The 10 Worst Things About Living in France

Sometimes, when you’re not ready to say good-bye to a place, it can help to dredge up all the things you don’t like about living there. As I start having my French “lasts”– last tartelette aux pommes, last drink with a dear friend, last visit to my favorite part of the park, last, last, last, I’ve also started…

The 10 Best Things About Living in France

I’m leaving France at the end of this month after almost three years living and working here. My work contract is up and I’m ready for something new, but I can’t help feeling melancholy about leaving. Getting ready to say “au revoir” has me reflecting on what I’ll dearly miss about France…and what I really, really won’t….

Parlez-you Franglais?

One of the coolest things about living abroad in a country where they don’t speak your native language is what starts to happen to your brain. It used to feel like I might never lose the intermediary mental translation, that time-consuming stopover to convert all French input into English and English output into French. But…

A lectrice…what is that?

The best English translation of my French job title is “adjunct professor,” which seems slightly too fancy, considering my lack of advanced degree. Based on what I hear from other lecteurs and lectrices, the position varies somewhat from university to university but, in a coquille de noix, I’m a teaching member of the English department at a…

The Customer is Always…

This is a crash course in customer service philosophy across cultures. Business 101 in America: the objective is to get your customers to spend money, period. Sometimes this objective is pursued at the cost of employees’ dignity, happiness, and integrity, but, for good or ill, every American knows the mantra, “the customer is always right.” This…

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…

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…

How I Ran Away to France, the Third Time

After I participated in the Teaching Assistantship Program in France for the second time, I didn’t want to leave Europe. I loved working and living there, and decided that if I could get another job offer abroad I would take it. The only position I could target that I felt fit my experience and French language level (in which…

Jill: 0, CPAM: lost count

ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! It took every bit of self-restraint not to scream like that in the face of the impassive man I just encountered at the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie. To get the medical benefits I help fund with the taxes I pay to the French government every month, I need a social security number and Carte Vitale. These…