One of, if not THE reason I came to France was to better myself.
I find myself to be a pretty well-rounded person as people go. I was really fortunate to grow up in a very open-minded household that values hard work, education, the importance of family and culture, and that experiences are invaluable. I have a lot of fancy papers that say that I know a lot of things. But I really felt that I need to come here so that I could see things differently. I was very aware that there were some characteristics that would be essential in my life that I was just going to have to learn the hard way.
and moving to France has gotten me a little closer to being a much better person.
It is no surprise to those who know me when I say I am an extraordinarily impatient person. Growing up in the US has taught me the ups and the downs of instant gratification and the idea that screaming FASTER FASTER actually produces quicker results. Living in France had forced me to be a little more patient.
In the states when someone is frustrated with waiting in line they blow their horn and people agree with them, they become partners in commiseration. Here however no one cares. We all have to wait and if you want to make a fuss everyone just rolls their eyes at you.
But everyone here waits, everyone goes through the motions.
Even though they’ve heard about Burger King in France you can’t have it your way.
With the absence of 24 hour Wal-Mart, CVS, and Walgreens I’ve had to learn that I can’t have everything I want whenever I want it. Not only is there nowhere I can go to get everything I could ever possibly need but If I want bread I have to get to the Boulanger at 5 o clock. If I need anything administrative done everything is closed from noon until 2 30. If I want toilette paper or water I have to get to a store at 10 o’clock. And I must have everything done by 9 30 Saturday night because nothing is open Sunday.
Whenever I do need to get something done it takes forever and there is always a line. There are a million steps, most of which should and could be done online and most everything involves numerous pieces of paper work… paperwork that you have to hold onto for the rest of your stay HEAVEN FORBID they keep any sort of files on computer that you don’t need to have the exact print-out as well.
Patience is essential and I think I’ve gotten a lot closer to being a patient person.
Another thing about me is that I am STUBBORN when I am convinced that I am right. Usually I base my rightness on some sort of fact like I know how to do something because I’ve done it a million times at home and my dad taught me how to do it. Or I am sure that certain things are the way they are because in the states these things have been ingrained in our minds as indisputable truths.
But I have had to admit, and with great difficulty, that the way that I had done things at home are not necessarily the ultimate and right ways of going about doing things.
I’ll call on the most recent of my experiences:
I just moved into a new apartment and I was painting the walls this week. I have painted many times in the US and am pretty sure of what I am doing. Well in buying the paint I was pushed to buy not my habitual six-inch paint rollers but little 2 inch ones only about the size of my index finger. I thought the guy was out of his mind!
After struggling for a day and 1/2 making no progress at all with my “american” way, my whole body aching, and me perplexed why I had made little to impact with something that had worked for years… I tried it “their” way. And boy was I embarrassed: I was finished in around 45 minutes, BAM, just like that. I had to admit that my way was not the best way and that was hard.
I wanted to do things like I had done them at home but I so often forget that I am not at home. And that is the whole reason I am here: is to do things DIFFERENTLY.
Here in France I am forced to act, do, and react differently to all sorts of situations. And for all of this I really feel as if I am starting to grow into the person that I aspire to be.