Saturday, December 14, 2013

what paris taught me

I'm watching the most beautiful snow fall outside my window right now. Most of my family is still sleeping. I am happy to be home. And before I thought I would be, Paris and I spent a really nice week enjoying each other. I finally had the time to do so.
And reflect, too, on all the ways I've grown. I don't doubt that some of it has to do with unavoidable maturity, but other aspects feel as if they've resulted from my circumstances--an unattached American graduate student living in the City of Lights. In particular...
It's not all about me. I didn't consider myself self-centered before, but my gosh, how leaving the land of convenience is humbling. Most processes, critical and not, require ample paperwork and wait time. Very few to-dos are simple and quick, and almost none can be taken care of on a Sunday. Customer service is rarely of utmost important, at varying degrees. The city just does not function in every which way to make life easier for its residents or visitors. But, maybe that's okay. It keeps me on my toes, "suffering" through it like everyone else. I'm reminded how much of a privilege it is to do life there for a while. And it truly is.
Rest is a given, pleasure is a necessity. My modest self is letting go of indulgence-guilt. (1) Dessert is a staple. It might be as simple as fruit at home, but when eating out, it's silly not to partake in something sweet and special when it's already incorporated into the menu (2/3-course, prix-fixe). (2) Strolling is not a crime. The New Yorker in me may get frustrated with a slow pace, but walking without worry about time or destination is such a luxury. (3) Though I haven't experienced them myself, those generous vacation times really do exist. The French use them, too, and without any remorse. I wish the U.S. would follow suit.
I don't know it all. As much as I dislike the "what don't you like about the French?" question, my go-to answer is related to how often I've been lectured by strangers. It's one of the most frustrating frequencies. Should've, could've, would've is hardly productive to begin with. When paired with needless advice from adults I'll never see again, patience as a virtue reaches a whole new level.
Less is usually more. Already an observer, living abroad has encouraged me to be more so as I take note of foreign norms. One of which I've embraced gladly? The au natural look. I've been out and about virtually makeup-free countless times in the past year and a half; infinitely more often than I ever before. It's felt good to have developed more self-assured confidence in my appearance. Not to mention... a quicker morning routine! This is also true in shopping. For example, I've come to love how a tiny fridge calls for daily trips to the grocery store. It's encouraged mindfulness and creativity with meals and all around better budgeting.
As I figure out a new academic routine in an all too familiar home, there's no avoiding contemplation on these internal changes that don't quite fit into my native structure. And yet, I'm optimistic I'll be okay. It's not like c'est pas possible is an American phrase :).

12 comments:

  1. I totally agree with the last one that Less means more. It applies when packing for travel adventures :).

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    1. Yay, glad you get it. It can apply to so many great things :)

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  2. I love this, and I'm so glad I found your blog. I've lived abroad three times - only for short periods of time, but living abroad pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to grow personally like few other things I've ever experienced. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Jordan Lynn! I'm glad you did, too :)

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  3. Love your blog! I nominate you for a sunshine award for bringing sunshine to my day! See my site for details. XO

    Sweet Apple Lifestyle

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    1. Thank you, Katie! So sweet. I'll be sure to post about it soon. xo

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  4. Danielle, this is such a great post in so many ways, but like the rest of your site, it's incredible honest! It's important and powerful to know we're not alone in our 20's struggle, don't you think? Happy homecoming! And if you ever find yourself in Philly... :)

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    1. Thanks,, Lisa. I really appreciate it! It is important and powerful indeed. Would love to cross paths someday :)

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  5. It's nice to be able to go home and reflect. I'm doing that right now, although the difference between NYC and Massachusetts isn't quite as drastic :p happy holidays Danielle!


    the worldling blog

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  6. Hi Danielle! This is just a notification to let you know a little something is on its way to you from the Christmas City Swap. Hope it reaches you soon. ;) Happy Holidays!

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