La Rentrée

Life has seriously been in fast forward lately. When the hell did it get to be September? The good thing is although life is flying by quickly, it’s also flying by amazingly.

Paris has gone through la rentrée and everyone, for the most part, has returned from holiday. This is awesome and horrible at the same time. Lets get the bad news out-of-the-way first. Now if all of my readers lived in Paris, I could explain the problem in 2 words: RER A. However, for clarification purposes I guess I will delve into this a bit more. Basically all the suits that work in La Defense take the RER. Now this experience was really not bad in August when the suits had taken there ninos and left the city. But now they have returned. And although there is an RER about every 2 minutes, it still does not seem to be enough. There are actually human beings employed to push people on to the RER and attempt to close the doors. So there I am, among all the sleepy-eyed yet rushed business people with BlackBerry (or iPhone) in hand praying that I will manage to squeeze myself on to the next RER. Although completely used to this fact, it will never be enjoyable.

Now, for the good stuff. As I said, life has been seriously great lately. With la rentrée, comes the return of my friends who actually got a proper holiday during the proper holiday time, unlike me. It also brings in the new swarm of au pairs. So to say the least my social calendar has made a sudden leap from low-key alone time to too busy to do my laundry/grocery shop. I am loving it though. I have to say it is quite strange to be a “veteran” compared to all the newbies rolling into town. It seems like last week I was in their shoes but when I look back I realize how much I have grown. It is incredible. Although I really loved the experience, I am so happy where I am now. I love that I can look back and finally laugh on the series of unfortunate events that occurred or reminisce about the fun times I had with my fellow au pairs. I love that now I am not afraid to break out of my little au pair bubble and that I actually have French friends and go on dates where the language spoken isn’t always my own.

I am happy that I am spiralling toward a new chapter in my life. Everything seems to be working out lately (shocking I know!!) and I hope this continues. It has taken so much to get to this point of being content. A lot of people will comment on how lucky I am with my current situation, and while yes I did have my fair share of luck, I always worked my ass off. There has been many days of tears; stress, and uncertainty, to get me to this place. I have loved the journey and cant wait to see what is ahead.

On a side note, I am finally taking a holiday. Place of choice: CALIFORNIA. I haven’t been home in 10 months. Almost a year. I can’t believe it and I am so ecstatic to be back… but also terrified. It freaks me out I don’t know what to expect when I am returning to a place that is my home. In the whole scheme of thing I know that 10 months isn’t all that long but it is long enough to forget what used to be normal and mix it up with what is normal now. I am only saying this because there are seriously moments in my life that people back home question why I do something or say something and I have to think why. I know I have changed but I feel like some program has been rewired or something. I can’t find the words to explain. Instead, Ill let you know how it goes.

I’m going going back back to Cali Cali 🙂

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If there is a will, there is a way

It has been several months since I started down the path of trying to defeat the evil French administration. Although I would say I havent made great strides, every step (no matter how small), is getting my closer to staying here. It is such a frustrating system to be honest. I know I have gone on and on about it but it truly is just mad. However, that being said, it is now like a game I have to win. If the French administration can play hard ball, so can I. They are just trying to scare me away and tell me I am not good enough to be in their sacred country. Well, the thing is, I love this place just as much as them and they aren’t going to stop me from making my dream happen.

I have come so far and I have no intention on stopping anytime soon. I love my life here. I love opening my window or walking downstairs and realizing I really do live in Paris. Since I have moved, and I am no longer under the chains of being an au pair, I have really started to make this life mine. I am so happy. I don’t want anything to change that.

I came here on an au pair visa which I guess technically is a student visa. Well, on student visas you are allowed to work part-time so if the French administration is so adamant on the fact I have a student visa, I am going to work. I am excited but also had in my mind a month-long vacation. I can’t believe I am already going to be back to the grind so soon. But this is what I want so I am looking forward to it actually working out… one day.

What if some things are just impossible?

The whole time growing up people tell you things like: “you can do anything if you put your mind to it,” and “you can be anything you want.” Encouraging? Yes. Truthful? I am starting to doubt… I have always been … Continue reading

The downside of being American

I have spent the last two days, (lots of time for research when you are snowed in…) trying to figure out my next step. I want to stay in Europe a while longer. I also, being a somewhat workaholic, really miss having a real job in my field. I knew that getting a visa was not an easy task, however now it looks like it is near impossible. Apparently, in order to get a work visa anywhere in Europe, the company that hires you needs to prove that you are better qualified than… wait for it… any other EU citizen. Hmmm…. seems kind of like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Especially with the economy where it is at now…

This leaves me with two options: au pair or teach english. So am I ready for 6 more months or a year of a shit job? To me, staying in Europe is worth it.

But… is there anyone out there that can help me? Why can’t a qualified American get to live in Europe and have a real job?!?

Settling in

Second week of work.

The weirdest part of vacation ending was coming home. Home to Chambourcy. I think because I had just barely got to France before I jetsetted my way over to the south and Spain. I never really got the opportunity to settle in here. So although I am going on 4 weeks of being here, I am just now finding the groove. Last week I made the attempt to set up my bank account and cell phone. For those of you who know me, you understand that I have always been fortunate enough to have the help of my parents for almost anything difficult I have had to do. So the complexity of setting up a bank account and a cell phone contract, in a foreign country I must add, was a little frustrating to say the least. I decided to do both in the same day– all while watching a cranky 3-year-old. This was definitely my worst day since arriving in France. Overwhelming and frustrating beyond belief. I thought everything would be easy and work out the way I wanted but this experience is slowly helping me realize that is not the way the world works. Fortunately, I have Callie and after a nice walk over to Carrefour* for some fromage**, I was calm and life was good again. I realize I can’t be in control and have everything I want the way I want it. But that is the beauty of what I am doing. I am learning.

I do have to say jet lag was awful. They say you are supposed to give yourself a day for every hour difference. For some reason, when you mix in traveling and such, your body gets very confused. Now I finally think I am through it, though sleeping at night still is a little tough.

Work is good so far. Luckily, the way it worked out has allowed me to ease into it. Last week we only had the little one, Edgar, and this week we only have Victor. It’s nice to just have one at a time at first so I can get my bearing. The kids are great. I am so fortunate to have a great family. I hear au pair horror stories and thank God everyday for bringing me here. I mean, don’t get me wrong, kids are kids and that means that they can be little devils sometimes. But, I have to say overall I am very lucky.

This weekend Callie and I decided to stop being lazy, (sorry but our Spain trip took a bit out of us!), and go into Paris. I needed a few things but one of the things you need to know about being an au pair is that it is the life of being eternally broke. So she decided to take me to an area where I could get a purse– Montmartre. Wow. It is so funny when you take the Metro and as the stops get further from out little bubble outside of Paris and closer to areas like Mont Mart how the crowds change. As soon as we stepped out of the Metro stop, the streets were lined with cheap stores and bins over piled with poorly made purses, shirts, shoes–whatever ever you can imagine. It was like a street of garage sales with stores packed with more cheap things. People filled the streets rummaging through the 2 euro clothes and fought over the 6 euro purses, which colors included puke green and metallic purple. Although the prices were good, a large part of me does not think the hassle of dealing with crowds worse than Ross at Christmas time is worth it. So after forcing our way through the crowds of bargain hunters for about an hour, we decided to call it quits and head over to a nicer area, Opera. Ah, much better. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy it much since all of our energy was sucked out of us by the land of cheap goods.

There is something I must say about Paris in August. There are no Parisians here. It is all tourists. Complete with oversized backpacks and maps in hand. Yes, I know that I cannot call myself a resident just yet or anything close to a Parisian. But I can complain about the crowds of tourists filling the streets, stores, and attractions, making it near impossible to do anything without getting extremely frustrated. This is why the Parisians have it right. Go on holiday for the month of August and avoid the mobs of tourists.

After our hours of fighting the crowds, Callie and I headed home to eat dinner with Sian before we got ready to go out that night. I hadn’t been out in Paris yet so I was very excited to finally hit the town! After dinner we took the Metro to Paris. We got in at like 11pm and decided to go to Grand Boulevard. In Paris, bars and clubs do not get crowded or fun until about 1am, but because of the bus and Metro schedule, we really had no choice. I was disappointed with the bar scene at first. Because everyone is on holiday and it was early, the first few hours were anything but exciting. However, as the night went on it picked up. We ended up going to a few bars, even taking the Metro to Cafe Oz in Chatlet and back to Grand Boulevard again. Eventually, Corcorans managed to hold our interest. Again, because of the Metro schedule, you either need to decided to leave at midnight or stay out until it starts in the morning. Obviously we chose the later. Eventually at about 6am, we left to go some breakfast with people we met at the bar. It was so weird that instead of the usual Mexican food at 3am in San Diego, that I was now getting a croissant in a café in Paris with the other locals. Exhausted, Callie and I made the trek back to Chambourcy. A truly successful night in Paris.

*Carrefour is like a Super Walmart. It is the grocery store in Chambourcy but it is more than a grocery store. There are clothes and all sorts of goodies.

**Fromage. One of the most important things to know in France. Fromage=cheese. Clearly I will be using this a lot in my blogs.