I am in Paris. In Paris. I ride the métro everyday, watching Africans, Asians, French people, and tourists from all over the world getting on and off, some going about their everyday rituals and some experiencing the City of Lights for the very first time. Two days ago, I went apartment hunting on the Rue Cardinal Lemoine and walked from there to Paris IV, passed l'Institut du Monde Arabe, crossed the river Seine, and headed to the Bastille. I am learning these streets, these stations, these neighborhoods and arrondissements. I can't help but think of L'Auberge Espagnol- the scene where the main character arrives in Barcelona for the first time and speaks about how the streets he sees, with their strange names, are completely foreign, but that in less than a year's time, they will become his streets and his dives. I hope that in less than a year's time, I will know St. Germain des Pres forward and backward. I hope that I can start leaving my metro map at home.
Orientation starts tomorrow. I'm excited and nervous, not sure what to even expect. I have to hand in my registration forms, open a new bank account, sign my rent contract, move into my apartment, and sign up for classes. In French. Which typically is not a huge problem for me, to be honest, but after spending over two months in Italy, I definitely have a huge mess in my brain. Sometimes, I don't even know what I'm speaking. I surprise myself: Italian exclamations coming out of my mouth in the middle of lunch with my French host family (like today) or Spanish infiltrating my conversations with my mom on the telephone. Am I crazy that I want to add German and Arabic to the mix?
Do I care? Definitely not.
The time I spent in Italy, though it was hard, physically and mentally (sorry, I'm not quite ready to delve into all that), taught me some things about myself. For one, I love me. It's taken me too long to learn it, but I have some talents. I'm spontaneous, a hard-worker, open, and inviting. I have the capabilities to find my own job, apartment, and make friends from all over the world. I'm just stubborn enough to succeed. (Testona, a co-worker of mine called me. I answered, "Si, but also adorable.") I can even sing. So, am I scared to start this crazy, new experience of mine? Oh, yeah. But I know that I can do it.