La Fête de la Musique

By   June 22, 2007

The first day of summer is celebrated by la fête de la musique everywhere in France. Big cities have huge outdoor celebrations for all sorts of music. The one in Paris is televised, of course.

Since I live in a suburb of Annecy, the local fête here was rather small – it was actually nothing more than one song in Arabic. That was recorded. And lasted for four hours.

David told me the music traditionally doesn’t stop until 6 AM. Luckily there was silence by midnight so I could attempt to sleep, but I still had a lingering feeling that I was somehow still in Egypt.


By   June 21, 2007

David received an attestation from Alliance Française today. He passed the tests to do the formation to become certified to teach French as a Foreign Language. He should receive the first of six modules next month, which I will also be reading through and studying because I’m a nerd:

1. Linguistique appliquée à l’enseignement du français langue étrangère
2. Didactique générale du français langue étrangère
3. Phonétique et pédagogie de la prononciation
4. Méthodologie de l’enseignement de la grammaire
5. Méthodologie de l’enseignement de la civilisation et de la littérature
6. Observation et guidage de classe


By   June 20, 2007

I’ve been to the doctor three times already in France (four if you count the visite medicale required for the carte de séjour), but today was my first appointment at an eye doctor. Not only did I finally learn the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optician – I always just say eye doctor in English – I also managed to not forget the alphabet or numbers. I tend to forget the simplest things in French when I get nervous.

My appointment was with a nice young man at the Clinique Générale (which is like a maze when you aren’t sure where you should go), and the appointment took less than 20 minutes. First I looked at a road with a hot-air balloon at the end, and then it was on to the boring letters and numbers. Bright light so he could inspect my retinas and that was it. No annoying puff of air or that bizarre stain to dilate your pupils. I handed over my Carte Vitale, paid 48 € and got two ordonnances, for new glasses and new contacts.

Now I need to go to an optician to choose my frames and turn in my prescriptions. Ophtalmologistes (what I used to call eye doctors) and opticiens are not in the same office in France. The person who checks your eyes and the person who makes your glasses are two different people and professions. I never really paid attention to that before in the US. Actually, I don’t know if I ever even met my optician there…

P.S. Net is clear, and flou is blurry.

Oh la France.

By   June 19, 2007

Getting a job in France is very hard, even for the French. Jobs here are based on your diplomas or degrees, not experience, which forces young people to go to university for years in order to obtain jobs that 16 year-olds do in the US.

Every job is a contract; CDI if it’s long-term (no end in sight), or CDD if it’s short-term (a few months to a few years). Not only is there no job security with a CDD, but it’s also very difficult to buy or even rent a place to live if you only have a temporary job.

Living in France is just a series of long waiting periods between receiving official papers and requesting others. Getting your Carte de Séjour, applying for CAF, obtaining your Carte Vitale, opening a Bank account, joining a Mutuelle, applying for unemployment… and almost everything changes as soon as your CDD runs out or you move.

For example, I am currently in the process of changing my address, renewing my Carte de Séjour, figuring out if my health insurance is still valid, exchanging my American driver’s license for a French one, and waiting to see if I receive a new work contract (CDD, of course) – which I will need to renew my Carte de Séjour yet again in 3 months.

Granted, I didn’t have to get PACSed, or exchange my driver’s license, or move two times (which seemed to increase my paperwork by 30%) but the amount of paperwork needed to do even the mundane things can seem ridiculous.

This stress of constantly collecting paperwork and waiting for the bureaucracy to do something with it, coupled with the uncertainty of work/money factor, makes me want to stay in this country less and less each day. But at the same time, knowing that I have been able to survive here makes me feel strong enough to stay.

At least for another year or two.

dimanche le 17 juin

By   June 17, 2007

Bonne Fête des Pères ! Father’s Day is the same day in the US and France – the third Sunday in June. Which is slightly less complicated than Mother’s Day, which is the second Sunday in May in the US and the last Sunday in May in France – unless that last Sunday is also Pentecôte, then Mother’s Day is the first Sunday in June (which is what happened this year.)

Today is also the second tour des élections législatives. Unfortunately, since David’s father works for the mairie, he had to be at the polls all day and couldn’t join us for lunch.

My own father is 3,000 miles across the ocean and six hours in the past.

Happy Father’s Day, wherever fathers may be!


By   June 16, 2007

Our internet/telephone/TV finally works! We have so many channels in so many languages. I should never be bored again.

Je suis toujours là !

By   June 13, 2007

The new apartment is perfect for David and me. We still have to attach the douchette to the wall and hang some curtains, but we’re all moved in. Except the electric oven doesn’t work yet, the dishwasher is too far from the kitchen to be plugged in, we have yet to buy a microwave, and we still don’t have internet.

However, David’s parents live about two blocks away, so that is how I can get online to tell you that I haven’t disappeared.


By   June 8, 2007

I just visited the last remaining Wonder of the World (pyramids at Giza) and came upon this site yesterday: New Seven Wonders of the World

You can vote for new Wonders out of 20 candidates, such as Taj Mahal, Chichen Itza, Great Wall of China, Acropolis, Stonehenge, Easter Island Statues, etc.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I kind of like the pyramids being the only Wonder left… Or maybe it’s because I will feel an overwhelming urge to visit all of the new seven Wonders when I know I don’t have the money to do so.

Le retour

By   June 7, 2007

I’m back in France, once again. I feel really tired even though Egypt was only an hour later than France, and I still have this weird stomachache that is not going away. I definitely think I’m done with travelling for a while. Wasting time in airports and on planes is not how I want to spend my life, especially when it makes me so sick.

Egypt was a great experience though. The pyramids, the mosques, Coptic Cairo, modern Egypt… I saw it all. Though if I had to describe Cairo in one word, it would be chaos. I’ve uploaded my pictures to the Travel Photos section, and I’ll type my journal when I’m not so tired.

So now it’s back to regular life here in Haute-Savoie. The weather is being a pain (rain, then sun, then rain, then sun…) and we are still waiting to get into our new apartment. We’re staying at David’s parent’s apartment until Sunday morning. Luckily they have internet.

Unfortunately, we may not have internet in our apartment for a few weeks. I will have no idea what to do with myself.

Greetings from Egypt

By   June 2, 2007

I’m in Cairo!

It’s hot and there are a bazillion people everywhere. But I’m liking it. Even after an 11 hour wait in Milan and Alitalia losing my luggage (which I still haven’t got back.) It’s so chaotic and crowded, and the gap between rich and poor is ridiculously wide, but it’s still interesting and fun. I guess there’s just something about being in a place where you can’t understand the language or read any of the signs. I feel giddy like a little kid discovering something new and so different from what I already know.

Tomorrow we go to the PYRAMIDS!!!