After the storm, a calm.

The last six months have felt like a tornado. And I mean like a tornado that had me spinning each day. After finishing my second semester at Western University in London, Ontario, I had a short break before starting summer school. Now after my exchange in third year I broke up my remaining 5 history courses I needed into the two regular semesters and summer school. I made sure with the department ahead of time that they would be offering the courses I needed in the summer 2016. They originally told me that the 3000 level course offered was on Germany and Totalitarianism… in the end the ONLY 3000 level course offered was a six week course, four days a week, three hours a day, full credit on Chinese Nationalism. Now listen, I have taken history courses on the Mongols and the Survey of Korean History, and through these experiences I have learned that Asian History is interesting but not my favourite area to study. (My interest lies in sixteenth century France and their Wars of Religion between the Huguenots (Protestants) and Catholics.) So mid-May I found myself starting a class that did not motivate me, continuing to plan my wedding and patiently waiting for my fiancé Maxime to arrive from France on June 7th.

My other course was a Survey of Canadian History. Now I thought this was going to be boring because Canada is SO young in comparison to any European country. However, my professor decided that we were not only going to study Canadian history, but that we were going to take field trips. We visited a First Nations settlement, a walk-around tour of the city centre, and a military museum all in the London area. It was much more interesting to put the events into context like this, because this hands on experience is usually overlooked in the University experience. This course spanned over the period of mid-May to the end of July with the final exam the first week of August, leaving me less than twenty days to fully focus on preparing my wedding.

Like I said Max arrived the beginning of June and was going to spend the next three months with me and my family. The last time he was in Canada was a thriving, 2meter snowbanks, five-minute-frostbite type of winter. Needless to say I think he much preferred this experience. Even the difference of seeing Niagara Falls New Years 2014 and freezing your butt off or seeing it without all the added ice …was incredible. It was great to see him in person after communicating over the Internet and WhatsApp (nobody uses email anymore for long distance relationships).

Over the summer he helped my dad drive his new tractor.

Go Vana White! Show off that tractor!!

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My family and I picked all the lavender for our French themed wedding and Max made the majority of the potpourri party favours. The same lavender was used along with pink baby’s breath to make the vintage looking bouquets.

#frenchwedding #lavender #maxnshalana

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Max’s family arrived the 17th of August, they visited Niagara Falls on the 18th and were with us that evening. Our Best Man and one of our Bridesmaids were also imported from France. The couple arrived a week before the wedding and left the week after. We visited Cyprus Lake Provincial Park, lakes, Niagara Falls, and spent lots of time with my family and the area where I grew up. It was hard because I wanted to balance the whole group, spend time with family I wouldn’t see for a while, show my new husband how happy I was as well as entertain friends that came for the wedding but also wanted to see what Canada was like. Hopefully I succeeded the balance, even though I am sure many feel they got the shorter straw.

We had one week to get things in order to move to France. For Max it was easy and as much as he loves his family-in-law he was getting excited to see his country and his friends again. Monsieur Chamionard was picking us up at the airport and staying to help us move into our new apartment the first week back in France. He was also getting pumped to speak French again. My family does not speak French at all. My baby sister has started taking a university course to start, and my Mom remembers some vocabulary from high school twenty years ago. Max has a very good level of English with a sufficient vocabulary as well as good comprehension skills. However anyone that has learnt a second language knows that full immersion in alien culture and language is exhausting. I think that when his family arrived and our friends he was so relieved to de-stressed, relaxed to speak his native tongue. As you can imagine this whole development was a challenge for my family. Their daughter marries a European! Language barriers. etc. etc. Both our families are amazing in all of this and I just want to extend a big thank-you to all of them for never giving up on supporting us no-matter what. Both sides must have had some level of apprehension hearing about our choice, but they are continuously behind us, trusting our judgement.

The reality though is that love truly is something that can break down all barriers and oceans if we let it. It is a choice to follow love, but it is something people have a weakness to follow for fear of the alternative– heartbreak. The challenge is judging which love will last a lifetime, produce a loving family, and be bearable in situations where we as humans do not feel so loving. And for different reasons, I chose Maxime. I know that if he never existed or we never met, I could have most likely loved someone else, as I have loved others during my very short 23-years- of life… BUT I could never walk away from him. With all the distance between us, noone ever compared to the support this one human being felt to invest in me. He not only loves me but talked to me everyday, cared when I felt bad, made me laugh so much my sides ached, etc. etcetera. For four years, two oceans, two computers, two French exchanges and many BlaBla cars, and SNCF train tickets, as well as plane tickets have brought the two of us where we are today… in the same country, living under one roof.

The Storm can be the last six months, or the last four years. Either way we have achieved a somewhat peaceful calm in our love story. There will always be challenges, and we cannot forget that a marriage in its simplest form is a relationship. Every relationship needs work and a constant commitment just as friendships and family members expect the same loyalty, trust and connection. This can be easy to overlook in a society plagued with better relationships with technology than real-life human beings. It is probably easier to have a relationship with the new iPhone 7, in comparison with a spouse… but definitely not as fulfilling.

I hope this explains why I have been so busy and neglecting of this blog that I really do enjoy. Now that I am soon to graduate University, married and situated in my new French village, I can also say that the calm after the storm represents the lack of obligations I am facing in my day-to-day life waiting for paperwork to be processed… marriage certificates, family booklets (a French document that records your wedding and children’s births), and visas. Max is at school throughout the week and it has been two months of dishes, cleaning, lots of TV (especially the Voice and following the American election), and sleeping. I am not saying this is appropriate, but when you are on a Tourist Visa and are not legally allowed to do anything during the day and even volunteering is a difficult task to find… you fall short on motivation. I am a person that enjoys being busy, so hopefully this blog can provide as an outlet of creativity and productivity.

Until next time,

~ShalanaSays

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