February Updates

Contrary to what you may have gathered from the last few posts, we have had a life aside from the fretting over the lack of internet (which we now have if you didn’t see the last post), such as:

1. Ensuring the ongoing operations of IKEA France. Like many apartments here, ours had neither closets nor kitchen cabinets when we moved in, so we’ve had to put up our own (with the help of an Ikea installer dude). While our place is not up to ApartmentTherapy standards just yet, I think HerrKaa was happy to to muck about with tools and levels and we’re both happy having a less chaotic abode (see pics below).

BEFORE AFTER
Apartment – Jan 11 Kitchen & bathroom

2. Escaping the city – we’re going for some skiing in Chamonix while there’s still snow on the ground. Expat friends of ours are renting a chalet with some others in early March, so we’ll drive down to the French Alps with them (about 600 km)  and spend a long-weekend of skiing & fondueing. Yay, our first getaway!  Almost as exciting is our train ride back: we both love train travel and overnight trains (like this one) remind me of student travel days, when you’d seek out the overnight trains to avoid paying for a hostel.

3. Improving my French – I’ve enrolled in a French evening course. Most of the students are barely past hostelling age themselves, and I soon learned  that faire la fête = partying (all night) since it’s the #1 reason for explaining anyone’s absence.  The course goes from February to June, but in true French fashion we had all of 2 classes before pausing for a 2-week winter vacation (classes are held in an elementary school, so we follow their schedule). There’ll be two more weeks for Easter holidays in April, and then the usual slew of May holidays celebrating workers, the end of WWII, and several esoteric Christian celebrations. I think the reason I’m telling you so much about these classes is so I remember to go to them next week….

Oh, and our very first lesson: how to write a complaint letter. First oral comprehension recording: an irate call to an ISP help desk. First reading assignment: article on demotivated French workers rejecting the workplace. Bienvenue en France!

4. Plugging in to the rest of the world. Not only do we have internet, we now also have a VOIP land line (with free calls to Canada!) and a new TV which to my TV-ingenue eyes looks impressively wide, thin & black…too bad there’s no cable signal. So we’ll have to keep watching Battlestar Galactica and House MD on the laptop for a few more days.

We’ve also begun ‘plugging in’ to the ready-made community of HerrKaa’s expat coworkers & spouses which is a real lifesaver and good fun, although I’ve been told my alcohol tolerance leaves a lot to be desired. For more mellow outings, I now have a very sweet amie française that I met through a Craigslist’s language exchange posting. She lives in the next arrondissement and loves films and Asian food. I’ve also been able to get to know my cousin Wendy better as she also happens to be here, Au Pairing for a year while she completes her last few French courses for her degree. She has a long commute between her university in the west and home in the east, so she’ll often stop by en route and we can vent about our France Frustrations.  And it looks like Karsten’s found a group of cyclists online…so we have started to branch out socially. Our next big step is to throw a housewarming and invite our neighbours.

Phew, this has been a marathon post. For those of you that actually read this to the end, here’s a few random pixs to reward you for your stamina…

Random
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