After working in the Middle East for 4 years, I met my husband in Bahrain. Shortly after we wisely decided it was time to leave and see where the next journey would take us. I proposed an itinerary that would take us through France so he could see what Marie was really all about outside the “magic bubble” of the Middle East expats world. Then if by the end of it the “flame” was still there, we would continue our trip to see his country: New Zealand.
Needless to say, the wish list for things to do and see for this young Kiwi man who had never gone to Europe before, was quite extensive. But aside from this wish list, what we both loved about this decision was, we were both taking the step to finally leave the comfortable life we had in the Middle East and were heading back to what I call the real world. Don’t get me wrong: there are great things and benefits with leaving the expatriates life, however a lot was missing from this life, and one very important thing especially: reality.
After a few weeks driving through Europe, climbing the Alpes D’Huez and other mountains throughout the French and Swiss Alps (My husband is a fervent bike rider), exploring the Swiss/Italian Lakes region and of course attending the Monza Formula 1 Grand Prix! We finally got to France. Kyle enjoyed riding through the mountains of Provence and discover more heritage than he ever did. Something you probably take for granted when you are used to it, but I never did… The little hidden perched villages that await you around the corner, the peaceful squares where people play Petanque and drink Pastis, the reminiscing old men sitting on a bench outside their little country house, staring at the passing cars.
My dad called this trip my first honeymoon or “Lune de Miel”, because it is the time when you meet the person and fall head over heels, thinking the world is wonderful. Although normally associated to wedding, this term sort of scared Kyle when I translated it to him, but after spending some time learning about the French way of life, I think he understood what may father meant…
We had a wonderful time in my native Provence. Meeting my family was quite an experience for Kyle. His Kiwi laid back spirit was such a contrast with the emotional explosion of the French – La Revolution! Having been away for so long, I too could see how so different and fiery French people can be, and how caught up we get sometimes about the little things. Everything can be room for an argument – but we call it a conversation: a cheese that doesn’t have its normal colour and a 2-hour conversation on why this could be, the fight to pay the bill at the end of a Sunday lunch just because everyone wants to welcome Kyle, and so many more “interesting” episodes.
After 3 months in France, we finally headed to New Zealand, but that is a story for another time, as it would take too long. You know by now how much love I have for this beautiful country and its people.
The moral of the story – there is always one – is we both took a step forward, got out of our routine expat life and took a chance. The smallest changes we make in life are what make it richer. Don’t get caught in the routine, take a chance and don’t think twice. Take a step back and think about what you could do differently and how it could make you happier. A break away from the routine is a good way to start. Need inspiration?