One Month In France

Today marks one month in France. Can you believe that? I hardly can. It has absolutely flown by, and I woke up this morning despairing that I’m somehow not making the most of it.

So before I spiraled into a very sad place, we made of list of what we’re proud of accomplishing this month:

We got French SIM cards for our phones.

We took Olive to Montpellier in the south of France. It was the first time we traveled south via high speed train.

We got the kids registered for school, made changes to their class schedules, and managed to find everything on the epic list of school supplies.

We researched lots of cars, settled on a specific model, then found one used without too many kilometers — we picked it up this morning.

We signed up the kids for swim team, orchestra + private music lessons, horseback riding, and handball — and secured all the appropriate equipment.

We had lots of happy lunches and afternoon meetups (called gouter) and dinners with old friends.

We opened a bank account at a local branch.

We’ve figured out where and when church is and loved attending our ward.

We took the ferry to England and got to attend the wedding of our niece. (And found fascinators to wear!)

We found a rental house to live in and it’s right in the center of town — easily walkable to school and shops and everything else. (We sign the rental agreement on Wednesday, and can move in October 9th. Our container arrives in France on October 9th as well — but it will take several days before the actual delivery is made. We’ll stay in an Airbnb until the delivery.)

We’ve done a bit of local sightseeing — like visiting Chateau Carrouges and taking drives in the country.

We installed a new mailbox at the Cottage, and discovered tons of grapes growing there.

We’ve attended some cultural events, like a Catholic mass featuring Gregorian chants sung by the local nuns, and a vernissage (an art opening).

We’ve eaten so much yogurt and cheese!

We’ve had one language exchange and are working to set up more.

We’ve arranged for car insurance and rental insurance.

Work wise, Ben Blair has met with Students and Subject Experts from 15 different countries all over the world (the meetings are online). Alt Summit had a very successful Call for Presentations — with over 1400 pitches! And of course, I’ve loved our conversations here over the last month.

And we looked at a whole lot of real estate. Then we put an offer on a house — and it was accepted!! Next steps are waiting for the inspections (they call them diagnostics here) to make sure there aren’t any surprises before we commit. (The stairs at top are in the house we put an offer on.)

After I made this list, I felt a whole lot better. We feel super lucky to be here and super lucky that we get to have these experiences! Everything takes longer than I think it will, but it all gets done eventually.

Have you ever felt like that? Like time is slipping by and you’re not taking advantage of everything available to you? Have you ever made a list to calm yourself down? Hah! I’d love to hear.

28 thoughts on “One Month In France”

  1. Congrats again on the move! I’m sure it’s exhausting – at least I’m exhausted from reading your amazing list :)

    Are you going to post another What to Wear to School – Euro edition? Gosh, I love seeing how styles change depending on geography.

  2. You have accomplished so much! I hope you are also accomplishing many moments of rest, enjoyment, and just soaking it all in. My biggest regret (for all the places I’ve lived) is that I spent too much time doing, and not enough time just enjoying! :) BON WEEKEND!

  3. I have felt the same way many times, and making a list of what you have done is so, so helpful.

    I was surprised to read that ou felt that way because you’re one of the people who I am in awe of for how much you accomplish!! I always think “how does she do it all?!”

  4. Sounds like a lot to me. Those little things add up quickly but are so important. Can’t wait to hear more about Lovely France.

  5. I heard of a family that instead of making a To-Do list, made a Ta-da! list–which is what we did this summer. We had a lot of big things going on (missionary returning, daughter’s wedding, reunions, milestones, a surgery) and noted them as Ta-da’s! on the fridge chart. And I think you’ve made an amazing Ta-da list of your first month in France right there.

    1. I love the idea of the Ta-da list. Each year for New Years, instead of resolutions, we make a mini poster of the things we have done in the past year and the things we hope to do in the coming year.

  6. Oh my goodness! We are expats in the South of France and it took 5 weeks to open a bank account so that accomplishment alone impressed me! You’re on fire this month!

    1. That is a huge list for a single month! Well done. I am so curious about your housing situation, renting and buying? What’s your plan? Can’t wait for the house tours. You rock Gabrielle. (You even have a quintessentially French name!)

  7. when I worry about not doing enough, I tell myself that the goal is not to “Do” but to “be”. To be happy. To be in the moment. To be honest and kind and gentle. To be me.

  8. When I am so busy its hard to feel like I am appreciating the small moments (and I’m probably not). But just think, you just checked off all these major things allowing you and your family to get settled so you can go into Autumn and enjoy it now without “to-dos” cluttering your mind!! Congrats!

  9. My husband and I lived in Peru for a year when I had a Fulbright Fellowship to work on my book, and I lived in fear of not doing enough, not soaking up enough, not meeting enough people, not having enough challenging conversations… Now, when I look back at that time, and even shortly after we got home, it was so clear all that we did do. I am a big list-writer, so I did write a lot of those (we had a big whiteboard in our dining/living area and used that to track visitors and projects). It was pre-blog days, so every month or two, I wrote a long email and sent it out to a list of family and friends, including photos. That pointed out all we were accomplishing, too.

  10. I’m feeling the same way. We moved from the Bay Area to Rome, Italy about a month ago and I have yet to visit the Colosseum! I have visited the Irish consulate multiple times, found where to buy sports clothes and camping equipment, and survived a day at the Agencia Entrata. I learned that you can rent crutches at the pharmacy and how to buy passes for and ride the metro and busses. Thanks for the reminder that I have done a lot, just not the things that you would expect.

  11. That feeling of “I’m not making the most it” is quite a lurker. I’ll imagine myself being in the moment in a highly connected way, but when the moment arrives, I struggle to feel like I’m enjoying it/learning from it/accomplishing enough.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. The mind is something else, isn’t it?

  12. I’m on maternity leave right now and one of my concerns is that when I go back to work I will feel like I wasted my time at home. I’ve thought of sending myself emails that just say, I was exhausted today, in order for my future self to be less harsh when looking back.
    Anyways, your list is so full of amazing accomplishments – take heart in them.

    1. Maternity Leave is code for baby snuggle/bonding time – and for me, that meant my days were quiet, slow, and all about just being with my little ones. I remember there were days I didn’t even leave the house that somehow seemed to “fly by” (let alone the entire Mat Leave period). Showers by 3pm could be a feat; cooking dinner in time for my returning-from-work husband – gold medal status. The time will come when you can (have to?) return to full-speed ahead, no doubt, especially if you’re a Super Mom, as so many of us are (i.e., you have kids, and/or you work, and/or are married, and (this must be an AND, not an and/or) will somehow, incredibly, fit taking care of your SELF into that line-up of responsibilities).

  13. This is a fantastic list, well done, you!
    Do you know the poem “The Orange” by Wendy Cope? My one and only life goal these days is have peace like that. Wishing you the best!

  14. Caroline N hacker

    I haven’t accomplished all that in 20 years Gabby! But now thinking about porting away from US for a year or two, as we roots in Zutphen Netherlands- and they have an english-speaking highschool option

  15. Flori Christensen

    I’m going to make a list like this! We are living in Europe for a semester and I have these same fears of not “getting the most juice from the squeeze” of this experience. It is so different LIVING abroad rather than vacationing. There are amazing experiences, but also a lot of real life boring stuff like online school for the kids, laundry, grocery shopping, getting all the paperwork in order, etc. It’s a good reminder that these daily things are accomplishments too! (Loved your description of doing laundry in Europe!!)

  16. I HAVE felt like time is slipping away and that it means nothing unless I mark it in some way. This is why I started bullet journaling. I stopped writing down ‘goals’ and started writing down what actually happened in the day. Drawing little pictures of highlights – things as small as spotting my first wildflower of the year. I still have a plan, but I don’t write it down until the day has passed. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how much I actually did or saw or enjoyed. You’re an inspiration to me. I love following along on your adventures!

  17. I feel you. I have lived in Europe for 13 years and there are still cities and countries I want to visit! But living life takes time. There is a saying I love, “Life is what happens while you are planning for what you want to do.”

    I like to make a to-do list for each day with one big thing and several smaller things. Everything on the list is things I should be able to accomplish that day. An example of a small thing would be “call the bank and follow-up on debit cards”. It might only take 5 minutes to accomplish, but looking back on each day and knowing I got through the things I wanted to achieve is quite satisfying.

    An intercontinental move is huge, and working out house is also big. If it makes you feel any better, I spent 7 month looking before I found the perfect piece of land (price/location/views) to build in Spain. Life takes time. :)

  18. “Have you ever felt like that? Like time is slipping by and you’re not taking advantage of everything available to you? Have you ever made a list to calm yourself down?”

    YES! This is me. Though I have gotten better over the years (with therapy) my greatest fear is the fear of regret. I will fall into a deep funk sometimes because I regret not doing something, or feel like I haven’t used my time wisely. This is why traveling, in particular, is both my favorite thing to do, and the thing that can make me deeply upset. So many opportunities! So many chances for regret! I appreciate you sharing this list, as it makes me feel less alone. And, seriously, you have accomplished SO MUCH in a month! You all get gold stars!

  19. A few years ago I was writing down my new year’s resolutions and was feeling so down on myself. So I threw that list away and wrote a new list instead—of everything I had accomplished and places I had traveled in the previous year. It felt amazing!

  20. I once heard an author speak about how he feels empowered crossing stuff off his to-do list. Instead of writing “mow the lawn” he writes “take mower out of garage. Check gas. Push mower to back yard. Now back yard. Push mower to front yard.” Etc.
    When he’s finished he can cross all of those things off! I’ve never related to anything more.

  21. I understand that feeling, perhaps too well. It helps to hear you articulate that too. I make lists, which help. But Sometimes though I just look at my happy kids and realize they don’t think they’re missing out, if anything, they love being home and playing with their toys. The simplest things make them so happy. So remember, too, just being in France, living your day to day, is also an important part of your journey as much as the cultural events, etc. Give yourself space to just live.

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