Year: 2014

Almost Useful

**I am slowly but surely posting my way through the past few weeks…hopefully I will catch up this week and then I can start posting in the present tense! October 1st was the first day of our contracts as assistants. The académie de Grenoble required all 260-some assistants to come to the city of Grenoble for a two day stage, or orientation. The Chambéry assistants all met at the train station early in the morning for the approximately 45 minute train journey, which was exciting because it was the first time all the Chambéry assistants were all together….at least most of us… The day I arrived in Chambéry, I met up with a fellow American named Kevin. In the nearly two weeks after that fateful meeting, I remained the ONLY person to have met Kevin in person. When I would meet up with other assistants, they would ask after him since they recognized his name from the Facebook group, but no one else had EVER seen him. Obviously, this led to a lot of jokes about how …

Started at the bottom, now we’re here

During my second week in Chambéry, I stayed with a really wonderful and generous woman who rents her spare room on Airbnb. The weekend that I stayed with her, she told me about a massive event was happening all over centre ville: La Grande Braderie de Chambéry. This is a massive market/yard sale that takes place twice a year in practically every single open space in the centre ville. There are official stalls that vendors and artisans rent to sell anything from antiques to cheese to leather products to clothing to books to ski equipment and on and on and on. These are supplemented by the particuliers who arrive 24 hours in advance to stake their claim on a plot of land in order to sell whatever the heck they’ve lugged with them from chez eux, including hand-me-downs, books, movies, dishes, refrigerators. They descended upon the town Saturday afternoon and stayed all through Sunday, camping out overnight. As Marie was explaining all of this I was thinking, Great! What fun to experience on one of my first …

Life in Limbo

My first days in Chambéry, though thrilling, included probably the most anxiety-filled moments I have ever lived. Why? you ask. How could you possibly be stressed while surrounded by stunning mountain ranges around every corner and all the croissants and éclairs you can eat? Because, dear readers, I was functionally homeless for about two weeks. Add in the fact that pretty much every single administrative task we need to complete requires a justificatif de domicile, or proof of housing, and this limbo status quickly resulted in doing basically nothing that first week except frantically calling and emailing potential landlords, or staring at my computer screen, paralyzed with anxiety (I’m mostly exaggerating…mostly). France is just full of Catch-22s. For example, you need an address to open a bank account, but some agencies require bank account to rent an apartment. Or, you need an address in order to receive a SIM card (only if you order online. I HIGHLY recommend not doing that and going to the store in person), but it’s nearly impossible to contact landlords or agencies without a French phone …

Memento Mori, and Anne arrives in France

To all those who were worried that I may have been in a tragic plane accident en route to France….relax, take a deep breath, I AM HERE! Sorry to have kept you all in suspense for so long. As you can imagine, making an international move like this has been extremely time-consuming and stressful, so I haven’t gotten a chance to write about it! But I did had time to make a list of topics I should write about, so get ready for a flurry of posts about my first two weeks en France! I arrived in Paris early in the morning on the 16th and made my way to the hostel in the 15th. It actually was really close to a neighborhood I was pretty familiar with from last summer, and I guess it was that familiarity which told me it would be a great idea to take all 948,592,049 lbs of my luggage with me on the metro. Luckily, some very kind souls helped me up and down the many many stairs, but I still thought my …

All Aboard!

Well, I’m leaving tomorrow. I am ready, at least I think I am. I’ve done everything that I can to try to inform myself about what to expect without forming too many preconceptions. I’ve filled out all the necessary pre-departure paper work. I have photocopied every piece of paper that I own and done at least MOST of the items on my DC To-Do List. I’ve completed every task on the  checklist (well, nearly everything…), I’ve packed as many of my most favorite possessions as possible into not nearly enough luggage and I’ve hugged all of my friends. I still have so many questions…where will I live?! being first and foremost. Even though I know that renting an apartment, opening a bank account, and all those other fun post-arrival tasks are nearly impossible to do from abroad, I’m starting to feel like I’ve been irresponsible. Like I’ve been using that as an excuse to put off figuring them out. I know I am going to need to lean on the other assistants and the helpful Chambériens, …

One Month: A Countdown

So, dear readers, I have now crossed the one-month threshold. One month until I return to France. One month until I leave DC. One Month. I still have a lot of things to accomplish in the next 4 weeks. The last week of camp, including my middle schoolers’ public performance of the musical we’ve been working so hard on for the past month, Honk! jr. Helping my sister move to Chicago. Figuring out plans for my arrival in Paris. Calling AT&T to ask about options for suspending my plan. Unpacking. Repacking. Savoring DC and my friends while I can! That last task on the list is the subject of today’s post. While I count down the days until I leave, I’ve also compiled a list of all the things I want to (try) to do before leaving on a jet plane. I love DC. Despite all of its crazy problems, I really do love it. I’ve lived 5 minutes away from DC for my whole life and worked there for many summers, but I feel like …

I Got a Golden Ticket

Last night I booked my plane tickets!!!! I went back and forth many many times trying to decide where to fly into (Paris? Lyon? Geneva?), when to go (Later? Earlier?) and a million other variables, but I finally took the plunge and purchased my flight! I decided to fly to Paris, and I’ll probably spend a day or two there. As eager as I am to get to Chambéry, I could not resist the opportunity to be back in Paris again, even if only for 24 hours. I’ll probably contact my host family to let them know…it’d be lovely to see them again 🙂 So, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I am officially embarking for France on the afternoon of September 15! 45 days!!!