Let’s back it up a step…

I’ve officially lived in France for one week! Most of that week passed in a fog of jet lag, but I think I’ve finally adjusted—although, funnily enough, until last night I thought that Paris was five hours ahead of Boston. Turns out, it’s six. Who knew?! Good thing I didn’t try to call you in the morning, Mom!

Okay, so now that the proverbial dust has settled, I figured I should back this story up a step and provide a little more context. Like, what are we doing in Paris anyway?

One guess – and it would be a good one – is that we’re fleeing the every-man-for-himself politics of the U.S. for a place with a stronger sense of social welfare. But this trip has actually been in the works for about two years. Colin began collaborating with a researcher here in Paris for his PhD field work in Greece, so when he began his post-doc, the plan was always to do two years at Harvard and one year in Paris.

Okay, cool, but what will Colin actually be doing in Paris?

That is an excellent question that I’m totally unqualified to answer. His research focuses on evolution and adaptation in lizards, which are a convenient study species both because they are small, not-dangerous carnivores and, perhaps more importantly, because they only come out on warm, sunny days, waking up around 9:00 and going to bed by 4:00, in plenty of time for researchers to make it to happy hour. Colin’s PhD involved lizards in Greece, which are different from the lizards we have in the U.S., so this year in Paris will get him back to working on his original species. Also: as Colin pointed out in his own blog post on the subject, he has a year’s worth of data to write up and publish, and what better place to sit and write than a Paris café?

But isn’t Paris expensive? That’s a long way to go for a coffeeshop. 

Oui, Paris is très expensive. You know where is even more expensive? Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bread, cheese, wine, and coffee are cheap here. And we are paying in rent less than two-thirds of what we paid in Cambridge.

But your apartment is tiny. 

That’s a forthcoming post of its own! We have an amazing apartment right in the heart of Le Marais, the Parisian neighborhood known for its Jewish, LGBT, and artist communities, but yes, it’s TINY. It’s 18 square meters, or about 194 square feet. I was super wary before we got here, but now that we’re here, I adore it and am definitely a tiny house convert. I promise I’ll get into all the details of life in less than 200 square feet because if you’re anything like me, you probably have a million questions. Like, how many clothes can you fit in a tiny apartment? How often do you do laundry? What’s in your fridge? What would you change if you could? (And—is it annoying as heck to live in such close quarters with another person? I can’t definitively answer that after only one week, but luckily the answer so far seems to be no.)

And what will you be doing?

My own career in environmental policy is on hold while we’re in France, so I’m embracing the fun-employed life. This blog is one of my big projects, and the other is learning manual photography—you can expect to see a bunch of my shots on this site! I’ll also be tagging along with Colin on his research trips, trying my best to be helpful. I’m so, so grateful to have the opportunity and ability to take the year off. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Can I come visit?

Oui, but you may have to sleep standing up.


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