These first days are slipping by and so far have been a little frustrating. I’ve tried to register us with a doctor, but as the one we wanted was on holiday I’ve been unable to do so. I’ve tried to get us a mobile phone contract, but as we haven’t moved into our rented property yet we can’t do this either. We can’t unpack yet as we’re not in our rented home, so I go up and down from my parents basement to try and find things we need. But still, we’re here.
It feels like a kind of purgatory. It’s sinking in we’re not going back, but I don’t think it will be fully real until we’re in our own place. So in the meantime I thought I’d share five things that are standing out for me since our arrival as residents of France.
Tiredness And First Feelings Of Being A ‘Foreigner’
Although I haven’t done anything hugely physical since packing the house up, at about 3 o’clock on our first full day here, Wednesday, I suddenly hit a wall. I still hadn’t properly slept on our first night and hadn’t done so for weeks; moving lists and restlessness have filled my nights.
I’d been out and about all morning and had been speaking French for the majority of the day. In the afternoon we were back at the supermarket when I was in an aisle and heard everyone round me speaking French, of course. Except this time, rather than it being an exciting opportunity to practise my language skills, I suddenly thought “I’m going to have to speak this all the time.”
Let me tell you that that prospect was suddenly daunting.
I know that as a stranger it’s really important that I try my best to integrate, so learning the language has been a focus prior to the move. However, when you arrive there are many French people willing to try out their skills. So, inevitably there can be a bit of a face off!
Normally it starts wth my speaking in French, then them responding in English. This becomes a bit of a jousting contest with the person most determined or able to speak the other’s language winning. It’s like Robot Wars; except without the house robots to intervene (I hate my husband for knowing about this programme).
Soemtimes I win, sometimes they do. It’s a constant challenge.
The Price Of Books
Have you ever seen You’ve Got Mail when Jo Fox buys books from Catherine Kelly in The Shop Around The Corner bookstore? He’s so used to discounted books that the price stuns him. Well that was me yesterday.
I’d gone to the bookshop with La Belle Fille. I’d wanted to buy her a children’s missal in French so when we went to mass she could follow what was happening. Whilst we were there I saw some books on La Rentrée; in particular for l’école maternelle. I thought that it would be a good idea to go through them with her, so she has an idea what to expect in her new school. She chose one which didn’t have much information in, but she could try to read the French herself. I chose a more in depth one. As every mum does, because I’d chosen three for La Belle, there had to be three for La Jolie Fille.
The total – €50!!!!! Second hand books from now on.
Shopping With Other Mums
La Belle Fille has a school supply list that I had to get for her. It was really strange standing in front of the rows of stationary with the other mums trying to work out what I needed. Again, I had the feeling of being on the outside as everyone was chatting around me in French about the same subject.
I’ve spoken about this before, but I’d forgotten that the importance of greetings don’t just apply to shops, but in all situations. When I went to the doctors with Les Petits and my mother to try and get us on his books a couple came in and said hello and I said hello back. I’d forgotten to do so on my entrance, I’d just done the English nod in everyone’s direction. Got to get used to it!