a visitor dans le ch’nord

This weekend, we had a visitor, an American who is currently an English assistant in Chauny. As some of you may remember from the old days, I spent three years in Chauny as an assistant. The town, people, and former colleagues hold a very special place in my heart. Anyway, since I know how small the town can feel at times, I invited the new assistant to come spend a few days in Lille. It also proved to be a fun way to spend a few days of my otherwise uneventful vacation.

We spent the weekend exploring the city, eating good food (complete with stinky cheese), playing with Elliot and taking him for walks, drinking far too much beer, and exchanging Chauny stories.

We also took advantage of some of the events happening around town. We went to see the “Mapping de Notre Dame de la Treille“, which we had seen last year during Fantastic. We also checked out the exhibit at Gare St Sauveur and “Dada is Not Dead” at La Maison de la Folie. I think I preferred the Dada exhibit. It was interesting and very original. If you’re in Lille between now and the beginning of December, I highly recommend it. Plus, it’s free.

Mapping

Mapping of Notre Dame de la Treille / Fantastic 2012

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elliot

So far, my vacation has been pretty uneventful. I’ve just been watching some American series, reading, and hanging out with my dog Elliot.

Speaking of Elliot, I think I should probably introduce the little guy as I’m sure he will feature quite a bit in this blog.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I love dogs. Adore them even. When I see one, I tend to go “Aww! Puppy!” as all dogs will always be puppies at heart. After my boyfriend and I spent two weeks in the US, which also meant spending a lot of time with my mom’s two adorable sweet girls, he surprised me by saying that we should adopt a dog. Continue reading

la rentrée et puis… vacation?

Last Friday, we had our pré-rentrée meeting where we learned about what would be happening this year, signed up for classes, etc. The meeting was pretty boring in general and possibly more informative for the newbies. Yes, there were quite a few new faces. Of course, I can’t help but wonder “What were they thinking?!”.

We learned about the schedule for the entire year… 16 weeks of classes total, lots of vacations, no set exam period, 4 to 6 month internship (which we may or may not be able to start April 1st), “soutenance” in November, etc.

We got part of schedule which is pretty incomplete (but still, better than I expected). Many of our classes didn’t start the first week and some don’t even start until January! Unfortunately, there are some 8am classes (hello, 6:30am train), days with like only one hour of class (for now), and even some Saturday classes (one in November, another starts in January). This is not going to be pleasant. At all. Continue reading

fun with la sécu

Normally, as a student in France, even as a foreigner, you must sign up for the student health insurance when you enroll higher studies. It’s super cheap (think less than $300 for the entire year) and covers 70% of your medical costs if you stick with just the basic plan. However, if you’re over 28 years old (because who would still be a student at 28?!), you don’t qualify for this insurance though there are some exceptions. I do not fit these exceptions.

However, I was very happy to learn, that I would have to simply sign up for the CMU at the CPAM, which is actually free and still covers 70% of medical costs! Without going into details, it’s basically for those who don’t qualify for health insurance through their jobs, spouses, etc (think unemployed or old students).

When I walked into CPAM to pick up the dossier to get signed up (though I knew I’d need my enrollment for the actual sign up, I thought I’d get ahead of the game), they asked if I was living alone. When I stated that I was living with my boyfriend, they said that as his “concubine” (yes, concubine), I had to be added to his insurance as an “ayant droit” even though we’re not married or PACSed. Adding me on does not cost either of us anything. Continue reading

oh, the joys of l’administration française

It’s finally that time of year (for me, at least) where it’s time to go back to school. Even though I’m doing the second year of the same Masters as last year, in France, you have to apply for the second year, and then sign up all over again. You also need to hand in all of your grades from the previous year even though you’re staying at the same university. Somehow, the departments just cannot work together on this one.

To make everything more complicated, I only got my grades for the latest semester yesterday. Yes, yesterday. I may have finished classes in April, but we didn’t have the defense for our “mémoire de stage” until a week ago. Thus, I couldn’t start the enrollment process until yesterday. Because of this, all the other admin type things got put on the back burner (hello, expired visa!) since I need the magical piece of paper that comes from being officially enrolled (will still have to wait on that).

It gets even better. I’m too old for the student health insurance, so I have to provide proof of health insurance for my enrollment. For health insurance, I need to provide a copy of my “titre de séjour” (residency card). To renew my visa for said card, I need to be officially enrolled in school. Yep, that’s pretty much French administration in a nut shell.  Continue reading

nouveau home

Some of you may know my old blog “A little bit chaunoise”, or more recently titled “A little bit valenciennoise”. I’ve decided to get back into the blogging world with a brand new start. I’m still setting up shop here (and getting used to wordpress), but I’ll hopefully be working on it in the next few weeks (perfect new project with school starting back up, right?).

For those who don’t know me yet, I’m an American who moved to France for 7 months as a language assistant back in 2007, and then sort of never left. From the small town Chauny (Picardie), to the bigger city of Valenciennes, and finally to Lille, my French adventures just keep continuing. Will “just one more year” ever be enough? I’m starting to doubt that.

A short little post to start with as it’s after 11pm. Yes, I’m good with priorities here.