The number one goal of moving to a new city – country, continent, culture aside – is you want to feel like you belong. Like those mismatched tables and chairs at your local Caféotheque, you want to be that chair with a coffee bean sack cushion that seamlessly blends with the quirky nature of the establishment.
But how does one know when they finally made it to be… accepted?
I took my seat on a wooden stool alongside the velvetine couch reserved for English assistant friends Le Roux and Souriant. Taking a small, philosophical sip of my fruity espresso, I determined there are phases and stages of being… accepted.
Phase 1: No longer feeling like a blatant newb
Enter Phase 1 after the initial transition into a new zone. You no longer feel your heart drop when Google Maps freezes. You can recommend at least one good brand of cereal at the grocery store. And best of all… you can call at least one person in your small selection of new contacts to meet with you for coffee.
Thank you Le Roux and Souriant for accepting my Phase 1 coffee date.
In entering Phase 1, you’re striving to feel at least somewhat connected to your new establishment. This falls along the lines of knowing your surroundings, blending in, and making friends. I’ll umbrella this term into… feeling comfortable. The more comfortable you are, in turn, the more accepted you feel.
Now, what did I actually know about being accepted? It’s not black and white, but rather this hazy cloud of gray. But just like the sensation right before it rains, sometimes you just know. And you keep riding that gut-feeling, clutching that umbrella near and dear until the first rain drops. Essentially, that was me. Holding onto the idea I was making it at least a little bit.
So how did I feel I was making it at least just a little bit at Le Caféotheque? When I haphazardly went up to pay.
Though paying for my goods is common practice, what made this exchange of euros and coffee special was that the barista knowingly smiled at me – that knowing smile of you’ve been here a few times before. Despite the fact that I handed him the wrong amount of euros (too few), despite the fact he asked me to repeat what I had ordered (perhaps my accent too heavy), he gave me the look of familiarity. The affirming look of you belong here.
And with that, I turned to Le Roux and Souriant truly feeling so too.
La Caféothèque: 52 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville – Wifi
*Le Roux and Souriant are nicknames for the intended anonymity of this blog