My Heart in Two Places

Making room for change

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

As I settle into 2015, I have finally made room for some changes to occur in my life. After being an expat for so many years, I have realized that I canít force change to happen, but I can make room for it to occur. I canít keep pushing against the current; I have to just let go and allow the current to take me. For my first experience as an expat, I had to separate from my family and friends, my daily routine, my lifestyle, and my way of being in the world. It was challenging at first because I didnít know who I was without all that had defined me up to that point. Eventually, after letting go of just about everything and feeling as if I were lost, things suddenly got easier. [Read More]

Is expat life glamorous?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Expat life definitely looks glamorous when you see photos of expats doing fun and exciting things, visiting exotic places youíve dreamed of, and eating foods that you havenít yet tasted. But, itís not really the case. We might be exposed to many new and interesting things, but the expat life itself is not exactly glamorous. Living overseas adds many other challenges that we wouldnít have if we were living in our native homelands and it can be quite challenging at times. [Read More]

Places affect us and shape us

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Every place affects us differently. Some places instill us with peace and tranquility while others instill us with other emotions. I have noticed that when I am in Florence and Paris different aspects are brought to the forefront. Florence accentuates my creativity and desire for freedom while Paris accentuates ambition and my desire for structure. [Read More]

A jaunt to Venice before the year ended

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Before the end of 2014, my beau and I decided to take a trip to Venice. I was happy when he suggested it for two reasons: I hadnít been there in a long time and I needed a break from the flip-flopping between my two cities. I wanted to go someplace where I could prepare myself for the New Year. I love Florence and Paris and am stimulated by them, but itís always nice to experience a different place. In that way, Iím able to keep myself open and more flexible for the arrival of 2015. [Read More]

A year of introspection

Friday, December 26, 2014

This has been a year of introspection for me. I didnít write as much as I wouldíve liked for both of my blogs. Looking back, I realize now that I needed some time to reassess what I wanted to focus on for each blog. Iíve decided to separate my two blogs even more. My Living in Florence blog will be only about Florence and in this blog I will write more about being an expat. [Read More]

Celebrating ten years in Florence

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When I returned to Florence ten years ago today I wasnít certain that I would stay as long as I have. In my heart, I knew I didnít want to never leave, but I couldnít make such decisions alone. After my five-year hiatus in the US, I arrived in Florence accompanied by my then husband. I had never moved anywhere with anyone and I didnít know how the move would affect us. Over time, my life in Florence became more important to me than anything or anyone else. [Read More]

Living out my emotions

Saturday, November 15, 2014

One of the reasons I feel in my element in Florence is that it is where I can freely live out my emotions. When I was growing up, I was taught to show only ďpositiveĒ emotions (and not too much of them either) and hide all the ďnegativeĒ ones. I learned at a young age that no one wanted to see me angry or sad. All the ďnegativeĒ emotions I had were to be lived out privately and more specifically when I was by alone. [Read More]

Waiting for autumn to arrive

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Autumn should have arrived a few weeks ago in both Florence and Paris. When I was in Florence for the past two weeks, the trees still had green leaves on them and only a few had changed colors and had fallen to the ground. I was hopeful to find autumn in full swing. Initially, it was more of an Indian summer. [Read More]

Running along the Arno before taking off

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Today was my last day in Florence and I began it with a run along the Arno. During my stay home, I headed up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo for each of my morning runs. However, because it was a little chillier than it has been, I decided to stick to the centro (downtown area). When I arrived at the end of Ponte alle Grazie, I turned right and headed toward the Ponte Vecchio, which looked like it was lit up by the sun that was just coming up. [Read More]

Pausing to savor the moment

Monday, October 27, 2014

I was almost not going to go running during my stay in Florence because I had forgotten my iPod in France. At first, I was upset with myself because I hate forgetting things. Then, I realized that I could take my iPhone with me, which has all my music on it. I had only run with my iPhone on vacation, but I didnít realize how this change would end up being so rewarding. [Read More]

I love being an expat

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I love being an expat so much that I canít imagine not being one. I love how two cities that were foreign to me and have now become so familiar to me that I consider them home. I love how living overseas has opened me up, changed me, allowed me to grow, and stretched me to be who I was born to be. I love how I have learned to look past the surface. I love how I see people for who they are and not what they do. I love how communicating with someone doesnít involve only the words he/she says. [Read More]

Juggling French and Italian

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Before returning to Paris for work almost four years ago, I kept my French in my back pocket. I pulled it out when I needed it, but kept Italian as my ďmainĒ foreign language for over 10 years. Nowadays, I have to juggle both French and Italian, and on a daily basis. I speak to my beau and my colleagues in French, I speak to my friends in Florence in Italian, and I write in English. It might not sound that difficult, but being fluent in two foreign languages is like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. It takes concentration, effort, and a bit of fumbling around. [Read More]

Starting off my year in Porto

Friday, October 10, 2014

As an expat, I think I travel a little differently than others. Not the actual traveling process, but the getting acquainted with the new place. I look at the place Iím visiting as if I were planning on living there. When I visit places in the countries I know well, like the US, Italy, and France, I want to understand other facets to them. However, when I travel to a new place, Iím eager to find out about the placeís core: the cityís energy, the people, the language and the culture. Itís almost as if Iím interviewing the city to decide if I want to live there even though Iím certainly not looking to live somewhere else. [Read More]

Porto, here I come!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Today I'm excited to be traveling to a city (and country) I've never been to. Portugal has always seemed like a faraway land for me even though it's less than two hours away by plane. It's thrilling for me to discover Porto, Portugal and get a peek into this city's culture. I'm looking forward to being to exploring and experiencing Porto. I hope to lose myself for a few days and enjoy this city's energy. [Read More]

Embracing Florence and Paris

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One of the most common questions Iím asked after I explain where I live is, ďArenít you going to eventually just pick one place?Ē The oddest part is that Iím never prepared for the question and rarely have a good answer. Iím usually surprised because I didnít know that I was supposed to pick just one place. I usually try to explain that I didnít plan my life to be split between two cities, but I do enjoy it. [Read More]

Adjusting to the rhythm

Saturday, September 27, 2014

As I continue to split my life between Florence and a Parisian suburb, I have realized that when I arrive home I have to adjust to the rhythm of each city. It took me some time to find my balance between the two cities and now that I have all of my essentials in both homes, I travel rather lightly only bringing certain things to each home that I like. With a flight is only an hour and a half long, it should be easy for me to adjust. However, I always find myself stumbling a little when I return to France. [Read More]

Living my dream

Friday, September 26, 2014

During my run yesterday, many thoughts came to mind about my life in Florence and a Parisian suburb. When I talk to my friends, I understand that it looks like a dream to be living between two different countries and be able to speak both Italian and French fluently. I didnít get to this point in a day; it took many years of persevering. I remember when I was in my university library studying for my French literature class and how all I dreamed about was living in France. In my early twenties, I wouldíve been content waiting tables or working in a bookshop just to live in France. Fortunately, I got a hired by a French software company that sent me to Paris. France drew me into its web after I stayed with two different French families (one month each) right after graduating high school. Florence, on the other hand, called to me after only spending three days in its embrace. [Read More]

Experiencing and cherishing beauty

Monday, September 15, 2014

For me, beauty can be transmitted through photos and words, but the feelings that bubble up inside of you when you experience beauty are personal and powerful. Even though I live in Florence and just outside of Paris, I am exposed to a lot of beauty. I am very sensitive to my surroundings and crave beauty because it inspires me, emotionally moves me, and touches me deeply. [Read More]

Basking in Florenceís energy

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I plan out my weekends in Florence like most people plan out their vacations. I make mental lists of what I want to see, eat, and visit. The past couple of days, Iíve only been able to go out for brief periods of time due to my work obligations. At night, however, Iíve been walking around the piazze and streets to reacquaint myself with my beloved cityís energy. [Read More]

A part of me is always in Florence

Friday, August 29, 2014

I miss Florence. Not in a way that doesnít allow me to be happy elsewhere, but in a way that doesnít allow me to ever forget my beloved city. I donít hold my breath when I am away from Florence, but almost. These six weeks in California and France have been way too long for me. Itís not that I havenít enjoyed my time away, but I still miss Florence and mostly how I feel when I am there. I long to return to my beloved cityís embrace where love flows so easily in and out of me like my breath. [Read More]

Testing out the third arrondissement

Friday, August 22, 2014

After my three-week stint in California, I wasnít able to settle back into my ďnormalĒ life right away. The day after I returned, my beau and I moved into my friend's apartment in the 3rd arrondissement between the Marais and the Place de la Rťpublique. For six days while she and her family were away, we lived in their Parisian apartment in a typical Haussmann building. Even though I wanted to ground myself after being away so long, I was willing to put that off so we could stay in Paris. [Read More]

Unplanned trip to the US

Friday, August 15, 2014

A month ago while I was in Florence, I received a phone call that you dread when you are an expat. My brother called me to tell me that his wife had passed away. I quickly made plans to return to California as soon as possible so I could arrive a couple of days before my sister-in-lawís service. After living so many years overseas, these calls are the ones that make being an expat difficult. No matter where your loved ones live, you canít always be there so you do what you can. I wish I could spend more time with my loved ones in California, but itís not easy when an ocean separates us (and they donít all live in the same area either). [Read More]

Cheering for more than one team during the World Cup

Saturday, July 5, 2014

When you are an expat, you walk a fine line between two worlds: where you were raised and where you are currently living. Itís not like you can hold one world in one hand and the other in the other hand; you have to hold onto both worlds with both hands without crushing either one of them. I have the added benefit (and added challenge) of embracing three worlds: Italy, France, and the US. I try to embrace fully the world in which I am right now without negating the other two. At times, it can be a bit challenging especially when there is some international sporting event. For me, the challenge comes around every four years for the World Cup. [Read More]

Florence as friend, teacher, and lover

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My trip home to Florence went by so quickly, but I gained so much this time around. Itís interesting that each time I return home and then go back to France, my understanding of both city increases. Not in a way to define each one better, but to open myself up to discover more around me, to appreciate the details, and to understand that the world is beautiful in all of its complexities. [Read More]

The joys of being in Florence

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The time I spend at home in Florence fills me with so much joy. While I enjoy my time in France, I am always so happy to return to my beloved city. The minute I walked into my apartment on Wednesday, my body relaxed and I felt a wave of joy ripple through me as I looked out onto the Arno. The words that inspired me to move to Florence the first time always come back to me when I return, ďYou are home.Ē [Read More]

Either you're in or you're out

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Thatís exactly what I feel about Paris. When I first started coming to Paris three and a half years ago for work, I was staying in the city. I had taken a liking to the 7th arrondissement because I was able to run around the Champ de Mars and admire the Eiffel Tower every day. Since I moved in with my beau a year and a half ago, I have been living only two miles out of the city. But those two miles might as well be two hundred miles. Parisís energy canít be felt outside the city. [Read More]

Paying homage at PŤre Lachaise Cemetery

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Thirteen years ago today my mom passed away. It sounds like a long time ago especially so much has happened in that time; however, with so many memories still vibrant in my mind, it seems like yesterday. To pay homage to my mom, I decided on going to PŤre Lachaise Cemetry. I had never visited the cimitiŤre (cemetery) before although I did hear about many of the famous people who are buried there, like Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Honorť de Balzac, Colette, Oscar Wilde, and many more. [Read More]

Venturing to another part of Paris

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Paris is immense. At times, I think I know Paris pretty well and then I realize I donít. I tend to stick to the same areas. There are many areas, however, in Paris that I think I know based on what Iíve heard and my limited experience of each one. There are certainly areas I avoid, but I try to keep an open mind because Paris is constantly in evolution. [Read More]

Being an expat is a balancing act

Friday, May 30, 2014

The first five months of this year have gone by like a bolt of lightening. I almost canít believe itís almost June. I have been trying to balance my life between Paris and Florence even though at times I have felt more like a Ping-Pong ball bouncing back and forth. Although I am completely settled in each place, I usually need at least one full day to adjust to the language, culture, and rhythm of the city. The double-expat life can be a little exhausting at times; however, it has taught me about the necessity of keeping my life balanced. [Read More]

Exploring and enjoying other cities in Italy

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I love discovering more about Italy. I find Italy to be one of the most interesting countries I have ever visited. Each region (and even each town in a region) varies from the next one. Each place has its own charm that can be unveiled, enjoyed, and appreciated. In France, at the beginning of May we had two Thursdays in a row that were holidays. By taking Friday off, we did a pont (bridge), which allowed us to have two four-day weekends. My beau joined me a week after I returned to Florence and we traveled around Italy. [Read More]

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Ciao a tutti! Bonjour à tous !
My name is Melinda and I live in Florence and Paris. In this blog as a double-expat, I write about my life in both cities and how I juggle two cultures, two languages, and two lifestyles. If you don't see any posts from here, I am probably in Florence and blogging on Living in Florence.

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