The Convenience / La Commodité

Qu’est-ce qui te manque le plus ? When people ask me what I miss most about the United States, the first word that comes to mind is convenience. And then I have to explain what exactly that means to me: being able to do what I want when I want. I was never forced to comply to someone else’s schedule. There were plenty of stores and restaurants open 24 hours so I wasn’t as rushed to buy my groceries before 8pm. Banks and the post office did not close for 2 hour lunches. Not many places were closed on Sundays either.

But in France I feel as though I waste a lot of time waiting for places to open so I can get things done. Even my bank is closed on Mondays, which I never seem to remember because I don’t understand why they have to be closed on that particular day. And the idea of “un drive” anywhere but McDonald’s or Quick is practically unheard of. My local post office has this convenient drop-off box for letters, but it’s located about 10 feet from the road. You have to park your car and run down the stairs to drop your mail off. And it’s in an industrial area, so there are few sidewalks for those who want to walk there. I just don’t get it.

So imagine my surprise a little while ago when I discovered that my bank has a drive-up ATM in Annecy! I thought these just didn’t exist in France because David was always talking about how cool they were when we were in the US for Christmas. (He even took a picture of one when I stopped to get some cash. And the pharmacy drive-thrus just blew his mind!) But this bank is actually pretty far from where I live, and I avoid driving in downtown Annecy as much as possible, so I doubt I will ever use it. But still, it is there!

The second thing that comes to mind about the US is just the space. The US is much larger than France, and the population density is much lower, so I never felt as crowded as I do here. I’ve always been a country girl though, and had my parents’ back yard to escape to. I think that’s why I have a hard time living in an apartment in such a residential area in France. I will never get used to the people or the noise and not having my own private yard to relax in.

The third thing is donuts. Definitely donuts.

International Animated Film Festival – June 9 to 14

I was downtown this morning running errands and I noticed some crews setting up equipment on the Pâquier. Then I remembered the International Animated Film Festival starts today. Oh yeah, that little thing… The calm before the storm… This Film Festival is the largest tourist attraction each year in Annecy. Tim Burton has attended in […]

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My Love Affair with the Préfecture: A Timeline

October 2006: Apply for first Carte de Séjour at Seynod mairie December 2006: Receive récépissé #1 in Seynod February 2007: Receive first CDS travailleur temporaire due to being a language assistant; but need to change adress on it already since I had moved. Since I stayed within the same département, a sticker with the new […]

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I hate the Euro

No, not the currency. The stupid soccer* tournament. Well, I do hate the euro currency too, but that’s another story… It starts today in less than 2 hours. (There’s actually a countdown on the official site.) David’s going to be glued to the TV and I’m going to be bored. France doesn’t play until Monday […]

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Guess who has the right to work in France now?

ME!!! I got my carte de séjour vie privée et familiale today! It says “autorise son titulaire à travailler” right on it. And it’s good until May 2009. I am beyond ecstatic!!! It has taken me almost two years and a lot of months wondering how I’d make it financially in France. I hope EU […]

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Drivers in France: As of July 1, you must have a bright yellow vest and red triangle (gilet de sécurité et triangle de pré-signalisation) in your car at all times to use during an accident or if your car breaks down. The police will be doing random checks and if they discover that you do […]

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Not too far from Annecy

A train and bus collision in northern Haute-Savoie killed 7 children today. BBC: French train crash kills children Le Monde: Au moins sept enfants tués dans la collision entre un TER et un car en Haute-Savoie

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French Slang & Idiom Exercises

I love Hot Potatoes. I’ve been making some interactive matching, multiple choice, and gap-fill exercises to go with my Informal French & Slang page. Do you know what une tube is? How about potin? Pige? Toubib? Flotte? Check out the exercises here!

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Soccer and Geneva, you’re on my list.

I’m supposed to present at the European Writing Centers Association Conference at the University of Education in Freiburg, Germany, on June 21st. Two former colleagues from the University of Michigan-Flint Writing Center and I will be doing a 90 minute workshop titled “Tutors, Training and Border Crossings: Beyond the Textual Relationship.” I’ll be handling the […]

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Cultural Differences: Screens

So screens on windows just don’t exist in France. For someone who has an irrational fear of bugs that sting, this is a big problem. I don’t like to keep the windows open even when it’s warm outside because I hate how many bugs get in the apartment, and also because I’m afraid the cat […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.


The 2nd edition of French Language Tutorial is available as a PDF book. It has been updated with much more vocabulary, sample sentences, and cultural information, plus extended vocabulary lists, cross-referenced topics, and an alphabetical index.

Visit the Store to buy the PDF e-book for $14.95 or paperback book for $29.95.