Living in France has been one of the most amazing experiences I ever could have dreamed of. The land is gorgeous, the food is delicious, the culture is lively, I’ve seen so much and made so many memories here that could last for eight lifetimes. Before I came to France, “honeymoon phase” was a phrase I heard very often from my study abroad peers and advisors. The same meaning that applies to the honeymoon phase in relationships applies to living abroad as well, meaning, after some time the initial glitz and glamour or that “new car smell” starts to fade away and reality sinks in. Living here for five months has given me a lot of time to think about this.
Upon arrival, everywhere I turned seemed to be more beautiful than the last.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the sometimes overwhelming feeling of “new”, and it’s okay to, in my opinion, you should. It’s like that feeling when you begin a new relationship and you’re ready to say “I love you” after 2 weeks together, it isn’t true love but it sure feels like it. The important part about this stage is you’re allowing yourself to fall in love, you don’t have any inhibitions, you just let things happen. Living somewhere new should be the same thing, let yourself fall in love with the scenery, the people, the food, the culture, take it all in.
Once the “shiny, new feeling” wears away, you start to see everything as it truly is. You start to appreciate the small things that the city has to offer, those are the things that become truly beautiful to you. For me, in Lyon, it’s the small boulangerie that’s on the corner down the street from me that bakes my favorite bread in all of France, or the way the fencing seems to (unintentionally) match the vines,…
… or the way a completely raw photo can still take your breath away.
Once you discover what’s underneath the face value, and understand how near and dear that is and how closely you hold that to your heart, that’s when you know it’s love.
This idea tends to have a negative connotation, but sometimes the smell that comes after the new car smell can be a very beautiful thing, it starts to smell like home.