Tuesday, March 20, 2018

WTF France

As in, "Welcome To France", silly. But I stole it, first from David Lebovitz - former pâtissier of Chez Panisse, author of My Paris Kitchen and fellow expat - who introduced us to the concept of WTF days in his blog. Then there was that Taylor guy and his WTF, France show...what they have in common is this really interesting annoyance blended with forgivable fondness for their adopted country.
Putting the old flat up for sale (child not included)



Five years ago this week we bought our flat in Sweden. That was after two full years in the country, and one permanent work contract, and a pretty rough level of svenska. It was awesome. So awesome we hope to wallpaper some future kitchen the same way someday. But ... when?



In France - year four - I've just finally had our car licensed here (and that was simply replacing Swedish plates with French plates, theoretically simple in the EU!). But it feels like we're as far as ever from buying our own space. And that - maybe more so for an American - goes a long way to making a community feel like a home.

Am I blaming France? No, others have managed it. But listing our obstacles up to now might include:
  1. Les titres de séjour - until last year I was officially a visitor according to my French ID card, forcing an annual renewal, and making it illegal for me to receive a salary in France ... because 
  2. ... our applications to live under the same visa statute here, one reunited famille in France, were finally denied (after waiting three years) since we'd gotten married in Sweden;
  3. Our French: so we've been here since 2014, I finished a Masters in my field in French at a French university, but contracts in French are still as frightening to us as US healthcare must be for un expatrié français;
  4. Work - see #3. Since obtaining the right to work, I've interviewed around ... but posts either require more travel than we're comfortable with, or they need better written French than I have today ... so for the moment I continue as bike delivery guy (and studying).
  5. Prices are rising, due to: 1) the 2024 Olympics !!! (and airbnb), and 2) very active development of a new metro line and gare about 400 meters from our current flat.
And so we're in the same ground floor 1960s place, as strong a contrast as possible to our Swedish flat: peeling wallpaper, bad natural light, questionable mold and paint for young'uns. But we have an awesome gardien next door, the building has decent heat, and a basement parking that only floods a couple times each winter. And the school district rocks.

L'arrivée: how we spent Christmas, 2013

But I think we're actually ready to pack it all up again, move into a bigger shell. Hopefully before I can't sling wallpaper.


 Further reading

Some more Lebovitz - his "first", 2008 - includes a cautionary tale for those coming for the Paris marathon...

About Paul Taylor: A couple years back I found this Brit doing colorful youtube videos called "WTF France?" ... but with less wordplay. He changed to What's Up, France? (owned by Canal+) last year, and more recently has stopped to focus on standup, here.