That went quickly! It’s now been more than a month since I touched down in Paris on January 25th. (I drafted this post on February 27th…so this is truly only about my first month!) It flew by! In fact, I almost let the one month anniversary pass without even realizing it – though once I did, I treated myself to (French) onion soup and a cocktail as I was walking home 🙂
If we’re friends on Facebook, you can find all my pictures from the past month (and ongoing) at this link. If not, enjoy the photos at the end of the post!
But back to the main topic – this month. What an adventure it’s been!
I’ve been totally immersed in French from the moment I stepped off the plane, from the shuttle driver who picked me up from the airport to my landlord to my lab, even (!), I’m improving a lot (and realizing how little a degree in French teaches you about having a casual conversation in the language!). My comprehension was already quite good and is now at the point where I can follow almost any conversation & even learn lab techniques in French. Speaking is a bit harder as well as slower to improve, but I’ve noticed myself being more comfortable chiming in to conversations recently, especially over the past week. It’s definitely easier to recognize a word in context than to remember it for speaking, but I’m getting there by forcing myself to continue in French even when people want to speak to me in English. It’s working at places like museums and restaurants. With my friends, there’s a balance because some of them want my help learning English as much as I want to practice French.
I’ve also been doing a decent job of balancing work and “tourist time”. All of my weekends so far have been spent exploring Paris, traveling to different neighborhoods and visiting various museums, shops, and (of course) restaurants! My apartment is in a great location for getting elsewhere in Paris either by metro, bus, or walking. I’ve been taking advantage of that and the mild weather to explore as much as possible. It’s more difficult during the week, but I have used many evenings to explore my neighborhood for dinner and the occasional late night shopping escapade (mostly for pastries and ice cream!). I’ve also been sampling any patisserie I walk past to try and find my favorite baguette and croissant…nothing’s been bad, and it’s certainly been fun to sample so many! 😉
At the same time, I was happy the first week I felt like I had settled in to Paris, and into a routine (even if the “routine” includes not making plans for after lab so that I can wander around the neighborhood). That wasn’t until last week, when I started to feel more comfortable with navigating the city (though still not my strong suit!) and had figured out more or less where different metro lines could take me. This is now the longest single stretch of time that I’ve been out of the United States by about 1 week – and by far the longest I’ve been in a single location outside the U.S., because when I studied abroad in Cluny we were only there for two weeks, interspersed with trips to other towns in the region. So I had no way to predict when it would stop feeling like a vacation and start feeling like home. I guess the answer is about 3 weeks. I’m happy that Paris is starting to feel like a city I belong in, just like Pittsburgh did for a long time after I moved there. As I think ahead to all that I want to do here in the next 6 months, I often think that there is too much to do for the time I have. Yet at the same time, I don’t want Paris to ever become boring to me (like Pittsburgh recently has), so maybe I’ll be okay in a way if I don’t get to do everything. I want to want to come back after this adventure is finished.
Well, there you have it- my stream of consciousness after one month of this amazing adventure in Paris. I should write again soon about some more of the specific fun things I have done in the month…stay tuned! Much love ❤