It's really hard to think about leaving France. There are so many things we love about the quality of life here. The French really put an emphasis on good quality food and wine. It appears they spend more of their money on food than on belongings. They also put a high priority on family mealtime. We have totally gotten behind this.
But at the same time, there are also a few things I'm pretty excited about in returning to America, MY DOG highly among them (okay, okay, sorry B - OUR dog).
As it happened, yesterday I got sucked into my last ebook and finished too fast (imagine that), but I didn't want to delve into my two specially selected paper "plane books." So in desperation, I went to the Greenville Library's website in hopes of finding something available that is on my to-read list. Last weekend my brother, sister-in-law, and I were discussing Bill Bryson (HILARIOUS) and his books, "Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe" and "A Walk in the Woods," so I hit typed "Bryson" into the ebook search engine. I found "I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years."
About an hour before this post was scheduled to go out (midnight, France time), I started reading. I was exactly six pages in when I found this quote that so perfectly sums up our predicament that I got up out of bed and re-wrote this whole beginning to my blog post because it was just too perfect not to use:
"The lesson to draw from this, of course, is that when you move from one country to another you have to accept that there are some things that are better and some things that are worse, and there is nothing you can do about it. That may not be the profoundest of insights..."
So there you have it: our dilemma in a nutshell, neatly summed up by one of my favorite authors. Read on to see what we'll sorely miss...and what we're delighted to return to.
E & B
P.S. - Wes, dear, you'd better finish Neither Here Nor There on the plane tomorrow, because I wanna borrow it when we get home, mmmkay?
France, I'm going to miss...
1 // Pastries. Also, bread. French boulangeries are no joke. The quality and variety of their products are amazing, but the prices are low. A fresh, hot, crusty baguette costs 85 cents at our favorite bakery. It would be at least a few dollars at home, and nowhere near the quality.
3 // Public transportation. And walking. I love being able to walk where I need to go to run errands. It reminds me of college in the best possible way, being outside all the time. It's healthy, and it's really nice to have an excuse to go outside and get some fresh air. The only thing missing was our sweet pooch - I would have loved to be able to walk her every day (and she would have loved the new smells and scenery!)
4 // All-inclusive prices. If we go to a restaurant and the entree says 12.50 euros, that is inclusive of taxes and tip. To find your total bill, all you have to do is just add up the cost of what you ordered. You don't have to factor in tip afterward. Also, because they already calculate everything in, your total always comes to some kind of even dollar amount. It's amazing and efficient, and somehow the quality of waiters and waitresses isn't any worse than it is in the U.S. I think we could seriously take lessons here. I'm going to miss this like crazy. It's fantastic for us non-math people.
5 // Holidays. Don't even get me on this soapbox. The U.S. treats its workers like crap. The French? Not so much. B got 11 work days off in August, so combined with weekends that's 17 consecutive days off. It was so healthy for him to recharge. Not to mention we were able to visit four different countries and seven different cities during that time. And in the month of May alone, he got a day or two off each week. If the holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, they receive the corresponding Monday or Friday off as well so they don't have to just come in for one day. Words cannot even express how nice that is. America, can we please work on this?
6 // The mild weather. It's consistently been in the low- to mid-60s here the past few weeks, but I get the feeling this is not the case in North or South Carolina. We didn't have AC here, but there were only about 10 days this summer we actually needed it. I hate hot weather, so this has quite possibly been the best summer of my life. They actually have real seasons here, not just variations of summer. Ugh, back to the land of humidity and no winter...
7 // Quick travel to other countries. If we drive for 4 hours here, we're nearly to Spain. If we drive four hours from Greenville, we're in Charleston. I'm so going to miss the easy access to other places - how simple it is to just hop on a train or plane and be in an entirely new country in a couple of hours. And let's not even talk about Ryanair and how cheap it is...
America, I can't wait for...
2 // NORMAL BEDDING. Duvet covers are Satan's bedding of choice. I've never had a more useless, awkward, pain-in-the-ass bed covering like this before in my life. We hate duvet covers, but somehow that's all they use over here. Also, they don't believe in top sheets, which is extremely skeevy when you're in a hotel. And European pillows are awkwardly shaped and offer zero support. I want my damn bed back, and a good night's sleep.
4 // My iPhone. More specifically, actually having service on my iPhone. I was given a Samsung phone with data, but much like duvet covers, Samsung phones are Satan's cellular devices of choice. It is the least user-friendly piece of crap you can imagine. Basically, the only thing I used it for was calling or texting B, and for setting up a mobile hotspot to use my iPhone. I will never, ever own a Samsung phone. Because seriously. #Applegirlforlife
5 // An oven. I did not mind not having a clothes dryer. I did mind not having an oven. Do you realize how much you use an oven? Not just baking - we're talking casseroles, meat, roasting vegetables, broiling...it's ridiculous. It has been so hard to cook here because everything has to be done on a stovetop or in a microwave. Most of the time we just snacked on raw veggies and fruits because that's all we felt like dealing with.
6 // A bathtub. Also, having a shower that isn't the size of a telephone booth whose hot water only lasts about 5 minutes. Cleanliness apparently isn't a huge priority here (and deodorant is pretty much unheard-of). And there is nothing more relaxing than taking a long hot bath with a glass of wine and a good book. Speaking of...
8 // Credit cards. Having to have cash at all times is really obnoxious. I never, ever carry cash in the U.S. - unless we're going to Taco Casa. That's it. I'll put even a $2 charge on my credit card. It's so much easier to keep up with your spending habits when everything is all nice and neatly listed on your credit card statement every month. It's too easy to forget that 1.40 euro you spent on coffee when you're paying in cash. Plus, keeping up with coins is obnoxious.