Rather than waiting for my free 100 hours of French lessons in a school of questionable quality, I signed up for 40 hours of French in Alliance Française Strasbourg over a 2 week period in the middle of a couple of deployments. Disclaimer: universally, I am known to be terrible at languages, including my native tongue of Filipino. In university, I scorned French because I thought it was incredibly mainstream (in hindsight, this hipster decision of mine was a karmic bitch slap to the face) and took Italian instead… because I really loved Italian food. This is not the best basis for a decision like this. Sage advice, you can point at a menu without having to say a word but it’s embarrassing to have to mime using a toilet because you can’t speak the language. To this day, all I remember is “io sono Gabriela”, which doesn’t really take you anywhere.
There’s probably hundreds of articles and books written about moving to France by people of varying nationalities (Peter Mayle has probably cornered 5% profitability on that topic alone). Totally unoriginal, I’m now going to be one of those people. Don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning. Not that I think my experience is unique - far from it - but there is something about moving and living in France that appeals to my sense of humor and irony.
Last year, we made the decision to move to France after a crazy exhausting year hopping back and forth (mainly for me) from the Philippines to the United States to France to Sierra Leone. Ten months ago, we finally did it and ended up in Strasbourg, a lucky coincidence because when I visited the city last year, I fell in love with everything about it. But before the fairytale of living in this amazingly beautiful historic city, there was the comedy that came with the move.
First off, moving countries, do not recommend it. Hate it. Never want to do it again (but probably will, at some point). I have never belonged to the Marie Kondo way of life. Everything I own brings me joy. I literally keep and still wear clothes I’ve had since high school (though not a hoarder!). But moving, I’ve discovered, really tells you a lot about yourself. And I’ve discovered that I am ruthless. As I was the unemployed one by the time we were winding down our stay in the US, I made Craigslist my bitch and cleaned out our apartment to the point that we looked like we had been thoroughly robbed two weeks before we left. It also brought me the realization that the couch was actually an camper van sofa (in hindsight, no wonder that couch was a horrible shade of brown and that it was too small to even fit me!). It also allowed me to meet amazing people who gave us brand new ideas about our old furniture, like the lovely man who wanted to buy our coffee table because he was going to make it into an iguana cage for his girlfriend, and promptly sent us the photo of this gem of an idea (not that we were asking to see this treasure).
Abbi is a petite human, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.