As of this past week, I have officially been in France for 100 days. With the end of the year quickly approaching, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what I’ve done in France thus far. Luckily for me, I’ve been keeping a daily journal so I won’t have to attempt to do this off the top of my head.
It’s nice to look back at all my entries from when I first arrived in France. I can now have a good laugh about all those times I was blundering through life.
For example, there was the period of time when I literally didn’t know the name of any grocery stores, but I was also scared to go to a restaurant and order my food in French. There was the time when I was confused about buying a square pillow. There was the time when I caused a disturbance at the grocery store because I didn’t realize I had to weigh my fruit before checking out and I also didn’t know the verb to weigh at the time, so I had no idea what the cashier was saying to me. The snippets go on and on.
Actually, if anything, this retrospective has given me some much needed perspective. Even if I still feel uncertain and self-conscious about my life here in France, I can take comfort in the fact that I am making progress.
Alors, c’est parti.
Day 1: First full day in Nancy. Played flute duets with my AirBnb host’s son.
Day 2: Explored Nancy by foot. Learned the names of grocery stores.
Day 3: Visited Musée Lorrain. Attempted to write all French words I didn’t know in a notebook. Gave up on that quickly (there were far too many words).
Day 4: Tried going to a bank, but I didn’t realize it was Monday. All banks are closed on Mondays in France.
Day 5: Managed to find a bank who was willing to open an account for me. Met with my mentor/teacher at my lycée for the first time.
Day 6: Shadowed four English classes at my lycée.
Day 7: Administrative things all day (insurance, apartment keys, etc.). Filling out paperwork is no joke in France. It’s like a part-time job being my own secretary.
Day 8: Bought my bike, Hermes.
Day 9: Another day of Cindy versus the French banking system.
Day 10: Moved into my apartment. Rearranged all the furniture.
Day 11: Deep cleaned the apartment. Picked up my bike. Nearly died trying to ride it across town.
Day 12: Spent the day riding Hermes around Nancy, acclimated to the many one-ways.
Day 13: Hunted for the cheapest places to go grocery shopping and to do laundry.
Day 14: Learned about the extremely French game that is Pétanque and then proceeded to play it in the park.
Day 15: Started introducing myself to the English classes at my lycée. I did the same presentation many, many times. Me to the students: no, Salt Lake City is not in the Midwest.
Day 16: Resolved the great cell phone service debacle of 2016. Sent my completed paperwork to the immigration office (OFII).
Day 17: Booked my travel to Heidelberg, Germany. Went to a Mid-Autumn Festival celebration at a Chinese cultural center. Fried my brain trying to speak in French, Chinese, and English.
Day 18: Visited the Villa Majorelle during Les Journées du Patrimoine.
Day 19: Did chores, blogged, and packed for Germany.
Day 20: Traveled to Heidelberg. Boarded a train to Strasbourg then a bus to Heidelberg.
Day 21: Visited castles around Baden-Württemberg. Spent quality time with a great friend.
Day 22: Traveled back to Nancy with another layover in Strasbourg.
Day 23: Observed French classes at my lycée for fun. Attempted to register for French classes at the local university.
Day 24: Read L’Âme du Monde by Frédéric Lenoir.
Day 25: Met up with a cool new friend.
Day 26: Tried out a new brasserie.
Day 27: Attempted to watch the Clinton versus Trump debate without getting too upset. Failed.
Day 28: Attended a French class at University of Lorraine. Went to city hall to listen to a lecture presented by an American researcher.
Day 29: Took my bike out into the “suburbs” of Nancy in an attempt to find an American shopping experience in France.
Day 30: Took the bus out to the “suburbs” to buy things in bulk.
Day 31: Managed to change my phone service to a different provider. Accidentally flooded the bathroom in my apartment.
Day 32: Went to the aquarium in Nancy.
Day 33: Loafed around and took advantage of my last day of freedom before starting my contracted duties.
Day 34: Orientation day with all the other assistants in the Academie!
Day 35: First day of teaching. Did my civic duty and submitted my ballot for the 2016 elections.
Day 36: Taught classes and filled out more paperwork.
Day 37: Navigated a hospital, a clinic, and the immigration office. Finished my paperwork for residency in France. But of course one is never completely finished with paperwork in France.
Day 38: Went to Metz for the first time.
Day 40: Attempted to help French students understand a Benedick monologue from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Not sure if it actually worked. Their teacher may have been a bit overambitious.
Day 41: Blogged, cleaned, ran errands.
Day 42: Was interviewed by students of the literary magazine at the lycée about my opinions for the upcoming election. Learned how to play Pix (a French game somewhat like Pictionary).
Day 43: Went to see some Haydn and Mozart at the Opéra National de Lorraine.
Day 44: Learned how to play poker in French. It’s the same, just in a different language.
Day 45: The day the wifi died, marking the beginning of a dark period of my stay in France.
Day 46: According to my journal, all I did on this day was take a nap.
Day 47: Received my Pass d’Education, which gives me free access to all national museums and monuments. Began email correspondence with the flute teacher at the conservatory in Nancy.
Day 48: Cindy versus the French banks part 3. Managed to get some unjust penalty fees reimbursed. Went to the library to mooch free wifi.
Day 49: Discovered the store that is Auchan (the closest thing to an American supermarket I’ve been able to find in France). Went to an English trivia night, where I was able to rock all the answers simply by being a native Anglophone.
Day 50: Went to Metz for the first day of Toussaint break. Saw an exhibit called Tumultueuse Amérique by Jean-Pierre Laffont. Enlightening to see America through the lens of a French photographer.
Day 51: Continued adventures in Metz at the Centre Pompidou and Porte d’Allemande. Saw a pumpkin named Big Mama.
Day 52: Attempted a creative writing workshop in French. Realized my level of French was not quite ready yet.
Day 53: Traveled to Paris. Shared a giant plate of meat and cheese at a brasserie with a new friend.
Day 54: Paris day 2. It rained so much, and there were way too many humans at the Louvre, but it doesn’t matter because I managed to get 5 euro tickets to Samson and Delilah at the Opera Bastille.
Day 55: Visited Marie Curie’s grave and nearly cried with gratitude and respect. Did tons of other things too.
Day 56: Spent the entire day at the Musée de la Musique. Then finished off the day with Lucia di Lammermoor at the Opera Bastille. When in Paris go to ALL the opera.
Day 57: Last day in Paris. Visited some of my favorite composers at the Père Lachaise cemetery. A kid threw up on my bus back to Nancy.
Day 58: Went to a Halloween party. Halloween is considered a novelty in France, so a party was not an easy find.
Day 59: Splurged on tickets to see the Vienna Philharmonic in Luxembourg.
Day 60: My entire entry from this day was about the lack of wifi and how I practiced flute for a long time. Apparently, I was not happy about the internet situation that day.
Day 61: Went to the park with another assistant. Tried to articulate my general feelings of homesickness that were beginning to creep in.
Day 62: Celebrated Toussaint by going out for a coffee. French people honor the dead on this day.
Day 63: Worked on a presentation about American high schools for my students. Included a picture of the High School Musical movie poster because really that movie isn’t completely false in terms of painting a picture of the typical high school.
Day 64: Received mail from home, which literally made me feel a million times better. Plus getting Clinton swag was a hit with French teachers and students alike. French elections are nothing like American elections. They all thought I had received propaganda, rather than election items.
Day 65: Got confused by how to attach lickable stamps at the French post office. I didn’t realize sticker stamps were just an American thing.
Day 66: Attempted cooking American brunch with ingredients found in France. The outcome was not quite the same. Realized that I miss bacon. Went to a French rap concert in an attempt to make up for it.
Day 67: Went on a day trip to Paris with the teachers from my school. Saw the “This Is Not A Pipe” painting by the famed surrealist painter Magritte at the Centre Pompidou.
Day 68: The first day of US election week. Taught two lessons on the US electoral system. Had a weird emotional breakdown in the staff room caused by homesickness, uncertainty of the future, and feelings of loneliness during a stressful time in US history.
Day 69: Election Day. Continued teaching lessons about the US electoral system. Started reading the French translation of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Day 70: Woken up by texts from home at 5am. A Trump win. Cried genuine tears of fear as I continued to teach the same lesson about the US electoral system for the umpteenth time, but was comforted by my wonderfully caring students.
Day 71: François Hollande, President of France, makes a visit to my lycée. I wasn’t invited to his presentation, but the heightened security around school sure caused a commotion.
Day 72: Went bowling and discovered that there is an all-you-can eat sushi place in Nancy.
Day 73: Did some much needed retail therapy in light of a rough week. Bought supplies for knitting in an attempt to hunker down during the continued wifi drought.
Day 74: Spent the entire day at the table eating a meal with my mentor/teacher, his family, and friends. It was probably the most French thing I’ve done since moving to France.
Day 75: Taught classes and finished my scarf knitting project.
Day 76: Met with the flute teacher at the conservatory. Played some Mozart and Bach for her. Was told she needed to get permission from her supervisor on whether or not I could join an ensemble at the conservatory.
Day 77: Listened to a great audiobook called The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.
Day 78: Learned that kebabs are the late night drunk food of France. Move over midnight burritos.
Day 79: The third Thursday of November is the celebration of the Beaujolais nouveau in France. It’s the day that the Beaujolais wine is released each year. There were bottles of wine sitting at the staff table during lunch for everyone to taste. Toto we’re not in Utah anymore. Down with the Zion Curtain.
Day 80: Went to a debate club meeting at the University of Lorraine. Managed to make some coherent arguments in French.
Day 81: Went to a soirée Beaujolais hosted by a local organization in Nancy that welcomes foreign people. Good wine, cheese, and conversation.
Day 82: Spent the day thinking about ways to find ingredients to prepare a Thanksgiving meal in France while making inclusive and socially aware lesson plans about Thanksgiving.
Day 83: Caved and upgraded my French phone plan to give me more data so I could create a mobile hotspot from my phone.
Day 84: Went to the English language movie theater with a class to watch Snowden. Started attending the general music theory classes at my lycée. I’m lucky because most French schools don’t even offer music classes!
Day 85: Had my first haircut experience in France. Learned some interesting new vocabulary related to hairstyles.
Day 86: Thanksgiving in France meant working, but at the very least, I baked cookies to share with the teachers. Ended up eating tartiflette (a big bowl of cheese) at a great restaurant for my Thanksgiving meal. The effect was similar to an American Thanksgiving meal.
Day 87: Had a veritable Gilmore Girls style buffet while binge watching the new episodes. It was completely and utterly necessary.
Day 88: Saw the Guerrilla Girls exhibit in Metz. #feministAF
Day 89: Went to the English language movie theater to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But really what is Poudlard??
Day 90: Received a postcard with dim sum on it from Taiwan! Started tutoring a women in English.
Day 91: Bought some more yarn for yet another knitting project, because why not?
Day 92: Ryanair had a sale on tickets from Luxembourg to London, so obviously I bought some.
Day 93: Went to another concert at the Opera National de Lorrain. They played the Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite. Must be the start of the holiday season or something.
Day 94: Went to the Christmas tree lighting at Place Stanislas. I was expecting something akin to a New Year’s Eve countdown, but alas the French are much too subtle for a big spectacle like that.
Day 95: In the biggest of winter miracles, the wifi started working again! Also, hung out with my favorite French family (aka my mentor/teacher’s family).
Day 96: Went to the St. Nicolas (the patron saint of Lorrain) parade and was unpleasantly surprised by how cold it can feel when it is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity in the winter is terrible.
Day 97: Had a crazy adventure going to Luxembourg after a full-day of work just to see the Vienna Philharmonic play Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5. Nearly missed the last train back to France, but I made it in the end.
Day 98: Found myself in Metz after a night in Luxembourg. Thankfully I didn’t have work that day, so I caught up on postcard writing.
Day 99: Finalized travel plans for the upcoming winter break. In case I ever had any doubt, I can now confirm that I never want to be a travel agent.
Day 100: Invited to dinner by a wonderful woman who I met at the soirée Beaujolais. Slowly, but surely I’m starting to feel more confident in my ability to make small talk in French.
Today is day 103. And although it doesn’t seem like much when I boil my life down to 100 things, step by step, day by day, 100 by 100, I know the little moments do add up.