What a year 2018 was! Even as I’m getting used to living in the US again, I still miss France more than I can say. It’s strange not to be able to hop on a train in the morning and be in a different country by lunchtime. It’s strange not to buy fresh bread at the boulangerie every day. And it’s really strange to have enough space to turn cartwheels in your apartment, not that I’ve done that, of course.
But 2018: definitely one for the record books. I’m pretty sure the rest of my life will pale in comparison. Colin and I had a blast exploring one little corner of the world and in turn learned SO MUCH about ourselves and good food and what we want out of life and what’s possible for the city of the future. And who would I be not to share some of the most important lessons we learned? Here goes:
- If you’re eating dinner in a French restaurant and the waiter comes to take your plate away, it’s okay to say j’ai fini, or “I have finished,” but you really shouldn’t say je suis fini, or “I am finished,” or the waiter will look at you in a panic because you’ve just announced that you’re dying.
- If you’re really dying, I’d go with a simple “Bonjour mesdames et messieurs, aidez-moi, s’il vous plaît!” Don’t forget the bonjour, or no one will give you the time of day.
- If you go to the Louvre any time between May and October and want to see the Mona Lisa, you should probably wear football padding.
- The best way to announce yourself as an American when greeting a European is to go in for a handshake or hug while they go in for cheek kisses, resulting in a collision of bodies and faces that’s awkwardly intimate for everyone involved.
- Also awkward: calling your best friend your girlfriend. Don’t try to use slang in a foreign language. Just don’t.
- Oh, and how could I forget?! DON’T ASSUME THAT PIGEONS CAN FLY.
Okay, so maybe those aren’t actually the most important insights from this past year, but they’re good ones anyway. On a slightly more serious note, I crunched some numbers (you know I love data!) and put together a summary of our year abroad. The results surprised even me! Below, check out how – and where – we spent the year. And yes, the pigeon makes an appearance on my infographic, too.