Monday, October 25, 2010

Commencer Frais (starting fresh)

I know that it isn’t even Halloween yet, but I am so excited for Christmas. Right now I am in my room bundled up drinking tea and listening to Christmas music. And I really need it, because it reminds me of home. It makes me feel that delicious kind of nostalgia that doesn’t make you sad at all, just peaceful. 
And peace is something I have been craving a lot lately, as the past month has been a whirlwind of new experiences and adventure. And I love adventure… which is part of the reason that I made the decision to come here in the first place. 
The transition has been harder than I ever, ever imagined it would be. Not that I would show anyone here that. I have put on a brave face: I tackled the train system, I am making friends with people who I can barely communicate with (the french is coming along though) I am getting used to kissing everyone for greeting, and I am working very hard at my job. I have been training for cross country and track next year, and I am learning to drive among the terrible European drivers. I have even taken the train into the city several times by myself on my days off… The first time being only a week after I got here. So I am doing well adjusting. But since a blog is kind of like a journal, and I feel like I need to be honest on here, it has been really hard some days. 
But I really feel like God has been telling me to just trust him. Even though I keep asking why he brought me here, he wants me to lean on him and trust that there is a reason. And I know that a lot of it is about experience and adventure, but I want it to be about more than that. I want to do something good over here. I want to learn about life and myself. God has really given me a greater hunger for him and a desire to know him more, and thats what this year should be about. 
I have had some really amazing experiences so far though! I have seen the eiffel tower, the arc de triumph, the sacre couer and the notre dame. I have eaten at a cute little french cafe and shopped (which is a must in paris). I bought a baguette at a boulangerie. I have gotten lost so many times (both driving and walking) and had to figure it out. That was actually not an amazing experience, more traumatic. :) And I have made some really great friends that have made a deal with me: I help them with their english and they help me with my french. So the majority of my conversations have been a complete mess of english and french combined into one crazy mixture: frenglish? I don’t know. haha. Luckily, the family I am living with are actually American. So they help me a lot. And there is a girl in the family who is only two years younger than me, so that is great!
And there are some really funny things about Paris that I just haven’t gotten used to yet. For example:
  • Everyone here kisses each other on both cheeks for greeting. And I know that everyone knows this from movies, but it is even more so than that. You kiss everyone you greet, even if you have never been introduced to them before. You do this saying goodbye as well. So by the end of the day you have kissed hundreds of people :) I hope I don’t carry this habit back to America with me and forget next year. That would be awkward. 
  • You are not allowed to turn right at red lights here. And the stop lights are so small and on your side, not above you. And the drivers are so bad. I have almost died a couple times now!
  • And food is different here too. The other day, I found peanut butter in the FOREIGN FOODS section. It was a fourth of the size of a normal jar and almost six euros. Maybe I should have known that this would be the case, but I was still shocked! 
  • And you can’t really look at people in the eyes when you are walking down the street. I have been warned several times that smiling at someone you don’t know when walking down the street is a total AMERICAN thing to do, and that it comes across as if you are picking them up. And you don’t want to be labled as American, especially if you are by yourself or on the train, because it makes you more of a target for stealing and such.
  • They strike all the time here! Because the government wants to move the retirement age from 60 to 62, everyone is striking. In the past month there have been many days where the trains wouldn’t run, students blocked entrances to their school, and news stations shut down. All of this caused a gas shortage too, so many stations ran out of gas. The wait to get it is still about an hour depending on where you go. One night, I got stranded in Paris because my train wasn’t running, so I had to figure out a different way home by myself! Another day thirty workers at the railroad station stood on the tracks and blocked our train from moving. It was crazy.
I miss and love all of you so much!
I know this post is very long, but they will get shorter. I just had to catch up on over a month in this one. 
BISOUS! (kisses)