365 Days, Innumerable Lessons

The leaves crunch under my feet and fall from the branches above me. Soon there will be no more leaves on those majestic trees and their naked branches will reach up to the sky until they are weighed down by the sparkling white beauty of snow.

Another year nearing its end, having flown by yet again. It seems time is always doing that. More than 12 months ago we moved here. Nearly 4 months ago we got married (has it really been that long already??). Less than 2 months left before 2012 greets us. Or do we greet 2012?

The year began with much apprehension for what was awaiting on the horizon – still settling in a new place, a wedding to plan across an ocean, no foreseeable moment (for me) when I felt I would be driving comfortably…get the idea? Thankfully the year is coming to a close with tranquillity and serenity. I’m pretty much settled in, the wedding was perfect and I’m happily driving (mostly) comfortably.

This year has been filled with learning experiences:

Learning about marriage and sharing my husband with his full-time job, without feeling too lonely. Thankfully he doesn’t work so late and I have the joy of usually driving him to and from work, lengthening our time together every morning and every evening.

Learning to drive. More importantly: learning to drive without fear.

Learning how to manage our bills, credit cards and credit scores. The whole credit rating and credit system was (and I think will always be) so foreign and so incomprehensible to me. I understand how it works, I just don’t particularly understand why.

I’ve been learning how different life is here as an adult, compared to France. Simple things like getting a cell phone account is made ridiculously complex and bizarre because of the credit system. Oh, and why in the world do we pay or use our minutes when someone calls us? Landlines don’t work like that, and most countries in the world don’t either. One of the many mysteries, for me, of U.S. cell phone accounts.

The medical system, the tools available, the costs, the insurance, even the pharmacies and prescription methods baffle me endlessly.

Although I must admit, the 7 days a week, 24h, or open late pharmacies, supermarkets and stores do make things so much easier. Or maybe they just make us lazier? Hm. I always seem to find myself at odds with myself over that point. But I think ultimately I would probably say that it is a wonderful convenience to have the supermarkets and pharmacies open late and on Sunday. That has often proven to be of enormous help and brought great relief for last minute necessities.

The truth is, like I’ve often said in other entries, there are good and bad things of every country. This past year has allowed me to start learning what those good and not-so-good attributes are here.

What I’ve learned most of all this past year is that I’m happy here. I do miss my family, certain places and things from France, but I’ll see them again, I’ll have those things once again. There’s no point thinking constantly of what we had, what we might have, what we could have, or where we could be. So I think of what I do have, I think of the people who love me, near and far, I think of where I am now, and I embrace all of that.

I am infinitely lucky and I am happy.


14 thoughts on “365 Days, Innumerable Lessons

    1. 🙂 Writing this blog and ‘meeting’ new people through it has been a great help to me in this transitioning period. I’ve come to love it much more than I expected, and your comments are always so nice to read. Thank you for your kind comment, as always!


  1. What a journey you’ve had! And it’s always nice to pause and reflect, towards the end of the year, as you have done. (I should get to work on that.) 🙂

    Learning how to drive is something I think most people take for granted. It’s time, let’s do it, move on. But there is so much more to driving. It’s profoundly dangerous, full of distractions — and a huge amount of responsibility, for yourself, your passengers, and the occupants of other cars. When you said, “More importantly: learning to drive without fear,” I knew you’d be one of those good, cautious few, with whom I’m glad to share the road.

    Congratulations on your 365 days of new beginnings! And your new marriage.


    1. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments, that means a lot to me! 🙂

      It has been quite a journey this past year, and I’m still learning, still settling in, but it’s been a great adventure so far. Learning how to drive has definitely been one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face, and the challenges aren’t over yet – I’ve still got lots to learn and a lot more hours to get under my belt before I really feel I’m fully comfortable with it. Every new situation I encounter on the road is a new lesson, and some are easier than others. I truly appreciate your comment about my driving; I strive to be a safe and cautious driver, so I hope I succeed!

      Thank you for your congratulations, for this past year and our marriage – getting married has been the best part of the adventure, and having him by my side is what makes the whole journey exciting, even in the tougher moments! 🙂


  2. Wow, that must have turned your world upside down a bit? But it seems like you’re starting to really settle in now, and that’s the main thing. It also helps to be with the one you love 🙂 how are you finding the U.S in terms of culture? And the people you meet? I’ve only been to New York City, but I’d love to visit other states…one day…


    1. It did turn my world upside down, but thankfully I had the right person with me to put it right side up again. Being with the one you love can make all the difference 🙂 Although I’ve had quite a bit of experience with moving around, I was always a kid and in still in school, which made it much easier to meet people, and I had no real responsibilities. This was a very new experience, and I’m still learning every day. I am starting to really settle in, which is great, but it seems like there’s always more to learn, more to figure out, but that’s alright.

      Adapting to the different culture and the people has been a great part of the challenge. Last time I lived in the States I was 8 years old. I’ve visited since, but that’s not at all the same thing as living here. Coming back after living in so many different places, and especially 10 years in France, it was a big culture shock. Most people are very nice and friendly, but they’ve led such different lives to me that it can be hard to relate to them, despite their kindness. Many of them have never left the state or even the town/city they’re living in, which is the polar opposite to me! Sometimes it’s difficult to not feel like an outsider, and I miss the simple things about French/European culture, but you adapt and you make the best of every situation.

      Apologies for such a lengthy reply, but as you can see, I’m still figuring out that part, because adapting to the culture and the people is an ongoing challenge. It gets easier and easier, but the truth is we’re so fundamentally different from most of the people around us here that there is a constant adaptation going on. Thankfully though, the people here are generally very nice, and that helps a lot in settling and feeling at home. 🙂

      Ok, I’m finished now 😉 I do hope that you’re able to visit some other states again – there is a lot to see, and I’ve hardly seen any of it! If I visit something really worth seeing, I’ll make sure to let you know and give you the information! 🙂


      1. Haha, that’s alright, I sometimes do those long comments too 😉 but it’s great to see that you’re making the most out of the situation(s), moving to another country seems like a really big challenge. Especially with all the differences, culture etc. Bravo to you! Granted, there are still challenges and difficulties, but, as you said, it’s so much easier when the one you love is with you 🙂 I hope you can find a way to meet other people who aren’t native to America? It would be nice for you to meet others in the same boat?

        I would love it if you could give me some recommendations of places to visit in the USA, it’s on my travel list…but I have no idea where to start, eek!


        1. I’ve been trying to see if there are any associations for foreigners or people who have lived overseas to see if I can meet others with similar experiences, so we’ll see how that pans out! Thanks for all the kind thoughts! 🙂

          As for recommendations – I promise to pass on anything of interest that I either visit or someone else recommends to me! 🙂


    1. Thank you for your very kind comment! I’m happy you like my blog, that really means a lot to me. 🙂 I had a look around your blog, and you’ve got fantastic pictures – I’m looking forward to seeing more!


  3. That is a beautiful shot, the one of the single Ginko leaf. Very well done!! So we head to London tomorrow!! We are so excited! I plan on taking both cameras (in hope my GF picks up some of the photography bug). Any recommendations for stuff that I absolutely can’t miss?? I know all the normal, touristy stuff, but any off the grid, cool things that are neat to experience? Hope all is well!!


    1. Thank you, glad you like it 🙂 I wish I could help you out more for your London trip, but unfortunately I was never in London very long to have good tips! My one tip from the time I did spend there is to just walk and wander as much as you can…that’s how you often end up in places you wouldn’t have thought to look, but would have really missed out on. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but I hope you have a wonderful time and manage to get lots of great shots! Thanks for stopping by my blog and I hope to hear from you again!


  4. All the very best for settling into your new home and life Dounia…may this be your best…most enjoyable and easiest journey!
    God bless and many prayers for happiness always…


    1. Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me. I wish you and your loved ones all the happiness for this holiday season and always. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend and I really look forward to reading more of your comments in the future!


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