Thursday, February 25, 2010

French Kissing

I have lived in France for almost 2 months now (holy hell! really?!)

Now, I'm used to a bit of affection. I'm an affectionate person. I like a hug and a kiss when I meet a good friend for coffee. But I'm still at a bit of a loss to French kissing habits.

For all those thinking I'm about to disclose my personal adventures here in France, you will be disappointed. I'm not talking about passionate 'French Kissing' but about the kiss on the cheek custom in France.

For example, whenever you meet someone, you're supposed to give them a kiss on each cheek. However, when a guy knocked on my bedroom door this evening to drop off a package for his friend (the girl who I'm renting the room from), I introduced myself and gave him a kiss on each cheek - he looked surprised. So I screwed it up again.

But the other day, when I met one of my housemates, I moved away as he moved in for a kiss because I thought he was going to walk past me. How awkward!!

And I'm not sure if, when I say good morning to my roommates, I'm supposed to lean over and do the kiss on the cheek thing or does this expire after a while?

You'd think I'd be adept at this. In Poland, it is customary for 3 kisses and I don't often screw that up. However, the French have got me puzzled, and I'm lost in a sea of social subtleties that I have no idea how to navigate.

Perhaps its the awkwardness of the 'Bonjour' kiss... there is no hugging, and both participants stand with arms akimbo. I like a bit of a cuddle. I'm not a fan of this part of the kissing ritual.

Perhaps I'm not as affectionate as I would have thought, but people who know my propensity for surprise 'back hugs' may disagree.

Perhaps, I'm just not French enough.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

San Fransisco Dreaming

In just a few months, I will be flying into San Fransisco. I've never been before.

I'm looking forward to visiting the City Lights book store... the cradle of the beat poets. It will be a pilgrimage.

I don't know why that popped into my head.

Perhaps the European winter is getting to me. I havent budged from this huge arm chair but to refill my hot cup of tea. As much as I love sitting by the fire place with the soft glow of the lamp and the alps visible from the city, I think my bones are begining to crave some vitamin D, and my brain is responding with thoughts of California.

soon enough, I'll be counting down until the first snow. It's almost Spring!!! (can you believe how quickly winter is over?!)

xx a

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Arriving in Lyon

So I'm 'home' and learning again how to write on an anglophone keyboard. I say 'home', because, although I plan to stay in Lyon untill May 28, I'm not yet 'home', ie I dont have my own apartment.

However, in my preliminary apartment searches, I came across an old posting where the room for rent had already been rented (this I only found out later). HOWEVER, there was one room available for sublet, while the occupant (a comedian), is doing a tour of Africa. The room I'm subletting for a week only sets me back 80Euro and I have my own room and a bunch of cool (although temporary) roommates. They comprise of 3 musicians, a student and a comedian (the one whose room I'm in). And, a stable place in Lyon suburbs to do some field research about getting my own place for the next 3 months.

Arriving in Lyon seemed to be the biggest struggle so far. Before getting off the train I (as politely as possible), woke the lady in the aisle seat to go to the bathroom, having just guzzled half a litre of water. I calculated that I'd still have time to get my bags and calmly wait at the doors of the train. Little did I know that in the time of my absense, a traffic jam had formed between the door of the bathroom and my insanely heavy and bulky luggage. Everyone was ready to get off the train when it pulled in to Lyon Part Dieu, and by the time they did, and I ran to get my big, bulky bag (which didnt even fit in the train passage way, but had to be dragged on its side), people started to get on the train, creating a bigger traffic jam and making it more impossible for me to get off the train. Stressed and almost in tears (the train was about to leave), I babbled non-sensical french to lovely french gentlemen who grabbed my suitcase and my backpack for me and got them off the train. If it wasn't for chivalry, I would have ended up in Nimes, Montpellier or on the Cote d'Azur, wherever that train was heading late at night.

The rest went smoothly. I followed Mathieu's instructions (one of my temporary roommates), caught the tram and found him immediately at the station. He then (like a real frenchman), took my suitcase and walked me to the house. We had a cup of tea, chatted, and he went back to the recording studio downstairs, while I checked emails, explored the rather huge house and just went about making myself at home in a strange new place (something I've come accustomed to in the last 7 months).

So, thats it for now.

More Lyonnaise adventures to come!

Gros Bisous,


Monday, February 15, 2010

My French Life - Ma Vie Française

I have been living in France for over a month now, my exploits have reached far and wide in this great country.

I've paid a visit to the capital, the high alpine region, the flat western coastline and the urbansied north. I've been to some of the biggest cities and the tiniest of villages.

I've seen snow and sunshine, ski-lifts and beaches.

I've improved my language skills, gotten and lost a job and learned how to use French keyboards.

I've eaten escargot, créme brulée and tasted but a small selection of France's 270 cheese varieties.

I've learned the intricasies of shopping for fruits and vegetables and using the national railway system.

I've momentarily hopped the boarder to both Switzerland and Belgium.

All in all, an excelent month's progress.

But now what? with over 3 months until my departure to the US, I'm looking for an apartment in Lyon. Looking for some freelance jobs and I guess that's going to have to suffice untill May 28th.

From France, With Love


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another trip

Tomorrow, I'm catching an early morning train to Lille. I'm kind of relieved. The last 3 weeks have been crazy hard.

I have a job interview in Paris on Saturday. Nervous. More trains.

I feel I have learned alot from my life of travel, namely how to pack well, how to pack fast.

I hate packing. and un-packing. And I hate planes. Kind of makes my life seem pretty unsuitable.

However, the good outwheighs the bad, methinks.

Next post from Lille OR Paris (fingers crossed)