I got to spend this weekend in the South of France with my French family and the friends I made the last time I was here and when I studied abroad in Avignon. It was really relaxing and stress-relieving to get out of Paris for a weekend and to go somewhere that I recognized and felt at home, especially since in many ways, the house my family lives in in Miramas was my "home" when I studied abroad. We had a really fun weekend grilling out, camping with friends, and going to the beach. I even got to catch a French film I'd wanted to see in theatres with my cousin before we went to meet my train in Aix-en-Provence. All-in-all, it was really what I needed this weekend to be. Sidenote: I accidentally forgot my swim suit in Paris and ended up buying this one at a Wal-Mart like establishment (called Auchan) for 7 EURO. Win.
I'm not going to lie, so far, this trip to France has been the hardest I've had yet and it's been alternately interesting and stressful to see that happening. It's mostly stressful because any time I'm unhappy here now, I then immediately think about how I'm going to be back here soon and for 9 months, which makes it worse to think about. I've thought a lot about it, and talked a lot about it to my "boss," my cousin Michel, and Jon, and I think it can be chalked up to several things:
3. I miss Jon
I've already talked a little bit about the food I've found here and how I've been eating, but I don't know if I've successfully communicated how much the food here has been stressing me out. First off, I have really bad "stimulus control," especially when essentially on vacation in one of the food capitals of the world. It's been near impossible for me to say no when people want to grab a bite to eat and to stay inside and eat a frozen dinner or something instead (Living in a dorm REALLY makes me miss my kitchen). I also love trying new foods and going out to dinner to chat, so it's been hard to avoid.
Second, not being able to eat what I usually eat has been difficult to adjust to. I talked to Michel and my "aunt" Marïthé about it this weekend, so I think I'll be able to do better these last few weeks back here in Paris. My main food goals are going to be to cut back on the French bread and dessert consumption, try to eat smaller servings, and to keep eating my regular all-bran breakfast and the low-cal snacks I found at the market:
As for the fatigue, this weekend helped a lot. Coming off of the trip to Alabama without any time to really unpack/repack and then forgetting my carryon at home was really stressful and once I got here, we all hit the ground running, so I don't think I ever really calmed down. This week, my goal is to take at least one night to myself to go for a walk, perhaps catch a movie, whatnot and just relax a bit.
Finally, the missing Jon thing has been pretty big, honestly. It kind of makes me feel like a big baby, but again, I arrived in Paris, tired and stressed out and went immediately from seeing him literally 24/7 like I had for 2 weeks in Alabama to being separated by originally a nine-hour time difference and an entire ocean... Not fun. I still miss him a lot, but it'll be okay. I have my aunt's iPhone to use, so we have Skype, international texting, etc. to communicate, so it's not like we can't talk to/see one another, but it's still difficult. At least this will get us into a habit for when I come back. Also, Jon thinks he's going to come visit me twice next year so we can "do Europe," so that'll be really incredible. I keep seeing things in Paris and wishing he were here to experience it with me, so it'll be great to have him here for a few weeks at least.
Overall, after talking about it and doing some thinking while I was away from the group and Paris fora few days, I'm feeling a lot better. It is very interesting to see how different this experience is from my prior ones. It's amazing how different it is when you go to a country and just want to embrace everything and indulge in the food versus when you arrive in that country and still want to watch your food intake and eat more or less what you usually do.
Anyway, tomorrow should be good. I'm planning on a morning run and then having a healthy day--my aunt even sent me back to Paris with a bunch of tomatoes and homemade taboulé (my fave)! Here's to a healthy, less stressful week in Paris. I'm committed to making the remaining time the best, healthiest (mental and physical) time in Paris I can.
1. Attending a French WW meeting
2. A visit of Montmartre, Père LaChaise, and the Pompidou center
3. A few runs
4. A relaxing weekend :)
Question: Have any of you ever had similar experiences on vacations? What did you do when your usual food wasn't available?