Thursday, 10 April 2008

nearly ready to say goodbye to Lyon.

I was going to save this post until maybe tomorrow or Saturday, but I think life is just going to get busier and busier so I'm taking the chance now. When I should really be online searching for apartments. But it's a bit overwhelming and I've sent about 50 emails, and I think I need to grow some courage and start ringing people on the French...

Unfortunately I don't have that much news, becuase I've pretty much spent all week since Geneva online. I've decided to bite the bullet and so I'm moving to Paris on Saturday. I'm staying with a daughter of a friend of my aunt (talk about relying on the kindness of strangers!) for a little while, so I really need to hit the ground running. Thus, I've been online searching for jobs, apartments... the good news is that I've lined up 7 English teaching job interviews. The bad news is apartment hunting looks like it's going to be a complete and utter nightmare, if not nigh on impossible. Well, I guess I just have to keep my chin up and trust that somehow, something will work out.

I'm still pretty down on Lyon, although I've had glimmers of interest. I think I've really learnt from this experience that knowing a few people, having someone you can have a coffee and a chat with, and a little bit of sunshine and greenery can make all the difference. I haven't really liked Lyon at all, but the weather's been depressing, I don't know anyone, I don't know the cool places and everything is grey grey grey ugly 80s buildings. It's a big, unwelcoming city, but I don't think it has to be that way. I've come across a couple of pretty little corners that make me wonder if I could have had the opposite experience had things panned out differently, but I still think it's not the easiest city to love.

I missed another class this week becuase I had a big palaver with my train pass. The train systems here are great, in that you can buy an 'abonnement' (I don't know what it translates as...season ticket?) for a given period and then you can use as much public transport as you like. Mine ran out on Monday so I had to recharge it, only when I got to the machine I realised it only took coins (and I didn't have 9 coffees worth of coins on me surprisngly) and it wouldn't accept my Australian credit card. There was no office at my tiny little station, so I bought a single trip to get into the station and then asked one of the attendents at what station could I find an office. Conversation as follows (in French):

Emily: 'I need to buy an abonnement and my Australian credit card won't work in the machine. Where is the nearest station with a ticket office?'. (Nb. I said this perfectly).
Attendant: 'oh, follow me, you just need to use the machine'.
E: 'no, the machine won't work with my Australian credit card'
A: 'oh ok. Follow me.'
E: 'ok'
A: 'here, use the machine'
E: 'um, no. It won't work, see I have an Australian credit card? It won't work'.
A: 'oh ok. You need to go to a station with an office'
E: 'Yes. Which one has an office?'
A: 'Oh good question. Let's go and look at the map. Follow me.'
E: 'I can't. I've just used my single ticket leaving the station. I can't come back in'.
A: 'Oh oops. Sneak back in with me.'
E: 'Um...ok...'
A: 'Oh here, let's look at the map. Here, go to this station'.
E: (looks at the map and realises she's getting bad advice). 'Ok, thanks for your help'.

Emily gets on the train and goes to a different station, not the one the attendant tells her to go to. Waits in line for 45 minutes. Buys abonnement. Decides that it's now 1.5 hours into the 3 hour class and she might as well skip it and do something else. Decides to ask another attendent for directions to where she wants to go.

New attendent: 'Well, what you want to do is, go in that direction for a while, then look at your map and then realise I've told you to go the wrong way'.


I tried to go to UBS (somethingorother bank of Switzerland) to deposit my enrollment fees into the Uni Geneva account. I got quite lost because the building didn't seem to exist, and then I found it in the middle of the road (it was number 1) with a big shut door. A moneyed suited man came back from lunch at that point, and kindly told me that UBS outside of Switzerland is an investment bank, and no that was not going to work. How do I deposit money then? Go to Geneva. D'oh!

Still, on the way I saw actual chocolate coated bread. Only in France hey?

This week has been very up and down for me. Some days I'm excited becuase I'm living in France and because everything's new and different and because I'm about to move to Paris and how amazing is that? Other days I've been down in the dumps because what am I doing here and I'm never going to find an apartment in Paris, especially not in under a week! I'm trying to be a bit pragmatic about it now. Maybe it will work out and maybe it won't, but there's too much unknown information so I can't really know either way. Hopefully once I get to Paris I'll be able to judge the situation a little better.

In the meantime I've had a bit of a brainwave. I came to Europe because I wanted to work out a few things - what I wanted to do with the rest of my life for instance. (Yes, that old chestnut). I thought it would be an active process and I've been quite frustrated with myself that I don't seem to be getting any closer to figuring it out (or maybe I am but it still feels like I'm going round in circles in a smoke filled room, and yes I know it's only been 10 weeks and maybe I'm expecting a bit much of myself). But actually maybe the point is, not that being here will help me figure it out any quicker or better, but just that sooner or later, in its own time and its own way, the answer will come to me (maybe I'll find something I love doing, or somewhere I love being, or I will see an ad for a job that's just too exciting to ignore, or I'll get sick of travelling and want to come home and get a mortgage) and it's not something I can force. And the point of being in Europe is not that it'll help me find the answer, but just that at least until I do I'm spending my time interestingly seeing the world and learning lots of new things, and not just treading water.


Lauren said...

That last paragraph is spot on, Em. Enjoy the experience, try not to think too much, and don't pressure your brain to make a decision. Things will sort themselves out.

Good luck with Paris - I hope it's wonderful for you! Sometimes the youth hostels have English newsletters and suchlike about jobs and accommodation, which might help you. I specifically remember seeing them at La Village (in Montmartre somewhere...) but I'm sure other places have them too.

Hang in there, Supergirl!

alt.ayu said...

hey i saw the same tree/flower thing right here in Singapore on friday afternoon when I read your post! It was kinda like a deja vu but I didn't get a chance to go down and look at it because I was in the car. Still. :)

I hope everything goes well for you in Paris too~ xoxoxoxox