Well, if that’s not the teasiest title I could muster. So I have been living in my Quebec City wine cellar-like apartment for a year now. And I have been freelancing this whole time, which is …grand but lonely. Even though my work has brought me to a whole new level of writing (travel writing! journalism!!) , I miss having coworkers. Elwood snores and steals half of my wobbly writing chair. Super annoying. I should relegate him to his crate, but I don’t have the heart.
Yeah… I stand next to graffiti to look like a bad ass. So what?
What I learned at the one year mark:
- Expating ain’t easy. I was taught to jump into the deep end and swim upwards. I do this with recipes, I did it with French, I did it with the Big Move. My husband once asked me, as I was deep in the middle of making an all-day chili: “why don’t you start with something simple, something with less than 20 ingredients?” I answered, “Because this is how you learn.” Things like navigating government offices in French can be horrifically scary but strangely rewarding. When I got my license, I danced in the parking lot. I almost cried last time I took a taxi because I was having a conversation, in French with the driver, who moved to Quebec from somewhere in Africa. We shared a moment!
- Americans are ober competitive. This, I discovered after an American came into our French class and basically started teaching the class even though she DOESN’T speak French. Super obnoxious. It’s ok not to be the best in a French 101 class. Who cares? There’s no grade. It’s you against yourself. Let’s just stop trying so damn hard to be the best and just be naturally awesome.
- I am strong. Freakishly physically strong. I figured this out after it took me an entire hour to get a foot of snow off of my car. I stopped going to the gym and yet, I am in the best shape of my life. Of course, I am on the piece-of-salami-on-a-cracker for lunch, freelancer’s diet.
- Adventure is addictive. In 2011, I went to Denmark, Sweden, New York, Vegas, and Chicago (twice). In 2012, I plan to hone some major travel hacking skills and run up quite the debt.
- Travel hacker is a great term. So much better than travel cheapskate or rewards whore.
- The world is huge. As much as I travel (which isn’t THAT much), the world keeps getting bigger.
- Friends are imperative. I know people say family is everything, but after living in two places, far from my family, I think friends are just as important. Who else will invite you over for Thanksgiving when you can’t go home? Who else will throw you birthday parties, where you can get super drunk and you don’t have to worry about your family staging an intervention? Friends. As soon as you find yourself in a new place, reach out to everyone.
- Poutine is the best hangover cure in the world.