to do a picnic this week in the evening and a few other things to do (putting my PM skills to work)!
So yeah – settled. Settled is a great word right now! It’s an awesome word right now.
I am now also getting excited about the things I’ve planned 🙂 I have a few more things I’ve signed up for and planned to do and places to go and visit. I am also quite fortunate to be in Paris right now – summer season has started, there’s SO much going on in the city in the next couple of months.
- Next Sunday, June 21 – it’s Paris’ Fete de la Musique – where basically music and dancing will be everywhere in Paris. Musicians will be playing out on every street you could think of! It’s happening in all over France actually. I can’t wait for that. And I am going to enjoy Fete de la Musique with the ‘American Expats in Paris’ Meet Up group.
- There are a couple of ‘movies in the park’ type of things that will also happen, which I’ve signed up to go.
- There will be different concerts in various public places (one will be at the Plaza de la Republique which is only 5 minutes walk for me).
- Then Bastille Day will be on July 14th.
It’s crazy good time to be here in Paris right now.
Anyhow … that’s it for now! I wish I could write faster, but I didn’t realize how much work having a blog is. You’d think I’d have all the time in the world right now – but not really. I mean – after all, I do want to use some of my time to also do nothing 🙂 I’m constantly torn between spending the time to write my own journal or this. And writing my own journal usually wins the battle for the most part coz that’s my therapy. And I wish I’m at that stage in my life where I’m brave enough to share the more raw and vulnerable things I write in my journal, but … it’s not yet where I am. So – I try to keep up with this as much as I could!
Thanks again for your support! I love getting the messages you send me via emails, or on Facebook, or messages you leave here
Till next time.