Every now and then I read old posts I write (afterall, this is my diary) and it's funny how your thoughts change as circumstances change and you get older.
I was reading this post written almost a year ago. I was feeling really frustrated and annoyed that I couldn't travel anywhere and all I ever saw on Facebook were friend's travel photos.
And now, here I am and it's basically the opposite situation! I travel all the time and post heaps of photos and it seems that everyone else is doing no or very little travelling.
Considering what I wrote back in January 2010, I feel a bit bad that I may be upsetting some people by 'bombarding' them with photos of all my trips. But what's a girl to do? I'm not doing it to show off, I've always liked sharing my photos. Years before Facebook existed and even before blogs existed, I had my own website where I'd upload stuff, and then I'd also email family members and close friends photos from major events in my life. Facebook just made it all the more easier to do what I've always done.
The strange thing is.. (well it's strange to me!) is that I've been told by so many friends that they are jealous of me. I'm not sure if it's the truth or they are just saying it to be flattering. I think it's that constant 'grass is greener' feeling. They probably envy aspects of my life, yet they don't know that I envy aspects of theirs!
Sure it's great to travel all the time (I travel on average every second week and I have school holidays every second month for at least 2 weeks at a time) but it's not all fun and games.
I often think that going to another country is like a relationship. What do I mean by this?
At the start of a romantic relationship, you're in complete awe of this person and oblivious to all their faults but as as time goes on and you get to know them better, you see them 'warts and all'. After many many years maybe their faults may overtake their good points and they start to annoy you more and more... and then eventually you break up (of course I'm just simplifying the story, most relationships are very complicated).
Given this is my second stint as an expat I believe it's very similar. When you first go to a new place you're in complete awe. You're in that 'honeymoon' period. When people go on holidays it's usually only for a short period so they are always in that 'honeymoon' period. They never reach the next stage.
I think I may be at that next stage or maybe I'm just sick of winter, I don't know! (actually it's probably just post-holiday blues). But I do feel a bit of the lustre has worn off and little by little I start to see more and more flaws. I think it's being in a small town that gets me down the most and being trapped without a car that really annoys me. The things I mentioned before still annoy me too.
It's really hard to live in a 9 square metre room after having my own nice 2 bedroom flat and living in walkable suburb in Sydney. It's really hard to deal with shop closing hours.
On Monday I went to the laundromat (exciting, yes, I know!) I actually wanted to go Friday but silly me, procrastinated and it never happened. Then Saturday was 1 January which was a public holiday, then everything is closed on Sundays so I had to wait until Monday. Now, shops are not normally open on Mondays but this laundromat is... but only until 12:30pm! It's located in a small shopping centre and I wanted to buy something to eat. Could I do this? No!
The worst is I don't actually live in town and it's about a 20 minute walk there and a 30 minute walk back (because it's all uphill). I usually catch the bus because I'm lazy and because I don't really feel like walking uphill 30 minutes carrying groceries when it's -4°. The bus only comes about once an hour. I try to save money by eating in the school canteen which is open from 12-1:30pm. I usually finish my morning classes at 11am, and then have class in the afternoon anytime starting at 1:30pm to 4:30pm.
I've become extremely good at timekeeping. I have to be! If finish class at 11, I catch the next bus and it gets there a few minutes later. But then I only have until 12 to finish everything I need to do which isn't that long since not everything is located next door to one another. If I don't get it all done before 12 (when they close) then I've got to wait until 2pm or 2:30 for them to open again. And if I have a class at 1:30 I can't wait at all. THIS IS BEYOND FRUSTRATING! If I miss the bus I also have to wait around for the next one.
I have to make sure I catch the bus back in time to have and finish lunch (usually around 45 minutes).
Something else really screwed up happened too. I have to buy an abonnement ('subscription') every month for the bus. No problem. I wanted to buy January's in mid December and they told me I couldn't! I could only do it during the last week of December. But I said I was going on school holidays and wouldn't be here. So what happened? When I wanted to use the bus this week I had to pay for it. That is ironic, that I needed to use the bus to go into town to buy an abonnement to use the bus.
It's not all negative though! All the bus drivers know me. The first one I encountered didn't even ask to see my bus pass. The second one asked to see it and told me I needed January's card and not December's and let me off but then the next time he said I had to pay (which I didn't really mind since it was free (grace period) all throughout September and October).
There are good things about living in a small town. I think I mentioned before that my bank manager is lovely. I think we could be friends outside of work but the thing is he lives in another town about 40km away so we'd never get to meet up. He even wanted to take English lessons with me but we can't make it fit our schedules :( For the first time the other day, he was busy so I couldn't see him and saw another person. I somehow screwed up my login to my internet banking after 3 tries and needed to reset my password since I was now blocked out of my account. I told the lady at the desk and she asked me my name and gave me my new login details. Note: She did not ask me for any sort of ID! I know it's kind of bad... but I guess that's the trust that goes on in a small town!
In most of the towns I've visited I've found the locals lovely. Not so in Paris! (although I'll save my comments for my Paris post later).
I know this post is rather negative but I still love living in France and still want to stay here for quite a while yet! I feel like it's a beast I have to tame.
Anyway, I will end this post by posting this pic, The Holstee Manifesto. I like every quote on it. Especially this one (in bold):
I think for me, you won't truly know yourself until you travel ALONE. I've definitely learnt so much about myself since doing everything alone. I guess I'm still a bit lost and will eventually find myself one day :)
This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often.
If you don't like something, change it. If you don't like your job, quit. If you dont have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel Often. Getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them.
Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
Life is short. Live your dream, and wear your passion.