I am back in Paris, which means I am back to being the foreigner. Yet, for some reason, I feel caught between two worlds. I’ve been living in France for three years now, and it is a hard feeling to explain, knowing that this is the place where I belong at the moment. I love what I am doing with my life, what my plans are for the future and what I am working towards. But this summer, I got to visit my family and be in the United States for more than a week… A WEEK.
People always ask me what it must be like living abroad. The worst part is missing the people you know and love. I wish I could just put them all in my suitcase and sneak them on the plane with me, but sadly, life does not work like that.
When I was preparing to come back to France, a lot of people were asking me if I was excited to get back to Paris. In a sense, I was. I am excited to start school again this year, I feel much more prepared than I was last year, and I have been working on my photography. Yet this time was not like the last when I went for Christmas. I had had time to re-adapt to the “American” way of life. I was going camping, kayaking, watching baseball games, going on long drives in country fields listening to country music and catching up with close friends and family. My friends were making fun of the way I now eat my burgers (with a fork and knife when I am in public), re-adapting to tipping waiters and using a car to get everywhere. I found myself at times feeling out of place.
Speaking English (and Spanish with my mom) was an adaptation. I don’t speak English or Spanish that often living in France since I am strict with myself about learning the language and surrounding myself with native speakers. I would often find myself trying to translate sayings from French to English/Spanish. I do the complete opposite when I am in France. Also, people are so friendly in the midwest that sometimes it’s hard to get used to everyone smiling at you, or asking you “how are you?” as a hello.
Food this time around was something I was extra careful about. Last time I visited, I got sick for two whole days due to the junk food I had stuffed my body with. I didn’t want to waste my limited time in bed this time around, so sometimes I ate salads, and sometimes I ate all the queso I could while drinking unlimited fountain Dr. Pepper (unlimited soda!), with Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups as dessert. I had to ask my friends about the bar culture in the U.S. since that is something I have only experienced once. The price of wine shocked me. One thing I did miss about France straight away was the unlimited amount of good wine for a cheap price.
In the end, each of these countries will hold a special place in my heart. Being home and being able to have heart to heart conversations with my mom over coffee was something I really needed. And again, I was so proud of on her graduation day. Having political debates with my dad was fun, I was finally doing it with someone who understands the American system. Seeing my sister do her thing and catching up on life was a way to see how we are both evolving, and I am proud of the woman she is becoming. I got to catch up with family members I hadn’t seen in years, and got to meet their kids! And finally, seeing my friends and seeing where they are headed (and knowing who the real ones are) was nice, nice to know that there are people in this world that struggle with the same things that I do (like adulting).
Even though sometimes I may feel like the foreigner even in my own country, I’ll always be from the red, white and blue.
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