Posted on January 11th, 2016
When it comes to social media and actually just life in general we tend to just show the good stuff. We post about the exciting, fun and good times and so our Facebook pages and Instagram accounts look like we lead perfect lives filled with plenty of awesome experiences. But that is just not realistic. And so for me I’d like to be as honest as I possibly can throughout this year. Yes, I’m going to share my exciting adventures but I’m also not going to sugar coat it. So I’m starting that right here, right now by saying that things are tough. I have been in Annemasse for about a week now. Already my magical time in Paris feels like a million experiences ago.
It’s been a crazy week of trying to settle into a new routine, learn about looking after kids that don’t speak the same language as you and don’t exactly want to listen, of cooking and cleaning on a daily basis and starting language school where you don’t know anyone and have to make friends. To be perfectly honest it’s been really overwhelming and as a perfectionist it’s been really challenging realising that I can’t get everything right the first time, and no, I can’t expect myself to be fluent in French after just one week. So of course I miss normality and everything that is familiar and so when I chat to my family on Skype the tears flow.
Before I embarked on this adventure I said I wanted to get 3 things out of this year:
-To become fluent in French
-To travel Europe
-To grow as a person
So it’s all good and well saying those things but only now am I realising that that isn’t an easy thing to do. One can’t just enter a country and expect that you’ll magically become fluent in the language overnight. It takes many mistakes, many frustrating moments of miscommunication and plenty of times when you just feel stupid. Having said that I can see that after just 2 weeks in France my comprehension of the language has already improved. It is also a very humbling experience having a 5-year-old correct you. But I do trust that it will slowly but surely get easier and by the end of the year I will be fluently speaking French.
Another thing we conveniently forget when we speak of growing as a person is that growing is difficult and can be painful. It’s like the process of purifying gold. One has some gold filled with impurities and has to put it through a burning hot furnace in order to create a pure and refined gold. Yes, you end up with beautiful, pure gold but that doesn’t make the refining process any easier.
So yes, things are tough right now but I’m just learning to trust Jesus through every little moment of fear, uncertainty and heart ache.
I can already see how much I have experienced and seen and how I will be able to look back on this year and go “Wow, that was hard but look at how much I gained from that!”
On the positive side (because in everything there is ALWAYS a positive side) there are some really cool things that I’m learning and discovering here:
I had a delicious meal which is very traditional in the Swiss area (I’m right on the border). It’s called Raclette and is basically a fondue type of thing served with potatoes and charcuterie (cold meats). Delicious!
Then it is also tradition in France on the 6th January of each year to have a dessert called Galette. It is a pie sort of thing with a delicious almond filling. Buried within the pie is a little toy. Whoever ends up with the toy in their slice of pie is crowned King or Queen.
So yeah, the healthy thing? Not really going to be happening this year!
The town of Annemasse is nestled in between two mountain ranges; the mountains of Switzerland and then the Alps. I can gaze at the beautiful snow-covered peaks from many windows of the house. Annemasse is also just a little bit away from the famous Mont Blanc and it is quite a treat to see its snowy slopes. The snow may be magical but it does have its down side: the cold. It definitely isn’t as cold here as I had expected but it is still very chilly.
Another aspect that I’m really loving about being in Europe is that there is such a culture of just walking everywhere! Yes people drive cars but where it is possible people walk or use public transport. I’m really enjoying it and so am already used to just walking if I need to get somewhere. Hopefully I won’t have too much trouble remembering how to drive when I get back home!
That brings me to another thing: they drive on the opposite side of the road in France. Ahhh, I cannot tell you how weird it is when you enter a round about and just don’t know where to be looking for a car to approach. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the driver’s seat thinking it was the passenger seat. But as with everything it is just going to take some time to get used to it.
(Not my photo. credits to inkkreation.com)