This is rather long.

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!

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  • Samantha

    Dude, that’s totally bull, of course you can get a LEP! I’ve had one for two years now! You just have to be able to show that you’ve filed taxes here to prove that you’re eligible for one…And don’t worry, it’s not just your bank – mine did the exact same thing to me and I ended up being without a card for several weeks since there was a postal strike going on at the time. When I mentioned to them “Um, so you’ve never thought of sending out a letter to people when they turn 25 to warn them they need to come in and change their account over??” and both the secretary and the manager just did the French bof shoulder shrug.

  • Samantha

    Dude, that’s totally bull, of course you can get a LEP! I’ve had one for two years now! You just have to be able to show that you’ve filed taxes here to prove that you’re eligible for one…

    And don’t worry, it’s not just your bank – mine did the exact same thing to me and I ended up being without a card for several weeks since there was a postal strike going on at the time. When I mentioned to them “Um, so you’ve never thought of sending out a letter to people when they turn 25 to warn them they need to come in and change their account over??” and both the secretary and the manager just did the French bof shoulder shrug.

  • john

    jennie,Thanks for the Ielanguageswebsite you created I have visited it regularly for 2 or 3 years-I like the MP3 additions, If I was just starting out in french they would be a great help. But do cheer up. Remember you are in France because it isn’t America.Vive le difference and all that.Keep persevering with the manual gears, if you already drive and have developed road sense I would have thought It shouldn’t take too long to learn. (Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is stupid and backward because we don’t have them in the USA- you will never learn that way – think of shifting gears as the fun part of driving)I struggled to learn to drive more than most and considered momentarily about an automatic but in the UK driving a manual has the stigma of only being able to ride a bike with stabalizes so I got there soon enough.Can you really not find a turkey in France, I thought there was nothing in the animal kingdom the French wouldn’t eat.Good Luck with the teaching, hope everything goes smoothly soon, and from a selfish point of view- more French blogs entries please.

  • john

    jennie,

    Thanks for the Ielanguageswebsite you created I have visited it regularly for 2 or 3 years-I like the MP3 additions, If I was just starting out in french they would be a great help.
    But do cheer up. Remember you are in France because it isn’t America.
    Vive le difference and all that.Keep persevering with the manual gears, if you already drive and have developed road sense I would have thought It shouldn’t take too long to learn. (Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is stupid and backward because we don’t have them in the USA- you will never learn that way – think of shifting gears as the fun part of driving)
    I struggled to learn to drive more than most and considered momentarily about an automatic but in the UK driving a manual has the stigma of only being able to ride a bike with stabalizes so I got there soon enough.
    Can you really not find a turkey in France, I thought there was nothing in the animal kingdom the French wouldn’t eat.
    Good Luck with the teaching, hope everything goes smoothly soon, and from a selfish point of view- more French blogs entries please.

  • dw

    I would just like to give a few supportive “Amen”s to your post. First for missing 24 hour stores, or heck I’d settle for a store open all 7 days of the week. Also for heating that actually works and doesn’t cost an absurd amount. For the lack of Thanksgiving and all good things Turkey. And finally for that being cold and cranky thing. I hear you loud and clear.Oh, and let me know how the dentist goes… I need a checkup soon and am a bit nervous about a French dentist.

  • dw

    I would just like to give a few supportive “Amen”s to your post. First for missing 24 hour stores, or heck I’d settle for a store open all 7 days of the week. Also for heating that actually works and doesn’t cost an absurd amount. For the lack of Thanksgiving and all good things Turkey. And finally for that being cold and cranky thing. I hear you loud and clear.
    Oh, and let me know how the dentist goes… I need a checkup soon and am a bit nervous about a French dentist.

  • megan

    Carrefour has turkeys! They even have a “happy thanksgiving” sign up at ours! warning, though-they are huge-when I cooked mine last year, it was about as big as a large goat!As to the car, we just got an automatic, and boy to I miss the control and power of the stick shift! It really is great once you get used to it! (plus it’s much easier to pretend you’re a race car driver!)

  • megan

    Carrefour has turkeys! They even have a “happy thanksgiving” sign up at ours! warning, though-they are huge-when I cooked mine last year, it was about as big as a large goat!

    As to the car, we just got an automatic, and boy to I miss the control and power of the stick shift! It really is great once you get used to it! (plus it’s much easier to pretend you’re a race car driver!)

  • joy suzanne

    Jennie, you really made me smile with this post because it’s been unseasonably cold here in Montpellier and so I’ve already started bitching about lack of adequate heating. I normally don’t start that until January. I say all the same stuff about the weather in Michigan as compared with here. Of course it’s much colder in Annecy than it is down here. But it was 0° celcius the other morning and I was piiiiiised that I didn’t have a pre-warmed car to go climb into. Instead I had to ride my sucky bike to work and what’s even worse on a cold morning: I had no big coffee in a carrier mug to wrap my fingers around. Happy Thanksgiving anyhow, my dear. Hey! If we’ve moved out of our shoebox and into a reasonably-sized apartment by spring, you should come down to visit and get a jump on the warm weather! I’m already counting down the months until il fera beau encore…

  • joy suzanne

    Jennie, you really made me smile with this post because it’s been unseasonably cold here in Montpellier and so I’ve already started bitching about lack of adequate heating. I normally don’t start that until January. I say all the same stuff about the weather in Michigan as compared with here.

    Of course it’s much colder in Annecy than it is down here. But it was 0° celcius the other morning and I was piiiiiised that I didn’t have a pre-warmed car to go climb into. Instead I had to ride my sucky bike to work and what’s even worse on a cold morning: I had no big coffee in a carrier mug to wrap my fingers around.

    Happy Thanksgiving anyhow, my dear. Hey! If we’ve moved out of our shoebox and into a reasonably-sized apartment by spring, you should come down to visit and get a jump on the warm weather! I’m already counting down the months until il fera beau encore…

  • The Late Bloomer

    Hey, hang in there! You’re super courageous and strong to be hoofing back and forth to work with such a long commute… I can totally understand how that would wear you down, because the last thing we need is to spend ages in trains or cars to get from one place to another. It is definitely exhausting! This week’s strikes have been wiping me out, mainly because I haven’t been able to go home at all, so I’ve been sleeping at friends’ places. And although I’m grateful to have these generous, kind-hearted friends, all I really want right now is to sleep in my own bed!But on another note, it sounds to me like you know your stuff when it comes to banking… You could give me some tips and advice in that department. I’m the WORST when it comes to saving, period. I need to get myself one of those LEPs you mentioned… *gulp* I should have gotten one ages ago… But better late than never, right?!I hear you on the crankiness and the cold, too — we started putting on our heat much later this year because it didn’t really get that cold until later this season, but as a result it’s taking much longer for our apartment to warm up. Now, mind you, I haven’t been home all week, but when I was home on Monday night, it was beyond chilly in my place! We have electric heat, so it costs a fortune to heat up the apartment, but it’s better than nothing. You know, some people are lucky and have “chauffage collectif”, that’s the ideal kind of heat to have, but it’s apparently rarer and rarer these days… You know, you should ask your landlord though, because if you’re supposed to have the floor-type heating, I imagine that should be working! It’s not normal that your heat not work at all, particularly in this kind of cold. There’s no excuse for that.On the car issue, I still don’t know how to drive a stick/manual either, but at least you’re lucky enough to have been able to trade your driver’s license! I still can’t drive in France because I don’t have a permis français. But just remember that if you end up driving a stick-shift, it’s much more economical, and you’ll save more money in the long run.On dentists, I’ve always had fairly positive experiences for the most part: they do take good care of you and check over your teeth well. What I actually appreciate is that they’re not as strict and don’t reprimand you as much as in the States — dental hygiene is obviously important, but I was so fed up with American ads hanging up on all the walls at the dentist’s, constantly trying to sell you whitening products.Oh, and one final thing: I feel you in the turkey/Thanksgiving department too. I haven’t been home to the U.S. for Thanksgiving in more than five years, but I am lucky to be able to go home about once a year, just at another time. This year it’s for New Year’s again, but I tell you, nothing beats the family/holiday feeling of Thanksgiving… You can find turkeys, though, like Megan said: you just have to try to order them at a local butcher’s or chicken stand at the local market. Or maybe at the bigger grandes surfaces. But, on the other hand, a “pintade” is a nice in-between option! They’re super easy to find, reasonably-priced and delicious!

  • The Late Bloomer

    Hey, hang in there! You’re super courageous and strong to be hoofing back and forth to work with such a long commute… I can totally understand how that would wear you down, because the last thing we need is to spend ages in trains or cars to get from one place to another. It is definitely exhausting! This week’s strikes have been wiping me out, mainly because I haven’t been able to go home at all, so I’ve been sleeping at friends’ places. And although I’m grateful to have these generous, kind-hearted friends, all I really want right now is to sleep in my own bed!

    But on another note, it sounds to me like you know your stuff when it comes to banking… You could give me some tips and advice in that department. I’m the WORST when it comes to saving, period. I need to get myself one of those LEPs you mentioned… *gulp* I should have gotten one ages ago… But better late than never, right?!

    I hear you on the crankiness and the cold, too — we started putting on our heat much later this year because it didn’t really get that cold until later this season, but as a result it’s taking much longer for our apartment to warm up. Now, mind you, I haven’t been home all week, but when I was home on Monday night, it was beyond chilly in my place! We have electric heat, so it costs a fortune to heat up the apartment, but it’s better than nothing. You know, some people are lucky and have “chauffage collectif”, that’s the ideal kind of heat to have, but it’s apparently rarer and rarer these days… You know, you should ask your landlord though, because if you’re supposed to have the floor-type heating, I imagine that should be working! It’s not normal that your heat not work at all, particularly in this kind of cold. There’s no excuse for that.

    On the car issue, I still don’t know how to drive a stick/manual either, but at least you’re lucky enough to have been able to trade your driver’s license! I still can’t drive in France because I don’t have a permis français. But just remember that if you end up driving a stick-shift, it’s much more economical, and you’ll save more money in the long run.

    On dentists, I’ve always had fairly positive experiences for the most part: they do take good care of you and check over your teeth well. What I actually appreciate is that they’re not as strict and don’t reprimand you as much as in the States — dental hygiene is obviously important, but I was so fed up with American ads hanging up on all the walls at the dentist’s, constantly trying to sell you whitening products.

    Oh, and one final thing: I feel you in the turkey/Thanksgiving department too. I haven’t been home to the U.S. for Thanksgiving in more than five years, but I am lucky to be able to go home about once a year, just at another time. This year it’s for New Year’s again, but I tell you, nothing beats the family/holiday feeling of Thanksgiving… You can find turkeys, though, like Megan said: you just have to try to order them at a local butcher’s or chicken stand at the local market. Or maybe at the bigger grandes surfaces. But, on the other hand, a “pintade” is a nice in-between option! They’re super easy to find, reasonably-priced and delicious!

  • Linda

    Picard, the frozen food place, has really good turkey stuffed with a chestnut type dressing. There isn’t as much white meat as we Americans like but it’s good. Buy yourself a little electric floor heater. They work really well.

  • Linda

    Picard, the frozen food place, has really good turkey stuffed with a chestnut type dressing. There isn’t as much white meat as we Americans like but it’s good. Buy yourself a little electric floor heater. They work really well.

  • Au Soleil Levant

    I hope you’ll be able to get some time off from your ridiculous commute with the greve seemingly going on forever! And I also recommend a small electric heater, it’s the only way I can mainain a semi-normal temperature in my room. Missing Thanksgiving, that is so hard for me too. It’s such a family oriented holiday, and it also happens to involve all of the foods that you just can’t get in France. I’ve been having lots of fun trying to explain cranberries to my kids, it totally boggles their little minds. At least you can spend the day with someone you love and who loves you, even if you can’t find a turkey or cranberries.

  • Au Soleil Levant

    I hope you’ll be able to get some time off from your ridiculous commute with the greve seemingly going on forever! And I also recommend a small electric heater, it’s the only way I can mainain a semi-normal temperature in my room. Missing Thanksgiving, that is so hard for me too. It’s such a family oriented holiday, and it also happens to involve all of the foods that you just can’t get in France. I’ve been having lots of fun trying to explain cranberries to my kids, it totally boggles their little minds. At least you can spend the day with someone you love and who loves you, even if you can’t find a turkey or cranberries.

  • JP

    Hang in there Jennie. Having no heat would be rough. My heat does not work great, but at least it works… just has large 10 degree swings in heat. It has been cold here so I am lucky it was one of the few things that actually has not given me a problem here (I don’t want to talk about how I cannot drink the water in my apartment).I spent a month killing myself to learn a manual stick shift here. After two months I was much better. Now I have no issues so I am happy for that. But I am not looking forward to next August when I have to switch my license over. Unfortunately, I cannot just trade mine in. So I am excited about trying to take both the written and drivers test… YEAH!!!I am interested to hear how the dentist goes. I have been worrying about all things to do with medical health. I have had luck with the pharmacies since I have been so sick lately… so I am just hoping everything else works as great as them.I am heading back to the US this week for Thanksgiving so if you need me to ship some turkey back to you, just let me know ;-)

  • JP

    Hang in there Jennie. Having no heat would be rough. My heat does not work great, but at least it works… just has large 10 degree swings in heat. It has been cold here so I am lucky it was one of the few things that actually has not given me a problem here (I don’t want to talk about how I cannot drink the water in my apartment).

    I spent a month killing myself to learn a manual stick shift here. After two months I was much better. Now I have no issues so I am happy for that. But I am not looking forward to next August when I have to switch my license over. Unfortunately, I cannot just trade mine in. So I am excited about trying to take both the written and drivers test… YEAH!!!

    I am interested to hear how the dentist goes. I have been worrying about all things to do with medical health. I have had luck with the pharmacies since I have been so sick lately… so I am just hoping everything else works as great as them.

    I am heading back to the US this week for Thanksgiving so if you need me to ship some turkey back to you, just let me know ;-)

  • Emma

    hello, how come everyone knows everyone in the ‘i met my frenchie and stayed’ world excpet moi?! I feel left out, big time! tell me your secrets! I’m having a ‘i hate france’ week. I miss having friends! yes, it’s bleak up north! As for the LEP, go smack those banquiers with a frozen turney from carrefour – i’ve had mine for a few months now. I heart the perks of being poor. anyway, bon courage, em x

  • Emma

    hello, how come everyone knows everyone in the ‘i met my frenchie and stayed’ world excpet moi?! I feel left out, big time! tell me your secrets! I’m having a ‘i hate france’ week. I miss having friends! yes, it’s bleak up north! As for the LEP, go smack those banquiers with a frozen turney from carrefour – i’ve had mine for a few months now. I heart the perks of being poor. anyway, bon courage, em x

  • Emma

    ps, let me know how the dentist goes. I’ve ben here two years and still haven’t dared go. eep.

  • Emma

    ps, let me know how the dentist goes. I’ve ben here two years and still haven’t dared go. eep.

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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 January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. 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 the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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