When in Rome

So it is Friday in France (as well as everywhere else) and because there is a saying for every situation I thought I would use the most appropriate one… “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” Now even though today is just another Friday tomorrow is a Saturday with a lot of potential for fun. Tomorrow is July 14 or Bastille Day here in France, for those of you who do not know it is their Independence day. As an 18 year old girl raised in the suburbs of Chicago, I have spent all of my fourth of July’s at the lake house  with the grandparents (sparklers in hand) watching fireworks on the boat or BBQing with friends at big backyard parties. This being the first year out of the states during her oh-so-deserving birthday party, I think tomorrow I will let my hair down and do a little celebrating (even if it is for the wrong country).

The traditions we have as families, communities, and countries are very comforting, especially when you stay in one place your whole life. The moment you decide to step outside your comfort zone is the moment you “lose” those traditions. Obviously they will always be in your heat but as for physically carried out, they go away. Losing these traditions goes hand in hand with losing that comfort I mentioned earlier.

So here I am left in a foreign country with a big hole in my heart, wanting to chow down on a chi-town style hotdog and nap on the couch with the numbingly awful but always comforting cubbies on TV in the background. But lets be honest I am not just going to sulk around my smaller then a shoebox apartment, no no no.

Here is where the words of wisdom come in from before “When in Rome….” Though it might not be MY countries holiday, I will celebrate it like it is my own damn birthday. When we are faced with vulnerable situations like missing out on things back home or feeling like an outsider at the disco-tech on the Champs de Mars my best advice is fake it until you make it. Dance like a french kid ( I learned you can spot an American girl dancing from a mile away…we are the ones with our arms above our heads flailing around like fish out of water). Smoke a cig (one wont kill you). Drink wine with OUT the American intention of getting “fucked up.” Speak as much French as you possibly can even if all you know is OHLALA (it is a great start). Make it a goal to introduce yourself to at least five native speakers ( possibly take a few numbers home (: ).

The point is even though I am a 9 hour plane ride from the comfort and safety of my mom and dad, that is not an excuse to stop living or stop trying. The world has so much to offer each and every one of us. Why not go out there and take what we can?

 

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3 thoughts on “When in Rome

  1. When I was 18, I left the US and lived in Japan for two years. As you might expect, this experience completely changed my life. I learned Japanese, but more importantly I learned how Japanese people think, and why this way of thinking is reasonable even if it seems very foreign or weird to Americans at first glance. Since then, I still like America and miss a lot of things about it when I’m gone, but I can no longer argue that the way Americans do things or think about things is the one right way. And when I return home, I am always surprised at how little my countrymen understand that there is another world out there, and another way to see things that might have something to offer. I have come to believe that living abroad for 6 months should be a prerequisite for a college degree.

    Reading your blog, I am so encouraged to see young people traveling and gaining this persepctive. I really appreciate what you write, and your elegant way of expressing it. And I really want to encourage you to keep up the exploration, both of countries and of cultures, and of why politics matters (as you expressed on my blog and newsofthetimes).

    It’s not systematic, but I try to write about some of the difficult problems in politics and policy and why it’s so hard to make things work well. As a biologist and statistician, I’ve come more and more to see that the world is full of shades of grey, but that our brains are built to see it all in black and white. This tendency to oversimplify is, to me, at the heart of why people become so disenchanted with politics. We have a vision of how things “should” be, but we are unaware of all the complex reasons we can’t really get there.

    I would really like my blog to help young folks like you be engaged, even if things are not easy or perfect. Some of my posts may be a bit dense or complicated, but I hope that some will be accessible, and will provide a way to understand why the system is imperfect and how we can slowly make it better. So please feel free to comment, to ask for clarifications, to tell me how I can make things more concrete and accessible.

    Most importantly, keep traveling, keep exploring, keep writing, and keep asking questions!

    • I have always wanted to travel but before I left home I was the typical American girl “(squeal) mom, dad, send me to Europe! The promise land. They don’t have a drinking age there. I can fall in love and everyone will be jealous. mowhaha (evil laugh).” I think a lot of college kids start out like this. Then you touch down thousands of miles from home and you are like oh shit, what did I get myself into. I for one am always up for a challenge so the idea of turning back never crossed my closed ignorant mind. Now that I have been in France for over two months my appetite for travel has become so much larger. The things I have learned and seen here already are truly amazing. I never wanted to travel outside Europe the rest of the world seemed scary and unsafe. Not anymore. It all sit in the palm of my hands now. I cannot wait to push my boundaries east to Asia, South to the Middle East and Africa and back west to South America. I study at Indiana Universities Kelley School of Business (if you didn’t recognize my background) and they push us soooo much to travel, which I agree with you is great, especially if you DON’T know what you are getting yourself into.

      As for your blog I love it! I crave knowledge and I hate ignorance. My dad works in Medicare and Medicaid, editing laws and legislation (my parents met as lobbyist gag). Yet I still know next to nothing on such topics, which concerns me because I feel like a pretty smart kid amongst those in my generation and if I know little, what do they know? Your enlightenment on the way people think, in shades of grey (50? sorry I couldn’t help myself), is really eye opening. It makes a lot of sense but it kind of makes humans all look like babies. If I can’t get from point A to point B easily then fuck it I am just not going to care about politics at all cause the road to a better government is too curvy. I will now make it my goal this year to think harder and longer about topics that can not be looked at as black and white instead of just giving up. So thank you for pushing me in the right direction.

      I am for sure going to be linking many of your posts on my Facebook page for all my rascal friends to read. Which I know a lot them will because they are all very opinionated and interested if it just hard for us to find sources because if they aren’t handed to us we rarely go in search for them.

      • Interesting that your parents met as lobbyists – I’ve never met one, but I’d guess they don’t fully deserve their bad reputation (it’s more grey, hehe). Some of them probably push lawmakers to change the laws for special interests in ways that are bad for the public, but some of them are also probably representing the people who know the most about the real-world consequences of complicated laws. Even the lawmakers cannot see all ends!

        It’s a shame people don’t like to take a curvy road to get somewhere – they’re more fun to drive! Still, I like to see it in a positive light. It’s natural that people are busy with work, or taking care of their kids, or falling in love, or doing all the things that make life worth living. It would be a pretty boring world if you had to stop all adventures in France just to bone up on Medicare policy in order to make an informed choice for the next election.

        I write about this stuff because I love it, and because it helps me understand the world I live in. I accept that not everyone will love it – that’s OK – but I also believe that if I can communicate why it’s exciting and important, more people will become informed, and that will make a difference. I also think that we need to accept that people have lives other than following politics, and work to find ways to change the system so that they can get the government they want even if they have other priorities sometimes!

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