Best Travel Moments, 2015

This post is a reflection on 2015, but the featured image was taken in 2010 at a train station in Granada, Spain. It’s a favorite of mine because it’s the best I’ve been able to capture the feeling I get as I’m about to embark on a trip of any kind. The train door stands…

Not My First OFII Rodeo

I’ve received new visas for each of the periods I’ve worked in France, so I’ve been to OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) for the “visite médicale” four separate times. I’m a pro at this point and, to OFII’s credit, the process now looks like a well-oiled machine when compared to my other…

11 TAPIF Must-Dos

If you’ve decided to embark on the Teaching Assistant Program in France, chances are you already have the travel bug and an interest in deeply discovering a foreign place instead of skimming its surface like the average tourist. There are lots of ways to take advantage of your resident expatriate status while living abroad and to do…

TAPIF Packing List

Packing for TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) is no easy task. You’re moving to a foreign country, but only for about half a year. How do you minimize cost, maximize efficiency, and still make sure you don’t feel like you’re living out of a suitcase? It’s hard to predict what you’ll regret leaving behind, but…

TAPIF Invasion: 10 Ways to Frappe the Ground Running

It’s that time of year: young anglophones lugging bulging suitcases suddenly appear in airports and train stations all over France, many of them employing a version of the local language that exists only in textbooks (and some of them, if we’re being honest, speaking what can only generously be called franglais). The TAPIF invasion has begun!…

Bicycling and Broiling in Burgundy

One of the best things about living an unsettled existence is that you end up with friends who live all over the world and are often similarly unsettled. This means… lots of mutual travel mooching! You crash with them, they crash with you, and everybody has a travel party. A friend I met through TAPIF has returned to…

Indiana Jones and the Missing Apostille of Doom

When I submitted my application for the Carte Vitale, the infuriatingly elusive piece of plastic entitling me to the medical benefits for which I already pay taxes, I was told that it would be processed within three weeks. That was more than three months ago. Still, hope flickered last week when I received an envelope emblazoned with “Carte…

What ze ‘ell? French Habits You Won’t Find on a List of Stereotypes

Many Americans have a mental image of “French Life” that runs somewhere along these lines: smoking at outdoor café tables, bicycling alongside a river with a baguette under an arm, wearing scarves and generally looking “chic,” drinking wine while discussing culture and art. And of course, all of this takes place with the Eiffel Tower as backdrop,…

When shit goes down and you’re not there

I spent most of my life before 2008 in the Boston area, hating the New York Yankees and shoveling snow, but have since lived there only intermittently. I miss the baseball. I don’t miss the winters. While a New York City resident in 2013, I received a text message one morning that made my blood run cold: “is your family…

Faire la Bise: An American Nightmare

I just took a bite out of the lovely nose of a very attractive acquaintance. No, this was not a victory, a spontaneous and aggressive flirtation. This was a bise failure. Widely mocked in American pop culture, the bise, or cheek-kiss, is real. Any French person, upon meeting stranger or friend, will bump cheeks and make kissing…