Day before yesterday, Chris ran to the local tabac (offy / liquor store – sans liquor) to spend a whole bunch of money to buy these little tiny pieces of paper that quite closely resembled a mix between stamps and monopoly money. On each of those little pieces of paper was a unit of money: 1€, 8€, 50€. This mysterious task was required in order for our subsequent trip, yesterday, to the prefecture, which is the same word in English and therefore not really necessary to italicize. But whatever. I do because I can. I hope you read it with the appropriate pronunciation. Moving right along…that trip to the aforementioned prefecture was to pick up my carte de sejour, or card of stay, more appropriately translated as “staying card,” or for you boring folks out there who like to keep it simple, my visa, for which they only accept the aforementioned monopoly-stamp-money .
Yup, there’s me, looking all accomplished and self-satisfied. And with good reason. This business is complicated. Of course, that complication isn’t exclusive to France…we had lots of fun sorting out our visas in the Philippines every stinking 2 months. And I had to go through the mill to get my residency sorted in England several years ago as well. The big difference here is that this is all happening in a language I only just kinda-sorta speak. Thankfully, my decision to come – and to stay – was due to a certain very helpful and patient francophone.
He has, however, not done it on his own. I’ve been there all along, stumbling behind, asking why we’re going to this place, why we have to do this thing, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. There’s also quite a bit I’ve had to do toute seule. For example, a day trip to a slightly-larger town called Clermont-Ferrand just over a month ago gave Chris the chance to do a bit of sight-seeing, strolling about taking pictures and window shopping along the way. I, on the other hand, got to sit with a bunch of strangers watching two very dull films about life in France, meeting with a man who took great joy in speaking as quickly as possible while I tried to make sense of what he was saying, meeting with a doctor who somehow understood better than the aforementioned man that I was an étrangere – a foreigner – and therefore spoke slowly and clearly enough that I didn’t miss a single thing she told me, and then being informed that I would need to go through three courses to avoid deportation.
The first two are required for everyone, and last only a day. My formation civic, or civics class, will take place in June, while my session d’information sur la vie en France, Or French life information session, isn’t until July. Far more interesting, I think, is that I am obliged to take a French course. And they don’t mess about: I’m in class Mondays and Tuesdays for three hours in the morning, and Thursdays and Fridays all day. I’m studying to take a test called the DELF A1, and if I don’t pass it, they’ll chuck me out of the country. Luckily I’ve been assured by my instructrice that I’ve absolutely nothing to worry about and in fact I shouldn’t even have to take that test. Apparently, if the aforementioned (I realize I’ve overused that word today) French version of the micromachines dude had slowed down a tiny bit he would have realized this. But whatev’s. The good news is that instead of having to take the class until mid-October for a test in December, she’s talked the Immigration Department decider-people into letting me take it in May. From there I’ll have the option, assuming I pass and am not trying to figure out where-to-next, of re-enrolling to study for the DELF A2, which is not obligatory, but I figure it would be good to have a grasp on the lingo, seeing as how I’ve decided to stay.
Alongside legalizing my presence and learning to speak the language, I’m trying to build my own language classes. That’s right. I am officially in early-mid-life crisis: I have gotten my TEFL qualification. OK – all jokes aside – one of which being the online course I took for my certificate – there actually is method involved here. While the writing thing is still a thing
[shameless plug – look out for my name in print in the following magazines over the next few months: E, the Environmental Magazine; International Living, and for my Canuck amigos, Verge. We now return to your regularly scheduled babbling. I mean blogging.]
it isn’t exactly lucrative enough to pay my fair share. So the idea is that taking on a few English students will supplement me enough to keep on keeping on with the wordsmithing (see what I did there?). And while I am by no means a raging success in any of these, I can officially count myself a student of French, a teacher of English, and a writer of words.
I’ve done a lot of things in this life to make a buck (or a quid, or a euro), and some of the most fruitful moments of my existence have been those in which I multi-tasked like crazy. Here’s hoping this is one of them. At any rate, it’s all part of the grand scheme of making life work here, where – for the moment, anyway – we plan to stay.