On the surface, a year seems like a pretty straightforward amount of time. One lap around the sun, four seasons, 365 days, one Christmas….nothing too complicated there. The tricky part about a year is the perception. I honestly can’t believe it’s been a year since I arrived in France; in my opinion, it is both way too long and far too short. I still consistently find myself telling people ‘Je viens d’arriver en France‘ (I’ve just arrived in France), and in many ways I still feel like a newcomer here; still tottering around on my baby ‘étranger‘ legs. On the other hand, when I think back to life in Switzerland, to our old apartment and old habits…it seems like that was a million years ago. I thought I’d use this post to talk a little about this move- not only the physical transformation from one country to another, but also the transition of one style of life to something completely different.
I miss my family. I knew going into this move that Marc and I would be sacrificing a lot of family time, particularly with his family in Switzerland. It’s so hard to say goodbye to a consistent relationship with such wonderful people. I especially miss Marc’s nephew and nieces, it’s so difficult to go from being a part of their day-to-day life to an occasional FaceTime call…especially when they’re growing up so quickly! One thing I hadn’t anticipated about this move was the fact that I’d be forced to give up time with MY family back in Canada. Due to the fact that my immigration has been an enormous hassle (the French bureaucracy is infamous for a reason!), I haven’t been able to leave France for the past year and I won’t be able to for the foreseeable future. It’s been tough- I’ve seen a lot of my immediate family who have been through Paris several times (thanks guys, you’re the best!), but it’s been tough being away from my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I can’t wait until I can come back to Calgary and see you all again!
I love Paris. It’s interesting- I never thought I’d like living in a big city- I don’t like noise, I don’t like crowds, and I don’t particularly like people (that is, people in general….I love people individually, but I am a total introvert and definitely need alone time). However, even with all this, I’ve fallen in love with Paris: I love the buzz and energy of the city. I think it’s beautiful; I love the bright limestone of the buildings, the wrought-iron details, the flowering fruit trees in the spring. I love the buzz of a busy café- how people love spending time together, chatting and arguing over bottles of wine for hours. I love how this happens on every day of the week- I think our local bar is just as busy on a Tuesday evening as on a Friday.
I miss the mountains. We are blessed to live so close to the Bois de Boulogne and I am so fortunate that I can spend a couple hours a day wandering through nature, but it’s very cultivated nature. I miss the wildness of hiking in the mountains. I love the humility you feel at the base of a mountain, the suffering you experience on the way up, and the triumph that greets you when you reach the top. There is nothing as sweet and fresh as Swiss mountain air. The fact that I need to consult the pollution index in Paris before deciding if I’ll go for a run outside or not is a little shocking!
Living in France has forever ruined me for food. It’s only been a year, but already I realize that never again will I experience wine, bread or croissants this good or this cheap. France has introduced me to the wonders of using duck fat to cook everything in. I had never eaten liver until I moved to Europe, and now it’s become a major food group in my diet. I love how food from the markets here is cheaper and fresher than the food you find in the supermarket. Please don’t get me wrong- eating in Switzerland was amazing (but expensive), and there is excellent food in Canada as well (Alberta beef, I’m looking at you), but the selection and quality of food here is simply spectacular.
One year down. It doesn’t seem possible that we are already halfway through our original contract. We are trying to extend it, as I honestly don’t feel that one more year is enough to truly enjoy all that Paris and France have to offer. There are so many amazing things that have come out of this move: we stumbled upon (literally!) a beautiful community of Christians and now are helping build a new church in the city, we have grown so much stronger as a couple, and we have made so many fantastic friends from all over the world. God has blessed us so richly, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in the year to come.
Thank you all for reading this blog and following our adventures! I can’t wait to share all our future travels and experiences with you.