I woke up this morning and couldn’t believe that it’s been almost exactly a week since I first embarked on this new chapter. How hard those first couple of days were. This past week has been filled with many new experiences and has required quite a bit of patience in regards to getting life set up here. If you’ve ever seen the movie Anna and the King, the line often said to Anna in the movie “Everything in Siam has its own time, Sir.” pretty much sums up my experiences lately. Everything in France definitely has its own time.
It’s true, the French are very helpful, but I think some of them are over specialized to some degree or just not very well organized. Though maybe their definition of organization vastly varies from mine. Things tend to have a domino effect, and they’re very likely to claim that they sent you forms to fill out months ago that you never filled out (I never received such forms, believe me), and they’re also very likely to send you to another person if you have more than a couple of questions. Yesterday afternoon was spent going from office to office to office on campus trying to find out some information relating to my life at the university. I did find out a lot of answers though I am still confused about when classes start exactly as I’ve heard at least two different dates and still don’t know what I’m teaching exactly or when or even where I’m teaching. However, I did have a lovely conversation with one lady who was fascinated by weather in the U.S., particularly tornadoes, and also told me about all of her favorite American shows that she watches to practice her English. She wants me to come back soon for another chat about life in America. That was probably one of the highlights of yesterday. Among visiting several offices, I was warned that the man I needed to speak to in human resources had a reputation for being rude. So, I walked in a little timidly to his office expecting to have my head bitten off to instead be greeted by a smile and a “Bienvenue!”. He was delighted to answer my questions and even stopped me from leaving too soon because he thought of a couple of other important things for me to know. I suppose, I must have found him in a good mood or maybe I just looked lost. In any case, I’m glad he didn’t soil my so far favorable impression of the French in regards to them not fitting the common stereotype of being rude.
Life otherwise has been going well. It seems strange to be back here again after having had my first experience abroad here six years ago. Returning here made it more real how much I grew during the three months I studied here and how much I’ve grown in the time since being here. The only trouble is that I think I know the town, but instead I know just enough to not get woefully lost but still be frustrated to be able to picture a place in my mind but not remember precisely where it is.
Today is a sleepy day. It’s cloudy, cool, and rainy which is a nice change from the heat. Fall is in the air though you can only feel a small hint of it. A stray leaf here and there, a cool breeze, and just a general feeling that the heat of summer will soon be gone. I can’t wait to see the mountain trees begin changing!
I have been keeping it optimistic by enjoying little triumphs here and there. I figured out (I hope) how the washer works to wash my clothes. I guess I’ll find out when it finishes whether I followed the directions correctly. I finally figured out where to take the garbage out (I seriously could not read my hostess’s handwriting on the note she left). I’ve been able to make myself comprehensible in French during my long series of errands. I do try so hard to speak French correctly, but ultimately, I’m satisfied if they understand what I’m trying to say. They do correct me from time to time though which is what I want in order to improve. I’m also picking up new vocab like a sponge though the timing of that isn’t always the greatest. I am also beginning to make a few friends. Nothing makes an experience abroad more delightful than to see a familiar face and hear a cheerful greeting. Though I’m still getting used to the French bisous (air kisses on both cheeks) again. They do that instead of shaking hands around here.
Today’s plans mainly involve more errands, hopefully more answers, a stop by the store, and clean clothes…I hope. 😉