Paperwork and lung scans

What does being half naked and weighed by a stranger have in common (besides the humiliation factor, that is)? Why gaining French residency of course!

A couple weeks ago I went to Rezé, a small town not far from Nantes in order to officially become a (temporary) French resident. Until May. Yay me! I finally did it, halfway through my stay here. All it took was months of paperwork, dozens of emails, copious amounts of anxiety, obsessive mail-box checking, AND just about every type of transportation known to humankind besides horseback. These months of toil then led me to an hour-long doctor’s visit where I got to press my bare-naked chest against an unforgivingly cold, hard surface for a useless radiological scan of my lungs.

My prize for ongoing discomfort, carpel tunnel, and significant financial investment? A shiny new sticker on my passport, a sticker that is so damn special it means I get to stay in France for a whole ’nother five months. I feel like people who make it through the other side even somewhat unscathed should be given more than just a sticker for this kind of commitment, because this stuff is like the Olympics of moving. Then again, I suppose the gift of being allowed to stay in France without filling out more paperwork is prize enough.

But who am I kidding? Being in France nowadays and never filling out paperwork is like being in the US and never seeing advertisements. Some things are just an inevitable part of life, no matter how much we would like to ignore them.


You like to eat what?!?!

Oh heeey, blogosphere. So I see it has been a while. My apologies. Things have been piling up a little bit lately, despite my fairly light work schedule.

I must have been laboring under the misapprehension that I was a talented bicyclist a couple weeks ago, because I took a curb waaay too fast, flew off my bike, and messed up my back and wrist.

Don’t worry, though! The bike is fine.

In all seriousness, the accident has been getting my morale down, and I’ve realized I am the only person who can change my perspective for the better. I really didn’t want to write about my bum mood here – thus the absence of posts as of late. Because nobody enjoys listening to people complaining about their injuries, unless their stories include a gratuitous amount of pain or gore, like BMX accidents or cracked ribs and missing teeth.

I have all the time in the world to complain about my health once I hit a retirement home. Until then, I’d prefer to write about interesting stuff. Like the fact that French people put shoes under their Christmas trees and fill them with stuff. Or at least from my understanding.

Last week I did a unit on Thanksgiving with the kids, and it was a lot of fun. I drew flashcards with typical food eaten on the holiday, and then played matching games with them to test their vocabulary comprehension. Just a side note: I absolutely love the enthusiasm I get from elementary schoolers when I am teaching English. They are adorable, and they all want to participate. The children often swarm me when I arrive in the schoolyard to ask what we will be doing that day, and it is surely a treat to see them.

Anyway, back to the unit on Thanksgiving, I have realized now how crucial pronunciation in any foreign language can be: take, for example, the word pie. As children were learning the spelling of this word, I was trying to get them to speak in full sentences about different types of food. “I like to eat _____________.”

Well. The way that pie is pronounced in French sounds exactly like pee when read. You fill in the blank. It was pretty much impossible not to burst out into laughter the first time I heard these words strung together. “Noooo, (insert French name here),” I would tell the kids. “You like PIE. PYE pie, not PEE pie. Just…don’t ever say that to anyone.”

KIDS! They say the darnedest things. And even when you are in a funky mood, they can’t help but make you break out into laughter sometimes.

A walking tour of Luxembourg

When I visited my aunt and uncle in Germany, my uncle decided to take me for a day trip to Luxembourg! I remember reading about this little country for the first time when I was taking an introductory French class in middle school, and I always wanted to visit it since.

We stopped by Luxembourg City, which is the capital of Luxembourg and has only about 100,000 habitants. Walking around, it was mostly serene and quiet, though there were still plenty of shops and things to look at. Don’t be fooled by the size though – it may be tiny, but it also boasts the second highest GDP in the world, and it has a palace to boot!

We started the day off by going to an open air market. This is around the end of it, but they did have a beautiful array of flowers to look at.

This is also part of the market, which had a wide sampling of foods. We ended up going back before leaving, and bought some absolutely delicious hummus, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes to have with dinner in Germany that night.

We then went to see the palace, which is small but ornate to say the least. They also always have a guard standing in front, who has to look forward and can’t smile. Sometimes the guard also puts a show on marching back and forth for no apparent reason but to amuse the tourists.

Since it was a rainy day, we went to a café right in front of the palace, and grabbed two delicious croissants with coffee and hot chocolate. At this place they heat up the milk for you, then you select a block of chocolate to melt in the milk and drink. I was feeling adventurous and tried the hot chili chocolate. Usually things that are branded “hot” or “spicy” in Europe don’t make the cut for me, but this was actually SUPER spicy. I couldn’t even finish it!

After warming up with our drinks, we took a walk around the city.

This is one of the lovely parks we walked around, which made me nostalgic for the fall in Colorado and Indiana.

By the time it was noon, we stopped into a restaurant for lunch. The decor was awesome! Luxembourg City is a charming place for a day trip.