Feeling lost in life? Move to Paris!
Dernière mise à jour : 22 avr.
If you are reading this then welcome to Annable!
A place where I, Anna, will share my ramblings on life and bring you along with me as I try and figure out my what the hell I am doing.
The first port of call should probably be to introduce myself and give you a little insight into my life, including the events that led to me moving to Paris at the age of 27 for a so-called ‘late gap-year.’ On y va!
We’ve all been asked the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When you are younger, this question is harmless; children respond with answers such as: dog hotel owner, superhero, baker on the moon.
However, as you grow older, this question begins to hold more weight. There is a tinge of anxiety as the question transforms from “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to “What are your plans for the future?” The focus is on a career. This time when you respond, you better have a sensible answer. Say goodbye to your doggos, your cape and your carefully crafted moon muffins – say hello to the world of doctors, lawyers, and dentists.
I did what any book-loving introverted girl would do: I chose teaching.
Now, don’t get me wrong, teaching can be a wonderful job. In fact, I realised that I wasn’t even too bad at it. Standing in front of a class of 30 children, teaching them how many faces are on a cube or how to use a semi-colon actually proved to be fun and rewarding. After training for 4 years in Primary Education (with a side of Theology - Amen!) at St Mary’s University, Belfast, I did what a lot of teachers in Ireland are forced to do: leave the country and find a teaching position elsewhere. I found myself in London – a night-out in Soho followed by a hearty breakfast in Gail’s confirmed that it was the place for me at the age of 22.
I had visions of being the Irish Miss Honey, swanning into the classroom in floor length pastel-coloured dresses, speaking softly with the children, fresh flowers in a vase on my desk. The reality was that I was more like the Trunchbull; rather than swanning I was charging into the classroom - having been held up at the consistently jammed photocopier. My soft teacher voice sounding more like Liam Neeson on the phone to some people traffickers who had kidnapped his daughter. In short, my imaginary teaching life was much more wholesome than the reality.
There is a reason why over half of teachers in England leave after their first 5 years (I’m a statistic!). Teaching is brutal in England. I was arriving to school at 7am and was often kicked out by the caretaker at 6:30pm. Work was frequently brought home in the evenings and on weekends. Pressure was high and pay was low. To feel like you are drowning, barely keeping your head above water on a daily basis, is absolutely no way to live. As much as I loved working with children, there were just certain parts of the job that I could not abide with, and I knew that if I stayed in the profession I would end up seriously unwell.
So, I did what any millennial does if they aren’t happy with their job and know that they deserve something better: I quit!
Now, some extra information for context: whilst living in London I met my current partner, who grew up in the suburbs of Paris (this explains my connection to Paris and is the reason I chose to live here over anywhere else in the world). I had been trying to learn French, so thought why not just move to France for a year, learn the language (very ambitious) and have a break from teaching to restore myself and figure out what my next step should be. Easy-peasy, right?
Without much effort, I landed a job as an au pair to three young girls. The family lived in the suburbs, but gave me a flat in Paris to live in (the free accommodation was a real bonus of this job; the setbacks we will come to at a later date). I packed up my life of five years in London and moved over in August 2022, ready to be like Emily in Paris, except with more subtle fashion choices and less irritating personality traits (in my opinion, anyway).
So here we are, nearly halfway through my 'gap year' and still no closer to figuring out what my next step is.
However, I have learned some very valuable lessons in the last 5 months, including:
Parisians aren’t necessarily rude, they’re just always in a rush, so don’t get in their way
The baguette is fantastically versatile, one baguette can do me for breakfast, lunch and dinner
French is really hard to learn (who would have thought it?)
Colour and patterns are not big fashion choices here (Emily Cooper was bold in her outfits, there’s no denying that)
Oat milk, or any other dairy alternative, is not such a thing here; if you ask for it you must accept that you will be judged harshly and potentially have to pay more
Drivers don’t respect the zebra crossings - be careful
Wine is important, if you don’t like it you need to learn to
I am sure that the next 7 months will include even more valuable life lessons like those mentioned above. I am looking forward to the future months of Parisian judgment and hostility, alongside Irish bewilderment and naivety. Whatever happens, I will just do as my neon sign in my kitchen tells me to do: Relax...