LIVING ABROAD

Rome

Last fall, I asked myself where I really wanted to be.

I had just returned to L.A. after five months in China and, before that, three years in Paris. I was living temporarily in a furnished apartment near the beach in Santa Monica. Road-weary, feeling like flotsam, with most of my belongings scattered in storage units around the world, I was finally ready to settle down. I knew without deliberating where I should be.

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Paris

I moved to Paris in March.

Some would say my timing couldn´t have been worse, with the value of the dollar eroding and French-American relations icy. But I think there was no better time for shaking up the gray matter and seeing things from a different angle, which is one of the great reasons to travel.

For me, 2004 must be written in red letters because it was the year I seized the chance to live out a dream, to get to know this dazzling city up close, to make it my home and travel staging area at the threshold of all Europe...

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Beijing

I knew that moving from Paris´ 7th arrondissement to a dorm room in northwestern Beijing would be a jolt akin to waking up in a body cast after falling asleep at the wheel. I had been to the Chinese capital a decade ago, so I packed surgical masks for the pollution, thermal underwear for the cold and enough antibiotics to open a pharmacy. I weaned myself away from Ladurée macaroons and French Bordeaux, got a visa that identified me as a student and changed my e-mail address. I was prepared to be sick, scrutinized, hungry and miserable.

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