Friday, April 29, 2011

Ex-Pats in Paris

I woke up early this morning at 10:00 (Fridays are normally part of my weekend meaning I typically lie in bed until around noon) to go to a British cafe to watch the royal wedding with pretty much every other Anglophone living in Paris. It was quite the event -- I mean, the cafe itself, the wedding of course was the event of the century. All the waitresses were wearing masks of different members of the royal family, there was a whole group in plastic tiaras, people ordered champagne, we sang "God Save the Queen" along with the crowd in London shown on the giant screen, British flags with William's and Kate's faces were on every table, and there was a special wedding menu of fish and chips with Harry's special tartar sauce. Yesterday, I didn't even know when the wedding was; today, I am plotting how to meet Harry. He's cute, but mostly I want to be Kate's sister-in-law.

One of the things I will miss most from my time in Paris is the ex-pat community. I'm not exactly living Hemingway's absinthe-infused, creativity-driven, artist-filled Parisian experience, but by nature of being a foreigner, I have made connections with people from every inhabited continent. In fact, I believe I feel most at home in these foreigner-claimed spaces within Paris: South African bars, Australian night clubs, English cafes, Irish pubs, etc. I also spend a lot of time with other foreign students. It doesn't matter the nationality or mother tongue, we bond through our simultaneous love of Paris and homesickness. I was recently at a picnic with representatives from Spain, Italy, Trinidad, Austria, Britian, France, the U.S., Japan, and China. (It was a big picnic.) We normally choose to speak primarily in French with a decent amount of English thrown in, and plenty of side-conversations among compatriots in whatever their native language may be. This language is my new mother tongue, these spaces are my home. I can express myself with every single word in my vocabulary, whether it be English or French, and be understood. But most importantly, understanding the challenges of living abroad -- most specifically, of living in Paris in the year 2011 -- are an implicit part of my relationships with the people that I meet in these spaces.

In other news, I accidentally went to the Paris premiere of Water for Elephants last night. Okay, I didn't really go to the premiere, but I walked past the line, and there was Reece Witherspoon! My friend had a multiple-sentence conversation with her. She's short like me!

My grandparents, mother, and best friend all visited me in the past two months, which was wonderful. Also, I finally got my grade for this really brutal course that I took at this snobby French business and economics university. I have never come out of a final exam feeling like more of a failure than after the exam for this course. In fact, I had anxiety dreams about this grade, most notably one in which my advisor is explaining to me that I needn't bother applying to Yale for grad school because of the grade that I got for this class. And guess what: I got an A-!! I wouldn't say I'm proud of myself, because I actually didn't learn all that much from this course. I think the adjective most accurate to describe my feelings about this grade is baffled. Delighted also, obviously.

I'll be leaving Paris on June 6th and going straight to Lewiston, Idaho. I'd rather not think about it.

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