There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of successfully navigating seemingly tireless bureaucracy, for example. Living in Paris is no walk in the park for an expat; there is a ton of paperwork and forever a long process to legally reside here. But as such, earning a carte sejour is a celebration in and of itself.
Efficiently opening a bank account and receiving an imagine-R card have brought about similar pride.
The same goes for uncovering Parisian gems and establishing neighborhood favorites. Although it's frustrating that the French (in general and in particular) have a tendency to superlative-ize their civilization, this city does boast a multitude of enviable museums and restaurants, amongst other venues.
Being able to critique such things is a very unique opportunity. I undoubtedly notice more here--whether it pertains to French art, American culture, or Mexican food. The daily grind has become intellectually stimulating, almost as much as my time spent within AUP's classrooms.
That's no coincidence. This is why I feel better abroad. And even in a constant state of missing, I'm not alone.
Being far from home has created wonderful communities of students, young professionals, fellow bloggers who--in many ways--have promoted the removal of "barriers of language, culture, and geography." It's an irreplaceable and invaluable experience to be exposed to such diversity. I've tried to enjoy every moment.
It's not easy. I wish I could see my family more often and spend time with my friends again. Instead, I seem to meet new people each week, and only if I'm lucky, consciously navigate my way into an authentic new bond. But it is extra special when that happens. Just a few weeks ago, as I stood in one of the most photographed spots in Paris with my German boyfriend and his brother, I couldn't help but think of all these chances I wouldn't have been given were I to have stayed at home. Despite the sometimes gloomy days, I am so grateful for them all. Stay tuned for more from spring break in Portugal with some of my favorites.