jeudi 3 mars 2011

I miss my parents

With nothing in particular to do, my normal sleeping and eating habits have gone out the window... I now stay up till 2am and sleep in till 10am. And sometimes I forget to eat. Not so good. Oops.

It only just occurred to me that I really miss my parents.  Pretty much the only people on earth who would do anything for me. The only people that I can truly rely on. The only people who have called me since I moved here (and only a handful of times at that). I also miss their cooking. Gosh I miss a home-cooked meal so much. I also miss their partners (I sort of have 4 parents since my parents got divorced and re-partnered).

I try not to miss people too much as I know I just end up getting upset so after my first expat stint abroad I simply learned to 'turn off' those feelings but after more than 5 months I can no longer do so.

Right now, I have never felt so alone in my life. And I haven't felt so sad since those first few hard weeks here. I feel really disconnected to everyone in my life. Both back at home and here.

I told some friends I was feeling a bit sad (due to x,y,z) and they had the attitude of "But you're having so much fun and travelling all the time, how could you possibly be sad?" which I felt was rather - I'm not even sure what the word I'm looking for is - insensitive?  And then I think to myself why do I even bother trying to get people to understand? They don't need to understand. It doesn't affect them and they can't relate.  I remind myself again that nobody can possibly understand what it's like to live in a 5 sqm 'house' for 5 months in a small town with no car, no close friends or family, nowhere to go and nothing much to do (within the town), and nobody that simply 'gets' you.

Actually that's not true. The staff in this school are mighty sympathetic to me. I get words of sympathy all the time, even from the principal... "It must be so hard to be so far away from your family and friends". And those who have seen my room or have lived in one similar (even for one night) feel EXTREMELY sympathetic. Not that there's anything wrong with the room. It's just tiny. It literally feels like a shoebox. Luckily I'm not claustrophobic. "Have you thought about moving into your own apartment? I don't know how you could live there..."

But their sympathy means nothing to me because I don't want it. I just want their friendship and a bit of their time.

Trust me, I'm not one to be complaining about something when I have control over it and the power to change it. I had thought about moving out right at the beginning when I first arrived but on my salary it would be impossible. And the logistics/legalities of figuring it all out would not be worth the time and effort*. I also thought about buying a car when I first arrived but I don't know how to drive manual transmission and automatic cars are prohibitively more expensive. I even though about getting a bank loan but then I told myself that that would be crazy given here I'd only be here for a few months.

* The French are notorious for their bureaucracy. It took me over 4 months just to get the letter to get my Carte Vitale (French national health care card). I still haven't gotten that card yet and I hope to get it soon! They already take deductions out from my salary each month!

I just want to live in a big city before I go crazy. I never felt like this before because I've never lived in a small city before. I can easily live without a car in a big city with good public transport. And in a big city I can actually be more autonomous and go out and meet people and simply do stuff.

But I will say this. Making friends with French people is hard. It's actually very similar to finding a job. If you wait for them to come to you, it'll never happen. YOU have to make ALL the effort. It gets tiring. I had a similar conversation with the other language assistant here. We were both confused and frustrated and annoyed that we were the 'visitors', the 'guests' yet WE were the ones who had to invite the locals out to do stuff with us. I kid you not, that's how it works here!

All those memories from reading French books come flooding back to me about how hard it is to make friends with the French, and to get into their 'inner circle'. I've come to realise now also that even if someone acts like they are your friend, doesn't mean they think of you as one (to them).

As an example, this is what I've done to try to make friends and meet new people:
• Looked for events on CouchSurfings and various other websites
• Contacted people on CS who live near me
• Re-contacted friends and teachers here
• Put up ads to teach English or to make a language exchange
• Almost joined a art/craft course/class till I realised there was no way I could get home at night and you have to pay for the entire year (which started way back in September)
• Fleeting thought about going to a pub/bar but told myself that is ridiculous and you'll more than likely meet the 'wrong' types of people there plus I am NOT looking for a date and definitely not some middle-aged divorced guy which are the types I see. I'd be happy to go in a group of friends but definitely not alone.
• Went to the local swimming pool (OK so that wasn't for the purpose of meeting anyone but it would've been nice if I had ;) )

There's probably more I could do but seriously? It is nowhere near that hard in a big city. I just find an event and go to it, simple. Other people will go.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this website (on a friend's computer) called Badoo. It's quite popular in Europe but not so much in Anglo countries. I had never heard of it before and I'm on the internet a lot and quite a bit of a geek so... it claims it's a 'social networking' website but after careful investigation I discovered it's actually more like an online dating website. And I refuse to use those now. I have in the past but I haven't used one since 2002. Besides, I'm not looking for a date, just normal people to hang out with. Shame because that site is quite nicely designed, set up and easy to use and the best part about it is you can easily search for people geographically. The site is also in many languages and I read somewhere that you can use it to practice languages (hahaha as if!) I was surprised that I actually found several thousand people (in my age range) in my town alone. Can you imagine? That's like the entire town! I was so tempted to use it but I told myself not to go there. It could only lead to disaster... You never know what people's true intentions are on dating sites.

Back to the topic... I guess 'sad' isn't even the word I'm looking for, I think 'disillusioned' is more appropriate. I had wanted this SO bad (to come to France). I got exactly what I wanted but it wasn't what I expected. And it's the same with people too when you take off those rose-tinted glasses. I like to look for the good in people and places and situations but when I realise the truth it's disheartening. It's not all bad though. It's not bad enough that it makes me want to leave or anything. In fact I definitely don't want to leave. I don't give up that easily. I just have to work harder to make things easier for myself.

but still...

I had no idea it would be this hard.


theticketytree a dit…

Hi there,
I just wanted to comment to let you know that I totally feel for you. Sadly, I think that's the way of towns everywhere as opposed to cities, people have their circle of friends and they stick with them. I have done the whole moving to a new place and making new friends thing before and it IS lonely, and having to do it in a different culture.. well, I admire you for doing it.
"Right now, I have never felt so alone in my life. And I haven't felt so sad since those first few hard weeks here. I feel really disconnected to everyone in my life. Both back at home and here."
I felt so sad for you when I read this - because I've FELT it and it was awful. I think I got through it by finding distractions - shopping, a day out doing the tourist thing and looking at the sights, anything that didn't involve staying at home. None of this helps, I know, but just thought I'd comment and send you a little cyber-hug {{o}} ! Bon courage!

La Petite Blogueuse a dit…

Hi Ticketytree,

Thanks so much for writing and for the hug! It's nice to have someone who can relate. I've been feeling down lately for a whole myriad of reasons. I think I'll feel better once the weather gets warmer and school starts back up again :)

hugs to you too (it would be nice to get a hug once in a while instead of the 'bise' ha!)


PS nice blog!

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