Back in the states I expected everything to seem different. But it was surprisingly easy to get back into the groove of the US. There of course were, and still are, some things that were pretty tough to get used to.
Grocery shopping is still a bit of a nightmare. I feel like I spend twice as much time at the store than usual because I’m desperately searching for quality produce. Very few things look or smell or feel as fresh as they did back in Paris. And no one walks around with a fresh baguette sticking out of their bags, but that’s because the baguettes here rarely have the perfect, crunchy outer shell with a fluffy center. No baguettes here are either completely crunchy or soft. Where’s the in between, America? And then going to restaurants was totally odd. I had to remind myself NOT to order in French for the first couple of weeks (though I totally said “merci” multiple times anyway). And I still find myself super annoyed with the wait staff. They keep asking if I want more water. But oh yeah… They work for tips so they’re going to make sure you have a full glass after you take two sips. Which isn’t bad! I just got used to having to waive down a waiter for “une autre carafe d’eau” then waiting a good while before they brought it to me. Another thing it took me a while to get used to was not having to ask for the check or not being able to sit around and just chat while finished a bottle of wine for another hour or so after dinner. That just doesn’t happen here and it’s très bizzare to me now.
Transportation in the states, or at least in Texas, is completely centered around cars. Everyone has a car. Everyone drives to class/work. (almost) Everyone has a parking spot. Which is very different from getting up 30 minutes early in order to catch the metro to wherever you’re going. That was easy to fall back into honestly. But I do miss public transportation. If I wasn’t reading I was people watching. And neither of those are safe to do if you’re driving.
There are almost none. I don’t think about how to say what I want to say. Words just come out in clear English and it’s fine! Compared to “okay, how do I say…” But I miss speaking in French. It’s such a beautiful language and it was a challenge that kept me on my toes. I really enjoyed it and I find myself craving it.
I think the hardest thing was reseting my routine. Everything I mentioned above plays into this as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting up early and walking the pups with my roommate. It’s one of my favorite parts of my new routine. I just miss the overall experience of waking up and eating my brioche with honey, riding the metro to work, going to dinner and sharing a bottle of wine with friends, getting the metro back home and hanging out with my host mom, or ma mère francaise. And on weekends I loved getting up and going to a café for brunch then exploring the gardens and museums of Paris or hoping on a bus or plane and going to a new country. It’s hard to do that in Texas and I really miss how easy it was to explore while there.
Being back at school versus working has been quite the struggle. I miss having the nighttime to cook and explore. Now I barely have the weekends as time to myself. I’m constantly at school, working part time, or doing homework. Even when I get the chance to be with friends we’re doing homework. It’s been a tough adjustment, and I’m still adjusting even though I’m over halfway through the semester.
In some ways getting back to stride with my American lifestyle has been a breeze, but in other regards I’m struggling and yearning for my way of living in France. I say “way of living” because I realize what I miss isn’t just France herself, although I do miss it there. I miss how I lived. I was fearless and didn’t hold back when it came to trying new things or going new places. I’m definitely more reserved in a way. You could say it’s practicality, but I really feel that I can’t take the kind of opportunities I did while working and living in France. In part because the same opportunities aren’t available, and partially because I don’t have the time like I did in France. I could blame it on “senioritous,” but I really think France got me so ready for the world, post-college, that it made this last year a bit complicated.
I’m not trying to complain. I love my university and my major and my college friends. But I also recognize how ready I am to work and have the time to be passionate about something. Homework and study time takes precedence, which is frustrating after a summer of “the real world” where I got to take the time to actually live, and not just make it through finals.
So, if you’re having a internship/study abroad hangover, you’re not alone. But we can make it through! Let’s get those degrees and meet back up in France, or wherever!
À bientot France!