I thought I would start doing weekly (or semi-weekly) updates, because I’d like to keep you more connected with what’s going on in my life, and it’s fun to share the little things 🙂 I will try to keep up with these!
It has been so great being back in France, this time with a long-stay visa! It feels so good knowing that I don’t have to leave soon for a month and a half.
I have a student visa, which lasts until November, and am beginning French courses next Monday. I can’t wait! I have studied French in school on and off since seventh grade, and now I finally get the chance to study it in PARIS! When I leave class every day, I will walk outside to a world where I can practice the language. I will be intense, but I am so excited about advancing my level.
For us to stay here through next summer, I still need to land a full-time job, so I can have a visa that lasts through June 2019, and so we make money rather than drawing out of our savings.
Until my language skills improve and I am more competitive in the job market, I am trying to find part-time jobs like babysitting or tutoring to supplement our income. I’ve already got a couple of leads, so I hope that everything comes together soon!
Living in a new country is never without its challenges, however, so of course I am having a lot of trouble with my phone.
First, the whole time I was here in December my SIM card (which worked fine September-October) didn’t work, so we tried to order a new one and it never came. Now, we have a new one (a third one actually! the first two we ordered never came!), but it didn’t work either. Ugh! So I’m still trying to get that fixed. It’s really annoying and disabling to not have cell service or data.
Second, my phone (an iPhone 6 that’s 2 years and 8 months old) is physically in perfect shape, but because phones aren’t built to last much longer than their contract, it is giving me lots of trouble. Since the summer, from time to time it freezes up and I have to turn the screen off and on to do anything. Now it’s doing that much more frequently, and in addition, it’s also doing a lot of stuff on it’s own, as if it’s possessed.
Third, to fix my phone, I reset it today, and now I can’t message Whit or my parents or friends because WhatsApp, my primary form of communication here, requires a verification text – and I obviously don’t have service through my American phone number. And now it looks like my password for my email isn’t working, so I can’t update my email either.
Can anything go right??
It’s frustrating to have these kinds of challenges that are constant throughout the day, and don’t resolve over the course of the week.
Whit was having a lot of trouble with his phone, too – the battery would only last for a couple of hours, but his new one just arrived and fortunately is working great.
There are other things, too, like the payment not going through for my language school because my bank suspected it was a fraudulent charge, and having to contact them and re-attempt the transaction several times.
But all in all, life feels much smoother now that I have a plan and know I can stay here with Whit for the short-term foreseeable future. I won’t take that for granted anymore!
Oh wait, I forgot that I’ve also had a cold and stomach-ache since last weekend! I’ve had this week off, since I don’t have a job and school hasn’t started yet, but it hasn’t been SUPER FUN because I’ve had to sleep a lot, and haven’t been able to eat much more than simple carbs. At least I know I’ll be feeling better shortly, if not in the next few days.
Fortunately, despite all the little but aggravating challenges, Whit and I have been able to enjoy good time together, and I’ve gotten to hang out with people here, too.
On Sunday we went to church and met up with friends afterwards for lunch at a Korean restaurant. It had a really cute atmosphere, bright and simple. The food was good, the flavors different than other types of food but the elements were familiar. My stomach started hurting later that day; I don’t think it was from the food, but I still felt like it wasn’t the best thing to eat while I wasn’t feeling my best.
The previous day we spent all day lounging at home. We pulled our table in front of the sofa and set up Lord of the Rings and video games on our computer. I have never been into Lord of the Rings and usually sleep through them, but it’s Whit’s favorite movie series, and I was in the mood. I ended up being very interested and asking him tons of questions about the movie – I felt like I finally understood it! Because it was the extended version and we had paused it so many times, I thought it was over when we got to the end of the first disc (after TWO HOURS). I was a little overwhelmed with all the new information from the plot and decided to watch the second half another time! Ha, I am such a wimp at Lord of the Rings.
When Whit came home Monday, I was feeling antsy from being cooped up inside all day, so we decided to go for a little walk. I had been feeling bad that Tela never gets to go outside or even smell fresh air (if we open our windows, she could easily jump out, so to her dismay we normally keep them closed), and had wanted to let her explore our courtyard. We put her leash on and she immediately went to search for the cat that lives under the stairway. We pulled her away and took her outside, but she was too scared to look around.
After dropping her off back in the apartment, we decided to go back outside. We started walking aimlessly down the street, and I suggested trying out the restaurant nearby that advertised jazz on Monday nights. We walked inside and immediately fell in love. The restaurant was split into two rooms, a bar with small tables and the jazz band on one side, and larger tables for dining with comfy seats on the other. Each table had a candle, which lit the stone walls and wine glasses in the most romantic way.
We stuck around for a drink and enjoyed a low key date IN AN OLD FRENCH JAZZ BAR LESS THAN A BLOCK FROM OUR APARTMENT. It is so crazy how casual it was to just walk in! Most people are searching for that exact atmosphere when they travel to Paris on vacation, and we just stumbled in! It was one of those moments that reminded us that where we live is awesome.
We realized it was getting late and tried to motion to our waitress that we were ready for the check. Since she brought our drinks, she hadn’t been back to check on us. That is completely normal in a European restaurant, because the waiters don’t work on tips. Gratuity is included in the check, so service is pretty minimal. It’s actually nice, because you can stay and talk however long you want without any hassle from your waiter constantly interrupting your conversation or trying to move your table.
However, in this case, we were trying to leave and whatever I did I could not get the waitress’ attention! She walked from the bar to the other side of the restaurant. She brought a check to a table across from ours. She walked several feet away from us to go downstairs. BUT SHE WOULD NOT LOOK AT OUR TABLE! I raised my hand, waved at her, stared at her waiting to see if she would make eye contact. After about ten minutes of trying, we finally got her attention.
She brought the check over, and Whit realized he hadn’t brought his wallet, since we weren’t planning to go anywhere in particular! He ran home in the cold, without his coat or sweater, and actually made it back to our table before the waitress brought the check. Ahhh too funny. Realizing how close we live to this kind of experience made me never want to move (even though I’m dying for more space than we have in our current apartment!).
Wednesday was Valentine’s Day and we made a last-minute plan to find a concert where we could enjoy some more jazz, or even better, funk. This being a large city and a holiday, there were plenty of options. We landed on a world-funk band that does instrumental jamming.
We didn’t really know what to expect, but when we walked in there was dead silence in the audience. The band was in the middle of a quiet jam. Heads turned toward us as we snuck in between the last row of seats and the bar to make our way over to the stairs. I had seen a second floor balcony in the pictures online, but it appeared to be closed off. The room was SO small (there were maybe 50 guests). We stood by the stairs until a worker got a few more seats down from a stack of chairs for us.
It was so quiet in between songs that we had to wait until they started playing more loudly to order drinks! Whit whispered his order to the bartender. Everyone was so focused and into the music, listening intently and gently bobbing their heads or closing their eyes. It was really amazing to be part of a deep shared musical experience.
Each song had so much tension and dissonance, and the spacing between each note was super funky and jazzy. The lights and electronica made it feel very spacey too, which I love. In addition to the normal piano, drums, and bass, there was also a harp and an ngoni, a rare African instrument that two of my favorite bands use. Whit said it was the most experimental jamming he had ever heard live, and I have to agree.
We both loved it. After the band finished playing, they walked over the bar and ordered drinks, and hugged several of the audience members, who I assume were family or close friends. We felt like we found “our crowd” in Paris and wished we spoke more French to try to meet some of the people there or see if we share any of the same favorite bands. It was a great experience and we hope to catch more live music while we live in such a big city!
Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Have you seen any live music lately?
P.S. If you didn’t catch it, see our photos from the snow here!