There’s always been a little bit of French in me. Biologically speaking, I’m ¼ French but these days, who isn’t? As a child, it felt fun to sashay my ¼ French-ness in front of my peers and pretend like it made me any more exotic than the rest of them. In reality, I harbored nothing more than a preference for French bread and a dislike of Eastenders. Still, something inside of me longed for the Gallic culture and so it came to be that on one September day, I, oversized suitcase in hand, waved bye bye to my family and boarded a flight to Paris.
Moving to France was something that felt inherently right but it wasn’t something that I had done a lot of thinking about. Had I thought a little harder, perhaps I would have been too scared, perhaps I would have found reason to stay. Perhaps, perhaps. All I know now is that, had ‘perhaps’ held any meaning, I wouldn’t have gone at all, and that truly would have been a tragedy.
Whilst setting up a semblance of real life in a foreign culture bears only the weakest of resemblances to ‘real’ travel, my time across the channel felt like an adventure every single day. The first few tentative days I spent in the French capital were a huge learning curve; I could understand the language but suffered from crippling embarrassment when attempting to drop my Hs and roll my Rs. I lived in my own English bubble and discovered the city alone. Stumbling through the space like a rabbit in headlights, I felt its city streets and cobbled alleyways as if for the very first time.
Over time, things became a little easier. I developed the Parisian distaste for anything other than deep navy quicker than you could say ‘bahhhh ouais’. I errred and uhhhhed my way through sentences as if I were the next Brigitte Bardot. I became a quasi-Parisian and the city began to soften, just a little bit.
Living in a city is an experience entirely different from traversing a land. Yet, its experiences can be equally enriching. Spending time in one place and easing yourself into its way of life is a wonderful opportunity to reassess your entire living situation. Paris gave me the freedom to drop my English habits and adopt others which feel a little more true to who I want to be. Being dropped in a foreign place made it easier to shed my inhibitions and go after what I really wanted. Taking an adventure doesn’t have to mean changing your way of life entirely, leaving everything familiar behind. Sometimes, the best adventures are those which are directly in front of our noses, just a stone’s (or baguette’s) throw away.
Hannah Lamarque is a writer and creative, currently working as social media intern for iamadventures and iamsociable. She loves films, books, France and can be found wearing anything striped. You can follow Hannah on Twitter at @HannahLamarque.