I sort of thought I made up this perfect word to describe my first ever week in France. As usual, Urban Dictionary has beat me to the punch and describes 'surthriving' as someone who thrives off of acting like a victim. So, no, that's not what I meant when I typed the word.
I began typing the title "surviving my first week" and didn't even get to the end of the word surviving before I began typing a new word--thriving. I really feel like it's been a mixture of both. When I arrived on Tuesday, September 19, I was truly just surviving. I mustered up the courage to walk two blocks to the grocery store, and purchased bread, cheese, and apples. I actually felt accomplished for doing so.
As the week went on, and I tackled things on my to-do list such as getting a new sim card for my phone, buying a new charger for my Mac, going for a run, and searching for permanent lodging (I booked an Airbnb for the first week), I still felt proud of these basic survival milestones. I would go out during the day and knock a few things off of my to-do list, and then come back to the Airbnb and watch Modern Family. It was a little bit lonely, but I knew I'd adjust.
However, I had a few moments of truly living and thriving sprinkled into my week. On my first full day in Lille, I spent a few hours walking and talking with two other American assistants, Sarah and John. After saying goodbye to them and planning to follow the same home-Modern Family routine, I ran into my neighbors outside in the courée (our little alleyway) and they asked if I'd like a glass of wine. I ended up spending the entire evening with them having drinks, ordering dinner, talking, and playing darts. A few of them speak English, but we spoke mostly French and they were super encouraging and non-judgey of my rusty conversation skills. I went to bed feeling so happy to have made native French acquaintances so quickly (I really thought it would be tough to make French friends!)
I had a similar evening with them on Friday, and I've now met most of the courée. Everyone is so kind and friendly. There's even one pupper, a Greyhound mix rescue named Rocky that is right across from me. Working on becoming best friends. There are a bunch of cats too. They're alright.
After such a fun and welcoming week at my Airbnb, I knew I would have trouble saying goodbye. So...I'm not going to! My Airbnb stay has ended, and I'm transitioning into a real lease in the same house. Another American language assistant, Sarah, moved in today. I plan to do a separate post on my house/la courée so that everyone can see the environment.
Other notable moments of the trip so far: eating my first authentic crepe, a savory Welsh. Going to the Sunday market at Wazemmes, a gigantic market that takes over the entire neighborhood where you can find literally anything--I opted for a 'Vietnamese crepe.' It was a cool experience, but I would only go back to it on a weekday...it was absurdly crowded and a little bit miserable to just meander around. I also toured one of the big Catholic churches and got a lot of info about the various museum passes you can purchase. I'm planning to save most of those for when it gets colder/rainy. It has been sunny and beautiful everyday since I've arrived, which everyone keeps saying is out of the ordinary and I should soak it in before it's gone for good. Cool! Finally, I've really enjoyed all of the alone time I've had so far. Although I've watched too much Modern Family already, I've also started a handwritten travel journal that I'm trying to keep up with daily. I'm in the process of setting some objectives for myself for the year, so that I spend this time improving and learning about myself.
Oh yeah, and I joined Crossfit Cestio! It's a 45 minute walk from my house, so I'm looking forward to some long walks or possibly a bike if I'm feeling brave enough for that. It is so great to get back to a normal workout schedule, I really need it in order to have a good daily routine.
If you made it all the way to the end--congrats, thanks, and enjoy a few more photos that I've taken while walking around! Please let me know if you enjoyed reading, if I should continue, or if there's anything specific I should post about.