If I had to summarize the last two weeks in one word it would probably be goats.
So I’ve been super lazy/busy and have not posted in a while so this entry might get a bit lengthy.
I guess the first thing of note is that I SURVIVED my OFII appointment! It really wasn’t that traumatic but it was still an ordeal. I woke up early on a rainy Wednesday (my day off!) to cross the river to get to Rezé for my appointment. I decided to leave with just enough time to get there about five minutes early since we’re in France and things don’t start on time…so I’m waiting at the tram stop, I can see the tram going in the other direction isn’t actually going and people are hopping off and talking to the conductor looking not happy but I just assume it’s a directional issue. Turns out there was some sort of electricity problem on the lines from a certain stop to another certain stop. Luckily, a woman walking by told me about it, otherwise those of us waiting on the opposite side of where the conductor was, would not have known that our tram wasn’t coming! So I ended up walking about three stops towards Rezé before I could finally hop on a tram. I was a bit late for my appointment but ovbs it wasn’t an issue. So, you hand in your passport and “convocation” to the receptionist, then you’re told to go to this back room where other non-Frenchies are waiting (hung out with two other assistants from our group while waiting to see the docs). So the first room you get called into is to get an xray of your chest (to make sure you don’t have TB, I think?) and you literally have to get naked from the waist up in order to get this xray…then you go back to the room to continue to wait. The second room you get called into, they weigh you and measure you (I’ve heard of people being told they should lose 10-20 pounds at this appointment!) and the woman there drooled while she was talking to me. I also failed the eye exam but she didn’t seem too bothered about that…The next room is with who I think was the official doctor who signs off on everything. She made me lay down on the patient bed thing to take my blood pressure and then told me I need to eat breakfast because my blood pressure was too low. BUT I passed and have an official OFII stamp in my passport and am apparently healthy enough to stay here! More importantly, I can now hopefully start to receive money from the CAF which would be great because funds are running low right about now.
So last week, I finally spent some time exploring the Jardin des Plantes here in Nantes with my friend Jack, who had just discovered the garden the weekend before when his “uni mates” from Bordeaux (side note: we had such a fun weekend, again, with them!). So we visited the goats and chickens/roosters that live in this garden. They were very friendly and definitely thought we were going to give them food…
Also, some exciting news! This French woman contacted my lycée trying to get in touch with me to get to know me and invite me to vacay with her family and speak English with her grandkids. I met her at a café last week and it turns out both she and her husband do theater in Nantes and they’re really interested in the US and English. So I’m going to their chalet in the Alps during our “winter” vacation in March to spend the week skiing, speaking English with their grandchildren, and being “integrated” into a French family! How cool is that??
Anna and I also saw a play with this woman’s husband a couple days ago titled “Le Lavoir” about these women who work in a washing/laundry place right before the first World War. I would say I understood the story and got a few jokes here and there but it was written in old, colloquial French so the people I interacted with after the show said we deff shouldn’t have expected to understand it.
This past weekend a group of us went to Angers!! We covoitureage-d there and back which was much less eventful than our covoiturage to Rennes. The city is so pretty! It’s smaller than Nantes so there is a short list of touristy things to do but the must-sees are the Chateau d’Angers and the Apocalypse Tapestry. The Chateau was hugeee (much bigger than the one in Nantes) and it just looked a lot older but we had to pay 5 euros to get in. It was gorgeous and well worth it. There are gardens and ramparts and a little vineyard and a giant moat and a great view of the Maine river. The Tapestry was also big and quite impressive. There was also a Jardin des Plantes with goats as well but you couldn’t go in to pet them.
I loved Angers and it was just small enough that we didn’t use public transportation at all during the day which was nice. We ended the day at David and Vanessa’s where we had homemade pot stickers, avocado bruschetta, kings cake, and wine (of course) followed by a night full of games.
Besides these couple highlights, the past few weeks have been filled with applying for jobs/grad schools (eek) and working.
One last thing of note, we talked about this article from Newsweek written by an American journalist, who lived in London for 10 years, who married a Frenchman and lives in Paris now and she basically exaggerates the socialist tendencies of France and claims the country is failing and everyone is leaving…apparently French politicians were angry and my class was definitely upset by it. I can see why, since it makes France sounds like they just give everything to their citizens for free, however, I’m not even a citizen and I get (should be getting) a good amount of money from them to subsidize my rent and transportation but it’s not as bad as this woman makes it out to be. I feel like it’s easy to get into that kind of mindset about the French, even I was guilty of playing into the stereotype/mindset that France is unbelievably socialist (I still think they are but it’s really not that bad) when I was home. I think my class/teacher was most upset by the fact that this story appeared in Newsweek when some of the concrete facts are “completement faux!” I also just found this article from The Huffington Post by the Editorial Director of the French version of the website, which calls out that journalist and sort of sets things straight. Both are worth the read though I would take the Newsweek one with a grain of salt!