Tuesday, February 8, 2011
It's hard to believe that a year has passed since I moved to France, but viola, here we are at the beginning of February - a year & a few weeks to the day we hopped on a small, noisy plane from Rome to Marseille. A short hour away, but clearly altogether different from the joyful chaos that had been my life in Italy.
I thought long & hard about what to write for this post, but found it very difficult to put into words what the experience of moving to a new country is like. I even put a lot of time into the Ask an Expat series several months back, trying hard to work through what practical steps are needed to make such a large transition. But things like making sure your CV is in order & being put in touch with a wondrous creation called 501 French Verbs, while important, do little to prepare you for the roller-coaster ride that starting a new life abroad brings.
Really, the past year has been one of the most exhilarating, exhausting, fall-on-your-face & get back up again experiences I've ever had. France is not an in-your-face, belly-laugh out-loud culture like Italy (or even the United States) There's definitely a subtilty to the French culture & the French people that requires a great deal of perseverance. In France, you need to be patient...or maybe more appropriately, stubborn. A rich, multi-faceted world lies below all those air kisses, formal greetings, & haughty cafe-time glares, but it takes some time to get there.
And when you're there, or about half-way in my case, what a pay-off: warm, caring people, elegant living, & time-honored traditions. Oh, and of course, whole magazines that talk just about cheese. Provence, je t'amie.
*parade photos celebrating Jour des Rois (Kings Day) our 2nd weekend in France. Aix-en-Provence