Re:flections – Starting a new life in Lyon

I know it’s been kinda quiet on this blog, but I moved to Lyon earlier this month, and life has been in constant turmoil ever since.

My new home for the next few years: Lyon, a city in the heart of France.

My new home for the next few years: Lyon, a city in the heart of France.

Nevertheless, I did actually write two blog entries: one about kiwi production in Europe (did you know kiwis grow in Europe??) and one about the Kafkaesque French administration system. However, I never posted them, because I felt that neither of these pieces really represented what it’s like to move to a new country, the first being too superficial and the other one too much of a rant. In reality, my new life here is neither superficial/boring, nor a constant rant. It is, however, dominated by two main themes.

First, there’s the language thing. I never realized just how difficult it is to move to a place, where you don’t speak the language. I sometimes feel like the ignorant tourist, who complained that “[w]e went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.” I mean, obviously I expected that all the day-to-day stuff would be in French, and has also been told that most French people barely speak anything else. But I never imagined how frustrating the language barrier can be, when I urgently need important things done (like opening a bank account or getting a doctors appointment). I had envisioned it part of the excitement to learn French, not as the World putting my survival skills to the test. Well, I guess, now I know better… Also, I can now much better appreciate the difficulties that my friends who moved to a foreign country went through.

In addition to the language thing, there’s the issue of coping with the flood of new experiences. Every day here is an adventure. As Vincent Vega put it in his epic line from Pulp Fiction “it’s the little differences. I mean they’ve got the same shit […], but it’s just their’s a little different”. Sooooo true. Here, at the swimming pool guys are only allowed to wear speedos, no trunks or shorts. Taxi drivers don’t just drive anyone, they choose if they want to take you or not. In the age of internet banking rent still gets paid by cheque. The list goes on. They’re the kind of charming and entertaining little differences that make good material for cocktail party conversations, but for now the sheer amount of them is simply overwhelming. These days, by the time I get home in the evening I need time just to digest the day’s events and mentally prepare myself for the next. It’s fun, but intense. I promise, however, to return with more posts on the life scientific as soon as this period of acclimatizing is over…

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