Chats Vol. 2- Catching up with French politics and French friends

Today I catch up with my friend Laëtitia, who I met as part of an exchange program when I was in high school. She came to Florida and a few months later I stayed with her family in France. It was my first trip overseas and opened my eyes to international travel and the friends you can meet along the way. I am so lucky to have had so many enriching travel experiences and as a result, have family all over the world. She currently lives in Paris and caught me up on all the happenings in Paris life, dating, and politics.

(Photo not from Paris but from a lovely French seaside town I visited in 2017)

Bienvenue à "Chats" (which I am realizing as I type in French means Cats. I mean it in English;) ) avec moi. Tu me manques! Ça va?

I wouldn't mind if it were called Cats, I love cats. And I miss you too!

We haven't had a long conversation since our lovely weekend in the Finnish saunas. How have you been?

That was a lovely weekend, can you believe that was one year ago already?! To be honest I've gone through many ups and downs over the past year but I'm doing good now.

Are you still working for a non-profit? How is it going? What are you working on?

Yes I am, not the same one though. When we last met I was an intern at a non-profit and since then I have done two more internships, and the last one hired me when I graduated. I am working on informing citizens about sustainable development. But it's actually my last week there, I'll soon be unemployed, which is great because I need a good rest.

Are you still in Paris? What is your favorite thing about Paris?

Yes I am, even though I’d love to move elsewhere. My favorite thing about the city is definitely the Parisian way of life, sitting on the terrace of a café sipping wine with friends, eating out near the Seine... I can't wait for summer! Oh and also I was walking through le Marais recently, and I think it is the prettiest neighborhood in Paris (and also they have awesome food)

Least favorite?

With no hesitation, the transportation system. The metro is okay-ish but whenever you try to go outside of the city -where I live- it becomes a nightmare : it takes forever and there are ALWAYS problems.

Speaking of France- can you please explain the Yellow Vests protests to me. Are they good guys or bad?

Of course. So it started as a protest against a new tax on gas that was supposed to be for the "ecological transition". For a bit of context, gas is already super expensive and about half the price is already taxes, and the ecological excuse is bullshit. So people were like "enough is enough, we can't afford to pay more taxes on gas and we can't let our car in the garage because we need it to work" and they started spontaneously meeting on roundabouts everywhere in France to protest. The problem is, and that's why you suggested they are "bad guys", even though most of the protests have been peaceful, the Paris ones have been very problematic because of 1) how the police handled the situation (during week 1 they did not let people march and tried to lock them up on the Champs Élysées, which failed and caused people to rebel and to trash the Arc de Triomphe as you may have seen), and 2) because of people using the protest as an excuse to trash everything that represents "rich people". So they’re not bad guys but the situation is completely out of hands and since the government is not willing to compromise it's been going on for months now, with people meeting every Saturday to protest Macron's policy.

Anything else happening in French politics I should know about? I hate how much you guys know about American politics and how ignorant I've been of your news recently.

Surprisingly, around the same time when the Yellow Vests movement started, a new kind of mobilization for climate has risen too. Almost every month since the September, people have been marching for climate, reaching around 300 000 persons in March, which is unprecedented. The government has also been taken to justice by NGOs (and the 2 million citizens who have signed the petition) for its inaction in regard to the climate change fight. You could think that this movement and the Yellow Vest one are opposite, but they are really two sides of the same coin. You can't fight climate change while leaving the poorest and the people leaving in rural areas behind. Yes, we need to get rid of cars eventually, but we can't just make it harder for people to move and work because of it. We first need to give people an alternative - public transportation, affordable electric vehicles or remote work for example.

Okay more fun topics- favorite trip of 2018?

Unfortunately 2018 was a travel-free year since I was always either studying or working and basically had zero holidays :'(. I hope to make up for it this year though because I’ve missed travelling so much!

I know you're a big concert lover- favorite show of 2018?

In 2018 I went to sooo many concerts (I basically spent my travel budget in concerts haha). I think my favorite one was Fall out boy although the most memorable one was definitely The Offspring at the Download festival when I crowd-surfed for the first time ever!!

Any big travel/career plans for 2019?

Yes! In 2019 I will -finally- go on an interrail (train trip) through Europe! I’ve been dreaming about it since I came back from my Erasmus exchange in 2014 so I can’t wait to do it! Career wise I am open to any proposition in the non-profit sector ;)

Any other country you'd like to live in?

I'd love to live in Ireland again! I really think that country is perfect for me. It’s green, it’s friendly, it has gorgeous landscapes and the sea is always less than an hour away. Also, as you know, I'd like to live in New Zealand for a while too.

Okay time for the big questions. Are you stressed out by all of these climate change reports?

These reports sure are scary, and I'm trying the best I can to have an eco-friendly attitude but most of the time I try just to not think about it or I'd go crazy. Have you heard of collapsology? I hear about it every day at work and it's terrifying. According to self-proclaimed “collapsologists”, the end of the world as we know it could happen in 2-4 years (with a major ecological and economic crisis). I try to avoid thinking about that too.

Is everyone online dating in France? What's your opinion on it?

I think yes. I was on dating apps a few months ago and I quite liked it to be honest. For a person like me, who'd been single for a long time and has zero game when it comes to talking to people I don't know, I used dating apps as a kind of training. I mean you can try all the catch phrases, you can be brutally honest about yourself and what you expect from a relationship and if it doesn't work you can just move on and swipe again. There are so many fish in the dating app ocean! And sometimes some of them are interesting enough to have actual conversations. I had a few dates from dating apps that were really nice. Ironically though I met my boyfriend at a concert, but I'm pretty sure two years ago I wouldn't have even given him a chance because I was very guarded, so I guess the dating training paid off ;) 

Since this is a blog and bloggers love beauty products- any great French beauty products we should know about?

I am the Jon Snow of beauty products, I know nothing about them. I only use natural products my friends recommend such as pure aloe vera gel, black seed oil (which does wonders on my terrible skin) and rose water.

What do you think is the key to the effortless French style?

Owning basic clothes (blue jeans, white shirt, black dress) that you can mix and match with everything to create different outfits, and staying away from bright colors.

Last question- how did you enjoy this interview?

Very much! It’s an honor to be interviewed on your blog :) I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything to say but I could have gone on and on about everything. You’re a good interviewer ;). I hope my English isn’t too broken and you don’t spend hours correcting it… It’s been too long since the last time we met, I really hope to see you soon, on either your or my side of the ocean.