The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of fun activities and getting settled in Paris! As of today, I have officially been living here for two weeks (woohoo!), so I wanted to share some of my highlights from my time in Paris so far:
While I still know my way around certain parts of the city I frequented during my semester abroad and consistently find myself thinking of memories from the places I pass by, I have also really enjoyed seeing other parts of Paris that I may have overlooked in the past. For instance, I had only visited the neighborhood where I currently live a couple of times before, but now I love visiting my favorite boulangerie, fromagerie, and other shops. It is no secret that the activities and experiences in Paris are endless, so I plan to continue branching out and exploring new areas and businesses in the city.
Meeting New People
Moving to a new country alone during a pandemic may seem like it would be hard socially, but since I arrived in Paris, I have been overwhelmed by the plans other au pairs and TAPIF assistants in the area have made for picnics, dinners, shopping trips, museum visits, and other outings. When everyone is in the same position, it really is not too hard to bond and make friends with people very quickly. After all, being in Paris is great, but being in Paris with friends is much better! I have met people from all over the world who have interests that are both oddly similar to and totally different from mine, and I cannot wait to keep forming these connections throughout the year.
In addition to all of the new expat friends I have met here, obviously, I have been talking with French people too! My host family is so welcoming and interested in where I come from and what I think about Paris. Everyone in the city seems intrigued (sometimes in a good way and other times in a bad way) when they find out I’m from the U.S. Making French friends and creating real connections here is something that I think my study abroad experience lacked, so I’m super pleased to be doing so this time around.
Though French bureaucracy is notoriously tricky, I have somehow managed to get some stuff done since I arrived. I successfully opened a French bank account and already received my carte bleu. I got my Navigo transport card and re-learned how the metro system worked. After weeks of waiting and reapplying, I even got my pass sanitaire QR code that proves I have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and lets me into any bar, restaurant, café, or event. On another note, I have also eaten countless pains au chocolat, which should be no surprise to anyone but I do consider to be an accomplishment.
I have not begun my English Teaching Assistant job yet, but I have really enjoyed getting to know the family that I am au pairing for! This position is super unique because it can be difficult to balance working for the family and being a part of the family, but so far, things are going pretty well. Yes, of course, there are occasional (ok, maybe frequent) tantrums and meltdowns among the kids, but they are genuinely so smart and sweet. My few negative experiences are nothing in comparison to some of the au pair horror stories I have already been hearing!
On October 1, I will begin my TAPIF experience with a day of orientation meetings, and then soon after, I will organize my schedule and work on getting into a routine. I am a bit nervous to start working more hours, but by then, I should be comfortable enough here to take on a new challenge and meet a whole new group of people.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the main reasons I am here: working on and improving my French! At first, I was nervous to use my French, since it has been years since I have spoken, written, or even heard it very much, but within just a few days of getting here, the language all came back to me pretty quickly.
I usually speak English with my host parents so that they get some practice, as well as with other expats who are from the U.S. or the U.K., but I generally speak French with the kids I babysit, the au pairs who have a good level of French, and, or course, literally everyone in any shop, cafe, etc. I love meeting French people my age at bars and while picnicking and having them surprised at how fluent I sound, and I have even picked up watching shows and reading books since I have been here for a little extra practice! I can’t wait for my confidence and capabilities in the French language to continue to grow.
I am struck every day by how gorgeous and full of life this city is, and even if it gets more normal over time, I hope I always appreciate the time I get to spend here. I did not totally know what to expect going into this experience, and there are still plenty of unknowns, but for now, I feel content wandering, exploring, and getting to know my new home.
À la prochaine et bisous!
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