France Version 2.0

24 10 2008

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of my time reading blogs. Most of them belonging to current or past language assistants. For the most part I enjoy starting at the beginning, even if the blog spans several years, which makes reading them feel like a novel. It always makes me reminisce back to when I was an assistant. The planning, the nervousness, the excitement. What do I pack? What should I bring? Where will I live?

Even though Toronto is the city that I call home, I’ve never lived here for a consecutive enough amount of time for it to feel like home. I’ve spent so much of my life moving around, and in the past 8 years I haven’t lived in any one city longer than 2 and a half years.

This time around I’m returning to France on a WHV . The planning and paperwork is winding down, so I’ve already starting thinking of this move as France Version 2.0. I have less excitement, but a lot more anticipation, since I feel like I already know what to expect. Especially since I’ve already made the leap over the hurdle that is the nightmare of trying to find an apartment in Paris (even if my studio is absolutely tiny, even by Parisian standards).

Friends have often asked me why I came back to Canada. I usually grudgingly say, “because I had to. Things just didn’t work out,” without going too much into detail. And I’ve even had a few people tell me that if I would have really wanted to stay in France then I would have found a way to make it work. But I can’t regret the past year in Toronto. Even if my old job didn’t end the way I wanted it to, it was a great career experience and I got to fulfill a major goal, so I shouldn’t complain, no matter how egotistical and psychotic my bosses were.

At the end of the day, not having one of those coveted red passports leaves you with few options. And as spontaneous a person as I am, I would never risk jeopardizing my future travel options, since there are many other countries that I’d love to travel to and potentially live in. And doing anything illegal ( under the table) remains firmly out of the question.

Yet like a choose your own adventure novel where the story always seems to have the same ending, I keep thinking back to the first time I lived in France, constantly trying to figure out how I could have avoided the kafkaesque administrative disasters that came out of that experience, eager to potentially avoid going through the same bureaucratic debacles again.

Since I feel much wiser from those life lessons, this time around I’m going over with the hopes of living there permanently and even if that dream doesn’t come to fruition, then I’ve got my backup plans B, C and possibly D ready for next year.



7 09 2008

I was walking down the street in Chinatown the other day and this homeless guy was staring at me. I thought for sure that he was going to ask me for money, but instead he shouted, “I love the way you dress!” LOL!

It just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Plus it made me smile.

Fille du coin

28 08 2008

This post feels so long overdue, I really meant to write more often, but procrastination is so much more fun when I’m reading other peoples blogs rather than writing on my own. Plus my summer has been boring, boring, boring! Though the one fun thing I did this summer was jet over to Paris a couple of weeks ago. I know it probably sounds really blazĂ© that I popped over to Paris at the last minute and spur of the moment without really telling anyone, but it was important!

And strangely enough, when I’m in Paris it doesn’t really seem like I’m in another country. I feel like I’m still at home, just in a different city. It was nice to be back in France again, even though I was just there in February. It’s kind of decadent knowing that I went to France twice in one year, but it just felt so necessary. And my recent trip back was more of an exploratory type trip…actually they both were.

My latest trip had me thinking a lot about a comment that a French guy I once dated told me the first night that we met. “T’as l’air une fille du coin,” is what he said when I told him that I was Canadian. And while exploring my (hopefully) soon to be hood in Belleville, that comment felt exactly right.

Belleville is a far stretch from other arrondissements that I’ve lived in, that are so quiet when you walk around at night, all you can hear is the sound of your own footsteps. The 16th– I’m thinking of you. But Belleville is different. It’s a mixture of artsy with immigrant, which gives the neighbourhood a nice lively vibe, despite the multitude of people who seem to have made the entrance to the Belleville metro both a drinking terrace and vendor’s stall. Belleville reminds me of Parkdale in Toronto, even though I’m not the biggest fan of that area.

There’s a lot to be discovered in Belleville and I know that I’ve barely scratched the surface since I didn’t get the chance to do as much exploring as I would have liked. From the trendy and crowded CafĂ© Cheri(e) to the pricey Hotel du Nord resto, I feel so eager to get to know it all.

The first day in my new quartier, I tried to ignore my jet lag as I walked around in an exploratory daze, telling my body that it hadn’t been more than 48 hours since I got a decent night’s sleep. As I made my way down rue Faubourg du Temple, I imagined that everyone milling about on the street could see the sleep deprived haze that I was in. Yet despite my brain fog, the combination of the colourful shops, clothing and the sea of faces in a multitude of shades told me that this was a place that I could belong as I try to make Paris my home.

In the beginning…

7 07 2008

I’ve always thought about writing a blog. I spend so much of my free time reading other people’s blogs, that I thought it was about time that I started my own. I used to write all the time, it was something that I felt very passionate about, especially when I lived in Tokyo. However as I got busier, I pushed it aside to focus more on my other interests.

I hope that this blog will be a space to share my thoughts on everything, from my travel adventures to random musing about the state of the world.

Thanks for joining me and Happy Reading!