Weekend trip to Paris
Valence (Where I really hang out.)
Bourg de Péage and Monster #1 (Where I live.)
My French cat friend. (Obviously.)
Well it’s been almost one year to the day since my last post. Sorry for this, but I got caught up in a whirlwind of wonderful literature in order to finish my degree. Somewhere in between Jane Austen and drunkenly gazing at a meteor shower under the Arkansas sky, I decided to move to France. Right now I find myself working as an au pair in a small town in southern France, slowly improving my French and trying to enjoy each moment before I have to start thinking about what I want to do next. After being here for two months I would love to say that the transition has been easy and perfect, but that is not the case. I take care of two boys ages 3 and 7 who don’t speak any English (also whom I respectfully call my little French monsters). Contrary to popular belief, French children are not better behaved than American children. Kids are kids; they are the same everywhere. Although the first couple of weeks were pretty tough, I am getting along much better with the children, my French has improved immensely, and I have made friends with other au pairs and some native inhabitants of France.
I think the most interesting thing about visiting or moving to a different country is the array of little cultural differences that sometimes take you by surprise. Although France is very much a westernized country, it does have its own way of doing things, and I find that I quite enjoy their way of life. The very first thing that I had to master was the “double kiss on the cheek” greeting. (Yes, that is a real things here. Handshakes are met with a confused stare and 5 seconds of awkward silence.) Also, depending on where you are located in France, there are a different number of kisses. In my region there are three, most places there are two, and in Bretagne and some others, it can be four! At first I wasn’t sure if you just greet your good friends like this, but I quickly learned that you must greet everyone in this way. There is also the problem of wearing glasses and having them hit the other person's face, or worse when both people have glasses...by the end, you're just glad your glasses are still intact. On behalf of the French people, I have to say the rumor about them being rude is completely false. Everyone has been extremely nice to me - even the rudest of the rude, Parisians. From my experience, I think they get this bad rap because they are so straight-forward. I personally tend to get my feelings hurt when people are direct with me, but I am learning to get past it. French people say what they feel, even if it may come off a bit harsh, and then it's done and they move on. They will never 'beat around the bush' like we people of the states do. It’s definitely a challenge, but I also find it very refreshing.
Since my visit to Paris, I have had a famous French song stuck in my head called “La Vie en Rose” which literally translates to “the life in pink.” It is a very romantic song, and although I am not in love, yet (cross your fingers for a handsome 30-something French business man with a vacation house in Italy), I feel that I am seeing my life through a pink lens here. For the first time in a long time, I am enjoying each beautiful moment and not worrying about what is coming next. I hope this post finds you all in a good state of mind.
“Quand il me prend dans ses bras il me parle tout bas je vois le vie en rose.”