I'm finding my adjustment to my new life and new language in Uzes, France to be interesting and challenging in ways that were/are unexpected. Why anything should be expected in this transition, since so much is an unknown, is a mystery. But, the mind loves to create expectations based on past experience. So, I just keep crashing through expectation after expectation. And, my mind, relentless tool that it is, just keeps setting them up over and over again.
I've only been here a month, but time is such a relative thing. This month feels like forever and no time at all. I have to keep reminding myself that I've only been here a month when I'm not able to understand what's said to me in French, and when I'm not able to say what I want to say without struggling. I've done pretty well for only a month. I've also had an amazing amount of help from one kind and generous person after another, without any of whom life would have been so much more difficult.
Moving to a foreign country and immersing oneself in a new culture, language and way of life is a challenge any way you look at it. Things are encountered that one can't possibly have prepared for or known about. And, even in a first-world, Western-culture country such as France, the differences are many and basic and require an inordinate amount of adjustment. But, I'm finding my way. I'm making new friends. I'm getting done what needs to get done. I'm starting to feel comfortable.
When I first got here, just walking out my door to do the most basic of functions carried a certain amount of anxiety. There was, and still is, so much to figure out. But, bit by bit, things become familiar. Ways of doing things are shown or figured out. The processes of daily life reveal themselves. Little things, like going to the Post Office, become less and less mysterious. People speaking to me in French are starting to make sense, at least partially, with every word I hear. Repetition is a wonderful teacher.
The telephone is still a major challenge, but I'm getting better at it. Sometimes, I have to call a number many times and listen to the voice prompts over and over and over before they start to make sense and I can choose the right prompts to get where I need to get and do what I need to do. I have to ask people to speak slowly and simply to help me understand. I still need help translating things. I am a child in this language and this culture, and I must be comfortable with that.
I am starting French conversation classes at the local Universite Populaire on March 11, after the ski holiday is over. And, I'm hoping to find another French class so that I have at least two a week. The focus and support of regular classes will help a lot. Along with hearing and using French every day, plus reading it in endless instances out of utter necessity, will all push me forward to greater fluency and comfort in my new language.
I have not bought a car and am not driving yet, but that will come in its own time. I find that my life is much slower and more simple without a car, and I get a lot more exercise because I do a lot of walking. Endless thanks go out to my friend, Geoffrey, who drives me if I need to go somewhere farther afield; and, endless thanks also go out to my friend, Debby, who allows Geoffrey to drive her car--which we call The Tardis--while she is not here. We call the car The Tardis--a reference to the Dr. Who TV series--for its ability to hold so much more than one might expect it to. We've gotten amazing amounts of things into the back of the car.
This is a quiet place and I sleep much better here than I did in the U.S. I sleep deeply and have started dreaming in a way that I wasn't previously. I am more calm and am constantly nurtured by the beauty that surrounds me at all times. I'm starting to feel a rhythm and a balance to life here that is very reassuring and supportive. I am opening more and more to this place as it opens more and more to me, and I'm feeling a sense of deep peace as the days go by.
This move hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, and I know I have challenges to overcome that are yet to be revealed, but it's been worth everything it took to get here. I have no regrets for leaving and only gratitude for where I am and the life that is unfolding around me. No matter what Life calls you to, or what the challenges that might be required to get there, know that it will be worth it. Say "yes" and jump in. Answer the call.