There are many changes we go through as individuals where sometimes it is hard to see how far we have come until we take a look back into our past. As I perused old photographs and deleted miscellaneous pictures off my phone and computer, it forced me to think about the past. What has changed and how I have grown, if I have grown at all..and hopefully not exponentially.
I have a list of things I would like to do in life but over the past few years it has been to be settled and happy and still thirsting for life and adventure. It started really at university and then after I graduated university in December of 2007. It is hard to realize that it has indeed been years since that time. I remember orientation or FROSH as it popularly called. We were sorted according to discipline. I was in humanities so the people I met in my assigned group and who were also studying humanities were still people I knew years later.
This comes to mind as I am attending the wedding of one of these dear friends in a few weeks time. I remember her well as one of the first people I met at that orientation at age 17. Time goes by so quickly. Its as if it is on a constant escape to the next grand adventure wherever that might be. I finished my studies quickly. I enjoyed Political Science, English and Womens Studies, subjects that could help me understand how our society is shaped and could arm me with advice to improve it or at least write about it.
When I graduated at 20, I was lost as to what to do. My French was not wonderful at the time but I thought, ”Why not?” And with my parents’ blessing, I went away to Quebec and met all these wonderful people from Paris, Lyon, Montpellier, Belgium, Switzerland, L´ile de la Reunion, places I would have never imagined to meet people from. We would have get togethers and go out. Sometimes we would stay in and eat wonderful food. It was such an international, friendly, fun crowd. A few short months after my arrival, I was speaking an acceptable French and planning with my new friends, navigating Quebecois and French culture; it was a wonderful time in my life. I spent 2 years there more than I thought I would and was able to visit France with locals because of my new French bilingualism and my new friends. I had never lived alone for university, it was different being away and responsible for myself. Sometimes I enjoyed the people I met, sometimes I didnt and I wondered how it could be better. Anyway, I would go into stores and ask questions about items while practicing my French. I would perfect different subjects which helped when people would vary their sentences and ask something in a slightly different way than I had heard it before. I would become very confused and provided a much-needed puzzled look. When I had lived there for about a year, I met a girl who had come over from the South of France to live with her then-boyfriend. We were introduced through a mutual friend and we resulted in becoming quite good friends. I had never met anyone who spoke quite as quickly as she did. She would also write to me in a very colloquial French, not often written to me because I was not so gifted in colloquial French. I found when my mind was becoming less and less stimulated by my environment, this new girl was there ready to brighten me up even though she too was having issues. I remember her never really complaining about her situation. I remember however her as a bright light, loud and smart, always ready to take on the world and unafraid of giving her opinion. Many people underestimated her as being smart but I learned quite a bit from her.
I had not envisioned it would be difficult in Quebec because I was there to figure out what I wanted to do with life but I knew I wanted more out of my time and I wasn´t asking myself enough. I steadily began to get bored after a year and a half. Yet, this was part of my journey, the journey of figuring out where I fit in. I think back and think I could have done more but then I did accomplish quite a bit. I become fluent in French, made wonderful long-lasting friendships and had enough French credits to help me with my next venture.
There was a whole world out there to learn about and experience. Many of my new French friends decided to settle in Canada and not return to France but I, for some reason, had a burning desire to know more, to ask, ”Well, who else is out there?” The truth is Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail. I hate that phrase because I feel it takes the adventure out of things. Sometimes it is a wonderful rule to live by, sometimes not. I think if you are serious about making permanent changes, it comes from preparing for them. I speak from experience when I say that in certain situations, I wish I had prepared for them. I learned to think on my feet but sometimes there were wasted moments where I thought, ”Ok I need a backup plan. I really should have made it before but let’s see what sticks now’
A good example of this is when I went to Paris for the summer in 2012, to fall in love with the city on my own. I suppose it was and still is magical to me because I have this beautiful version of it in my head. I also went there so many times and love the romantic aspects I envision. It doesnt matter what misadventures I had there. I was drawn to it by its architecture. And I know, France and Britain are countries built on the riches of poorer nations but just a beautiful city. I never felt alone there. But there were situations where I could have prepared better there. The purpose though at that time was to enjoy, which I did. I´ll tell the lost in the suburbs of Paris next time
To be continued….