Espresso Moment

Espresso Moment Image

It’s been a month today since I left Paris and yet somehow it feels much further away.

Sometimes I feel so foreign here – like when I went looking for a small log of bloomed, ripe chèvre. My Franprix had at least 5 variations, but here I’m lucky to find a single sort of goat cheese (fresh). When I asked, Madame Cheese Lady told me goat cheese didn’t even come with a rind. Saywhatnow?

And when did I come to know this much about goat cheese anyway?

It’s funny that a thing like cheese can make an ex-expat feel so misplaced.

There are moments when I feel back home. Like exploring Princeton which has been the most cultured town I’ve been to since my return. I have found a great deal of comfort cooking French recipes. I also love watching French films sans sous-titres, biensûr. And my eyes brighten when I catch a glimmer of Paris or Europe here in the states. Like in little cookies with my espresso…

And I’ve been drinking lots of espresso.

I’m just giving myself time to adjust. That’s all it will take, right?

Time and a few glasses of wine.

8 comments… add one
  1. Virginia September 21, 2013, 3:27 am

    Ahhhhh I feel for you. I”ve never been lucky enough to spend more than a few weeks there but I always say, “Re-entry is HELL!” It takes me quite a while to get use to Alabama after I’ve seen Paree. Keep calm and drink espresso.

    1. Stephanie September 22, 2013, 10:59 pm

      You have that right! It has it’s up’s and down’s. A part of me will certainly always miss Paris and Alabama is a far cry from France! I just keep my head held high and revert back to French whenever i’ve had enough 😉

  2. Danielle September 21, 2013, 7:57 am

    In my opinion, reverse culture shock is one of the most challenging things in the whole wide world, so much more so than moving to a foreign country. (1) Because you realize just how much you’ve changed when placed in the backdrop of the familiar and (2) because you realize just how much you don’t fit into the familiar in the same way anymore. And that’s tough–to not feel quite at home at home. After great experiences abroad, it takes work (and wine) to reintegrate ourselves into the places and relationships we know and love. But, you can do it. You did France, and Paris, and you can do home, too. You’ll ease your way back in and find a way to enjoy that chèvre just the way you like it. You’re going to be just fine. Sending you hugs as you adjust.

    1. Stephanie September 22, 2013, 11:03 pm

      Exactly! You said this so well! This is my second return to the US so at least I know the ropes better this time but it’s not any easier. Bottom line is that I’ve changed (six years will do that to you) and, as an American friend put it, I’ve always been more European anyways. It’s hard though because sometimes what seems a normal expectation to me comes across super snobby to friends and family here. I’m not trying, I’m just used to things a different way.

      I’m taking my time, accepting more as is than I did the first time, and know better how to integrate French into my daily life. Thanks for your encouraging words!!

  3. Erin September 21, 2013, 1:31 pm

    Wegmans sells Bucheron, which most certainly is goat cheese in a rind! Obviously I can’t relate on the same level, as I didn’t move to a country which spoke a completely different language, but living in England for a year I definitely experienced a few of the things you’re going through. Most acutely felt for me though, was the inescapable feeling that I couldn’t fully relate to any of my friends, family, or places from my past any more. I still don’t, but I’ve come to accept the relationships I have for what they are, something completely new, and my love of travel and my need to keep moving for what it is. Any time you feel like a fish out of water and that you desperately need to get back, remember what it was like being homesick over there, and ask yourself if the comforts of one place would make you happier than the adventures of another.

    1. Stephanie September 22, 2013, 11:13 pm

      It certainly is an adventure being back. I’m rediscovering and seeing the US with fresh eyes. I’m looking beyond the bad (the parts I don’t relate to at all) by looking at all the good and new. I’m enjoying site-seeing, day trips, driving around and working hard to find certain comforts. So far Jordan’s Country Crisp’s amazing granola with delicious dark chocolate shavings is high on my list. I’ll feel like a fish out of water for some time, probably for always. But I’m hoping to surround myself with people who make me feel great for being one of a kind. Your insight was so sweet! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. Debra September 21, 2013, 1:49 pm

    Hi Stephanie, I have been following you for quite a while, and, as a mom of a college aged daughter, so happy to read about your incredible experiences and growth as a young adult. You have had the courage to do all the things I dreamed of when I was your age. Last fall, I finally got my chance for ten wonderful days in Paris and an area north, Cergy-Pontoise. I participated in an adult exchange where I lived with a family – full immersion. It was beyond words! Since I have dreamed of France and the culture my entire life, I felt so at home. Being an artist, my senses were overwhelmed every single second. I remember arriving home, my husband and youngest son greeting me . . . such a sweet moment . . .so glad to be back home with my boys, but France & Paris had bitten me . . . I never stop thinking about it and want to get back. How could I live without that language in my ear, the food on my tongue, the visual beauty I saw in everything? So, I make everything as French as I can; speaking, movies, my art work, french club, searching out French products in stores. OK, see . . .I’m obsessed and determined to live there if only for a few months! I only had ten days and the fire burns deep . . . unfortunately for me, time and wine has not helped . . . all my best to you.

    1. Stephanie September 22, 2013, 11:16 pm

      Oh no! You’ve been bitten, too! It will follow you for the rest of your life, I’m sure, which I hope is filled with many more weeks in France. It’s easy to become obsessed especially when it becomes a little challenge. My biggest pet peeve with products however is when it says “French” or “From France” but it’s not very French at all, nor clear about where it’s from. I see that more and more! Happy to have someone who is as smitten as I am!


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