I have been in Strasbourg for a week but it feels like an eternity.
Today was the first day of classes for me, however, I won’t start a full schedule until next week. With an entire week to explore the city I have dedicated myself to eating my way through Alsace. I am fairly certain that I have eaten part (or at times a whole) baguette for every meal here and have enjoyed different sausages, chicken dishes, pizza, sandwhiches, (a lot of) coffee, and so much more. Food is truly central to the French way of life.
That being said, eating can be one of the more stressful parts of my day because it requires that I find food and communicate what I want. In class, we typically breeze through the different words for foods because they aren’t academic words. I have found that I could describe a character in a book far better than I can order a sandwhich.
At times the waitress asks me a question that I can’t answer or my host mom asks if I would like something that I’m unsure of – and I’ve learned that the best thing for me is to just say yes. Say yes to this experience and to all that it means. I’m, thankfully, not a picky eater and I can often just mimic what my host family does – add this spread to this type of bread, or drink tea out of this type of bowl – yes bowl.
Saying yes isn’t always something I find very easy. I’m the type of person who likes to plan before I do something – ensure I know exactly where I’m going and how I’m getting there. However, that has been uniquely difficult during my first week here. Beyond just my excursions in french cuisine, I have been walking nearly 20,000 steps every day as I wander around the city and try to discover new places. This has been both incredibly rewarding and incredibly challenging as my phone does not work at all outside of the US and there was a delay in receiving our French SIM cards. A true millenianl through and through, I was a little at a loss for how to get around the city without a data plan that would allow me to use my maps app. Instead, I have been researching the route to different cafés and restaurants, picking out landmarks and following streets with the hopes that I remember correctly. By the time that my SIM card finally works, I feel as though I might know enough about the city that I won’t need it.
I feel as though I could make an endless list of everything that I’ve encountered that has thrown me through loop after loop here as I slowly but surely embrace the fact that I am no longer in the United States. While I get used to the idea of taking a bath again instead of a shower and mourn over the lack of air conditioning in the 90 degree weather, I know that in no time at all my life here in France will seem like normal. Until then, I’m just going to keep saying yes to whatever new or interesting challenge comes my way.