I haven’t blogged here in ages, and I’d like to bring things to a sort-of closure. I am writing this from my office in our new house in the Charente. It is hard to believe that just two years ago, my husband and I met and began our whirlwind, international romance. It is sometimes harder to believe we actually persevered and made it through the unbelievable challenges that were thrown at us from all sides. WE DID IT!!!
I’ve been in France officially as a resident since May of 2015. I have my Carte de Sejour now, and just yesterday, received my Carte Vitale in the mail. Today, I even managed to get myself a library card. Of course, that was significantly easier than everything else, let me tell you! I’ve even made great strides in driving the old stick shift!
I’ve been taking French since I arrived, but it is slow going. While I wish I was in school every day, out here in the country, there just aren’t opportunities for that. So I string my French lessons together as I can. I take a couple of hours in the nearest town every week. I also use the internet to study and listen to French radio and TV. I tried joining a choir but ironically, they sang a lot of English songs. I registered at the Pole Emploi, the equivalent of the Department of Labor, and will receive additional weekly lessons through them for free starting in a few months. I just wish it was starting now and happening every day!
In fact, the language barrier is now the single most important obstacle I must learn to overcome. But as long as one has some good translators to call when needed (and can afford to pay them), one can get by. Of course, I can’t wait for the day when I can actually speak and write well enough to handle things myself. It is tough to put so much trust in others who are speaking for me all the time. So much is lost in translation.
But generally, I’m finding that life here isn’t nearly as difficult as I expected it to be. Now that the worst is over, I’m finding it all pretty easy. Maybe I’m fooling myself. Time will tell…
The hardest parts about living here:
1. It is easier to meet and socialize with the English-speaking community than to integrate into French society. In my experience, there is little support to help the English-speaking community to integrate…okay, actually none! Maybe it would be different if we were in a big city like Paris, though.
2. It can be a nightmare to find the answers to important questions. Very often, the answers lead one down a rabbit hole that merely seems to produce even more questions.
3. My life has shrunk considerably in many ways in terms of friends, opportunities, and a sense of control over what happens to me.
The best parts about living here (aside from being with Stuart):
1. The view out my window is phenomenal, and there is plenty of quiet.
2. There are some real angels here and it is a joy to meet and interact with them. France is cultivating my gratitude for the finer things in life (and I don’t mean wine).
3. I’m growing by leaps and bounds and am having to overcome a ton of my fears and resistances, all very good for my personal healing. As I can’t control anything, I have no choice but to just let go and let is all unfold. That is a huge lesson and a huge gift.
Time will tell how difficult it is to make an actual living here doing what I was doing in the States. I may have to be more flexible or go in a completely unexpected direction. I may find it impossible. Who knows? But that’s the next thing on my plate…making a living.