I just got back from Spain, (Catalonia, more specifically), and I fell head over heals in love. I spent a day in Reus, and another three in Barcelona. Usually, when I leave France, I miss it, and I am eager to come back. Spain, however, makes my heart ache. I can't pinpoint the exact reason for my obsession, but I suspect it has a great deal to do with the glorious sunshine.
Besides the annoying fact that people speak Catalan (sorry Catalunians, if anyones out there reading this, but I find the language...bizarre) the city's got everything. Good food, cheap booze, mind blowing architecture (this fabulous juxtaposition of Gaudi-esque modernism with more traditional Parisian buildings), the beach, the Spanish, legit metros, sweet parks, and crazy colors, everywhere.
Another pleasant aspect of the trip, were my travel companions. I've known Lauren since I was eight or so, and she is also Au Pairing. After this year, she will finish with her family, hopefully start grad school and live with her boyfriend in Barcelona. Before I left, I turned to her and said "Just to let you know, I think what you're doing is awesome." Some people may see moving to another country in part to stay with a man to be stupid, but not me. I'm ridiculously jealous that this isn't even in the realm of possibility for my boyfriend..
But I did want to mention the support system that we Au Pairs seem to rely on.
One of the things that goes with being an au pair is the inevitable "what the hell am i doing with my life" questions, that will more or less plague you for your entire living-the-life,-just-in-poverty stint. How do we manage to effectively ignore these questions? Simple, we cling to our friends and help convince eachother that we are doing something worthwhile. In addiction jargon, these would be called co-dependents, or enablers.
Now, not all Au Pairs, and certainly not all expats, or Erasmus students become enablers. These are the type of people who have no real interest in their country of occupation and will leave as soon as their time is up. While us addicts may have non-addict friends, we know that deep down inside, we dont have anything in common. Because, afterall, it is we the addicts, who spend sleep less nights pondering, why is it that i love this country that hates me so? or Why do I get such a thrill from being a foreigner? Is it worth it to be illegal? and Should I put an order on craigslist to become a mail order bride for the EU passport? (This idea just came to me, and the more I think about it, the better I like it.)
I have a friend here in Paris, Kayleigh, and everytime we are alone together one of us brings up the "Oh my God, what am I going to do after I leave France?" conversation.This consists of us listing our lack of skills. We're both the same age, both have been out of school for several years and both are spinning our heals in France waiting for some great idea to come along... But almost a year and a half later, it still hasn't.
I don't think I'm wasting my time here, but at some point, I'm going to have to gather together what I've learned and turn it into some redeemable job worthy quality.
Let's set our sights for January 2012.