After much thinking I have decided to begin a blog not only to share what are guaranteed to be some hilarious stories with the people in my life, and whoever manages to stumble across this, but also as an outlet for my anxiety of being an outsider in a large and somewhat overwhelming city. As much as living in another country sounds like some romantic dream (as I thought before I came here) I have since discovered that it can be a bit more difficult and stressful than just eating macarons and drinking wine while gazing upon the Eiffel Tower and chatting up a sexy frenchie. Therefore I feel that attempting to complete a daily expression of my trials, tribulations and what will hopefully include some successes will be therapeutic. Plus, it will also allow me to see the silver lining in every ironic situation or moment of humiliation knowing that it will only juice up that day's posting.
Being an American in Paris is nothing new. Millions of Americans travel to Paris every year to experience the beauty, art, culture, food, and romance that it has to offer. And it does actually have all of these things. I decided France over every other country as my number one spot to study pastry because of their gigantic reputation for all things sweet. But as we all know, France does not exactly have the best status when it comes to its outgoing and friendly people. Yet unlike so many other times in my life I stepped off the plane in Paris trying to be positive and hoping to find that everyone was wrong and that the french were really just misunderstood. And hell, perhaps they are. But if they are it is also, now, by me. From my experiences I have found that they are as rude and callus as everyone thinks they are. Customer service is about as scarce here as a natural blonde in L.A. But then again I must admit that some of their stereotypes about us are also true. I did come here not speaking a word of french, tried as little as possible to learn it, and now am shocked at how lost I am in a kitchen with people who mostly only speak french. Sure my bumbling about like an idiot could be considered endearing or humorous but since the french take themselves very seriously they instead appear to be mostly annoyed by my ignorance.
I came to Paris for a week of fun before going to a tiny little town, called Yssingeaux, to study five months of Pastry. That was, in itself, quite an experience. Far from being a charming french countryside village it was instead a french hick town filled with people missing teeth and sporting terrible haircuts. Everything was closed on Sundays, and Mondays, and some Tuesdays. On working days shops and restaurants and the bank and post office closed from the hours of noon to two or three for and at seven at the end of the day. One of the best sights there was to see was the gang of feral cats going crazy around the dumpsters at five thirty in the morning on my way to class because some townie would literally throw them a bone to chew on. But despite all the difficulties I faced there I did manage to learn a lot about pastries and made friends from all over the world. It also opened up the door to a pastry internship in France where I was optimistic that I would learn a whole lot more! After debating Lyon, or Provence, I decided on Paris. Perhaps I copped out because all of my friends were going to be there, but I told myself that it was because of the number of pastry shops that I could potentially work in. I made my list of choices and my Chef was able to get me my first choice. And so Paris it was!
I have now been living in Paris for a little short of two weeks. The thoughts of romance are as muddled and lost as every normal dream upon waking up. I have survived the first two weeks of my internship and am surprised that I have managed to muster up the strength not to cry in front of my boss or other coworkers. I have also picked up a few key french words and am becoming more adept at hearing swear words when they are muttered, or yelled. (For example my boss called something a piece of shit the other day, or at least the french equivalent of that).
Tomorrow is my last day of freedom before I must return and commence my third week at the pastry shop. I have twenty weeks left. And after that I am staying in Paris for a month to do, what I hope, will be fun. I expect to speak perfect french by then, know all the best, cheap restaurants, have a swarm of french friends who find my american accent enchanting, and to have broken a french heart or two in the meantime. I also hope that by then I will have learned my lesson on having unrealistic expectations and instead just try and enjoy the moment. I am then taking three weeks to do the timeless american tradition of backpacking across Europe. We'll get into that a bit more when it's closer. Until then I hope to entertain you with my witty play-by-plays of life as an outsider in the beautiful, mysterious, and immortal city of lights.