France has always been like a dream to me. And every time I wake up from it, a huge part of me wishes I could go back. It’s a good thing then, that I find myself transported there at least once every year. Yet almost every time I visit this adopted second home of mine, it’s right in the middle of winter. Oh how I wish I could experience summer there again.
I don’t know when exactly my love for France started. It could be when I first did a summer internship in Paris, the months following that, or when I lived in Grenoble 5 years ago. Or it could be all of that – each experience deepening my appreciation of all that she has to offer, to the point where I now no longer know how I can live without ever seeing her again.
She provides me with the relief that I need from the crowd, the noise, the never-ending flow of activity that exists in the very heart of Singapore. With all the changes and developments that happen so rapidly in Singapore in the name of economic growth, it feels as if you never truly get the chance to be deeply-rooted enough before a part of you gets taken away to make way for something else.
But France has everything I would want in my life – bustling cities, access to fast fashion and beauty, nature, fresh air, parks, the arts, great food, a tolerable climate, good education and health systems, freedom of speech, affordable housing, quiet space where I can wind down and dogs (or cats, but I very much prefer Huskies) – and I know a majority of these will still be there 50 years from now.
On the down side, apart from the nicotine-dependence, she can be quite hard to get under if you don’t know French (which is why I’ve taken up French again since last October). The question now is, if I should take the plunge and register for a semester of intensive French courses (in France, of course) to pass the B2 national exam. And this time, if I do end up taking the leap, it might be for good.
It’s super tempting, and frankly speaking, something that’s been on my mind since 4 years ago, at which point I didn’t yet have the budget for. But having just returned from 2 weeks of full-blown French, I’ve found it to be extremely liberating when I’m able to converse and connect with les français purs beurre.
Forget about the trench coat-sporting girls on bicycles in Paris. Forget about the stick-thin model posing with a half-lit cigarette in a black-and-white magazine spread. Forget, even, about Chanel, Dior, Madame Chic, Garance Doré and Caroline de Maigret. Living and sejournant en France has taught me so much more about life – and I wish to practise what I’ve learnt about it.
Perhaps it’s still a little too early to make a decision, but it won’t be long before something is done, I suppose. In the meantime, I think I’ll very much like to try my hand at making a gâteau roulé and gratin dauphinois, and perfect my salad-eating method. Because la vie est belle indeed.