It isn't easy being French

Le sigh. I would be remiss if I were to only blog about the good stuff.

Dave is at his first day of school and let me tell you something: it is lonely here!

Yesterday was a day full of highs and lows. I should start by saying my biggest fears with this whole moving to France thing was the fact that neither of us have an income (read: adjusting to a student budget & lifestyle) as well as what I would be doing with myself all day while he was at school. The language barrier, while frightening, seemed surmountable.

We woke up on Wednesday, Dave’s last day of summer vacation, if you will, and decided to make that trip to the zoo. Come to find out, the zoo here is a free park. You just walk right in and look at the animals. There is a parking fee but not when you take public transportation to get there! It was overcast all of yesterday, but not too chilly so we figured we would have good luck seeing the animals and off we went.

Now, let me backtrack just a minute. I’m used to the conveniences of home. Mostly that means that if I want to go somewhere, at a certain time, I get in my car and I drive there. There is no waiting on buses or trams and there is a very limited amount of walking involved with reaching my destination. But since we’ve been doing nothing but exploring our new city sans car, walking is all we’ve been doing and I’m not always so fond of it. It may make me sound like an out-of-shape lazy person, but it’s really my impatience more than anything else. I want to get where I’m going, period. To be honest, it’s a curse. Luckily, I’m not always in a hurry to reach my destination but yesterday I was over the walking.

A Day at the Montpellier Zoo
A Day at the Montpellier Zoo

After a long hike to the zoo (mostly because we didn’t know where we were going and of course we missed our bus stop and of course the next stop was waaaaay down the road even though the rest of the stops were about five feet apart), I snapped out of my mood and enjoyed the animals.

The park is huge, with a “green area” running trail that skirts around the south-eastern border or the park. Some even opted to run through the park, which seemed odd to this American, but upon further review, why wouldn’t you do that?

After getting back on the tram around 2pm, we were starting to get hungry and the trams were crowded, so we got off on a different stop, thinking it was probably about the same distance to our place as our normal stop. And it probably was. But it was uphill. This city is very hilly in general— a poor man’s San Francisco, in that regard. And I was not in the mood to walk anymore. I huffed and puffed (literally…it was a big hill) all the way to our front door where I just flopped on the bed. I was defeated by my new city, the fact that I was just surrounded by people speaking a language where I had no idea what was being said, the fact that I relied heavily on Dave to communicate and for dealing with our finances since our bank cards haven’t arrived yet. And the fact that I wasn’t able to hide from it all in the comfort of my own surroundings. Rather, I had a mattress that is as stiff as a board and a pillow that I swear is made of tissue paper that smashes down to nothing when you put your head on it.

I have always been independent. I think I was balancing my own checkbook when I was 12. I haven’t ever been beholden to anyone before. It’s not easy. Even when it’s someone you love.

He flopped down beside me and let me have a good cry to get it out of my system. He told me he knows this whole transition isn’t easy but if it was any consolation, I’d always have him as my teammate to combat the tough parts about this move. It was.

He’s good. I’m mostly good, and almost all the way there. I’m looking forward to meeting some ex-pat bloggers who will be getting together for lunch on October 13 and invited me along. As long as I don’t watch episodes of Parenthood before I go to bed, I’ll survive. Specifically the episodes where the daughter goes off to college and has to say goodbye to her parents at the airport. That was a dumb idea to watch that yesterday.

So this morning, all by my lonesome, I got dressed, managed to order a croissant at our usual place, where I feel like the lady is aware that I don’t know what I’m saying and has mercy on me and uses hand gestures when she asks me questions in French. Then I ordered a café au lait from another place around the corner where I like the coffee better. That wasn’t as smooth (mostly because I keep saying ‘por favor’ instead of s’il vous plaît…ugh).

Then as I sipped my coffee, I pulled out my Ultimate French Review & Practice book and began conjugating more verbs.

I’m getting there, all right, but it isn’t always baguettes and fromage around here. But I’ll be ok. I’ve got a pretty good teammate, after all.

In other news, look at the cute animals!

click image for gallery:

7 comments on “It isn't easy being French

  1. The whole “relying on others for transportation” was probably the number one reason I walked off the plane from Europe crying. I am SO not a public transportation person…I need to control when I arrive and leave a place. And I do mean crying…my dad laughed and said, “Dayna’s HOME!”

  2. Bonjour ma cherie!

    Je suis un anana.

    And there you have the summation of my experience in Monsieur Tunde Claays high school French class. Kudos on being honest (and realistic) about the low points of your experience thus far. When you are a refined French mademoiselle in six months (six weeks? six days?) you will feel quite silly about your initial awkwardness in country. And i just picture you with a gigantic Marie Antoinette inspired pompadour. it was amazing.

    I’m trying to figure out what the best way to visit you would consist of… right now I’m leaning towards coming to you to experience your new world, and then dragging you to London with me for a taste of my personal heaven.

    Miss you and continue to ENJOY everything, positive or negative 🙂

  3. Colleen, check out pretty cool site to learn french as I am having to do due to the fact that when ever i drop McAllister off at school I feel like I’m in France. She just started french school.

  4. Thanks for the tips everyone! I can assure you it is welcomed. I discovered a book store yesterday and they have get togethers for people wanting to learn English and those wanting to learn French and they just hang out and talk so that’s where I will be Monday and Wednesday evenings! And Tyler, it is just coffee with milk. You don’t add your own milk here apparently, they do it for you. You either order it with or without (without= cafe noir). It is like, the only thing I know how to order besides a croissant!

  5. Hang in there, lady! (Picture that creepy cat poster where he’s hanging from the branch) I second Laura’s comment – it’s definitely going to get easier and before you know it you’re going to be Frenchy French Mademoiselle and we’ll all die of jealousy.

    In the meantime, this reminds me of that scene in “Julie & Julia” where Julia Child is talking to her French tutor in English and the tutor says, “En Francais” and she says, “Oh. I thought I was speaking French the whole time.” 🙂

  6. I think the thing that’s so valuable about going to new places, traveling, etc. is that it’s sort of a microcosm of life in a way…full of lots of challenges (to put it mildly!). The lows can be very low, but the rewards can be so great.

    I lost my work laptop on a night train in Belgium last year. It was the last train of the night, and nobody was around in person for me to talk to (since of course I realized juuuust as the train was pulling away that I didn’t have my laptop bag). I was totally distraught, and having to figure where they put “lost and found” items from the trains and who to call and try to get to someone who spoke English was basically a nightmare. But, I figured it all out, and I even got my laptop back (the one thing the lost and found guy at the train station could say in english was “You are very lucky!”).

    I’m rambling, but my point is: it kind of sucks to be a fish out of water, and it definitely sucks when it feels like pulling teeth to get even the simplest thing done/communciated, but I know you will surprise yourself with how resourceful you will become (slash already are!). Hey, it wouldn’t be an adventure if it was easy! 🙂

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for some smooth road ahead for the rest of this adventure…with a few (small) hills thrown in for good measure (and because it’s great for the calves).


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