Bureaucracy

Pedestrian street near my apartment

Pedestrian street near my apartment

I realize that my first week in France looks incredibly stressful through these posts, but it’s really all the wading through French bureaucracy and struggling to adjust to a new life. I now have a bank account, am on my way to getting my carte de sejour, working on the CAF, and finally seeing past the paperwork to the beautiful scenery around me. Valence is in the Rhone Valley and the mountains around it and the river that goes past it are beyond charming. I can already feel the French language coming back to me and I think I’m better at it than when I left. Or maybe just more confident. I think I actually had a somewhat intelligent conversation about the American financial crisis in French. However, I do feel like expectations are kind of high, as I perhaps unwisely mentioned that I did my honors thesis on Sartre, and now all the teachers think I’m some sort of French literature expert.

A delicious sandwich I purchased in Valence.

A delicious sandwich I purchased in Valence.

Except for one or two instances, everyone has been incredibly nice, from the man who stamped my passport to the woman I will be working with in the schools. Actually, I think that was the first time anyone at French customs has shown the least interest in me. The French certainly seem to be more engaged if you say you’re an assistant than if you’re a student. The woman I will be working with in the three primary schools in and around Valence has gone out of her way to make me welcome, even inviting me to her house for lunch in the countryside to meet her family, pony, and dog. And of course, the food has been delicious. I don’t know how a sandwich with just cheese, tomato, and lettuce can be so amazing.

For Cecilia and Elizabeth.

For Cecilia and Elizabeth.

I’ve been weighed down with English teaching materials (British English, of course). I still have a week or so of observation before I lead the class. It’s going to only be three days of the week in class, but the schedule is tight and I will work with at least three different classes of students of varying levels each day. Class time will make up all but three hours of my work, with the rest left to working with French teachers on English, having “English luncheons” with the students, or creating recordings. I’ve never worked with children before, but the ones I’ve observed here seem eager to learn, so I’m nervous but optimistic.

I’ll hopefully be getting an international calling card soon! I also have a landline in addition to my cellphone where I can reached. Oh, and I have an address, too. Leave a comment if you want it!

7 thoughts on “Bureaucracy

  1. Rebecca says:

    Hi! I found your blog through one of the assistant forums. I was never an assistant, but all of the other Americans my/our age I know here were! You’re in for an interesting year. I’m so happy to read that it’s gotten off to a good start, if (inevitably) heavy on the paperwork. Bienvenue!

  2. Cecilia says:

    That tart looks divine! Blueberry?

    I’m glad that everything is looking up for you. Remember to eat lots and take pictures of what you eat; I’m living my life through you now.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Those food photos!!!!!!! I really wish teleportation of food was possible. I’ll have to go down to Balthezar to have a decent (but still an impostor) pastry.

    Happy all seems well–your village is beautiful!!

  4. Amanda says:

    I see photos of delicious sandwiches and tarts! All must be well!

    Send me your mailing address – I’ve been amassing a small stack of cutouts for you!

  5. Allie says:

    Rebecca: Did you/do you live in France?

    Cecilia: It was indeed blueberry. They’re into the blue pastries around here for some reason. I might have to buy one of the blue marzipan things sometime just because it’s beautiful. Although marzipan is often a disappointment for me.

    Elizabeth: We need to invent a three-dimensional printer that works with food. You could send me hummus and I could send you a pain au chocolat.

    Amanda: You should now have my address! I’m going to work on sending postcards to everyone sometime soon.

  6. Sarah-Gretchen says:

    The arts section of the Gazette isn’t the same. I’m glad to read that you’re doing well. Autumn and I looked at your photos. You are such a lucky girl. Enjoy yourself!!!

  7. Caitlin says:

    Allie you are making me hungry! The plain tomato and cheese sandwiches are my absolute favorite! I’d like to have your address please…I could send you USA postcards or something, idk.

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