What Does It Mean to Be Settled? // Year Abroad Diaries #002

I’ve written quite a few other things that are a lot more intellectual than this is going to be, but my brain is far too big of a bowl of alphabet soup right now to even think about editing them. Also I’ve spent so long using a French keyboard at work now that I’m losing the ability to touch type on a British keyboard, and fuck trying to navigate writing something important when I make typos every other word.

I don’t want to say it too soon… but I think I’ve settled? I moved over here 4.5 weeks ago now and on Monday I have my 1 month review for my internship, so I guess my roots are firmly down now. I finally have a bank card (although not a PIN number, but at this point I’m past caring), a library card, a volunteering post and I know where I go to do my food shopping. It feels really nice to not feel like a constant outsider, confused by anything and everything.

But, being settled is more than just acquiring all of the things you need to exist as a person. It’s finally feeling comfortable in going about your daily life, not having to rehearse everything you’re going to say or do in your head before you do it. It’s coming back to wherever “home” is, however temporary, at the end of the day and feeling like you can rest comfortably. It’s making new memories in your new space, and it feeling not like a holiday but a period of your life in a different place.

That’s why I really feel settled. Yes, it’s nice knowing how to get to Lidl without Google Maps and where the nicest park is to run around in the evenings. But taking ownership of my little chunk of Paris and feeling like I belong in it is way more important to me, probably because community has always been part of me. I’m not built for just being in a place without giving it something in return, I never have been. That’s why I spent the evening teaching a little boy English verbs and making my best attempt at teaching comprehension in Spanish to a teenage girl. The latter was such a challenge and slightly chaotic at times, but another volunteer coming up to me at the end and saying “ton espagnol est impressionant” was the ultimate satisfaction, alongside her finally understanding what I was trying to tell her about colonialism in some bastardized French-Spanish hybrid.

No, it’s not my life in Durham, the life I truly love. But like, that’s fine for now? I’m missing out on some fun things in the next few weeks, and I can’t just sleep til midday whenever I want to, but I also get to do all these different cool things that I’d never get to do in the UK. Also, the linguistic payoff is second to none. There is literally nothing more satisfying as a linguist than “tu parles très bien français” or “tu español es bueno, no te preocupes”, even if I’ve tripped myself up linguistically 5 times in the conversation before. I thought by now I’d be over that feeling, but tbh I’ve been learning languages for half of my life and it hasn’t got boring yet.

Next step, continuing my quest to make friends and discover Paris beyond my quartier. Updates to come I guess !!

-Megan, listening to Hamilton (ok but I started listening to this whilst doing a Very Important Audit today at work and I felt a bit less ridiculous about the fact that Very Important Things are part of my life now)

Advertisements