So, okay, that wasn’t a very long layover time from that last post, but I have nothing else to do today, so why not update, right? As in the US, it’s a jour férié, meaning a national holiday, so basically nothing’s open, and while I suppose I could go out and meet up with friends, I like hanging out at home with the fam too. Maybe I’ll go wander in a bit, just to get out, but for now I’m just enjoying my Parisian lifestyle.
As you can tell, I’m back in Paris. It’s wonderful to be back. But it was wonderful being home too, even if just for a week. So good to see everyone, to be in California, in my house, to hang out with family and friends, to go to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, to eat pizza and Mexican food and Thai food, to eat pie and cookies, to celebrate holidays American-style… Oh the list goes on. It was great to be speaking English again regularly and having everyone speak English, but it was also insanely weird. The first several days I couldn’t get over it. That I’d go places and everyone was speaking English, and in American accents, and I was overhearing conversations without thinking about it and that people at stores spoke English to me, and it was really weird and hard to get used to again. Coming back here I know my French is a tiny bit rusty from disuse, but I slip back in quickly; if I’d been gone longer, it would have been worse.
But getting to California was the real problem. Found out the night before leaving that Heathrow might be closed the next day, because of weather, and I was supposed to be flying through there. Spent two hours on the phone and internet with airlines and my parents trying to sort stuff out, and ended up just having to buy another flight. Which was by no means ideal, but at least it worked out and meant I wasn’t getting stuck in London for Christmas. And my host family – especially Patricia – were so wonderful helping me. They really are my other family, now, and it’s so wonderful.
However, despite the best laid plans, when Liz and I got to the airport the next morning with plenty of time, my flight was delayed for 2 HOURS! Horrible! And I hadn’t slept the night before, so I actually passed out in the waiting area for a while. I’d hoped to be able to go over to the group flight gate, where most of my friends were leaving from, but Charles de Gaulle airport is seriously the worst-designed airport ever (it’s pretty, but it’s like function never occurred to them…), and despite the fact that we were in the same terminal, I couldn’t go over to their gate. Stupid! Ah well, I survived, and got back to the Bay Area uneventfully.
Funny story about my flight, actually. There was a little French girl (about 12) sitting in front of me, traveling alone to visit someone in San Francisco. As an unaccompanied minor, the person sitting next to her during takeoff and landing had to be able to communicate with her, and she spoke no English, and the girl sitting next to her spoke no French. The woman sitting next to me spoke no French either, so they asked me if I spoke French. For the first time, I felt confident saying that yes, I do speak French. So I sat with her during takeoff and landing and we talked a little bit and I felt quite proud of myself, actually.
Before I talk about the rest of break and New Year’s, I’ll briefly cover the last week before break. It was a fun week, despite the work, and the sadness of everyone leaving. The thing was, about the work, that we all decided study abroad is more about the experience than the work, soooo yeah we didn’t stress too much. We decided to enjoy each other’s company and Paris, instead. Which meant lots of going out for lunch, dinner, and later, and doing those random excursions you meant to do all semester and never got around to.
And now I’m back in Paris and it’s time to pick up where we left off. It’s funny, being back when there are essentially only 4 of us around. And Catie will leave soon, so it’ll be down to me and Rachel and Nicole for the last few days. Though Selene should be back soon, and Jake, so it’ll be a party. The plan had been to go to Prague for a few days, but now it’s too expensive, so Rachel and I are thinking shorter trips around France or something. We shall see. Classes and stuff sort of start again next week, and all the new people get here and everyone gets back, so we’ll see how it all works out.
As for New Year’s last night, well, it was pretty awesome. I got back to Paris midday, slept for several hours, and then Nicole and I called all over the city trying to get dinner reservations. Who knew you’d have trouble getting dinner reservations in Paris on New Year’s Eve? But we finally found a place, and the two of us, Rachel, and Nicole’s boyfriend spent literally 3 hours at dinner. It was quite good, but a little crazy that it took so long. We got out of there at midnight, in time to walk up the street to the Place de la Bastille and see people going crazy. The métro was free all night, which was nice, and we made our way over to the Eiffel Tower, to wade our way through crowds. There used to be fireworks there, but for whatever reason they cancelled them this year, unfortunately. There were still lots of people shooting off their own, anyway. And there was an insane amount of broken glass! Not that the two are related.
We then walked over to the Champs-Élysée, to see if anything interesting was going on, and to meet up with Catie and her sister. Nothing was going on, and it was a little crazy – I learned this morning there were like 4 million people out last night. I think. I could have heard wrong. It might have been 40,000. I’m not really sure. Anyway, there were a ton of people out, and it was absolutely crazy. Every bar we tried to go to was just packed, so we headed over to the Opéra area, but by that point it was already 2:30/3, and we didn’t have much luck. We did meet some random Dutch guys who walked with us for a while, thinking we’d find a cool bar, but we didn’t, sadly, and I think they were disappointed in us. haha We also had a random drunk American dude walk up to us outside a bar, and he was very weird. Ah yes, the crazies come out on New Year’s.
But the city was absolutely beautiful. Way better than Nuit Blanche. It was all lit up, and there were so many people out, just having a good time. Despite the annoying crowds and the sketchy guys trying to hit on us – even though we were with guys – it was impossible to be in any form of a bad mood. All you had to do was just look around and appreciate the city. How did I get so insanely lucky?
And now, it’s a new year. This last year has been so amazing, really. I hope I’ve appreciated it enough. Time goes so quickly, I am learning, and I feel like I need to appreciate things more in the moment, because soon enough they’re gone and then that’s it. I’ve never been one for new year’s resolutions, but if I do have one this year, that will be it. But it’s more like a life goal, really, since it’s something I’ve been doing for years, and I think I’m at a point now where I do a pretty good job. But there’s always room for improvement. Which is why I can wish you all a better year than last year; not because last year was by any means bad, but simply because why wouldn’t we want things to be even better?
Love to everyone: may everything work out well for you, and may you have a wonderful year!