Assimilating into Parisian Life

Our first 2 weeks in Paris has been full of excitement and surprises

Sacre Coeur
Exactly 2 weeks ago, our lives changed forever.

Our plane touched down into Paris about an hour early, and the rest of the day went much more smoothly than we expected.  The gentlemen from Eelway Paris were waiting at the baggage claim as promised and collected our checked baggage.  They also agreed to take our carry on luggage for a small additional fee and so we were luggage-free for the rest of the day until our 2pm rendezvous with our new landlord to move into our new apartment.  The luggage would be delivered later that evening.  By the time we got out of the airport it must have been 10:30am, so we decided to Uber straight to the Eiffel Tower.  It was a crisp, sunny day and it felt like Paris was welcoming us with gorgeous weather.  After grabbing an unimpressive Pasta Bolognese and Croque Monsieur sandwich at a nearby bistro, we took a few photos in front of the tower and headed to our appointment.  We didn’t have to time to go up to the top, but hey, we live here now.  Surely we will go back in the next few days right?  (2 weeks and we haven’t gone back)

The apartment was a little disappointing at first.  The photos in the website made it look so bright and brand new, but in reality it doesn’t get much light at all and needs some work.  But now that we have settled in and Sina has worked her magic, it works quite well for us.  The only thing we feel like we miss is a clothes dryer.  My theory is that these buildings were not designed with exhaust systems for dryers and so we have to get used to crunchy clothes for a while.

The neighborhood, Bonne Nouvelle, is perfect.  The streets are filled with lively cafes and shops and it is mostly a local crowd.  It’s amazing though how one or two streets can make such a big difference in this city.  2 blocks to the left is prostitute-central with Chinese women walking around Strasbourg St. Denis.  The laws have changed in Paris around prostitution and the women are not allowed to call after you, or just stand around waiting.  They have to be walking around.  Who comes up with this stuff?  At one point we were actually considering an apartment literally right in the center of hooker-ville.  Of course we had no idea!  Thank goodness we decided on this one instead.

We are right in the middle of a two week holiday from school here in Paris.  Last week we signed Luka and Taj up for an arts and crafts camp here in the city.  We figured it would be a good way to start immersing them into the French language before they start school on November 5th and everything is in French.  Unfortunately, they found the one or two kids that spoke some English and befriended them so they could avoid having to learn any French.  The teachers also seemed to be excited by the prospect of practicing their English with the girls, so our plan was totally botched.  Tomorrow they start French lessons instead of arts and crafts camp.  Let’s see how that goes.  Sina is worried that the girls will leave Paris without learning French.  Being the optimist in the family, I’m not convinced yet.

So far, I am really loving life in Paris and have decided to really dive into a new life.  I joined a gym around the corner which is full of Technogym equipment from Italy, and my plan is to go each morning, 6 times per week.  So far, so good!  I have also been going crazy taking photos all over the city (photography is a hobby of mine), and took a photography class one morning here in the city.  An old industry friend of mine took me to an authentic French Bistro for lunch one day and we had an equally authentic 2 hour French lunch!  I’ve always said that I don’t like living in big cities but being in Paris has re-energized me.

Paris Day 1One of the amazing things about this city is that the entire city is beautiful.  In most cities, one can find little pockets of cool, charming neighborhoods.  In Paris it feels like the entire city is one endless cool charming neighborhood.  Every single building looks like something out of a story book and every single street is lined with local shops, cafes, restaurants and pastry shops.

Living here does have its challenges, and everything requires several trips and several conversations to figure out how it works.  2 weeks later and we still haven’t figured out how to get a prepaid sim card for our phones.  Sina has already mastered the art of “Amazoning” in Paris though.  The local mail man already knows us and has been duly warned that he will be making many visits to our apartment door.  Returns seem to be equally painless as they are in the US, so Amazon will not miss us at all over the next year it seems.

The neighbor from upstairs came downstairs one day to let us know he had received a piece of mail for us.  We chatted politely in the doorway for a few minutes but then it became painfully obvious that he was not going to leave anytime soon, so we invited him in to sit down for a few moments.  2 hours later, Sina and I were making faces at each other as if to say “Is this for real?” or “How do we get rid of this guy?”  Nice of him to stop by and all, but we had a long list of things to do to get settled in.  We certainly felt like the rude foreigners that didn’t want to adapt to the French social norms but man, this guy really liked to talk!

I have to say that so far in general, most people have been very nice here in Paris.  Of course once in a while we have come across someone rude but I think that’s true in any city.  The only problem is I wish people didn’t speak so much English, and surprisingly there are many people who also speak Spanish!  It makes learning the language more difficult.  But I for one am determined to learn it.  I am going to continue Rosetta Stone (I’m about half-way through now), and then there happens to be a language school one block away from here.  I am hoping that Sina and I can become proficient enough that we can start introducing it at home and help the girls along.

Working on European time has both advantages and disadvantages.  I don’t feel rushed in the mornings and after the gym I have a few hours to work without many interruptions before the US and Canada starts to wake up and things get busy.  It’s nice to have that time in the morning to do something personally fulfilling and to work more productively.  The downside is that there are emails and phone calls until I start ignoring them around 11pm, but I have been taking at least an hour or two in the evenings to have dinner with the family and read to the kids.  I haven’t taken any business trips yet, but that will start back up after next week.

It’s hard to believe we have only been here for two weeks.  It feels like at least a month has gone by!  My parents were here over this last week which was a nice surprise for us and the kids.  They are heading back to Miami tomorrow and it’s back to work in the morning.  We are missing our dogs and cats back home, but we installed a webcam so we can at least see our dogs asleep in their room each day.  We certainly don’t miss having to clean up all the pet hair everyday, but they are part of our family and it’s hard to be away from them.  I think we haven’t even begun to scrape the surface of the impact life in Paris is going to have on us, and I am excited to see what’s to come.

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