French Month-iversary

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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

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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.