My first long trip to France

For the next few posts, I’ll be reposting from a blog I created almost 10 years ago, in the spring of 2013, when I decided to take a six-month sabbatical to live in the outskirts of Paris with Robin. He had just accepted a job with the CNRS and we were growing tired of our long-distance relationship so I quit my job and moved without any plan at all. I think it’s quite funny that I happened to stumble upon this on the first week of my current sabbatical. The more things change, the more they stay the same…


I think my least favorite thing to do is to come up with usernames, titles, or even e-mail subject lines. It’s so hard for me to find those kinds of all-encompassing, memorable but unassuming key words or phrases. The reason I chose this seemingly random blog title is because I have six months to live in Paris without having to work, go to school, or have any sort of responsibility looming over me. I am as free to be a flâneur as I want. It made me think of those playing old-school video games where if you unlocked certain levels you got to run around collecting as many coins as your little heart desired. Très poétique, non?

Since I have this relatively unheard-of opportunity to have boundless free time when you graduate (without being a trust-fund baby or a headache to your parents) I’ve decided to set some goals for myself:

  • Achieve fluency in French.
  • Learn a random talent or skill.
  • Read a book each week.
  • Try out non-profit work and decide if I want to make a career out of it.

These are just the main ones I want to focus on: I’ll have others, of course, but that’s the meat and potatoes of it.
I’ve been to France about four or five times now, staying at least three weeks each time so I think it’s reasonably fair to state that I know it relatively well by now. What I didn’t expect, is the complete lack of butterflies and nervousness I felt during the entirety of my travel and arrival. It honestly felt as routine as coming back home. I guess that says something.

I also hadn’t made any effort to speak or write in French because I’d been having a small love affair with Portuguese for the past few months. And that, mes cheries, is what’s going to make this short stint very interesting. I feel like I’m having to relearn this language all over again. There are some little curiosities that I’ll have fun discovering like the fact that at Leclerc, you don’t hand the cash to the cashier, you slip in into a machine about three feet away. Also, when I was trying to buy lettuce I didn’t realize there were SEVEN varieties to choose from that all looked the same. 

I am, of course, in a very developed country which isn’t as much of a culture shock as if I’d moved to small-town Zambia but there are still some things that are pretty different.

Now, I’ll try not to be too sappy here but seeing Robin was like being made whole again. I think we’d missed each other so much that when we were together again, it was like we’d never been separated. Living with him is as easy as breathing and drinking to me.

Re: pictures, I accidentally only brought my telephoto lens so I’ll be posting much more pictures once I find a different one!


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