I am mauritian. I had never stepped foot out of my native country except for three years when I was a baby and my dad had a job in a foreign country. But apart from that, Mauritius had been the only country I had ever known. The beach was something ordinary, common. The scorching sun was a pain I had to deal with every day. I shivered when winter hit us with 16 degrees celsius for about two months every year. Food was abundant, family was everywhere, friends were of several cultures. If your french wasn’t perfect, noone really minded, because you could compensate with your English or your Mauritian creole. If you didn’t hear the muslim mosque call at five a.m it wasn’t normal. If there wasn’t a pilgrimage on the day of the Mahashivahatree it wasn’t normal. If people didn’t walk all the way to the Père Laval cave on the first of september it wasn’t normal.
Culture. That is our treasure.
It’s been one year since I have landed in Paris. And I have learned a few things. You can’t go out with sandals if you feel like it. Wearing three stockings, pants, three t shirts and a jacket is a MUST if you do not want to die of cold. Winter does go below 15 degrees. And snow is something people actually dislike.
Paris has grown on me. And I was able to adapt well after one year. Despite my indian appearance, people often think that I was born here. It’s the accent, they say. I got used to the metro, to the buses, to the tram, to the trains, so many transport facilities that moving around isn’t hard at all. I’ve learned that Paris harbours as much non-french natives as french natives. Here it is normal that students live in a 10 square metre ‘appartment’ for 800 euros a month, depending in which neighbourhood you live of course. The Parisian life is amazing when you’re a student, but since it is a very expensive city, you have to be smart in your way of life.
It teaches you how to grow, how to make decisions, how to get out of your problems when you get into them, how to make friends and keep them, because being alone in a city is not something you’d like to be. 1 year in Paris has taught me how to be a woman, how to handle myself. I got a job, I have my studies, I even volunteer in a hospital. I’d be lying if I said that all of this was easy to handle. I have given up so many times. I have felt depressed, alone, sad, homesick, stressed, tired, scared and weak. I had lost all of the confidence I had gained when I had just finished high school. So today I decided to strip everything I was wearing, put on something new and go out. Giving up was an option I had used and abused too many times. Giving up is okay, making it a habit isn’t. What you have to make a habit is the reflex of getting up and forcing yourself to do something about it. No one on earth is more able to do this than you. If you aren’t willing enough to change your life, no one can force you to. It starts with you. Then everything will be easy compared to the willpower you summoned to move your ass. That’s what I learned today. And that’s what I am sharing with you.