In the spirit of non-existent Thanksgiving, and after reading Nancy's blog (which I feel I must at least try to live up to, malgré tout I will never be the rapper she is), I have decided to bring some optimism into my life. Not that I'm not optimistic, I am. I just feel that enumerating the list might just make me a little happier.
Of course, this "Paris is great for these reasons" list is shortly to be followed by "Paris is great, but...I still love New York for these reasons"
1. The architecture. Nothing can beat the sheer beauty of Paris. It's buildings are diverse in some ways, but uniformly beautiful. I try to spend as much time as possible walking with my head up (which can sometimes cause bumping-into-people problems). But it's so worth it.
2. The changing of the leaves. Not that this doesn't happen in my part of the world, but something about the beauty of the colored trees against the beauty of the buildings makes it striking. There is also a better blending of the nature with the landscape here. There are trees on the streets, rather than just in Central and Riverside parks, and I live in a house with a courtyard, which means I can really see the day to day change. I remember the evening when I looked outside and realized that the green vines growing against the living room wall had turned a vibrant pink.
3. French. I am going to miss French a lot. It's frustrating, and hard to understand, and I am far from fluent. But at the same time, it's a gorgeous language. More often than not when I get lost during a lecture, it's not because I can't understand, but rather that I've fallen into the beauty of the rhythm, just enjoying the sounds instead of comprendre them. And yes, sometimes I can't think of a word in English, so I just use the French. I also have a great appreciation for the opportunity that I have to speak French all the time. I am finally starting to notice my French getting better, so I want to use it all the time. I can't believe that in just a month I won't be able to use it every day.
4. Reid Hall. There is the small-school atmosphere that I don't have at Columbia. It reminds me a little of foothill, where I felt that I trusted some of the staff more than most of the students. There is just enough bureaucracy to remind you that you aren't the only person in the world, but also plenty of room to find an administrator's office to cry in when you find out that your world is breaking down and you have bedbugs in the same day (theoretically, of course).
5. Europe. I love the fact that I can plan 3 weeks ahead of time and be pretty much anywhere in western europe for generally less than 200 Euro (of course, add getting to and from the airport and staying places and museum fees and the bottom line starts creeping up, but still, cheaper than from New York).
6. Meeting new people. This is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. Anyone that knows me well knows that I'm a fantastic ice breaker (woot for high school leadership) and good at the first steps towards developing new friends. It's when it gets to that middle stage where I tend to drop the ball and not be the best communicator. Bu, luckily, when you are in places for a short amount of time, that is never necessary.
7. The appreciation that I have for my own culture. Maybe this is cliché (thanks to Hansie for this realization), but I really have discovered what it is about my own culture that I love. This was just one more (giant) step in the direction of self-discovery. But now I know so much about what's really important to me. See corresponding post for this.
8. My host family. They are just awesome. And so many people got crappy housing situations, so I just have to count my lucky stars (mes étoiles de chance). Especially because they have an American coffee maker and let me use it whenever I want. It might as well be my personal coffee maker save for the few times they have guests for a meal and make some for afterwards. Also, the grandbabies. They are basically what I see Riley and Logan being in about 3 years. And so adorable.
9. Raw milk. SOOOOO good. Raw milk cheese is the thing (my) dreams are made of.
Now, on to the American in me. Things that I am thankful to be going back to:
1. My BIKE! And the ability to ride it whenever I want. And all the things that go with exercising 6 days a week. And the GWB, and 9W, and River Road, and Piermont. Mon Dieu, you have no idea how many times in a row I would climb Tweed to be able to get back on my bike.
2. The cycling team. I miss them so much. Probably more than I miss my bike itself (maybe?). Liz and Rob and Sam should all have their own numbers here, but that's not very efficace, is it?
3. Living near campus. Taking the smelly and dirty metro 40 minutes each way each day really cramps my style, and my sleep schedule.
4. A kitchen. While I technically have one, my family is usually using it, and I feel awkward making things that aren't microwavable. I am pretty sure they think I am a cooking failure.
5. Sushi. M2M, where are you????
6. Coffeehouses. Café culture there is here, but coffeeHOUSE culture there is not. It's French. It's all about the conversation, not about the coffee. The Starbucks here can't even make a proper latte. I need an Abraço latte so bad it hurts. I need someone who knows how to make a heart in the foam.
7. The New Yorker and its relavence to me. Mon Dieu I miss living in Manhattan. Also, file under this heading, Time Out and NY Mag
8. People, people, people. God, I miss you people so much. I feel like the holidays are going to be difficult to get through. When did I get so emotional?
9. English Literature. Reading, writing, playing with words in my home language. It's harder to have fun with words that you don't know the meaning of intrinsically.