Today marks six months since we boarded the plane for Paris, and I can’t believe it. Where has the time gone?! We have simultaneously done so much and so little, and although we’ve seen a ton, our list of places to go and things to do just keeps growing. I can’t even bring myself to think about going back yet, so I figured I’d answer a few FAQs about life abroad.
Are you homesick?
Not at all! It was actually a huge surprise to me how immediately we felt at home in Paris. Paris is very easy to love. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t miss my friends and family, but between visitors and video chat, I really don’t miss “home” at all. Particularly now that we’ve settled into our daily routines and become regulars at our favorite markets, it feels like this is where we belong.
Of course, there are things that I miss. Colin and I are missing out on family vacations and friends’ weddings while we’re here, and that’s tough. Time zones make it more difficult to call friends and family. Navigating life in another language is exhausting. I expected those things when we moved, though. So overall—I’m outrageously happy here, and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
Are you bored without a job?
Nope. I always laugh when I get this question, because from my experience, pseudo-retirement is the best thing ever. Imagine all the things you would do if you weren’t tired from working full time. Now imagine that you get to do them all, every day! So far this year I have read 13 books, taken more than 2,000 photos, and walked about 765 miles.
I realize this is only a temporary state of affairs, and I’m so so grateful for the opportunity, but I’m such a fan that I’m now starting a countdown clock to my real retirement. Only… let’s see… 40 years to go.
Okay, come on. It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. What is your least favorite thing about Paris?
You’re right; it’s not all awesome. Some of the cons of life in Paris: Public toilets aren’t always free, even at places like malls and train stations, so I’ve had to learn to plan my hydration around my day’s itinerary. In a likely related phenomenon, public urination is common, so sidewalks can smell awful in the summer. And sometimes, in the midst of your scenic stroll along the Seine, you’re suddenly enveloped in a fog of cigarette smoke. So yeah, the city of light and love is also the city of gross smells.
Eww, yuck! So are you coming back, or will you live in France forever?
Sigh. Did you have to ask? I guess, reluctantly, we’re coming back, mostly because our family is in the States and I’d have to get a job for us to be able to afford to stay here. And if it’s this complicated just to get a visa, I can only imagine how many hoops I’d have to jump through to get permission to work. But at the same time, almost every day something shows up in the U.S. news – another mass shooting, another rollback of environmental regulations – that makes Colin and I look at each other and ask, “Should we just stay?” We’ve got six months left. I’m reserving my right to change my answer.
How’s that whole speaking French thing coming?
Oh God, another question I don’t really want to answer. I guess I would say… pas terrible? I can definitely tell that my French has improved, but it also seems like the more I learn, the more I realize I’m missing. And when I think too hard about it and get self-conscious, my pronunciation flies out the window like the TGV train leaving Gare de Lyon, and then no one can understand me. So it’s still frustrating. Learning a new language is very, very hard. Very, very, very, very hard.
Do you and Colin drive each other crazy in your tiny apartment?
Remarkably, no! We still like each other, and we still like our apartment. I think the pace of life here has a lot to do with that—both of us are less stressed and more active than we were in Boston, we spend more time outside, and we also don’t know anyone else so that’s a strong incentive not to fight with each other.
Best part about the tiny apartment?
Cleaning the whole thing takes literally 20 minutes.
Worst thing about the tiny apartment?
It needs AC. Seriously, we’re melting up here on the fifth floor in this heat wave.
Favorite place in Paris?
Hard to choose! Probably the Seine. I love sitting on a picnic blanket or in one of the Paris Plages lounge chairs with a book and my lunch.
Favorite place you’ve traveled this year?
Hands down, the French Alps! Oh wait, I haven’t told you about that yet, have I—oops. We met up with some friends in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, then drove across the border back into France to spend a couple days hiking in the Alps, and the scenery was unbelievable. I thought I wanted to live in Paris forever, but now I’m thinking maybe I want to live in a chalet in the mountains. At least in the summer.
Where will you live in the winter?
Can I come, too?
Sure! But with all the visitor requests we’ve been getting, we’re going to need a bigger apartment. Like, maybe a chateau rather than a chalet. It’s time to start saving our centimes.