Moving to a new place with unfamiliar surroundings and virtually on your own can be a very frightening and challenging thing. Fortunately, I have an awesome support system back home that I can call whenever I am feeling lonely or lost. However, this is a time to grow, expand and flourish in a whole new environment. I so love my home and life in California, but I am working to create a new home here in France and learning quickly how to truly be independent.
In California – more often than not, I find myself staying at home and would rather be in with my family. This is due to a number of things and partly because driving can be a total pain in the booty (sorry Orange County, but you really need to invest in a public metro system). But what it really comes down to is COMFORT. I was/am comfortable and content with my space at home. I know my friends, my family, the places I like to go…. but sometimes comfort becomes too stationary, too stagnant and just plain dull. A change of pace and a change of scenery can help one exponentially grow in every direction imaginable!
But to be completely honest, when I arrived in Paris, I was extremely anxious and worried. I did not know where I would be living, which school I was attending or a zillion other things like: What phone service do I sign up for? How do I open a French bank account? Do I need a French bank account? How the heck do I navigate the metro? What are the areas I should avoid? What is a reasonable price for a cafe? It costs how much for nail polish? Do I live with a family or find a roommate? How do I do my laundry here?
ALL the questions. And while many of those have been answered in the month that I have been here, new questions are being asked every day. And I’ve found that it’s all going to be just fine. Not everything can be accomplished in one day nor answered at the same time, and as long as you know that – it will be a beautiful learning process.
TEN TIPS for moving to a new place:
1. Stay grounded in who you are and know your roots, what are your values and what fundamentally make you YOU.
2. At the same time, do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. This is not to say you should walk down the dark alley at night… but be BOLD. Take a new class, try a new food or learn a new language!
3. Reach out and really build those friendships. Don’t know anyone in the area? Say hello! We all start as strangers.
4. EXPLORE the unknown, take a stroll through the city and find its hidden gems.
5. Eat lunch in the park alone, do not be afraid to do things alone.
6. Find a cafe, a boulangerie or a bookstore and make it yours.
7. In order to not feel as lost, establishing a routine can be good! Not necessarily a complete daily routine — but waking up around the same hour, having morning coffee and breakfast. Something small like this, but that is reliable can ease the transition!
8. Embrace the new culture – some things may be similar to your home and some may be VERY weird. Regardless, it can help to get acclimated by paying attention to the street style and shifting your wardrobe a bit, picking up random phrases or venturing into the dating and nightlife practices.
9. Be ready for anything, sometimes things don’t go as smoothly or how you planned them… And at the same time, it is best not have expectations.
10. Be patient with the learning curve and the new culture, it will take some time to adapt. You may say things wrong or it will be difficult to find mundane things (like contact solution and baking soda!)
A big thank you to my gal pal and roommate, Nicole, for helping craft this list and putting up with my nonsense on the daily.
The following images were shot at Père Lachaise Cimetière and my mom and I nearly got kicked out! Père Lachaise is a very popular tourist spot as many stars have been laid to rest here: Jim Morrison (swoon), Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde… Just to name a few. Anywho, many people frequent the graves and walk through the streets of this elaborate graveyard, taking pictures along the way.
Unbeknownst to my mother and I, we were shooting very close to the main office and one of the officials of the cemetery was not too keen on that. He came up to my mother and I and demanded in French what we were doing. We politely explained in broken French/Franglish/okay basically English that we were shooting pictures for my fashion blog and he was not a fan of this. He asked if we had permission from the deceased to take pictures of them/their graves and we were a bit baffled…? I have a great respect for the dead and we had been shooting on the paved streets, not climbing on top of graves or anything AND most of the background was out of focus without any specific names showing. Unfortunately, he had made up his mind and insisted that we call essentially the “owner” of the graveyard and get his permission. So we entered into the main office headquarters and two cute guys – close to my age were working the desk. They inquired what I needed assistance with, I explained the situation and they chuckled saying they had no problem with us shooting pictures.
The cranky old man that had scolded us before piped in and yelled that they had no authority to say that and I still needed permission. So one of the guys wrote down the number, shaking his heads at the man – he then handed me off the digits with a smile. I headed outside, dialed the number and to my chagrin, the secretary on the phone spoke no English. Ooomf. I tried to explain to her in my little French what was going on and she stated that the man I needed to speak to was not in and I could send him a letter in the post. A LETTER IN THE POST? Literally going to be here for another 20 minutes and then my mom was flying back to California. I said thank you, hung up and was fired up.
Not allowed to take pictures in a place that is clearly a tourist location and nothing was posted about taking/not taking photos? So guess what we did? Took the darn photos. Not exactly sure if I can call myself a badass or not (I joke) but sometimes when somebody tells me I can’t do something – that is the greatest fuel for me to want to prove them wrong. So my mom and I just did our thing. Of course we were mindful of the graves and those that have passed, taking care with each step… and managing to not get caught in the process.
A fine example of different customs, being ready for anything and stepping out of my comfort zone indeed.
IMAGES by Gayle Dawn Photography