Tonight marks my 100th day (or 2,400th hour) in Paris. I feel obligated to consider how I have changed and how my view of Paris has changed since those first few weeks of settling in, adjusting to host-family life, growing familiar with the metro and exploring the different arrondissements to create my personalized, mental map of the city.
The “Amelie” cafe (Photo taken by staceylaparisienne)
Before coming to Paris I had studied hard to come up with a list of restaurants, cafes and patisseries that fell into some blogger’s “Best Of Paris” list. My notebook with bonnes adresses continues to expand and diversify, so while i know that I will never make it to every single one of these places, I think I have put quite a dent in the list. Pursuing this list has led me to eat some of the best croissants, authentic Indian food, buttery escargot, falafel, sandwiches, hot chocolate, macarons, and crepes that Paris has to offer.
Sometimes I worry that I’m not spontaneous enough but I would rather plan every single one of my meals than settle on just any restaurant and waste 9 euros on an over-salted, badly spiced dish (more than once.) And, personally, renouncing my pescetarianism for Paris turned out to be a good thing (although the night I broke my meat-free diet was a complete accident.) I might have eaten some dishes that aren’t my favorite (lamb or veal for example) but I am also able to fully participate in the experience of French cuisine. And sometimes by trying something new I found some things that I really enjoy (like ham in crepes or in a sanwich.)
Photo taken by staceylaparisienne
Chicken curry and kimchi. Looks scary but it was tasty (Photo taken by staceylaparisienne)
Enough about food..
I also got back into dancing ballet again. Sometime in October I was beginning to go stir crazy. Everyday was a new adventure to do whatever I wanted, but eventually all that free time started to take a toll and I began to feel guilty and lazy for not using up every second of my free time to do something meaningful or educational. (Classes just don’t seem to take up as much time as they normally have back in the U.S.) I needed some real responsibilities or something to focus on. And although ballet isn’t exactly a responsibility or a selfless activity, it’s something that I do once or twice a week that I enjoy, can help me make friends and takes up enough time during a day that I then feel like I have deadlines to finish my school work.
My language skills have definitely improved. I still wouldn’t call myself fluent but I am now confident enough to carry on a conversation in French and understand nearly everything that a French speaker says to me. I’ve gotten to the point where I can isolate the one word I don’t know in a spoken phrase and then ask the speaker for a clarification. And while I’m sure it will take years (or maybe just the end of this school year) to reach a level of pronunciation that is nearly perfect, I now know what I need to work on exactly and how I can go about fixing my “trouble areas”. I’ve also learned a lot of interesting tips about pronouncing vowels and consonants in the French language. (Example: French and English d’s and t’s are different. In English we hold the tip of the tongue to the roof of our mouths, while in French the tongue needs to be positioned at the back of one’s front teeth). I also arrived at the point where my spoken French is good enough that I can focus on picking up new vocabulary words.