French Thanksgiving

To answer your question, no, Thanksgiving is not a thing in France. They’re totally oblivious to the idea of celebrating the harvest or remembering our European settlers or whatever other probably racially insensitive thing this holiday was created from.

But when you have a Canadian girl with passable culinary skills living with you, Thanksgiving is a thing in France.

My indescribably wonderful host family is really keen on the idea of an exchange of culture, even though I constantly tell them that “Canadian culture” consists of a mix of European and American traditions, covered in a light drizzle of maple syrup and/or cheese curds. Still, they insist on being educated in my Canuck ways, so about a week ago we decided we would host a Canadian Thanksgiving.

On one hand, I was jazzed to get a taste of home. On the other hand, I was terrified as heck because I’d literally never made Thanksgiving dinner, plus I’m a vegetarian so I don’t even know how to make half the dishes?????

But apparently I’m braver/more stupid than I thought, so on Saturday I spent literally the whole day in the kitchen (albeit a little hungover because that’s half the tradition) with my host mom, making stuffing, veggies, potatoes, turkey (which was actually chicken because you can only get turkey at Christmas in the French Riviera), and pumpkin pie to feed 9 adults and 4 children, most of whom were experiencing Thanksgiving for the first time ever.


But it turned out amazing. Like, better than I could have dreamed. They loved the food. I made stuffing for the first time in my life and wow not to boast but it was DELICIOUS. And I made an entire pumpkin pie from scratch in a country that doesn’t sell canned pumpkin purée because they have literally never heard of pumpkin pie nor do they understand that it is a dessert.

I see a French green card in my future because I am totally wife material.

(Okay, chill, I know that was, like, the least feminist thing to say but IT WAS A JOKE OKAY??)

(Not entirely a joke. I’m lowkey looking for a French husband to keep me in the country shhh don’t tell immigration.)

All bragging and joking aside, it may very well have been the best Thanksgiving I have ever had. Maybe it was the champagne (and I’m talking REAL champagne, not sparkling wine) but I almost teared up a few times our of pure thankfulness for my host family. I sound like a Charlie Brown special, but honestly, I really learned the meaning of Thanksgiving this year. I have such an incredible family who are so invested in my life and my culture that they are willing to orchestrate probably the most complicated Canadian holiday, so that they can learn more about me and give me a welcoming French experience. I genuinely feel like the most fortunate human being in the world, and I am trying so hard to not take any of this for granted because holy crap I am really damn lucky.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do after France. Heck, I don’t know if I will ever leave France at this point, if I can swing it (re: wife material). My future is more uncertain than it’s ever been but eff the future because the present is pretty freakin fantastic.

I realize I come from a lot of privilege, so I will not just say, “you, too, can have an amazing life like this!!” because I know that’s a narrow-minded perspective. But what I will say is do not settle for anything. I know I sound like a broken record in all my French blog posts, but seriously, moving to France is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve never wanted something more, and I’ve never been happier. So reach as far as you can, and then go one step further.

Oh and just a heads up I’ll be starting a pastry business if I ever move back to Canada because DAMN I make a good pie.


French Month-iversary


This Friday (September 30th) marks my one month anniversary of moving to France, and you better believe I will treat myself to a pastry from the Boulangerie around the corner to celebrate.

Holy crap it’s been a month. It does not feel like I have been here that long. Honestly, it still doesn’t feel real at all. Even a month in, I still stop myself and think, oh my god, I literally live in France. In. France. You’d think it would have hit me by now, considering how much baguette and wine I consume on the daily.

But one thing is for absolute sure: I do not regret it at all.

In the past month I have not once cried about being homesick. I have not called my parents in a panic. I have not curled up in the floor in a puddle of lamentation for my life in Canada. I never really expected to do any of those things, but I also never expected NOT to do them, ya know?

But how can you feel regret in such a stunning place? The the culture and the scenery and the people and the language and the food and the everything. You can do some cool shit here, and boy have I done some cool shit.

I’ve gone to the beach more times in the past month than I think I have in my entire life. I’ve consumed meals on the beach so often that I am no longer phased by the view. I’ve gone stand up paddle boarding on the Mediterranean. I’ve had dinner on a rooftop with the most beautiful French people, drinking the most delicious champagne. I’ve gone swimming in a pool at a villa on a hill overlooking the sea. And I’ve done a few other wonderful things that I can’t share on such a public platform.

And that’s just the big stuff; don’t even get me started on sipping espresso outside cafés and wandering along cobblestone streets and exploring harbours and speaking more French than I realized I knew and drinking wine, oh my god, drinking wine.

And perhaps the most incredible thing of all is that while doing these things, I have been welcomed with such uninhibited love from everyone I have encountered. Maybe it’s because they feel bad for me because I’m foreign or maybe they’re fascinated by my long legs and pasty skin (JK I FINALLY GOT A TAN!!!) but every person I encounter here treats me like a best friend from the moment they kiss both my cheeks. The most loving of the bunch has been my host family, for whom there are no sufficient words to describe how warmly they’ve welcomed me into their family, and the respect and appreciation I have for them.

I have a family and friends and I am truly making a life for myself here, and it’s so incredibly exciting that I have another year to continue to explore and learn and enjoy (and work on my tan).

Sometimes I feel bad for posting snapchats and instagrams and really anything about my French life because I don’t like bragging. But in talking about my adventures, particularly through my blog, my goal isn’t to boast about how amazing my life is, but to try to inspire anyone who will listen to chase after what they want. I am being very careful to not say “follow your dreams” because dreams happen when you’re asleep and I am very much awake. I know that sounds cheesy, but a friend I have made in France once said to me, in English but with a heavy French accent, “I am not living my dream, I am living my life.” His words really resonated with me (and not just because they sounded hilarious/beautiful with an accent) because, honestly, I don’t know what my dream is. Every since graduating university, I’ve had absolutely no idea how to answer the question, “What is your dream job?” and that is terrifying. But I am starting to learn, with the help of this incredible place and my new friend, that I don’t need to live a dream, I need to live my life. And, honestly, I think I’m doing a pretty damn good job (re: list of cool shit I’ve done).

Live your life. Do whatever you want. As morbid as it sounds, we’re all going to die at some point, so it’s more of a risk to not do what you want when you want to. You could claim that you’re young, you have time. But when you’re young, your life is much more malleable, and I firmly believe that the things you experience now will impact your entire life more than things later on. At the risk of being sued by Nike, I’m telling you to just fucking do it.

Two weeks ago when I was sitting on a paddle board on the Mediterranean, I was low key stranded because my friend had stolen my paddle, so I just sat there and looked out at everything and I honestly felt the happiest I have ever felt in my entire life. And that was the moment I realized that taking this big risk was absolutely worth it.

On ne vit qu’une fois. (That’s french for YOLO.)

The Nanny Diaries


There are probably a number of topless people in this photo.

(To clarify, I’m not a nanny, I’m an Au Pair. Those are very different things. Nannies spend their time taking care of young children. Au Pairs spend their days lounging at the beach until the children are done school for the day).

Things I have learned in my first week in France:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. If two French people were strangers I’d have no idea because everyone seems to be bffs.
  6. 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*

I’m moving to France on Monday

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How’s that for some click bait.

But unlike click bait, what you see is what you get. Because I’m actually moving to France. On Monday.

“Wait… What???!???!?”

On Monday I am hopping on a plane and moving to the city of Toulon in the South of France to live and work as an Au Pair for a beautiful family, for one year. For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Au Pair” is French for “a nanny who does hardly any work.” My job entails occasionally watching two adorable French children and helping them with their English, while eating their French food and living in their French home, which is a 5 minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea, btw.

I know. To quote our gods Jay Z and Yeezy, that shit cray.

If you’re thinking, “What the hell Marryl you leave Monday and I’m just finding out now??” I’m terribly sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I’m also just finding out now. Seriously. I got a call about my Visa being approved like two hours ago, and I just booked my flight. YOLO, right?

(s/o to the other god, Drizzy.)

If you’re wondering, “Why,” first of all you’re crazy because um why not?? I’M LITERALLY LIVING ON THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA. But seriously, I just graduated university, and I don’t know what I want to do with my life beyond something that is fulfilling. And I want to travel. So I figure this is a good option that doesn’t leave me completely broke.

If you want to keep up with my adventures (I’m not even close to Kardashian level of interest but I’ll do my best), I’ll be even more social-media obsessed than I am now, so follow me in insta/twitter/snapchat or whatever. Everything is “marrylsmith”. Oh god I feel like I’m ending a youtube vlog. Whatever. Shameless self promotion is the spice of life.

Oh and I’ll probably also blog a bit since my blog already has a French name so when I post on Wednesday it’ll actually be Mercredi where I am which, if you ask me, is LITERALLY THE BEST PART OF ALL THIS. Okay, so not literally. But close.

Okay anyway I have to go pack my whole life into 33 kilos of checked luggage BYE.

The struggles of dating in the 21st century

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Buckle your seat belts, kiddos, because it’s time for another good old-fashioned Millennial rant.

I’ll start of by clarifying that I don’t exactly have experience with dating in any other century but the 21st, unless of course you count that time I slow-danced with a boy in pre-school and we totally had a connection (whoever you are, if you’re reading this, message me?). Heck, I don’t even have that much experience with dating IN the 21st century. Introverts, amiright??? HAHA.. ha…

If Downton Abbey has taught me anything it is that dating has never been easy, so I’m not going to claim that navigating relationships in 2016 is any more difficult than it ever has been before. I will, however, hop up onto my tiny little pedestal and say that it’s pretty damn hard. Dating in the golden age of social media is complex, confusing, and just plain weird. There are so many unwritten internet rules and protocols to follow that seem totally irrational when you say them out loud, and I find myself doing things that are so dumb. But the main difference between feeling dumb now verses any other century is my regrettable choices are documented across multiple different technological platforms, constantly mocking me with read receipts and empty notification centres.

Let me explain.

I have a mathematical algorithm for how long to wait to text a guy back based on how long he waited to reply to me. I send Snapchat selfies of me looking cute to the guy I’m interested in, but I make sure to include my cat or something topical in the photo so it doesn’t like like I’m TRYING to look cute for him. I don’t like his Insta photo right after he posts it, even if I happen to be on Instagram at the time, so it doesn’t look like I’m stalking him (I am). And when he likes my photos I use the amount of time he waited to like it to analyze whether it’s because he thinks I’m pretty or because the caption is punny. I religiously check if he’s seen my Snapchat story. I worry that my cause of death will be a poorly-selected emoji. I have a PhD in lurking and can find out enough personal information to write a biography. I send screenshots of conversations to my groupchats with girlfriends to get their expert opinions on whether or not he’s flirting. And I have a paralyzing fear of making face-to-face, in person, real human being plans because I don’t want to be ghosted.

See what I mean? Dating in the 21st century has turned me into a completely irrational human being. And I even edited down that list of examples. I’ll admit, I’m a little ashamed of it. But I’m sure many people in the same boat as me would agree that trying to start a relationship in the social media sanctuary in which we live is like playing one big game of Chicken, where you win if you’re the most aloof and never, I repeat NEVER, double-text.

On the flip side, I do totally acknowledge the huge benefits of things like texting and Facebook when it comes to connecting with and getting to know a person. I have no idea how my parents communicated when they started dating. Morse code? Carrier pigeon? Calling one another on the telephone?? I don’t think a single person I know could recite my phone number from memory, and that includes my own mother. Technology is great, and my best friend is my Instagram account, so I’m definitely not knocking the 21st century altogether. But while its highs are high, its lows are low, and the dating world is hit hard by those lows.

I would say that the struggle is rooted a fear of seeming too eager or clingy, along with a desire to be wanted. I imagine these concerns have been a staple in dating across the decades, but I think that they are escalated in the 21st century because everything in our society is so instantaneous. Whenever I finally push down my social anxiety long enough to ask a guy to hang out, a million things run through my mind the second I hit “send.” Has he seen the message? We were just texting, he must have seen it. Maybe he’s busy. Does he have read receipts on? WHY DOESN’T HE HAVE READ RECEIPTS ON?? He JUST posted something on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat so he MUST be on his phone. Oh god, the three little dots of doom. Wait, why did he stop typing? WHAT WERE YOU TYPING?? Oh thank god he replied. Wait is that a yes? That’s a yes I think. Or was it a maybe? On a scale of 1-10 how eager is he? Oh god no he hates me I may as well just unfollow him now and move to Argentina.

I’m kidding. Mostly. Not really. Point is, trying to understand the rules of social media dating feels stressful and unnecessary. It’s so frustrating that I have to decode a text to figure out if a guy likes me. But if we all recognize that our behaviour is irrational, why do we keep at it? How about we just, oh I donno, communicate? I’m not saying I’m a saint when it comes to dating; far from it. I give as much confusing nonsense as I get, and I will openly admit that I’ve ghosted guys before. I do feel bad about that, but these days it’s just so easy. I feel so silly playing these games and getting worked up over a text message, but, like most things, I’ve gotta work with what I’ve got. Commitment scares me as much as the next human being, so I want to make sure I get it right and don’t lose opportunities, because putting yourself out there and getting rejected is hard to come back from especially when it’s over such an impersonal platform. But what I think I need to realize is the guys I am interested in are probably just as scared and confused as I am. Or at least I think that’s the case based on the caption of his Snapchat story from two weeks ago, which I lowkey watched three times. Snapchat doesn’t tell someone when you watch their story multiple times, right? Right??

I wish I had a hard and fast solution to our problem, my dear Millennials, but seeing as I’m still very single I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t. So instead I turn to the poetic words of my close personal friend Drake: “You know you gotta stick by me; soon as you see the text reply me.”

Throw caution to the wind and answer that text right away, and maybe, just maybe, you will get that one dance.

A Guide to Having No Direction in Life


At first, I didn’t understand Zayn wanting to leave One Direction. He has such a great thing going for him! He’s living the dream! Why wouldn’t he want to leave! Until I graduated from theatre school with a sudden lack of desire to do theatre at all. So, Zayn, I apologize for judging you because I totally get it.

As my undergrad came to a close, I found myself incredibly stressed out and panicky about what I was going to do post-graduation, and I made a very last minute decision to ditch the plan to move to Toronto and instead come home to give myself a chance to clear my head and not spend a stupid amount of money on living expenses. And my main motivation behind doing this was I realized I was basing my actions and choices on what I felt everyone was expecting me to do, and not what I actually wanted to do. You go to school for a thing, you study that thing, and then you graduate and should only want to do that thing, right? Wrong.

I still don’t know what I want to do, and honestly that’s scary as hell. This post had a lot of alternative titles, such as, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” “Why graduating sucks and you should never do it,” and, “Can someone tell me how to not want to cry literally all the time.” That last one was a frontrunner, but I decided to go with a much more uplifting option. I still feel scared every day because I honestly have zero clue what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I take comfort in the fact that plenty of other people are in this boat with me, so I’ve decided to be an optimist today. I am so far from an expert in this field, but here are some tips I’ve learned about how to not succumb to the crushing weight of feeling so lost in life.

1. Remind yourself of all the things you love that you may have forgotten about

If you asked me what I love to do, my instinctual response will be art. I have never wanted to make a career out of drawing and painting because I don’t want to feel obligated to do it and grow to resent it. But it will always be my first love. My undergrad was so hectic that I hardly ever got time to draw or paint, which was heartbreaking, so since moving home I’ve rediscovered my passion and my talent for fine arts, and I feel so good about myself for it. I feel so much joy when I am creating these pieces, which lets me take a break from the real world and forget about all the fear that comes with it. The flaw with post-secondary education is it is often too narrow, and our capacity to learn and to love as humans is so broad. So if you’re feeling lost, just remind yourself of the the things you uninhibitedly love, and do them.

2. Find new things to love

Two weeks ago I decided I wanted succulents, so I dragged my mom out to the nursery to help me pick out three new friends, and then I bought tiny pots for them, painted them, transplanted the plants, and now they’re living happily in a cute little row on the vanity table in my bedroom. This was such a small thing for me to do, but they give me a sense of joy and accomplishment. Plus they just so gosh darn adorable. If you feel stagnant, make tiny impulse decisions like buying plants or redecorating your room or volunteering somewhere. Realize the power you have in making simple choices like these and thrive in that power.

3. Find something you can have complete control over

One of the greatest struggles with being a recent grad, especially in the arts, is you feel like being successful involves so many factors that you can’t control. The job market isn’t there or you feel overqualified for part-time jobs or you have so many dreams that feel unachievable because of money or opportunity. Which is why I am so happy that I have recently fallen in love with running.

Wow, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.

A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to start running, which is something I have literally never been able to do, and what do you know, I’ve run nearly every day. I even ran on my birthday. Because I wanted to. How weird is that. And yesterday, I accidentally ran 7.5k. I say accidentally because I planned for 5k but was feeling so great that I just kept going. I love running because I feel like I have so much control over it, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I am so grateful for. When you graduate and don’t have this spectacular career waiting at your doorstep, you need to find things that keep you motivated and remind you how much potential you have. I’m probably going to sign up for a 10k later in June, which is wild because I have never run a 10k, but I am so excited for how accomplished I’ll feel when I finish. And if the idea of running makes you want to hit something, that’s cool, it doesn’t have to be running, but I promise you if you find something that let’s you set goals and push yourself and feel empowered, you’ll feel so much better about yourself.

4. Shamelessly remind yourself of all the things you have achieved

I have an honours Bachelor’s degree. How freakin’ cool is that. And from the University of Toronto, no less. AND a diploma from Sheridan College. I survived 40 hours of class per week, while holding a part-time job, performed in four main-stage plays, and came out of it all with a rockin’ CGPA. Wow. Look at me go. I should be the subject of the next Marvel movie.

All my bragging aside, you really have to step back and look at everything you’ve accomplished. Whether you’re done school, in school, didn’t do school at all, or you have a super cool job, or you volunteer, or maybe you just got out of bed today. Trust me, you have SO much to be proud of, so please take the time to recognize that and don’t let all the things you haven’t done yet overshadow all the things you have. Then go buy yourself a doughnut or twelve to celebrate because you deserve it.

5. Know that it’s perfectly okay to do nothing

I had a hell of an undergrad. I mean it when I say I had, like, zero free time. And even when I said had free time, I was lying to myself because there were a million things I should have been doing. So I have been doing a whole lot of nothing since I moved home, and you know what? That’s okay!! Honestly, you’re probably hella busy and more stressed out than you should be, so do NOT feel guilty for taking time to sit outside and read a book for a day, or binge an entire tv series, or flip between instagram, snapchat, and twitter for hours on end. During school, all I ever wanted was to just do nothing, and now that I have that opportunity, I’m having a hard time dealing with it because I feel lazy. But the thing is, I’m not. I’m using all this time to relax and breathe and rediscover myself and, honestly, that’s the healthiest thing I can do right now. So follow in my footsteps; they’ll probably lead you to the spot on the couch from which I’ve watched the entire Raptor’s playoff series.

Graduating is hard. It really is. I have absolutely no idea what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. None at all. And that’s such a terrifying and suffocating feeling. I’ve had a really tough three weeks since I moved home filled with a lot of self-doubt, fear, and helplessness. But you know what? I’m sure Zayn felt that way when he first left 1D but look at him now: I actually can’t get Pillow Talk out of my head.

My point is, whether you’ve just graduated, you’re still in school, or wherever you are in life: no one knows you better than you. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Take the time to understand what you love and what you want to do, and make sure you are self-motivated, and not motivated by what others expect of you. The only expectations you have to meet are your own, so push yourself, but also recognize your limits. You are so much more than you think you are, so let yourself realize this and be proud of yourself. Because I sure am proud of you. Plus, if you’re like me, you’re so young and have infinite time to figure it all out.

The world is our paradise, and it’s our war zone.

(See what I did there.)

Sexual harassment is never your fault

Yesterday, while I was waiting to cross at an intersection on my walk to school, a car that was turning the corner slowed right down, rolled down the passenger-side window, and a man in the passenger seat shouted, “Hey, Sexy.”

Good morning to you too, sir.

Naturally, I turned the other way and ignored him, holding my breath until the car drove away. I learned a long time ago that diffusing sexual harassment with silence is much easier, and much safer, than responding with the aggression I feel.

But this post isn’t about diffusing. This post isn’t about how scary it is to be sexually harassed. This post is about something much more serious.

As the light changed and I began to cross the street, I looked down and thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t wear knee socks with a skirt when my winter coat it so long. It looks a little scandalous.”

And then I proceeded to mentally slap myself for thinking such a thing.

Here’s a lesson that the world is trying to learn but is nevertheless learning very slowly: sexual harassment is never your fault. What you are wearing, where you are walking, what time of day it is, whether you’re out alone, does not matter. There is absolutely no condition that could lead you to blaming yourself for being sexually harassed. None. You are always the victim and you are never responsible. Please don’t forget that.

Victim blaming has been a hot topic in the news lately, particularly through the Jian Ghomeshi trial, and Kesha’s legal battles with Sony. There are a lot of articles and opinions flying around the internet and everything can seem very complicated. But the important thing to remember is that when a person opens up about a traumatic experience and we say they’re wrong because they, in some way, put themselves in the situation, we are threatening to silence all victims of sexual assault and harassment by making them feel they can’t come forward without being blamed.

The day I walk to school with a big sign on my backpack saying, “Please shout sexual profanities at me from your car,” is the day I may claim responsibility for being harassed. But until then, I am not asking for it.