And ones that compliment you, too. Good friends should do both. I know, from personal experience, that you don’t always get a choice in who you’re friends with when you’re au pairing. There just is whoever there is and that’s it and you have to make the best of it and you get along because you need someone else to be there for you. But, other times, there are choices to be made and who you spend more time with and others you have polite conversations with.
When I was packing to head to France, my mom cautioned me against taking clothes that were closer to the tight end of the scale instead of fitting properly. Her reasoning was two-fold: 1.) (Rightly and smartly) that it would take up extra space in my already crowded bag and 2.) She warned me that I would probably gain weight while abroad. Naturally, my reply was to scoff at such worry, toss the clothes anyways and promise myself that I wouldn’t let that happen.
This advice comes curtesy of my mother. I don’t know if I just have the bad luck of constantly needing to interact with people that annoy me or I’m just easily irritated and dramatic (potentially a mix of the two), but you can bet that when I Skype home, at least one part of my conversation goes, “That thing they do is really annoying and uuuuugh. Why do they have to do it?!”* Some of it can be dealt with and sorted out, but other things are just grin and bear it moments where it might be a personality thing or cultural difference. And so I have to learn to live with it. Continue reading
Just over a year ago, I wrote about how I was pretty sure every French person on the street knew that I wasn’t thinking in French. Which sounds a little bit crazy, but if you’re living in a country where you don’t speak the language, it’s really freaking intimidating to open your mouth and have words that don’t don’t quite fit around your tongue and teeth try and sort themselves out into a coherent sentence. It took me months in France before I was comfortable with my French, before it didn’t feel like a too small sweater and make me uncomfortable for long periods of time. Which, to be honest, is why I’m kind of really alrightl that I don’t speak any Spanish. Continue reading
Because that’s what it is now. It’s your city. Maybe only for six months, a year (though you never know what will happen), but, for that time, it is completely and utterly your city. You live and shop and eat and drink and are entertained there. So get to know it. Start out with all the cheesy touristy things (even if you don’t like looking like a tourist). Do the bus rides or walking tours or boat tours or whatever else is available. Any major city will have a tourism office where you can ask questions and pick up maps, brochures and activity listings. Figure out what interests you and hit it up. Learn a little history. Visit the big museums and take cheesy touristy pictures and spam your Facebook or Instagram feed with them.