I haven’t experienced much culture shock in France, which is great! I was really counting on not going through culture shock again because I have so many things to take care of for work and I need to find permanent housing and grad school apps outside of them and, frankly, I didn’t want to deal with culture shock too. But it seems some culture shock is unavoidable:
1. I forgot about the lack of trashcans and recycling bins everywhere.
2. There are a lot less Asian people. Being in China briefly with my relatives was great partly because I wasn’t stared at all the time.
3. I can’t watch Project Runway, nooo (ok, I realize this is completely superficial).
4. People working for the train going on massive strike and causing transportation chaos everywhere. And unlike the Bay Area when Bart strikes or threatens to strike, this is not resolved immediately. People just have to deal with the fallout.
5. This one is hard to explain. The shortest way I can put it is that things seem to happen by word of mouth maybe more than anything else. I’m used to having businessy things be businessy. But some businessy things in France happen because you have someone introduce you or you know the right people. It’s kind of pre-Industrial Revolution-ish. Like maybe Benjamin might approve because it has that old world flavor of putting acquaintance-ship over real business. But who knows.
Is it weird to be a little melancholic in France? Maybe not because I am melancholic half the time in California, but I don’t remember being melancholic in Bordeaux.
Anyway, said feeling comes from being tired (still jet lagged and the journey here was many hours between different flights, trains, and mishaps). But mostly it comes from having to do yet more bureaucratic things. I visited my high school today and met other teachers, who were all very nice, and meeting people was the highlight. But with that came having to get my birth certificate translated (long story) into French, which I will get on tonight or tomorrow, and having to open a bank account (not only necessary for getting paid but also for other bureaucratic things). Opening a bank account though, means that I need a permanent address and that is still in flux.
Oh, and I’ve been working on bureaucracy since April, when I found out I would be doing this. So yes. Bureaucracy + fatigue has led to melancholy.
I am leaving my beloved Bay Area soon (and have been suffering all the anxieties of doing so over the last few weeks) and will document this journey as well as I can here!
The title of this blog is from a slight cheesy Christopher Columbus (who I realize is a problematic figure) quote: “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” I spent a day or two thinking of blog names because I can’t seem to keep a blog for an extended time anymore and need each one to reflect a different few years or so. This was the most hopeful one, so we’re sticking with it. I tried to find inspirations in poems at first, but all the poems I dearly love are melancholy in some way.