Sunday, July 26, 2009


I'm leaving in 2 months, minus 3 days.

So, between then and now I have to:

1. Get my visa. Erica and I are going to Atlanta on August 17.

2. Contact my contact person. I am putting this off because I have to contact her in French. Yes, I majored in French. Yes, I have studied the language for more years than I would like to admit. But, for some reason, the prospect of emailing someone that I do not know is terrifying. When you speak to someone, to their face, you can express a lot more through facial expression, gestures, or you can just smile when you don't know what's going on. But in an email, the person might misunderstand my question and reply in a way that doesn't make sense, and then it's back and forth, back and forth.

3. Figure out what I'm packing, in particular, HOW I'm packing. I don't want to run around Charles de Gaulle with four huge, heavy bags, attempt to catch a train, then, be unable to actually board the train due to aforementioned bags. I also do not want to freeze in December because I didn't pack my boots and winter coat.

4. Attempt to find housing, not an easy task as the French are not as "online" as Americans. The chances of finding a legit apartment or foyer is pretty slim.

A foyer - pronounced like the entryway to houses (foy-yay) - is something like a dormitory for anyone over 18, but it is not necessarily attached to a university. There are typically single rooms, and there can be private or community baths and a community kitchen. This can be a good idea for someone with no furniture, like me.

Here is something else really interesting about living in France: As a teaching assistant making a bit less than €1000/month, I will be applicable for government housing aid. The amount seems to be around €160/month, which could be a huge help. Although I don't get anything until I have an address.

5. Mentally prepare. This is a combination of "Ahhhhhhhh! I'm leaving the country for 9+ months" and "Yeeeeeeaaaaaaa! I'm leaving the country for 9+ months!"

Now, onto contacting this person, in the best French possible.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Plane Ticket!

Welcome to this blog:
The next year of my life will be spent in France with, I'm sure, as many Euro-Afro-Middle Eastern-Asian excursions as I can afford. Read on if you're interested.
I plan for this to comprise a sort of journal of my experiences, any interesting, funny, or strange things that I encounter, and a bit of commentary on the bigger picture. (Although which bigger picture is not something I've quite put my finger on yet.)
Another goal is to keep the number of "I"s to a minimum, as it can grow tiring. Buuut, this may prove difficult, so bear with me!

Bill Sehnert, my boss at Peer Power, recommended that I start a blog to document the year, and, more importantly, to provide my kids insight into life abroad. Hopefully, some of the Lester kids will have a chance to read it.

Anywho, allons enfants & mes amis!
So, I received my "arrête de nomination" on July 9 and had only 6 days (including the weekend) to get my contract mailed back to Nântes. As you can see, France is already trying to make my experience as exciting as possible.
I will be teaching (or assisting, not really sure yet) at the primary school in Angers, France. The name of the school is école élémentaire publique JULES VERNE, which makes me inordinately excited. I am, however, terrified at the prospect of teaching small, screaming French children who may not understand a word I say. Or they could love me. Either one.

The big news: I bought a plane ticket! Having a plane ticket makes the whole prospect much more concrete. Also, it makes it scary. I will leave September 23 and fly from Memphis to Minneapolis on Northwest. Then I will fly IcelandAir to Reykjavik, Iceland and, finally, arrive in Paris on the 24th. It will be a very long day.

Up next, trying to acquire a Visa... which will be either $135 or free. Both prices are listed on the website. Yay, clarity! The best part about this will be the road trip with my mom.

*Finally, I need to credit Kev and Dev (or maybe just Dev) with naming this blog. They said, "Al Abroad is kind of like All Abroad." Actually, that is not a direct quote.