New York/Paris

Love this series!

via A Cup of Joe

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Hello World!

After the blackout that was this summer in NYC, I’m back online.

Just a brief update: I spent the summer living in Harlem with Jill (best friend from middle school) and traveling up and down and up the east coast. It was great. The summer was a really wonderful reminder of what a loving community of friends and family I have.

It was interesting to live in Harlem, its quite a different scene than the rest of Manhattan. It can be just about as crowded as Times Square, but instead of photo-taking tourists slow-walking tourists it’s filled with a community. Sure, there were some incidents while I lived there, but the most exciting incident that happened in to Jill and me was when a rat ran over Jill’s foot. Ew. Ew.

I spent a week in Greece with baby bro Kasey. Greece is amazing. Its paradise. Total paradise. We went to Athens, San Tourini and Iraklion and Chania in Crete. Unfortunately, a proper blog on Greece will have to wait until I have photos. Kasey has my camera, the why is complicated, his camera is with me in Paris.

Which brings me to my next point, I am back in Paris!!! Its strange to be back here. I feel less like an outsider; I know how to navigate the metro, avoid the dog poop on the street, deal with convention, speak the language (sort of, it comes and goes), etc. Still, its strange. There’s something about coming back here for round 2 that is just different.

I’m spending my time teaching English in Saint Ouen (just to the north of Paris, its a pain in the cul to get there, but it gives me some solid metro reading time) through the Teaching Assistants in France (TAPIF) program. I teach at 3 different primary schools and have about 12 different classes, all about 45 minutes each. Its a lot of work, but so far, so very good. We’ve had a couple trainings so far, and I’ve learned some tactics about teaching French children the “H” souflee (it’s HAH-loween, not ‘alloween) and been given some very basic tactics for songs and such, but programs need to be tailored for each class.

As I’m back online, look out for posts re: my new ‘hood, the strikes in Paris, eating at school cantten (cafeteria at the primary school), strict teachers and ‘alloween (err, I mean Halloween).

OK OK, one iconic shot:

I love America.

I love America.

Never have I felt more American than when I lived in France. In France, as soon as I open my mouth, I am labeled as an American. It goes beyond my American accent and English sentence construction, and into the things I expect of society.  From the financial: I expect that when I lose money in a metro ticket machine, it will be returned to me. To the social: Growing up in a country of immigrants, the qualifications of being American is comparatively lax. I had a friend tell me that he was only half French, because only one parent was French — even though he had been raised there. To religious expression: Banning of headscarves in schools clearly violates the 1st amendment granting freedom of religion, speech, etc.

Its easy to see Paris through rose colored glasses, and its easy to look at France through cynical eyes.  But, its better to see Paris, France, and the French for what they are: similar but different. Living in another country showed me how people are fundamentally the same everywhere, but how perceptions of societies are altered by place. Still, France and America are like first cousins, we share a recent similar Western common ancestor. I’d like to go to South America and Asia in order to get a real blast of a societal difference.

There’s a part of me that already misses France, but a larger part of me is happy to be home. I’m surrounded by loving family and friends, I can understand what everyone around me is saying at all times, I understand the culture, and our customer service rocks.

There was something about riding on the Bolt bus up to NY from DC through the Greenwich Village to Midtown Manhattan that just made me love America. There’s so many different cultures here, and each and every one of them is embraced. We just have to figure out how to fit in a 2 hour lunch into our busy, beautiful American days.