Here goes year number 7

This morning I was thinking about the “what ifs” of my French life—what if I hadn’t decided to come back for a second year? What if I hadn’t met Ju and thus had had to return home after three years in Poitiers? That got me to thinking about what bits of my French daily life I would probably still be romanticizing. Since I live here, I don’t really romanticize it much anymore. But there are things I would definitely miss if I went back home.

So, to mark the beginning of Year 7 in France, I searched through my photo albums to find the ones that represent my French life for me these past six years. (After the jump.)

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Ouch

From a L’Express.fr (which I found through the maze of other ex-assistants’ blogs) ranking of the 96 departements in France:

La Meuse (ie Bar le Duc) comes out 94 of 96.

Departement : Meuse
Classement général: 94/96
Le classement pour les jeunes: 96/96
Le classement pour les familles: 94/96
Le classement pour les seniors : 90/96

Total Cadre de vie: 482 (49/96)
Proximité du littoral:0 (71/96)
Proximité de la montagne:1 (46/96)
Les sites dangereux:10 (37/96)
Part d’espaces naturels: 96% (7/96)

Total Commerce: 201 (81/96)
Ikea, Fnac, Virgin et Cultura dans le département : 0 (77/96)
Total Culture: 234 (87/96)
L’offre culturelle institutionnelle:5 (69/96)
Indice cinéma:348 (96/96) (yeah I did see some crappy movies last year)

Total Dynamisme économique: 396 (87/96)
Croissance de l’emploi:1% (93/96)

Total Enseignement supérieur: 333 (86/96)
Etudiants:1 219 (86/96)
La part d’étudiants:1% (84/96)

Total Immobilier: 10 (3/96)
Prix d’une maison: 102 089 (4/96)
Prix d’un appartement: 1 046 (6/96)
Indice Offre internet: 155 (78/96)
L’accés à une offre internet concurrentielle: 26% (79/96)
L’accés à une offre internet multiple: 27% (76/96)
La réussite au bac: 83% (38/96)

Total météo : 259 (94/96)
Le soleil: 1 638 (73/96)
La température moyenne: 10 (92/96)
Jours de pluie par an (days of rain per year): 141 (94/96) (uh yeah it rained way too much)

Total Puissance: 757 (93/96)
Les emplois: 67 785 (86/96)
Les emplois hautement qualifiés: 1 675 (90/96)
La population: 192 500 (84/96)
Les étudiants: 1 219 (86/96)
Les étudiants de grandes écoles:0 (77/96)
L’espérance de vie: 78 (89/96)
Le chémage (unemployment): 8% (76/96)

So, houses are cheap and we have a lot of green space (I don’t know why I say we, I haven’t lived there for a year). But everything else seems to suck. Someone had told me at some point that it was one of the poorest departements in France.

La Marne, where Reims is, on the other hand, seems pretty squarely average.

Aliveness

I should probably update just a bit…

So I spent the beginning of this week (mostly Wednesday actually) ferociously cleaning and packing. I have two suitcases and one is perfectly at the bizarre Aer Lingus limite of 16 kilos/40 pounds. The other, unfortunately, is 26 kilos, which I began to discover as I lugged it from my apartment, you know, down four flights of stairs (Linda came to help), to the train station, then onto the train, off the train in Paris, where I cracked and took a cab, and then up the three flights to the Y’s now-extra apartment.

I did get to see a few people one last time last week. I hung out with a few people from the older (and by older I mean not students) anglophone crowd in Reims, and Linda and our new identical friends S and S. Reims was really pretty toward the end and I think I finally really like it. I think it would even be nice to come back to it again.

I won’t miss the apartment but I will miss the view, you know, spying on people across from me and watching them do their own spying. Near the end Charbonneaux was so empty, I think I may have been the only person left on my floor.

So I’m in Paris now. I’m glande-ing. Which pretty much means shitting around as far as I can tell. I really like being able to do nothing in France. I’m kind of tired of sightseeing in Paris and would like to just hang out with people. We’ll see how that goes.

De petites taches

that I’m the worst at getting done when I have lots of time to do it. Well anyway so far I have at least

1) sent in my apartment application for next year
2) finished my Stafford loan application (I think, it was all a bit confusing really…)
3) figured out health insurance (although really I can’t claim this task for myself, it’s my dad who took care of it in record time)

I have left to do:
1) make and go to a bank appointment to talk about leaving my account open, cutting Orange’s access to my account, and ending my insurance
2) cutting my phone line (but that can wait till the last minute more or less)
3) mailing off my books
4) give many, many things to Linda (printer, air mattress, tv, bookshelf, bedding, kitchen utensils)

And banks are closed on Mondays anyway.

We went to the annual picnic concert in the champagne park on Saturday night and joined one of the cellists from the orchestra and her sister. It was pretty nice. French picnics are serious though. Like, they have real dishes.

I guess I’ll go stack up some books.

I think I owe an update. Things have been going on here.

1) My birthday was last Thursday. Doris and Linda dropped by bearing gifts around 5 and we had a mini celebration. Then I went to orchestra rehearsal. I received pretty much constant facebook messages and gifts all day which is nice because most people can’t really call me.
2) Saturday morning I got up at 6:30 to go to my (finally) last day of work. I watched the students take the TOIEC. It was nice to see them one last time but also sad. Then my boss and her husband took me out for lunch which was also nice, but I expect to see them at least one more time before leaving for good.
3) My orchestra played a concert at the fête de la musique (which was also Saturday) in the courtyard of the Musée des Beaux Arts. It was really nice. There were a lot of people–all the chairs were filled and apparently the official count of people who came to watch for even a little while was 1200. It was odd too though because we could hear all the music going on in the neighborhood.
4) Afterward I joined Sandra and some French girls and we wandered. The streets were packed full of people and we had to stop about every minute because one of us would run into someone we knew. I saw lots of my second years out and forgot that I had my camera with me so I didn’t get any pictures of them. =( We walked down the Place D’Erlon, past the theatre to the Place du Forum and I took a few pictures but my camera is fairly useless at night. Heres’s few crummy ones just to try to show you how packed the streets were:

And then I stepped on a piece of glass and cut my foot open. It’s okay though, it was a pretty small piece of glass and the cut is really small. The French girls found a policeman who called the Croix Rouge who pulled up about 20 minutes later in a van, put some brown antiseptic stuff on it, and had me sign a form saying I didn’t want to go to the hospital. There was mostly just a lot of blood and I can’t yet put my full weight on it.

It was my first fête de la musique in France and I really really liked it.

5) On Sunday Linda came over around 4:30 to start setting up for the party. We knew that my friends wouldn’t be here till later because of the Spain-Italy game. A few people came early and we turned the game on toward the very end, just in time to see Spain win. In the end a few people stuck around playing I Never till 6 am. It was funny to be at a party (granted, it was the day after the solstice) where we watched the sun go down and then come back up. Doris took lots of pictures and she brought me and Linda roses.

6) The orchestra played another concert tonight, the last of the year, and we went out for drinks after. I may see a few of these people again in July though since there is a wedding that needs musicians.

So most of the Erasmus students are leaving Friday. I saw one of my favorite students for the last time at the party last night and I was fairly sad about it. There is supposed to be a party Thursday night, and I’m supposed to hang out one last time with a few other people. Then I leave on the 1st for St Malo! And the soldes start Wednesday! Of course I am going to wait for my paycheck to buy anything.

Veronika is here.

We went to the Champagne Parc today to look at the La Terre Vue du Ciel exhibit (and also the Champagne Parc). It was quite nice. Veronika was a little nonplused by the apocalyptic tone of all the accompanying blurbs. I was a little nonplused by the excess of significant grammar mistakes in the translations into English. A large group of German students arrived shortly after we did but they weren’t really annoying. I also finally went into the Basilique St Remi (that’s what happens when you have guests) and tonight we are going out for crepes.

I also finally got paid and now have some money. Except I’m about to spend most of it on my ticket to Morocco. WOOT.

Bored.

So, Reims has just been dead boring lately but I’ve decided to stop taking it personally. Hopefully I can keep to that resolution. It’s different from being bored in Bar le Duc where even if I was bored, I had the impression pretty much everyone else was, too, because it was Bar le Duc. Here I feel like things must be going on that I don’t know about, there must be crowds of vastly entertained people hanging around somewhere. I think I might be wrong on that count. Anyway I work a lot over the next two weeks so that should improve things. Also it’s been raining constantly, and not real rain where I feel cosy staying inside reading a book and pretending I have a fireplace. Just gray drizzle. So I get bored and go out and then get wet.

I think I’ve got most of my Christmas shopping done. I should maybe have done some more work this week but I don’t have as much to get done as I thought.