It’s that time of year again…time for us to make our annual pledge to lose 10 pounds, exercise daily, call our mothers more often and other well-meaning, but soon forgotten, resolutions. Luckily however, each year we can start anew. This year let’s make these 10 resolutions that are really worth keeping and get the most out of our lives in Paris:
1. Learn the Lingo
For the majority of us, who are sadly not bilingual, learning French may seem a daunting task but stick with it. Paris offers countless organizations, individuals, language schools and activities to assist you. To make it as interesting as it is educational, seek creative options to learn the language and make the effort to converse with native speakers who are receptive whenever possible. Whether you take private, group or online courses, doors open when you learn the basics.
2. Be a tourist
Don’t wait for guests to arrive to play tourist. Enjoy the view from the ice skating rink at the Eiffel Tower for a fun packed day and a unique view of the city (open daily until mid-February); take a river or canal cruise; dine at a 4 star restaurant or famous bistro; attend the French Open and other events; in short, do things and go places that are uniquely Parisian while the opportunity presents itself.
3. Meet the French wherever and whenever possible
It’s normal for us to try to rebuild our social network here with other expats and gravitate to organizations and events that they frequent. Take the time and initiative to get to know the French however, and you will be as surprised at the many ideas and experiences that we share and delighted by the differences and I have been. Equally important, you will learn as much about yourself as you will about them while forming lasting friendships. A good way to begin is to attend Vernissages (art gallery exhibition openings) which provide ample opportunities for networking; join multi-cultural organizations or take classes and attend events you enjoy and converse with attendees. There are many opportunities, if you are open to the experience.
4. Get Lost and Explore
Typically we all hate to get lost however, with my terrible sense of direction it is a frequent occurrence for me. Fortunately, it has proved to be a blessing here and not a curse. Often I have chanced upon a great restaurant or shop that may have otherwise eluded me and I have always relied on the kindness of strangers to put me back on the right track again. So I recommend exploring the city to discover the colorful fabric of its diverse neighborhoods. Take the bus instead of the metro, get to know the lay of the land and by all means, don’t be afraid to get lost.
5. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
This one dovetails with the previous resolution and is probably the hardest to keep. We are all creatures of habit and tend to replicate what we have done in the past especially when faced with new challenges or surroundings. If however, we step outside of our comfort zone, we will find a whole new wonderful world awaits us in Paris. While it’s prudent to familiarize ourselves with our neighborhood and forge relationships with its vendors, we should avoid getting rooted there missing out on memorable restaurants, shops and other activities further afield as a result. Allow yourself to begin anew in Paris and stretch yourself…if you don’t stretch, you’ll never reach higher.
6. Create a future artist or art patron
Your children will mirror your reaction to life here. Take advantage of this great opportunity to teach them a love and respect for other cultures and how to adapt and thrive in a multicultural environment. You can also be instrumental in creating a future artist or art lover by providing opportunities for them to express their artistic abilities. France offers many children’s activities designed to develop their inner artist. Enroll them in drawing or similar classes; attend a scavenger hunt at the Louvre or partake in the countless other children’s programs museums offer. All of these are fun family-friendly activities that will help your children not only adapt to life in Paris but also whatever country might be their future home.
7. Cultivate your own inner artist
Always wanted to learn to paint, take great photographs, cook like a French chef, create your own stylish jewelry or couture clothing, perform stand-up comedy, etc.? There is no time like the present and no better place to do so than in Paris. Whatever your dream, you can find someone here to help you make it come true. Just do it!
8. Learn a Lifetime skill
Although following your dream is a goal unto itself, make it a sustainable one and it will bring you endless happiness now and wherever your future travels take you. Continue to practice this skill and you will develop a positive, tangible remembrance of Paris that will enrich your life and that of others for years to come.
9. “Vive la Difference”
Learn to accept that Paris differs greatly from your home town. Although it may be difficult for us to accept that doing the laundry takes all day and we bemoan our diminutive apartments, try not to dwell on the perceived negatives. Focus instead on the numerous positive aspects of life in Paris. When you realize you can’t compare apples with oranges, you will be happier for the experience.
10. Embrace the French “arte deis a moveable feast”
Take time to enjoy the quintessential French way of life and, you will agree with expat writer Ernest Hemingway who wrote, “if you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”.