braderie de lille time. again.

There comes a time every year that strikes fear into the hearts of many Lillois. That time is the Braderie de Lille.

It happens every first weekend of September (or in rare cases, the last weekend of August). Parts of the city turn into an open air flea market/party/what have you. It attracts millions of visitors and is considered the biggest braderie in Europe.

It’s definitely something to visit once as it’s quite impressive. I’ve gone every year since 2011. And every year, I like it less and less. We weren’t planning on going last year, but J’s parents came up, so we did go. Their thoughts? It’s nice, and they’re happy to have done it, but never again.

This year, we were planning on leaving Lille completely, but with finances being tight, we decided to hang out with our friend who lives just outside of Lille. Continue reading

giving bruges a chance

I had been to Bruges two times, but I was never that impressed by the city. I didn’t quite understand the attraction to it. While many claim that it is there favorite place in Belgium, mine is Ghent.

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In Ghent last year

I love Ghent. I find it to be very beautiful with its canals, architecture, and the general atmosphere.

However, there was one major difference in my visits to both cities. Each time I went to Bruges, it was cold and rainy where as the times I visited Ghent, it was sunny and pleasant (even in winter).

It’s not that I didn’t like Bruges – I did find it charming – but I just liked the feel of Ghent more. Every time I state that to my friends, they find that rather surprising having adored Bruges themselves. Continue reading

un an

Last month, J and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we were married in Franche-Comté.

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Flowers from J

The date fell on a Sunday, so we actually went out the Saturday before since the restaurant we wanted to go to is closed on Sundays.

For anyone who knows us, it’s probably no surprise that one of our favorite restaurants is a pizzeria, so that’s where we chose to go. It’s also in our neighborhood, and you can build your own pizza from a list of ingredients. (If that’s your thing, and you’re ever in Lille, then you must eat at O Ch’Ti B.)

Continue reading

voyage de noces in Budapest

As I’m sure many of you are aware, we went to Budapest for our vacation (with a few days in France-Comté). We had a great time, and we had a nice time discovering the city together. Any other places we’ve spent significant time in, one or the other already knew it, but neither of us had been to Budapest before.

I won’t give you a play-by-play of the entire trip, but I will tell you about some of the highlights.

almostbilingue_budapest view of pest

Budapest is divided into two parts by the Danube River – Buda and Pest. We spent the majority of our time on the Pest side as that was where we were staying and where many of the attractions we were interested in are located. Continue reading

l’été is here

I think summer has officially arrived in Lille. I finally don’t need a jacket to go out in the middle of the afternoon, and the sun is shining bright. And as this is Northern France, that’s saying something.

I’ve been wanting to host a barbecue for awhile now and also really wanted to do something for the 4th of July. As we are now going to be in Budapest for the actual holiday, we decided to celebrate a little early with some friends. We were lucky to have beautiful weather so we could all sit outside in the yard and eat a very traditional American feast of hotdogs and hamburgers along with all the sides!

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I hope this was just the first of many summer barbecues. Continue reading

i’m still here!

I know, I know. It’s been awhile. For someone who wants to work in copywriting/content creation, I sure do have issues with keeping my own blog updated.

I think a lot of it comes from feeling that my life is really mundane at the moment.

I’m working a dead end part-time job that is severely underpaid for what is expected of me. That really doesn’t do much to boost the morale.

(Though it’s not all bad. Some of the kids are pretty sweet like the one who gave me a flower on her last day of class with me.)

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Continue reading

officially have my first titre de séjour as a conjointe

It’s here! My titre de séjour vie privée et familiale (spousal residency card) is in my possession.

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It took less than two months including holidays since my appointment for it to be ready! Imagine my surprise! I didn’t know the Prefecture could be so efficient!

Last week, I was filling out a form (more on that later) that required my titre de séjour information. I was stressing over that fact. After a call to verify, I learned that I could submit said form with just my récépissé and then send in a copy of my titre de séjour once it arrived to complete my file. The afternoon after submitting the file, I received notice that my actual card was ready. Because of course.

The only thing that bugs me is that my card is valid October 2014 to October 2015. They gave me the right to work retroactively after refusing to give me anything from the time my old card expired until my appointment. Yeah… thanks for that.

I know why they probably did that (because what if we had CAF payments or the like hinging on that fact?), but still, it bugs me. It means basically 4 months of my year card are already over. And I sat around unable to do nothing for months. Last year, they gave me a card valid from when I handed in my paperwork (October) and not when my old card expired (August).

Le sigh.

Next up in the world of French admin, attempting to exchange my driver license.

a stroll around our new neighborhood

We’ve now been in our new place for over two months. We definitely don’t regret our impulsive decision to move at all. We love our new place and our new neighborhood.

Back when we first moved here, I promised you all pictures of the neighborhood. I took said pictures on a sunny day in December and then promptly forgot about them.

We live in Vieux Lille which usually gets the response of “Oh? Really!”, and then we follow up by saying “No, not where you’re thinking.”

See Vieux Lille is a very touristy (and sometimes ritzy) neighborhood of Lille. It’s where you can find the cathedral and luxury stores like Louis Vuitton. Apartments cost a fortune to rent or buy. That is not where we live. Continue reading

la rentrée (me included)

My teaching days are not over, and I’m not just referring to the English lesson I gave in Bourguignon.

Now, that I am no longer “sans papiers“, I have the right to look for work and to work. I’ve been looking at job ads for months even when I didn’t have the right to work, and I’m currently in actual job searching mode.

Even before my appointment at the Prefecture, one of the potential plans I had was to apply at a language school where a few friends work/worked. In fact, one of my friends was quitting, so I knew they’d have hours available, so why not apply?

almost bilingue la rentree

Continue reading

new year’s eve / salsa posada

almostbilingue nye2014 cremant du Jura

It’s been awhile since my last post. For obvious reasons, I didn’t feel right posting anything last week with everything that was happening in Paris.

So now, it’s finally about time that I tell you about our New Year’s Eve.

We weren’t really sure what we wanted to do, but I knew what I did not want to do. Eat a ridiculously big meal where the main course isn’t until after midnight. I also kind of wanted to go out somewhere.

Even though everyone we knew was off somewhere, we decided to come back to Lille rather than stay in Franche-Comté where we spent Christmas.

I happened to see the New Year’s Eve menu for a Mexican restaurant in Vieux Lille, Salsa Posada, we’ve been wanting to try. It was super reasonably priced (we could both eat for less than the price of one for NYE in a French restaurant), and we liked the options available, so we made reservations. Continue reading