dimanche 20 janvier 2013

New year, new beginnings

This is one blog post I hope I won't be repeating this year. I almost named this post, "A bad start to 2013", but I decided that it would be better to try and look forward rather than backwards.

A few days ago I received a negative reply to a job that I had applied to in February of last year. Yes, things really do take that long in France sometimes. Normally the response for this job was supposed to have been in November, but what's a few more months, right?

I've decided that I will apply again for next year's round. I don't really feel like applying again, but I know I've got to keep trying. I knew the odds were that I would be rejected so I was prepared for it. Who knows, maybe if they keep seeing my application every year they'll give me the job to get rid of me. I'm just hoping they'll see this as proof of my motivation. So maybe next year, or the year after that...

A friend and he husband were robbed at the Gare du Nord a few days ago while waiting for the train to London. Their tickets were stolen as well, so unfortunately their trip to London and Cambridge had to be cancelled. There was no way they could go, as even her Carte de Séjour was stolen as well. I have never been robbed like that in broad daylight, but I really fear this happening. I would feel so violated if this happened to me.

And last but not least, my uncle (my father's older brother) passed away a few days ago. This morning I called my father and found him, obviously upset, sitting alone at the kitchen table. It's times like these that make living abroad really difficult. If only I could be there for him...

I am really sad that I didn't bring my husband to meet my uncle. He was a kind person, always speaking to everyone with a quiet and soothing voice. I don't talk about him often, but I talked about visiting him to my husband the day after he passed, without knowing he was gone already. Isn't life strange?

The thing is, I'm supposed to visit my other uncle (my father's younger brother) on Tuesday and will be staying just over a week. This is trip I planned a few weeks ago. I hesitated about going after hearing about the passing of my uncle, but my cousins think I would make a good distraction. My father's family lives in Italy, so unfortunately he can't be there (since he lives in Canada). If only he could be there as well...

I hope that Denmark will be the breath of fresh air that I need. It'll be a chance to start off 2013 on a better note. We'll be really busy the first few days with paperwork and settling in. I'm thinking I might even learn some Danish! It is not a terribly useful language, but why not?  Despite the setbacks to this new year, I'm looking forward to the rest of this year. Bring on the good times!

lundi 14 janvier 2013

Bordeaux - My pros and cons

Abbatiale de Sainte-Croix de Bordeaux; Author of photo: Den Nation

This is what I love about living in Bordeaux:

1) Proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. I prefer the less crowded Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean. I even love visiting the coast in January just to see the waves crashing on the shore under the winter light.

2) Bordeaux is a beautiful city. I especially love it at night when it is illuminated.

3) Bordeaux is a flat city and is good for somebody whose main mode of transportation is the bicycle.

4) The food is wonderful. The local cuisine focuses on duck and seafood.

5) I like learning about wine. I love touring the local vineyards, meeting wine makers and sharing opinions on wine with others.

6) Beautiful countryside. I love the green, hilly vineyards (in part due to the rain). Since Aquitaine is less developed and industrial than eastern France, I find it very charming.

7) Cheaper prices than out east or Paris.

Things I don't like:

1) High unemployment in Bordeaux and Aquitaine. Aquitaine is a rural region, unlike the more developed and industrial eastern France (I am thinking of the Lyon-St. Etienne-Grenoble-Switzerland border areas in particular). I don't think it would be easy to settle here without speaking French as I don't feel many people here speak English well.

2) For somebody without a car/has a fear of driving, the public transportation system (into/out of Bordeaux) could be better. (Again, I am comparing it to the more developed eastern France.). This is due to the lower population density in the surrounding areas (which actually adds to the charm I mentioned in point 6 above). Regarding the city tram: I find it clean but slow.

3) I feel a bit isolated. The next biggest city is Toulouse, two hours away. I cannot search for work in the next biggest city to Bordeaux because Toulouse is too far away (and I find there are more jobs there, at least in my field) and Aquitaine doesn't have many cities. Train service to Paris is 3 hours away and Spain is 2 hours away, but service to go east of here is not very good in my opinion. The airport is not bad, service to eastern France is good, but there are few direct flights to the east outside of France. For some reason there are quite a few flights to Geneva and Basel, but finding a direct flight to Germany, for example, is very difficult.

4) I sometimes find the bordelais hard to get to know. This very well may be due to my introverted personality, but I find them sometimes to be standoffish. I find there to be more of a class division than in other parts of France. There are quite a few people here with money and they are well-dressed. I believe the wine industry has something to do with this.

5) Wine snobbism. There are other wines in France that are wonderful!

I'm sure I'll think of more good/bad points later on.

jeudi 10 janvier 2013

Neither here nor there

My heart thumped wildly as the plane shook during a patch of turbulence. I thought back over the past three weeks: delicious food, the company of family and friends and the winter landscape. Normally I am not teary-eyed at the thought of going back to Europe, but this time was different. Just what was I going back to? And most importantly, where?

We are between two countries. We are about to leave France for Denmark. We are homeless now, having let out our flat before going to Canada for Christmas. We have fantastic friends here in Bordeaux who are able to put us up until we ship out on the 21st. I can't believe the time has almost come for us to leave for Denmark. I dream that our lives will be put on hold while we are in Denmark, that when we return in September to Bordeaux everything will be as we left it. It cannot be. And that is what scares me the most - coming back after 7 months, not leaving. People move on, life changes. I hope that I will be able to find my place here again. These thoughts are forever on my mind. Not to mention the fact that my husband has already been offered a permanent contract in Denmark. We already know we have to come back for at least a year, and for the moment we don't think we will accept the permanent contract, but what happens if we really like it there? Or worse, we are divided between the two countries? Am I really ready to leave Bordeaux forever?

Only time will tell.

vendredi 4 janvier 2013

Hello world

I am finally starting a blog after years of lurking behind the scenes. It's time to get out there in the world!

I have no idea where this will lead, but I hope I will improve my writing skills and share experiences with other bloggers.

Get ready, here I come!