I realized I haven’t made an actual post in quite a while. I guess that means nothing too interesting has been happening. I’m still commuting more than an hour to work 3 days a week, and it’s made me so incredibly tired. Plus we have no heat in our apartment, so I have to spend the rest of my time under a huge couette in order to not freeze to death. (We supposedly have chauffage dalle – heating in the floor – but it does not work at all and our crappy radiators don’t heat anything.)
I did absolutely nothing during the Toussaint vacation. It went by so quickly, but I have no recollection of actually doing anything worthwhile besides cleaning the apartment. I definitely have no photos of foreign cities that I’m dying to visit. I’m so jealous of the other assistants who actually get paid by the rectorat so they can go on vacation. One of these days I’ll travel again. But considering that I’ve already flown 5 times this year, I’m content to stay home with David & Canaille en ce moment.
Ah yes, the rectorat. I finally received my new arrêté de nomination this week. Normally, assistants receive these work contracts during the summer in their home countries so that they can get a visa in order to come to France. But since I was hired in the last week of September and live in France already, the rectorat took their sweet time sending it to me. Now I need to get the procès-verbal from my school, and take both to the préfecture so I can have a travailleur temporaire residency card and actually get paid for working. It’s been nearly 6 weeks and I have yet to fill out any official paperwork stating that I do indeed have a job.
I currently do co-voiturage on Tuesdays instead of taking the train. I work 9-11, 2-4 & 5-6. We leave Annecy at 6:45 am and return at 7 pm. I absolutely hate Tuesdays. On Thursdays, I work at the middle school, sometimes 2-5pm and sometimes 8-11am. The problem is that it’s 4 km from the gare, so someone always has to drive me to and from there. On Fridays, I work 10-11 and 2-4 (or 3-4 in week B). I have to leave Annecy at 8am and I get back at 7pm, just to work 2 or 3 hours. I know the teachers can’t change the schedule because that’s just when the English classes are, and it’s not like the train schedule can be modified either. But it’s frustrating that the only reason I don’t like my job is the commute; it doesn’t even have anything to do with the teaching part!
Unfortunately, the stupid strikes are affecting me a little. There were no trains today, but I was able to go to work with another teacher who lives in Annecy. And then David had to drive 40 minutes to pick me up afterwards (luckily he had already taken the day off). If he hadn’t done that, I’d probably still be in the mountains, waiting for any train that I could hop on. I don’t even know if there will be trains tomorrow, so maybe I won’t be able to make it to work. Which makes me hate these strikes even more. It’s fine if you want to strike and protest against issues that you disagree with, but when it affects everyone else and their ability to get to work (and therefore get paid), it’s not so great.
I am still searching for an automatic car so I can be more independent and not waste my life in train stations. I managed to transfer enough money from the US (and lose a huge chunk of it thanks to the awesomely bad exchange rate), now I just need to find a car that isn’t so far away. Most of them I’ve found are in Bourgogne or on the other side of Lyon.
One thing I did manage to do recently was sort out stuff at my bank. You see, here in France, people who are under 25 have all sorts of special discounts and deals. But apparently when you get OLD, all of those perks are taken away from you. My bank card was a special “under 25” card, and instead of automatically ordering a new, regular (old people) bank card when the original expired at the end of October, my bank just decided to do nothing. Including not notifying me that I had to make an appointment just to tell them that I do want a new card. I also found out that I cannot open a LEP account (best savings account available) because I am not a French citizen. So I opened what I could – a CSL with a 2 % interest rate every YEAR. Umm, wow. My ING account in the US has a 4 % rate every MONTH.
Speaking of US things… my beloved Thanksgiving! I will never get used to the idea of working on Thanksgiving. I hate going to school and teaching about the holiday instead of staying home and eating food and watching the Lions lose. French kids will never truly understand the holiday or why it’s so important to Americans. I try to teach the history (ok, fake story) and the traditions, but to them, it’s just an excuse for Americans to get even fatter by eating all day and it really makes me sad that they think that. Thanksgiving is actually what I miss most, besides 24 hour stores and furnaces.
So because I can’t have a real Thanksgiving here, and because it’s cold and gray every single day now, I’m getting a little depressed. Actually, I’m more annoyed at the lack of heat in buildings. Being cold makes me cranky and tired, and I am always cold now thanks to no heat in our apartment, and no heat in the hallways or bathrooms and even some classrooms at work. Plus I have to go outside a lot more than I did in Michigan, which is how I try to explain why winter in the US is not as bad as winter here even though it’s much colder in North America. I could drive my car everywhere – no walking or waiting outside. Plus there are furnaces and adequate heating unlike the useless radiators found here. (Yes, yes, I know France is trying to not destroy the planet by saving resources… but what’s the point of living if you’re going to be freezing and sick all the time??? It’s no wonder the French consume more medication that anyone in Europe….)
Stay tuned next week for my adventures in visiting a dentist for the first time in France and attempting to make a Thanksgiving dinner without an actual turkey!