Living abroad is just as hard as it is glamorous and for three short weeks, I’m an American living in France.
The first few days here, I spent in Paris with my Mom and Grandma. We did all of the typical touristy things: visit the Eiffel Tower, stand atop the Arc de Triomphe, and walk the Champs Elysees, all while carrying my GoPro of course.
For having never been to Europe before, it was a great adjustment period for me to not only get over my jet lag but to also get a little insight into all that this country has to offer. But the problem was though, in Paris, they are prepared to deal with all of the tourists. Everyone spoke English, all the signs had English translations, menus had American food items, and we passed familiar storefronts like Nike, H&M, Five Guys, and Chipotle.
After my vacation in Paris, I traveled down south to the French Riviera to a little village called Cannes La Bocca. Living in Cannes La Bocca for two weeks was going to be the authentic French experience that I wanted but I was in no way prepared for.
Cannes itself if similar to Paris in the fact that, the natives are prepared for the organized chaos that is the International Film Festival, they know what’s coming. But in Cannes La Bocca, a small beach village 15 minutes outside of the city is filled with natives who call this town their home. It wasn’t until I went to the local laundromat that I truly felt out of place.
Now look, I know how to do my own laundry, but I will admit, I have never done laundry in a public facility. So not only was I in uncharted waters, I was surrounded by posters and directions written only in French and a crowd of 5 people staring at me, the American girl, as I tried to figure out what the hell I was doing.
Finally, one older woman took pity on me and tried to help, but she only spoke French. It took us 5 minutes (4mins and 30secs longer than anyone else but it’s fine) to speak with signals and gestures, but we finally got my laundry started.
I remember thinking before I left the States that I was SO ready for this, because I had studied the first few lessons of the French Rosetta Stone and read articles and books about French culture. Well, LOL, joke’s on me. I am nowhere near fluent in French, and there are things I am learning first hand that I would have never learned from any book.
This trip has truly been everything I thought it would be and yet so much more, and I’m only halfway done. So far, I have only had three days of work, walked the red carpet once, and there is so much more great food and wine for me to try. This trip will be an invaluable experience for me because it has opened my eyes to just how big the world truly is. There is so much more out there in this world outside the borders of our home state, of our home countries.
If you ever have the opportunity to, go outside your comfort zone and explore and try new things. It may be terrifying and it may not go entirely according to plan, but I promise you, you will be a better person because of it. When you have even just the smallest understanding of what someone else goes through, what it’s like to see the world from their point of view, the world becomes a better place.