Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad

A Not So Welcome “Welcome” in Paris

So, having just moved to Paris, my first week did not go quite to plan! Although, I was very lucky enough to find accommodation just a few days before my arrival, things did not plan out as smoothly as I hoped. They never do, right?

Moving to a new country can be very stressful, especially when you have to start a new job as soon as you move, however, the events that unfolded in the past week made me really miss the comfort of home rather a lot.

So, on Wednesday morning, the whole country was in shock when 3 Islamic extremists opened fire in the offices of Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve, including the editor. During the attack, the gunmen were heard to shout Allahu akbar, “the Prophet is avenged”. Later on, the slogan “Je suis Charlie”, “I am Charlie” began to circulate across all social media platforms, to support the right to freedom of speech.

My colleagues and many people in Paris were devastated by this monstrous attack and Paris came to a standstill, with many people out in the streets, shocked and grieving by what had happened.


The crowds gathering at Republique on Wednesday night

The crowds gathering at Republique on Wednesday night

It was a very bleak atmosphere on the streets and the following day, I had to go into Paris for a medical check up for my employer. The security was in force everywhere. Before entering the building of my medical examination, I had to be checked by security at least 50 metres outside, then escorted to the front entrance. From there, another security member escorted me to the room. I could see that France was taking this very, very seriously. As of course, they should be.

Luckily, I don’t live in the city centre of Paris itself so I have largely avoided the crowds and commotion. At work, most of my contact with my new employers and colleagues was largely based on re-telling the awful events of what had happened. My training was 2 hours longer than it should have been, interrupted by those reading the news on their phones and updating everyone on what was going on.

Back at home, I was also having a few problems. First of all, my heating was not working so I had to sleep for the first new nights in my coat and hat – Yes, it really was THAT cold! As I don’t have a proper blanket yet, I think I lost a couple of pounds just by shivering at night. When they eventually came to fix the radiator, they didn’t seem to do it that well and so flooded my entire apartment and my laptop, which I had left on the floor. Because this was on Friday, I got told the technician could not come until Monday. Although the flat didn’t have a blanket, it did happen to have a mop, so my Friday night saw me mopping up my flat and trying to dry my laptop out.

 Living without internet was also something rather strange (I know, I know – it’s not the end of the world) however, the only book I had was one about sociopathic murderers so reading that before bed every night was rather daunting. I am extremely scared of everything anyway and my imagination is definitely more scary than any horror film. Any other reading recommendations from you guys would be super great. My New Year’s goal was to start reading a lot more, so actually not having internet, is a pretty good thing for me I guess.

 Otherwise, the main thing to remember in such a week, is to still be grateful for what you do have. It might not be the most comfortable, the most safe, or the happiest of times however, the world can not always be like this. Unfortunately.

I am sure that soon I will settle in, calm down my mind with some yoga and meditation and keep my head held high and not let myself be too overwhelmed. In fact, it is time I do some “energising morning meditation” instead of having my regular cup of coffee, as my one and only pan to boil water in, is now under the radiator collecting all the water leaking out from it.

 So let’s re-energise ourselves and also remember to be grateful for the good things we have around us.



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This entry was posted on January 10, 2015 by in Life in France, Things that make us go 'hmmmm' and tagged , , , , .
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