On Living Abroad

It’s funny how living abroad makes you hold on to things from home more than you usually would. I’ve visited, backpacked, studied and stayed with friends abroad, but living in another country has created a shift in my mentality especially as my life becomes increasingly intertwined with something that was once so foreign.

More often than not, when travelling I would let go of my “americansims”, try to quiet down, blend in, learn a little language, taste the local foods, and do as the locals. When Bush was president, and I was backpacking through Europe, I didn’t dare utter that I was Texan. I almost told people I was Canadian in an effort to avoid the Bush shame. But when you live in a place and your idea of home starts to shift, you find pieces of your identity, pockets of your home and covet it like an irrational gollum creature.

“Damn right I’m from Texas!”

“Of course we’re celebrating Halloween…and Thanksgiving…and Christmas, and Valentines- ALL the celebratory American occasions!!!”

“What do you mean they don’t have triple sec? What kind of godforsaken land is this?!”

“I finally found black beans!! They actually exist!! Don’t touch! My precious….”

…You don’t want to imagine the greedy hoarding that would take place if I found refried beans. Continue reading

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Monday Musings

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Vintage Santa

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since my last post. Oh how time is flying. Maybe it’s just the time of the year, but I can’t believe it’s already December and I’m reaching the half way point of my time here. I want to pull the emergency breaks and slow everything down, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re enjoying your time. It really does fly when you’re having fun.

In the past few weeks I’ve visited Strasbourg, Paris and Lyon for fun, friends, and fete des lumieres. I’ve also spent much of my time at the noel marche, searching for christmas presents but ultimately warming myself in the food hut with vin chaud and good company….and of course seeing bizarre daily spectacles including a family of singing clowns, French Texas two-steppin line dancers, Pere Noel or Saint Nicolas himself and my personal favorite, Père Fouettard, or the Whipping Father. We are luckily far enough North that we have privilege of the German influence of not one, but two Santa figures. In the U.S. if you are naughty, you are threatened with coal and a lack of presents. Here, children get the Père Fouettard, a man dressed in black who not only carries a whip but uses it freely to scare naughty children nice. Unfortunately my enthusiasm to witness the Whipping Father did not go unnoticed as he beelined it over to my table. Luckily for me, he couldn’t squeeze over to my spot, but Maribel was not so fortunate. We got a good laugh out of it all, while the table full of children next to us cringed in anticipation and fear. Who knew the holidays could be so horrifying?

Vin Chaud Tower...I had help!

Vin Chaud Tower…I had help!

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Pere Noel

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Maribel was not spared the wrath of Père Fouettard

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Texas in France??

In other news, I had quite the Frenchventure when I decided to get a hair trim with Maggy. I realized there are many things you say when cutting your hair- things I did not have the French vocabulary for. Trim, thin hair, fuller, trying to grow it out, want to keep the length, but get rid of the bob- are among the words and phrases I wanted to say. I worked up a good bit of butterflies, wondering how I would communicate something I had never prepared for. However, we came equipped with pictures and a print out of french vocabulary words. We were nervous, but happy we had a safety net of pictures and words. But nothing is ever quite that simple. As the woman spoke quickly and gestured at my hair in swift movements, suddenly all of my practice phrases previously memorized vanished from my mind. It soon became a Me Talk Pretty One Day scenario as I pointed at pictures and brokenly tried to express what I wanted. “I try for the long hairs. This was a bob but I don’t want. I like the fringe of her. But I want more long. My hairs are tiny. Will that work?” She kindly laughed and nodded in some sort of sign of comprehension. Thankfully it was successful and I left happy. Thank god for patient stylists and pictures.

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Happy Haircut!