I can’t believe that my first year in Paris is already finished. It really seems like yesterday that I arrived, but that seems to be pretty standard for life in general. Looking back, it was an incredible year. Of course there were challenges and surprises and adjustments and hard days, but all in all it was overwhelmingly wonderful.
Since I didn’t keep track of every experience, observation, and difference between my life in Dallas and my life in Paris, this won’t be an exhaustive recap. I’ll try to keep track better going forward, but for now here are a few things that I’ve noticed or that have happened to me during my first year in Paris.
There are so many things that have changed. A lot of these changes are apartment related, and a lot of the changes are especially big for me coming from Dallas to Paris. So, in no particular order:
- I live on the third floor without an elevator. And the third floor in France is what the fourth floor in the US. After a year, I’ve mostly gotten used to the lack of elevator in my day-to-day life. Even with heavy groceries it doesn’t really phase me anymore. What I haven’t gotten used to is when I leave for trips. I’m not a light packer by any means, so taking my luggage up and down the stairs is something I really dread.
- I don’t have a dryer. Instead, I have a drying rack, and it takes up approximately half of my living room when it’s fully extended. Doing laundry is now generally a 36-48 hour process
- For the most part, there isn’t any air-conditioning in Paris. Most of the year, this isn’t a problem. However, there have been three heatwaves this year and plenty of other days that were just hot. Luckily I have a mobile unit in my apartment for sleeping and hot days – for a Texan, this is a first year in Paris essential. But if you have to be out and about when it’s hot – good luck. There’s nowhere to escape and cool off.
- Everything is smaller. Coming from Texas where everything is bigger, this has been a major change. Just one example is my kitchen: it’s big enough for one person at a time. My refrigerator is the size of the mini fridge I had in my dorm room in college, and the freezer inside the mini fridge is the size of a glovebox.
- I don’t have a car. While this isn’t shocking, it is a huge change coming from Dallas where I used my car all of the time for absolutely everything.
- Certain things just don’t exist in France. Maybe this is a little dramatic because all of the things I’m about to list do exist, but they’re either bad quality or super expensive or hard to find…red chili flakes (can only find at Marks & Spencer), yellow mustard (literally 13€), aluminum foil (bad quality), and hair ties (expensive and I can only find them on Amazon). And ice. Ice is a whole other story and problem.
For the most part I was lucky in my first year in Paris and didn’t have too many big problems. However, there were a few:
- The Firewood Drama. One of my favorite parts of my apartment is that it has a working fireplace. This feature is especially great because I don’t like using the heater. When I went home for Christmas, I ordered six bags of firewood to be delivered so when I got back to Paris in January I’d be set. When I got back in January, my apartment was completely infested with bugs. Apparently sometimes there are tiny eggs on the logs, and when it gets too hot they hatch. Well, it got too hot while I was away and I spent the better part of two days burning all six bags of firewood and trapping and killing thousands of bugs all over my apartment.
- The water. The water in Paris is hard. My hair has suffered. Water filters don’t work. This is all unfortunate, but it doesn’t count as a problem. The problem occurred when somehow this super hard water eroded the metal and made a hole in my faucet. Water shot out everywhere in my tiny kitchen.
- The keys. The stars really did not align for me here. Essentially, Romain’s keys got stolen on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, I left my keys for the maid and went out of town for the day. When I got back that night, I went to dinner and then came home to realize that the maid accidentally left my keys inside the apartment. Since Romain’s keys were stolen, I didn’t have a spare and the only other person with a spare key was out of town. That was a fun night.
My Favorite Parts from My First Year in Paris
Now that the difficult things are out of the way, here are a few of the changes and adjustments I’ve made and experiences I’ve had that have made this first year the best.
- The Food. Wow, where do I even start here? I’ve enjoyed learning about and trying all new kinds of foods. Shopping every day (because my refrigerator is tiny) in the small specialty shops has been so much fun. I like that French people really make each meal important, and spend so much time preparing the meal and then ultimately around the table. Also, French people don’t ever skip dessert.
- The Wine. I don’t know nearly enough about wine, but I’ve tasted some incredible wines this year. It seems like there’s good wine everywhere you turn, and it’s not expensive. I’ve become much more of a wine person in France…maybe because it’s hard to get a good margarita or tequila in France? (Although I have found very good margaritas here and here).
- The People. I have met some of the absolute nicest and most genuine people during my first year in Paris. Some are French, some are fellow expats, some are colleagues, and some are just random people I’ve met at cafés. The people I’ve met along the way have made my year. And I have to give Romain a special shoutout for putting up with me and being patient with me and all of my learning curves this year.
- The Language. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the language as much as I have. While I’m still far from being completely fluent, the progress I’ve made has been exciting. The language has helped me integrate with life in France and French people more than anything else. I can’t wait to see how my French progresses even more in the second year.
- The Pharmacies. I’ve completely changed all of my makeup and skincare products to be from French pharmacies. This was a super fun change to make and it’s also been fun sharing some of my favorite finds with my friends and family. Although, I still stockpile medicine from the US for when I’m sick…haven’t quite adjusted to French medicine.
So there is a tiny overview of the major changes, problems, and my favorite things from my first year in Paris. I’m sure I’m missing a lot and I’m sure I’ll have more to add to the list after year two. Out of all of the things above, the best part about my first year in Paris is how quickly it felt like home.