Friday, August 1, 2014

Expat Excursions

As I've mentioned in various forms before, being an expat often brings with it a slew of pros and cons. The language barrier and the fact that friends often come and go make it necessary to seek out ways to practice French while also meeting new people. And while a desire to be submerged in the culture makes you want to find natives to share stories and learn new things, a desire to find people that understand your own culture and sympathize with similar experiences makes you want to seek out fellow travelers. I find both of these activities highly enjoyable and this week I had a prominent experience of each.

On Tuesday night I began the process of language exchanging again... Yes, we all know that this could ultimately lead to disaster via too much wine slash Frenchmen's belief in infidelity. However, it was a rather successful outing, not least of which because of the amazing location. I was asked to meet at a place called "Wine By One", which is essentially a do-it-yourself wine tasting. You are given a card that you can put money on and proceed to go around a room lined with bottles of wine. Above each variety there is an option to choose a taste, a half glass, or a glass all at different prices. There are also small computer screens so you can look up information on each of the wines, ranging from whites to rosés to reds, from cheap to one of the most expensive bottles in France. I think the TASTE for that one was €22. When I came in they asked me if I wanted my own card or to use a card just for the night. Since your own card has your name and means that you are completely awesome and now have the power to run in at anytime and have a sip just for the hell of it, I clearly chose to get my own. In the meantime, I also managed to speak more French than I have in weeks and was pretty astonished that I remember as much as I do. With any luck, my new semester in the fall will not feel like a horrifying leap into the abyss.

And to follow up my wine and language triumph, I proceeded to a British Meet-up on Wednesday night. I went alone to test my strength in the name of independence and self-awesomeness. It was just a casual mid-week pint at a British-style pub in central Paris so it was easy to stop by, grab a drink and chat with new folk. At first, things like that can always seem a bit awkward. People are never sure who's part of the group and if you end up with a non-conversationalist you ask question after question but are just treading water. If, on the other hand, you feel at all nervous you start gib-gabbering yourself and word vomit whatever comes into your brain. I would say I probably did a bit of both until the beer kicked in. I'm good at chatting, good at asking questions, and am usually attracted to incredibly awkward men. I am also, however, rather adept at word vomit and nonsensical interludes of articulated sound. This means that soon I was chatting away with a variety of people and having a good time. I met a wide variety of travelers and natives, some British some not, some potential new friends and some people I will probably never see again. All in all, it was a wonderfully successful evening, hopefully to be followed by many more new adventures. And of course, if you mix Angela with alcohol and British men, it almost always yields the same result ; )

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