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Have I really already been here a month? The past few weeks have been exciting, busy, and exhausting. There have been countless events and activities, not to mention piles of paperwork, to mark the passage of time; happy hours with friends, Jonathan’s birthday, opening a bank account, a wedding (not ours!), town hall appointments, etc. Additionally, I’ve really tried to put myself out there to meet new people, which is not easy as an introvert! I’ve used the Meetup app and to date have joined a hiking group, a book club, and an expat community. As this first month in France ends, I’d like to take this time to share a couple of highs and lows from the adventure so far.
Most Embarrassing Language Faux Pas
As a perfectionist, lover of languages, and former French teacher, making a language mistake really hurts. Like, deep down hurts. I have to remind myself that it’s unavoidable, and it literally happens to everyone. Personally, I’ve always had a hard time maintaining formal speech in French, as it is required of me less often. It takes a conscious effort on my part to consistently use the formal vous instead of the informal tu when speaking to someone, and also to make sure the rest of my vocabulary conforms to the formalness of the situation. Let me stop making excuses and get on with the story…
Our landlord needed to do some work on the windows in the apartment. (In case you’re not sure, your landlord is someone you should maintain formal speech with.) Jonathan wasn’t home, so I let him in. We had just arrived about a week prior and the place was pretty much a disaster: suitcases open with clothes spilling out, cardboard boxes in various states of being unpacked, dirty clothes piled up in the corner of the bedroom, a mirror on the ground… I of course apologized for the disarray, asking him to please excuse us for the bordel.
When used among friends, bordel really just means mess. However, bordel is actually quite an informal word, and considered vulgar depending on the context. It means whorehouse. Yep. Probably not what you’d want to say to your landlord, but it happened. Can’t take it back. We had interacted only once or twice prior and at the time, he didn’t know that I am American. He now knows. I’m representing the States well! ✌
Paperwork. Slow-moving paperwork. Slow-moving, never-ending French paperwork. Also known as paperasse. When it comes to administrative tasks here in France, there’s always something else to fill out or photocopy. Even when you think you’ve brought everything you need for your appointment at town hall, it’s never quite good enough. The real kicker is that you’ll never get it right either, because the paperwork that you need is kept a secret. I’m not sure why they can’t explicitly list what is needed for a given appointment, but they seem to like setting everyone up for failure!
I opened a bank account about a week and a half ago. Well, I thought I did, until they sent me more paperwork to fill out. Ok, so that’s not totally France’s fault. It’s America’s fault for increasing its surveillance of residents’ offshore accounts, but the bank could have given me all of the paperwork all at once, instead of sending some more in the mail over a week later. I waited over a week for my account to be processed only to be told that it still hasn’t been created?? (UPDATE 9 April 2020: Find out how I actually opened a bank account.)
I live a very short walk from an awesome open-air market – Marché Popincourt. It’s open every Tuesday and Friday morning through the early afternoon. It has everything: fresh fruits/vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, meat/poultry, eggs, cheese, fish, baked goods, prepared foods, flowers, etc. I have never had the privilege of living next to such an expansive market and I’m definitely taking advantage of it as often as possible. It brings me great pleasure to stroll into the market, shopping cart in tow, and sidle up to a stand alongside all the other grannys. Sometimes I wonder if I belong to a different generation.
It may appear as though I have written down more lows than highs today in this post, but rest assured, I am eating, drinking, and making merry to my heart’s content.
Thank YOU. Thank you for reading, following, sharing, commenting on, and supporting this crazy adventure that is now my life. This little blog project is proving to be a great way for me to stay sane, to connect, and to give a little routine to my FUNemployed life (credit to Sophia for giving me a more positive outlook on my jobless lifestyle).