Sense of Belonging — Today I truly felt this!!
I went to my favorite crêperie today for lunch. My first night with my host family, my host sister took me here to get a dessert crêpe because she said it was the best and the cheapest crêperie on rue Mouffetard. Ever since, it’s been practically the only one I go to!! They have a super great “lunch deal” (i put it in quotes because it actually lasts until 8pm so I have it for dinner sometimes too ) for 5 euro 50 you get a savory crêpe, a sweet crêpe, and a drink (including alcoholic drinks). I probably go to this crêperie 4-5 times a month and I’ve brought along my family two times and my friends numerous times…so they’ve started to recognize me. Today I went to this crêperie for lunch with some friends and the man recognized me and he apologized that there weren’t any seats so he gave us some drinks for free while we waited for a place to sit. He served us our food and made little jokes with us the whole time. At the end of the meal, he offered us each a free glass of cider too! For me, the little ways he reached out to us really touched me… that in my short three months here in Paris someone has recognized me and wanted to make a connection.
To anyone visiting Paris…I highly suggest you check out Rue Mouffetard! It’s full of adorable little shops (and reasonably priced too) as well as great food!!! If you want to check out this crêperie I’ve linked a review with the title/address!
My second experience today which gave me a sense of belonging was my dance social. There was a Christmas Party at my dance studio this evening. The studio was all decorated in Christmas decorations with little munchies and they had a quick lesson and then played music all night long so we could practice everything we’ve learned in the classes.
The class they taught was “country” dancing… The first part was a version of the electric slide and then the second part was one of those circle dances where you do shuffles and heel-toe taps and then switch partners…. At one point one of my friends turned to me (knowing i’m from America) and asked if this is what we do in America… I chuckled and said that no one really does this type of dancing in America…
When the social time came around I started to get nervous like that awkward girl at a junior high dance…. would anyone ask ME to dance?? After all I’m that awkward American who butchers their language and laughs at weird times….. Nonetheless I was dancing all night… Somehow after only two months taking classes 1 time a week with these people, they felt I was part of their circle of dancing friends and I was socializing and being asked to dance all night long!! I had a blast and I truly felt like I belonged !! This especially made me happy because I am by far the youngest one at my studio. There are some post-docs and PhD students in my class but the rest are all older and/or retired… and tonight was a mixture of all levels of dancing so there was a large elderly crowd.
I also would like to add a little note that I was surprised how terribly some of these leaders improvised…. This studio in particular is one that teaches choreography… and not so much social dancing… so when a social event comes the leaders are stuck doing choreography or basics… there isn’t anything in between for many of them. There was one time I was dancing jive and all is well the choreography is just basics, american spins, stop and goes and then he throws me out and starts a synchronized kick routine. I stare dumb-founded at him wondering how he expected me to know what kicks/flicks to do there in what order, etc.
I’m sad to be leaving Paris… it’s already December which is my last month!!! Simultaneously I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to find a sense of belonging in Paris outside of my american friends here, my classmates, and my host family… a sense of belonging that is all my own!!