And I don’t mean physical souvenirs…
It may only be a 8 hour flight away from home but the lifestyle I’ve lived in France has been a complete 180 change.
My year abroad taught me a lot in many ways than just one. Health wise I can tell you that they live a much healthier lifestyle than we do in Canada, well at least in my household. I was fortunate to live with a wealthier family in the suburbs of Paris so saying that all Parisians live this way is not correct but was still eye opening.
1. Meals should be enjoyed together with family and friends and never rushed.
This was something that was actually on my contract when I signed it – that I would stay for dinner during the week nights and we would have a sit down dinner to discuss the day. I’ll be honest, in the beginning I hated it, simply because it was change but now I look forward to supper time, and no not only because I know there will be cheese and fresh bread!
2. Weekends are for relaxing, whatever that may mean to you.
Sundays at my house in Canada were the busiest day of the week. We would run from sport to sport and then be back for work only in time to start another work week. Here in Paris, it’s rare if the family leaves the house on Sunday and dedicate the day to family time and relaxation.
3. It’s okay to eat chocolate, cake and candy everyday.
The french may be known for being slender but that doesn’t mean that they don’t indulge in their pastries. When 4 o clock rolls around that means gouter and it’s never carrot sticks and hummus but more like a croissant or multiple macarons. They indulge but they know when to stop.
4. Make once, eat for the week.
I can’t speak for the french as a whole but the family I lived with would successfully make a meal on a Sunday or Monday night that would last 2-3 days afterwards, making for easy mornings. What surprised me was that it wasn’t considered work for them; they didn’t even write down what they were going to make and then eat for the rest of the week. It was almost like it was second nature.
5. Food should be bought as fresh and as local as possible, and if not local than organic.
The markets in Europe are by far my favorite place to spend a Saturday morning. Nothing can compare to the endless stand of of fresh local produce or the pizza that is made right in front of your eyes. I’m not quite sure how I thought delissio was even considered the least bit tasteful all my life. I guess that emphasizes that we really don’t know what else is out there in the world unless we explore for ourselves.
6. Coffee is a luxury rather than a necessity.
Luxury meaning that coffee should be enjoyed with friends, with a good book or along side a warm bowl of oatmeal instead of a 5 times a day drive through purchase. I look forward to the days when I sit myself down in a cute cafe with my Ipad and a fresh cup of coffee, even if it may be double what I’m used to paying. I’ve learnt that experiences are worth the extra splurge once in a while.
7. Having to travel an hour to get somewhere is no excuse.
If I want to get anywhere in Paris it typically will take me 30 mins to an hour depending on the metro, but that doesn’t seem to stop me. I don’t know how many times in the past I turned down meeting up with friends or going out simply because I had to drive 30 mins to the big city of New Minas. Now that I put it into a comparison with my life here, a half an hour drive is manageable to say the least.
8. Friends will come and go
I love meeting new people but sadly it seems that as fast as they come into my life they disappear, especially when you meet them on your travels. In the past I was always so focused on creating bonds with people who were physically around me. Now I find myself proactively wanting to reach out and connect with as many possible people as I can even if I know that I may not see them ever again. There’s been plenty of people that I’ve met this year alone that have become a part of my life for a short time and sadly have left but instead of thinking about it negatively, I’ve begun to see what I gained from that relationship.
9. Travel is the best education
When we hear the word education it’s usually being referred to as the type of information that we learn in a classroom. For 17 years I was in a classroom and I can honestly say that I’ve taken in more information this year than I would’ve by continuing school. Now this isn’t to say that education isn’t important because I know that I wouldn’t be here unless I hadn’t of learnt what I had in school but by travelling I’ve been able to see a whole new side of learning, that I’ve grown to love. With every new city I see and every new person that I meet along the way I end up gaining knowledge that I didn’t have before. Travelling has allowed me to find out more about myself than every before, and honestly that’s been the greatest reward of all.
This year has changed me; I know that’s for sure, and even though soon enough I’ll have to go back to my hometown, I don’t plan on ever returning to my old lifestyle. That’s not to say I wasn’t happy living the way I was, because I’m a firm believer that my past has lead me to be where and who I am today. Every experience that I’ve done in my life I’ve taken at least something from and used in my own life, which is exactly what I will do after this.