Here I am, writing this blog post on the eve of my second week of classes. Last week freaked me out. I think that was pretty clear. But I have thirteen more to go before I am done with my first semester. In those thirteen weeks I have to give four presentations in French, two in English, write at least three papers, one of which is going to be about twenty pages and in French.
I have a lot of work in front of me. And I think that I am not out of place in feeling overwhelmed. It is so interesting that in a city of several million people you can feel so alone. I can spend an entire day in my room and not deal with the outside world. And there are times when I want to do just that. But then I look around and I see where I am. I live five minutes away from the Panthéon, the tomb of some of the greatest minds in Western History. I can walk to Notre Dame in twenty minutes. I am living in the city of lights. I need to remember how few people get to say that they can do that.
I know I've written about how apprehensive I am when it comes to eating. For what ever reason, dinner REALLY stresses me out here. Am I going to be understood? Am I going to say something wrong? Am I going to understand what Michele says to me? Tonight at dinner it was special. Michele has a guest over, one of her friends she shared a hostel with when she was a young woman studying in England. Her friend, Trish, is from Seattle.
Now, Trish, a portly woman in her late fifties, doesn't speak French. At least not enough where Michele could talk in French. So tonight at dinner, my host mother spoke English! All of my apprehensions about this learning this STUPID language vanished when I heard her speak. I knew I was going to get by. Here she is, a woman in her fifties, having studied English almost all of her life, and she STILL made mistakes! And I don't mean to belittle her at all. It was wonderful! I spoke to her in English for the first time since I have been here. When Georgina and Jerome arrived with baby Lucas, they spoke English too.
I may feel that I am stranded in France by myself until December. I may feel overwhelmed, that I can't do this or that I want to be home. But no matter how many times I feel like that, nothing beats the feeling that I get when that passes. It is a feeling of "I can do this!" I go into dinner dreading it but I come out stuffed and feeling like I may not actually be alone in this city.
Et oui, Paris, je t'aime.