Things I have learned in my first week in France:
- French people eat more bread than you’d think humanly possible. That cliché of buying a fresh baguette on your way home and nibbling the top? Not a cliché. Real life. RIP my metabolism.
- It is socially acceptable to have wine with every meal. I have adopted this habit quickly. Except breakfast, which is when you have your first of about forty espressos a day. Okay, not actually forty, but close.
- It is polite in French dinner culture to rest your non-eating hand on the table, and you will be made fun of if you rest your non-eating hand in your lap instead like they do in North America.
- It is only a matter of time before I accidentally kiss someone on the mouth because I’m hella awkward about the whole cheek kiss thing every. Damn. Time.
- If two French people were strangers I’d have no idea because everyone seems to be bffs.
- When you move to another country it is very likely you won’t feel like you’ve moved to another country.
That last one is the most important. A ton of people from back in Canada have asked me, “How’s France??” and every time I want to say, “I have literally no idea.” Because it doesn’t feel like I’m here. Okay, yes, there are about seventeen types of cheese in the fridge, I’m surrounded by mountains, and the only English I hear in a day comes from Netflix. I know I’m in the South of France. But it’s really hard for me to actually realize it.
Maybe it’s because I’ve already been thrown into the family’s routine. Maybe it’s because people here are so nonchalant about the fact that you can see the freakin Mediterranean Sea around ever bend. Personally I think it’s because I’m a very introverted and very introspective person, so I tend to really notice stimuli all around me and overthink about it, and since nearly everything is brand new to me, it’s a lot to process.
But the most important thing is that everything is great. The family is beautiful and so full of love and it’s really inspiring. Sometimes the kids put me on the verge of a meltdown, but they’re sweet at heart and oodles of fun. And the city. Oh my god the city. Today I sat on a secluded beach on the Mediterranean for like three hours and found myself just sitting and staring out at the beauty.
I am so lucky. So unbelievable lucky. I know this opportunity wasn’t just handed to me and I had to work a bit for it, but honestly, I hope I never take for granted what I have because holy crap I have more than I could have dreamed.
A number of people have told me it’s really brave or admirable to just up and move to another country. Some (mostly the parents of my friends) have told me it’s very smart for me to take time after University to figure out what I want. I didn’t fully process any of their words when I was still at home, but now that I’m here, I get it. If I could give any advice to anyone, young or old, at any stage in life, it would be to do whatever the heck you want. Just make like Nike and do it. Being an Au Pair in the South of France encompasses so many dreams I’ve always had. I never thought I’d doing all this, and I’m so damn happy that I am. Live the dream, kids.
Okay it’s night time in France and I’ve had a good amount to drink tonight (yes it’s a Tuesday but did you miss the part where I said the French drink literally all the time??) so it is the time for me to sleeeeeep.
*kisses each of your cheeks because that’s what French people do when they say good night*