Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The stalling queen

My new car arrived yesterday! We bought it this weekend (well Christophe's mom technically paid for it) and I had to go to the Prefecture on Monday to get the Carte Grise and to buy insurance in order to drive it back to Besançon. The car is in really good shape. It's almost like the other car I was going to buy. It's a blue Peugeot 106 from 1997 and it only have 50,000km! It was owned by an older man who can no longer drive it because he has cancer in one of his legs. Excited as I was, I decided to test drive it last night when I got home from work.
Lately, I've been driving Christophe's car to work so that I can get used to driving alone. However, Christophe has a much nicer car with assisted steering and it's easy to shift. My car, is not easy to drive for a beginner. The pedals are very sensitive and there is no assisted steering so when backing out of a parking space, I need to turn the wheel with all my might!
We also tried to do a lesson on how to start up on hills...and I couldn't do it. I must have tried 10 times and each time I stalled so of course my natural reaction: I started crying.
It's very frustrating when you think that you've finally learned how to drive a manuel and then reality smacks you in the face. I've still got a lot of practice ahead of me.
With Christophe's car I hardly stall anymore but this new car is completely different. I couldn't afford to buy a fancier car so I guess I'm stuck with learning to drive this one.
Anyways, I'm just really disapointed in myself. I thought that I had (almost) mastered standard driving.

To talk about other things, I've been at my job for a couple weeks now and I really like it. My co-workers are all great and the clients are cool. I'm still waiting to get more hours but that will be when they assign me outside of Besançon and that means I'll have to drive!! This weekend will be used to practice on hills.

Oh and one last thing, my cavemen neighbors that I wrote about a couple weeks ago, they moved out!! We are so happy. It's soo quiet now; there's no more grunting or swearing or yelping. Too bad we are moving in 2 months...just kidding. I'm excited to move to a better apartment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

French Wedding!

This past weekend I attended one of Christophe's friend's weddings in a small village in the Doubs department. Like any normal french wedding, the couple first gets married in the town hall - Mairie, then goes to the church to have the religious ceremony. Afterwards, the vin d'honneur is held for everyone for a couple hours. You basically just drink a yummy aperitif and eat hors d'oeuvres for about 2 hours. Then the celebration begins! The meal consists of 6 courses, two appetizers, or in French, 2 entrées the first usually cold and the second hot. Between the "entrées" and the main course, a strong liquor is served I guess to wake you up a little since the wedding ends near 4 or 5am! An hour later, the main course is served. The dancing begins as well the showing of slide shows of the couple. The next courses are of course, the cheese plate, then the dessert, and last but not least, another strong liquor and coffee! The French really know how to party and eat well. I think I much prefer French weddings to American weddings. There are no strict times frames and the food is much better!
Here are a few photos:
The grand entrance of les mariés
The churchle vin d'honneurMy place setting (with my name spelled wrong!)One of the yummy courses!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Well, I guess that car was too good to be true. The people selling it called me the next day to tell me that their mother changed her mind and didn't want to sell it anymore. We were really upset because it was such a great car but I guess they are going to sell it more expensive which makes sense. But its ok, there are other options in view at the moment. Of course these cars have more mileage and more wear and tear on them but I guess I can't be expecting too much for the budget that I have.

In good news however, I was able to exchange my driver's license! I went to the prefecture yesterday and had all of the paper work ready and everything. The guy looked at the date of entry on my CDS and said it was ok. No questions asked! He then took my US DL and said it should be ready in a month. Yay! But I'm kinda upset. I really liked my US driver's license, it actually looks real and the French one looks fake! Now when I go back home I have to bring my passport with me everytime just to get a drink. I don't even want to know what will happen if I get pulled over by the cops and they ask to see my license. They'll laugh probably because they won't know what a french driver's license looks like. I guess it's sad as well because that was my last connection to the US. I mean I'm still a citizen and have my US passport and everything but it just emphasizes my permancy here, which is a good thing! But it's emotional in a way.

I'm a real frenchy now I guess :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My New Car!

For my new job, I was told that I absolutely needed a car if I wanted to have a lot of hours. I would have to drive outside of Besançon where there would be no public transportation available. Of course a lot of hours means a lot of money so....hell yea I'll get a car!

Thanks to a friend of ours who is a car dealer, he was able to hook me up with someone wanting to sell their car. It belongs to their mother who is no longer able to drive. Needlesstosay, this car is almost brand new. It's 9 years old, has about 48,000 km on it (which is nothing!) and barely has anything wrong with it! She apparently hardly ever drove it so it's like buying an (almost) brand new car. And the best part is that we're only paying 2,900€ for it! You can't find anything better than that. It's a red Peugeot 106 and it's so cute and tiny!

Now for the annoying part. I need to apply for a Carte Grise, which is a paper that says the car belongs to me, apply for car insurance, and last but not least, trade in my driver's license for a french permis de conduire.

I'm a little worried about trading in the license. Although I'm from Connecticut and there is a exchange between the state and France, I've been here for over a year so I'm afraid they'll refuse. However, this is my first permanent Carte de Sejour and it says that my entry into France was on 9/20/08. That was the date from when I had to go home and get a new visa so I hope that would technically be the beginning of my permanent stay here. I have another week until the year is up based on my residency card so I hope that I won't have any problems.

We'll be picking up the car on Thursday (if these people didn't scam us) and I should be really to drive it by Saturday if all goes accordingly.

Thanks Andre-Pierre!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Job!

Yesterday was the first day training for my new job. It went really well and I felt really good about it. My last two teaching jobs, the assistantship and the week-long stage, I was left to plan my own classes with little to no guidance. This place is different. They have a teaching system already set up that focusing on learning through speaking. They also have their own materials and regular training so that you aren't just thrown into classes not knowing what you're doing. I'm happy that I'll finally have some guidelines and some structure to the classes. Some people might not like that, but for me it's easier and it lets me know what I need to do. I'll be regularly observed as well, but it's not to reprimand me but to correct what I'm doing wrong.

Apparently I'll have a lot of hours as well, as soon as I get a car. I've been browsing a lot of different websites and asking people I know to help me find a car. So far I've only seen one car and it wasn't great so that was a big no. This is definitely going to be a big headache. I'll start getting hours in about 2 weeks (as long as i'll have a car) so I need to get moving. I'm still kind of nervous about driving here in France because of the crazy roads and signs and I've still never driven alone. I better get used to it soon. I won't have a choice.

I think I'm going to like this job. And the best part? No more children!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

English Lessons at La Poste

I was finally able to send out my dossier to the employer in Strasbourg this morning. I had about 20 papers to get together and send out. I had everything ready by last week but I was just waiting on my French criminal record report to come in the mail (and yes everyone, I've got a clean slate). So seeing as though my training is on Friday and it's already Wednesday, I still need them to send me my contract to sign before I start.
I knew that I would have to send it through 1 day express mail and was expecting to spend maybe 10 or 15€ on it. I asked the Poste man what my options were. He said either a 4€ envelope that would maybe get there tomorrow if not, Friday. Or a next day envelope that would cost 21€! Uhh why is there not an in between cost?? What the hell?
Seeing as though I'm almost in the red with my bank account since I haven't gotten a pay check since June, I was really hoping to not spend a fortune at La Poste.
But I figured this was pretty important and I shouldn't take the chance... sigh..so I handed over my debit card for the 21€ envelope.
I just don't know how I'll get my contract in time. But I'm sure everything will work out in the end.

At least the guy working there was very nice. He noticed the photocopy of my American passport amongst all of the paper work and started throwing all of the English words that he knew in the conversation when he was explaining how to fill out the expediter form. "Marquer votre numéro de téléphone, uhhh your téléphone here et uhh....your adresse here!"
I remember when I was first learning French and people would slip in a few English words here and there like I didn't understand the word in French and I would get really offended thinking that the French were trying to prove that they were better at speaking English than I was speaking in French. After a while, I figured out that they were doing it because they just want to try and impress us with the few words of English they knew, even as a way of being polite in their weird frog way.

He also mentioned that his daughter was a huge fan of the US and that she had a poster of all of the states in her bedroom. I guess he'll have a story to tell her when he goes home after work tonight.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My cavemen neighbors

Christophe and I are truly convinced that we live underneath a couple of cavemen. It's a couple who live together who are rather, um, heavy, and don't know how to talk at a normal volume. All day long it's yelling, and grunting, and stomping, and swearing and from time to time when they aren't fighting... a witch cackle.

They are both about 30 years old and obviously unemployed and don't like to leave their apartment all that often.

Ever since we moved in, we've been having to deal with these Neanderthals. Now as we are speaking, they are making rooster noises.... and now.... gigigtity noises. (Have you ever seen Family Guy?)


Oh and their favorite past time is using the vacuum cleaner. EVERY DAY.

Did I mention that we'll be moving in 3 months?? We just can't take it anymore.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Julia Child's "My Life in France"

So as most of you probably know, in the US there is a movie coming out called "Julie and Julia" which is based on Julia Child's infamous cook book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Before all of the hype about this new movie, I hadn't paid much attention to Julia Child nor her cooking. But, during my stay back home, I went into my local Border's store and just saw a whole table lined with books dedicated to Julia Child and the new film. Among the books that decorated the table was of course "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" but also the book, "My life in France." I didn't know that this book existed and was instantly fascinated by it. Being the 'frugal' girl that I am, I went home and ordered the book off Amazon.com for half the price. I received it in the mail the day I left to go back to France. This is what I've been reading ever since I came back to France.

I'm half way through and I love it. It talks about her life in Paris, attending the famous cooking school, the Cordon Bleu, and beginning her career as a cook. Now, I've fairly recently took an interest in cooking (the past two years) so this book just furthers my interest and makes me want to try new things. It also makes my stomach grumble with hunger everytime I read it. (Note: do not read this book on an empty stomach!)

One inspiration from this book was making one of the most well known French dishes, Canard à l'orange (duck with orange sauce). We had a French couple over for dinner and I decided to attempt it. It was fairly successful but I had slightly over cooked the duck (it's eatten almost rare in France).

Books about people's lives in France are among my favorite type of books to read. I love to compare their experiences to my own. Some of my other favorite books include: "Almost French", "A Year in the Merde", and "On Rue Tatin".

So to anyone who has a little free time at the moment, I highly suggest reading this book. It'll make you want to become a French chef when you're through with it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Salade de chevre chaud au miel and my new job!!

Today I was really in the mood to attempt to make a goat cheese salad. Every time I go out to eat and order one it's so delicious! I thought that today would be a opportune moment to try it out because Christophe isn't here (he HATES goat cheese!) because he's at a teacher's meeting! La rentrée is tomorrow so all the kiddies are going back to school! Woo-hoo! Anyways, here's what I used for my salad (I 'm not listing any exact amounts of ingredients because I don't know):

*goat cheese
*baguette sliced
*Walnuts and raisins

I put the goat cheese on top of the sliced baguette and drizzled some honey on top. Then I put it in the oven for about 10 minutes. I got the salad ingredients together and stirred up my own vingrette.

For the vinagrette:
*Vegetable oil
*Balsamic vinagrette

I stirred it all together and voilà:
A yummy salad just like the kind you can get in a french restaurant. haha ok not quite the same. It still needs a little work.

Just to add one last thing: I got the job that I wanted at the language school! They called me up yesterday and told me that they wanted to hire me! Now I just have a pound of paperwork to fill in and send to Strasbourg so that I can sign the contract! I won't be poor anymore! :)