The French Year Abroad: Three Months In

How did this happen so quickly? It’s been three months since I moved to Paris, fresh faced and optimistic about my chic new life in the city of love. It’s been quite the experience so far. Three months of the smell of urine lingering in my nostrils from my morning metro commute, three months of cheap wine, three months of polite pas de souci and pardon‘sthree months of the people on the second floor of my building clearly growing weed, three months of dodging dog shite on the pavement, three months of the man at the Lebanese place down the road from work giving me and Dannie and free drinks and baklava.

Some things I’ve learnt: I hate metro line 13 with all sorts of fiery rage; I shouldn’t put my meat in tupperware, forget when it goes out of date and consequently get spectacularly vile food poisoning; sweet soy sauce is a terrible thing and France should be deeply ashamed of itself for endorsing that sort of condiment; and it’s rather difficult for a girl to wee in a urinal, even when inebriated at a drag queen lip-sync night.

I’m pining for home, where I’d go out to the pub, come home and find that my mum has left a hot water bottle in my bed. I miss not paying eight euros for one little portion of salmon, I miss being able to buy drunk food at 3am with little effort.

I bought a Christmas tree a whole week before December had even begun, carrying him in my arms like my own spiky baby on the RER in rush hour, avoiding the vicious Grinchlike stares of bemused French people. I draped some cheap tinsel around the TV and listened to Mariah Carey. I’ve been taken to a Kimchi festival where I was bemusedly made to caress fermented cabbage leaves. It’s been wild.

It’s beginning to get very, very cold. Me and Lucy are shivery in our flat: “I want a hot water bottle. Or one of those microwaveable things. I had one that smells nice and wheaty, like a mill.” You walk to the station with a nose like ice and then go underground and it’s hotter than Satan’s armpit. My arms get many daily workouts peeling off layers of clothes and piling them all back on ten minutes later.

Paris, you are dirty, smelly, a bit broken, but wonderful nevertheless. Your skyline makes my heart fuzzy and the fact that wine is cheaper than soft drinks in restaurants make me very happy. Wonderful friends that I’ve met since moving here, you are all bloody great. Friends and family who have visited me, thank for buying me dinner and ooh aah-ing at pretty buildings with me.

Here’s to the next 9 months of carbs, pollution and too-strong espressos.

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