Clean Sheets and Control

Arguably the calmest I’ve been since I arrived here was about two weeks in, after having done laundry for the first time. My sheets are fresh from the laverie, my clothes are still warm from their 2 euro drying (not to mention clean from their 4 euro washing), and I’ve stocked my fridge with food for the week. My bed is made, my room is clean, my dishes are done… I like to sometimes treat myself to the illusion that I have some type of control here.

Here it feels like every molehill actually is a mountain, like everyone else is skipping along while I trudge through quicksand. I’ve never seen myself as a pessimist, but I’ve definitely begun to anticipate the slip-ups and missteps; and not necessarily in a way that makes me more able to handle them when they come. Only that now, they surprise me less and less. I’m laughing it off and chalking it up to just being part of the “abroad experience”. It’s building character, it’s making my skin thicker, it’s making me more able to defend myself and then recover.

…..But debatably better than all of that would be if things just came easily, if I could get through just one day with out shaking my head saying “Of course.”

Of course this class is full.

Of course I have to start from scratch on my schedule again

                                                                                        and again

                                                                                               and again.

Of course you won’t break my fifty euro note.

                                                        Or my twenty.

                                                                  Or my ten.

                                                                       OR my five.

Like, I’m sorry but do you want my money or not? Maybe I’m too right wing for these hippies (something I’ve never been accused of before), but I’m used to people having enough cash in their registers to change my ten euro note for my four euro purchase. If I had the correct change I would give it to you, but what do you have in that drawer, cigarettes and fancy cheese? Honestly.

Of course you’re closing early.

Of course you’re opening late.

Of course there won’t be wifi for my first (and debatably hardest) two weeks here.

Okay yeah that’s fine, it’s not like that’s my only way to contact those humans who actually care if I live or die, who happen to be AN OCEAN away.. Take your time with that.

Of course the bike I bought isn’t allowed in the gates of our little village of dorms, and of course my friend’s wheel got stolen when she left it outside.

There’s a bike garage that any student who lives in the cité universitaire can enter with their scannable.. key.. thing. It’s “under video surveillance”, but when she went to ask what can be done about the theft, we were informed that those cameras are basically poorly chosen decorative ornaments AKA completely useless.

Of course the lady driving the bus took my money, but didn’t give me a ticket.

When I realized, I decided to ask her for it as I was getting off, sure she’d simply forgotten and that she would remember having taken my money 15 minutes before.

“Madame, est-ce que je peux avoir le ticket? Je crois que vous avez oublié de me le donner avant, mais j’en ai besoin afin de prendre le tram maintenant.”

{“Ma’am, could I have my ticket? I think you forgot to give it to me before, but I need it now to take the tram”}

Her reply?

“Non, c’était pas moi.”

{No, that wasn’t me.}

………WHAT? BIEN SÛR c’était toi, who else could it possibly have been? It didn’t happen yesterday, we didn’t (that I know of) drive through a rip in the time-space continuum… You were sitting in the very seat where you are now seated, wearing the same uniform and the same FACE for goodness sake, when you took my money and directed me onto the bus. And now you want to claim that that was YOUR EVIL TWIN or some other nonsense? LIKE WHAT??? 10 points for taking 2 euro from the helpless American girl, hope you’re proud.

I could go on forever and at some point I probably will, but I just took a melatonin tablet (jet lag is real) and I’m going to try to hit the hay before 4 AM tonight. I promise good things are happening (Irish friends, trips to the mediterranean, circus festivals, banjos and harmonies, baguettes, really old stuff, an unexpected friend from home, sunsets, etc.) along with a few more bad. But for now: my sheets are clean, the weather is cooling down, and my oddly shaped, university-issued pillow is calling my name.

~Good night, friends.~


NEXT TIME on Ambling Abroad

Hitchhiking: does it count if you didn’t put your thumb out?

Missing the tram: things you accidentally see when you walk through the city at 4AM.

Little Octopus Salad: fact or fiction? (spoiler alert, it’s fact)

Boys: are the French ones just as gross? (spoiler alert, yep)

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3 thoughts on “Clean Sheets and Control

  1. Orla Coutin

    haha this is funny, I didn’t think you were seeing things this pessimistically! Although I can hardly blame you. Don’t forget to dedicate your next blog to all the amazing things that have happened here 🙂

  2. Chris Buice

    Good Blog! When I was a an exchange student many years ago I started washing my clothes by hand in the bathtub and drying them on a clothesline just so I would have more money for more enjoyable things, dinner out, a weekend trip etc. Remember the frustrating experiences always make the best stories.

    1. So far that’s true! If we’re all honest, this blog wouldn’t have been half as entertaining if it wasn’t littered with bad luck and a hint of cynicism. I envy you that bathtub, but to be fair, our showers are pretty adept to clothes washing, so I’m thankful for that. Thanks for the kind words, Mr. Buice!

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