If you love the early seasons of How I Met Your Mother, as I do, you’re probably familiar with the olive theory. For a couple to stay together, one must love olives and the other must hate them. It’s a silly thing, but I think it points to the passionate feelings people can have for something as simple as olives.
Throughout my life, I’ve heard some other interesting ‘olive myths,’ including a story often told by my grandfather in which he ate a whole jar of olives, because a buddy told him that if you hate them you can be converted by doing so. He claims it works, and now I have newfound faith in the story.
There were always a few foods at home that I was never interested in eating, and the short list includes tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives; all of which I’m eating like crazy in France. Maybe it’s the quality of the food, or the preparation. Maybe, like in that story, it’s just the fact that I’m more exposed to these ingredients and I’ve come to appreciate them. Not only do I like them, I’m choosing to add them to things because I like them so much.
The change in taste made me reflect on other changes I’ve observed in myself here. Why is it that when I’m sitting in my dorm I’m fine with Netflix marathons, but when I’m here I can’t stand sitting still? Why am I so cautious to go explore in Philadelphia, but so eager to go anywhere and everywhere in Paris?
My theory: I promised myself long before I got here that I would embrace whatever came my way.
Maybe that’s not very clear. It’s not as though I sat down and I said “Self, you’re going to go to Paris this summer and you’re going to take whatever comes. Ok? Ok.” In reality, I just made choices to encourage myself to be open to change. Like my choice to live with a host family: I forced myself to accept a different lifestyle because I chose to be immersed in it. I aspired to not just spectate the Parisian mode de vie, but to make it my own for a while.
Studying abroad is an incredible experience that many people don’t get even once in their lifetime. I feel so lucky, because the way I’m looking at Paris has inspired me to change the way I look at my ‘normal’ life. I explore Paris actively because my stay here is temporary; but why shouldn’t I explore my home city in the same way? Philadelphia will be my next “olive.” As a kid I hated Philly, and it took visiting Temple years later to change my mind and call it home (thanks for forcing me to visit something in-state, Mom!).
I enjoy Philadelphia now; but I’ve never made the effort to fully appreciate it, the kind of effort I’m applying now in Paris. I haven’t exactly “eaten the whole jar” of Philadelphian culture, if that makes any sense. Why should I adopt my explorer attitude only when I know my stay is temporary? I want to make this outlook a regular part of my life. In the future, I intend to get the most out of every day, whether it’s in Paris, Philadelphia, or anywhere else. Adventure is out there, and I will find it wherever it is!