The First Days in Paris
I'm writing this blog post in what's called an "anti-cafe," or basically a co-working space that charges for wifi / coffee / snacks by the hour (versus by the coffee). It's a trendy, cozy place - there's a wall made of plants, big long tables, bean bag chairs and reading nooks. Probably something you'd imagine in Brooklyn, not tucked alongside a Parisian cafe. This is my third attempt (today) to find a cafe with wifi to download reports needed for work. And I'm only here because it takes two weeks for someone to set up your internet...
Arriving to my "anti-cafe", I got stuck on a bus that was stuck behind a garbage truck that was stuck behind an ambulance. Three stuck's deep! The bus driver was speaking to everyone in French and promptly, everyone got off the bus. What's a girl to do but follow the leader? We all walked to the next bus stop, attempting to wait for the next arriving bus. Yet by the time the new bus showed up, the original had sped on by. Is this why the French say "c'est le vie?" Translation: such is life.
This is my second country I've lived in, besides the United States, so I come to expect certain stages of this experience. Or maybe it's more accurate to say I expect less from most situations, at least in the early stages. Don't get me wrong... I bet some of you are thinking, "But Maggie is such a jerk, she's living in Paris and is starting to complain already? What a snob!" I hear you. This is a privilege in itself (bonus points for using the word privilege?) but hey, this is my life and my experience so I have the right to be sad, happy, complain, shout, meow, whatever I want! Now that's out of the way...
What does expecting less look like? What is moving to another country really entail the first few weeks? Imagine this: you take everything you own, every routine you've set up for yourself, every friend you have and the language you speak then THROW IT INTO A FLAMING PIT OF FIRE! What are you left with? No home, no belongings, definitely no more routines, no mode of communication (although thank the Universe for smart phones!) and most importantly, freedom.
Despite all it's craziness, it's worth it. When I lived in Spain, I only cried twice: the first day and the last day. I missed my old life on day one and didn't feel regret until I had to leave. Just another few months, please? Sadly, my bank account didn't agree...
Still interested? Good. Here are some fun things we've dealt with this past week:
- On day one, we found carpet bugs had invaded our bed
- The toilet is literally on the opposite of the apartment than the rest of the bathroom. I've walked into our sink / shower area at least twenty times, only to shout "crap" when I realize les toilettes is right next to our front door
- There is no AC in our building (although our building is from the French Revolution time and connects to the Catacombs, so that's pretty cool)
- The windows don't have screens, so our cat has almost jumped fours stories down multiple times meow
- We have a laundry machine the size of your microwave (though thank the Universe we have a washer + dryer combo, wooo!) and it only takes 3.5 hours for one load
- One load fits THREE towels! You jealous yet?
- When you apply for a bank account, it takes an hour and you have to write down every amount of money you own, sign 20 pieces of paper, and answer an ungodly amount of paperwork
- Everyone gets a copy of your bank info + passport, as they auto debit your account for bills. If I have multiple identities pop up all over Europe, you know why...
- Speaking of, the French do not have ANY credit cards. It's only debit cards here
- Download CityMapper if you ever visit Paris. It's a life saver and gets your where you need to go in a flash!!
- Wherever you are, if there is a button on a metro or bus door, press it if you want to open the door! Don't just assume they will Houdini open for you. This is the land of eco-friendliness; why open and waste energy if no one is there?
- When you leave your country, you get to unsubscribe from all the crappy emails you receive in your inbox. Loft 40%?? Cool but no longer relevant!! Let's lighten the virtual weight together (unsubscribe, unsubscribe, delete, wooo)
And more importantly...
- Everywhere is a post card waiting to be printed and I can't believe I live here!
- Paris is still incredibly beautiful, even if it's rainy and cloudy and cloud
- People have been extraordinarily nice and have gone out of their way to help us. This surprises the locals just as much as it may surprise you (my whole team, French locals, still doesn't believe this one - my boss responded, "Paris would be the perfect place if Parisian's left the city...")
Keep following along. I'm tackling language lessons over the next two days. Merde!