Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Happy 6-Month-iversary!

Can you believe it! It's my 6-month-iversary in Paris today!
...Yes, it's a real thing.
... No, the beret is not cutting off circulation to my brain.
It's something to celebrate, people!

Six whole months to the day since I quit my job, got on a plane, and followed my dream to move to Paris! How fast time has flown since I first stepped onto French soil and saw my new host mom waving a "Welcome Ruth!" sign, clad in a glamourous blue Hawaiian jumpsuit and 6-inch heels. I will never forget that moment. It feels like you are tumbling in a free fall, and someone wonderful catches you. Or "someones", as I would discover meeting my new family abroad and some crazy amazing friends.

I will never forget how really "foreign" everything felt, the signs, the buildings, the cars, the trees. My ears felt like they were filled with cotton, and my eyes like they were popping out my head. I will never forget falling asleep that first night after a casual walk to the friendly neighbor Eiffel Tower, wondering what on earth I was doing in Paris, France.

They always tell you how much you change during a year abroad, but I don't think you realize what that change means until you do actually it. It's a different change than say, starting a new job, or moving to a different apartment. There are changes happening to your absolute core of thinking and being that you don't anticipate, because you've never realized how much of who you are is not universally human.

I was so curious beginning this journey to see how I might change. Let's be honest... psst, lean in close, this is a secret... it was my biggest fear of this whole journey. What sort of woman would I become if I moved to a different country for a year? Would I like myself in the end? Would I even recognize myself? I liked who I was then, in my comfortable Ohio bubble of existence; I thought I was doing pretty well. I was scared that if I moved to such a foreign place, so far from home, I may really change. For good. 

And you know what? I have.

I'm no longer that same girl who left Ohio 182 days ago. There are of course the superficial things you adopt when you move to a new culture. The way I dress, what I eat, how I move, what I spend my free time doing, it's all different now. My tastes in art and humor and music and film and food, it's all being influenced by this alluring, dangerous Paris. But more than that, deeper than that, there is real change. My view of the world is being broadened at lightening speed. The more I explore the grandeur of the world, the more introspective I become. As I see more places and know more people, I am forced to figure out how these experiences apply to what I already believe to be true in life. As they contradict each other, I have to reevaluate what is true, how it all fits together. And sometimes, it really just feels like trying to put a twin-size bed sheet on a queen-size mattress. But it's a delicious sort of stretching. The kind you can't get any other way.

So what's the biggest change I've seen so far during my year abroad? I would have to say it is my boldness. Now some of you are saying, ha! You didn't need anymore of that, Rue. But I'm not talking about that outspoken, listen-to-me kind of boldness. I mean something that makes you feel an almost tangible survivability. Living abroad kindles an inner strength, a belief that you can do things you never thought you could. To travel alone. To eat strange things. To speak with foreigners in a foreign tongue. To be selective in the company I keep. To be around people who are better than me, and to humble myself enough to learn from them. To separate my relationship status from my happiness. To dare to reinvestigate the bones of my faith and who God is. To question the core of my being and how this new me fits in the world.

With 6 more months to go, I expect to more to come, but I am no longer afraid of change now. 
I am running it down like it's the last breath I've got.

Twenty of my best and biggest moments so far:

1. Traveling to 7 different countries
2. Speaking conversational French
3. Dancing at a royal ball in Vienna
4. Climbing a mountain in the Alps
5. Being attacked by a crazy Swiss carnival parade
6. Learning how to let people go (you do this a lot living abroad)
7. Baguettes. Toutes les baguettes!
8. Taking my first taxi (isn't this one ridiculous?! At least it was to a castle...)
9. Experiencing the solidarity of Parisians through the terrorist attacks
10. Finding a leather jacket for 10€ in a kiloshop (give me one fashion moment, please)
11. Butchering a rabbit
12. Hanging out with the band at the blues club til 3a.m.
13. Walking everywhere
14. Salsa dancing (duh!)
15. Baking an American pumpkin pie with French ingredients, from scratch
16. Finding French Christmas presents for my family
17. Being serenaded by a harp playing "La Vie en Rose"
19. Making friends from all over the world
20. Realizing I have 6 more months in the most beautiful city in the world

Bisous, mes chers lecteurs!

No comments:

Post a Comment