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It Is All Downhill From Here . . .

Going Down?

Going Down?

Allow me to fulfill a cliché; let me reflect as it is a new year after all.  I often get the question how long will you stay in France? Honestly, that is a tough one to answer and usually answer I don’t know yet.  To have such a colossal change in one’s life (moving to a foreign country) there is a necessity to let it play out for a while.  See how things fit and feel; the positives and negatives.  My employer, Amadeus, knows this need all too well.  Hence why for the 3rd interview they fly their candidates to do an all day face-to-face interview.  They want to make sure you feel comfortable here in the Côte d’Azur.  I believe they were more attracted to me being single as frequently it is an easier transition for one person instead of many.  I have heard stories at work of how they found candidates, hired them and relocated them plus the families and only to lose their investment not even a year later.  The new employee was adjusting fine and doing well on the job.  It was the partner or children of the employee that were not adjusting well forcing the new employee to resin and move back to their home country.

We still have two positions open in my department at work and my managers have been actively interviewing.  For a recent example, there was a Canadian that was a prime candidate and made it all the way to the third interview here in France.  He was married and had children.  Unfortunately, when he went home and reflected with his family, they turned the position down.  He stated it wasn’t enough pay but you never know what the family discussion was like on such a big change.  He may have been just hiding behind that reason.  Of course from a business perspective, Amadeus would rather write-off a plane ticket then the whole cost of relocation for a family.

So the words of wisdom among expats is to really give the new location 3 years.  After that 3rd year, you can truly feel acclimated and feel your new home is just that, home.  The 1st year is the honeymoon and you love your new country, new sights, new sounds and new cuisines.  The 2nd year is when the pendulum swings the other way.  All you notice are the negatives about the new country.  The people all of sudden become either annoying, rude or stupid; the food suddenly becomes overrated; the bureaucracy either makes you want to scream or cry.  Finally the 3rd year is when things level out; you appreciate the true positives and accept the negatives as what they are.  In the meantime, I hope to being traveling in 2011 specifically here in France.  I am truly excited to have the opportunity to explore the different cities such as Toulouse, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Dijon and Lille for long long weekends with no worries about jet-lag.

My Carte Vitale

My Carte Vitale

But let’s get to me. 🙂  It is interesting that this new year is supposedly all downhill.  I say interesting because I feel like I have so much less to worry about.  A couple last pieces of the puzzle to complete my transition arrived in the mail last week.  I had my official Carte Vitale with my French social security number.  I am officially in the system and can get any health care service in this country and automatically have 70% of the bill paid by the State.  A big relief has you never know what life brings you.  The other item was my acknowledgement from the Préfecture on my driver’s license.  My file is ready for them to receive my PA driver’s license to exchange it for a French one.  Another relief as you only have a year from point of entry to do this exchange.  My car insurance company requires me to do this step to remain insured.

So what do I have left to worry about in my second year? Really, not much. My interaction with the bureaucracy will be minimal leaving less room to get upset with them.   My personal budget is in good shape now having cleared most of my moving bills.  Friendships are blossoming.  Work is clear and I know what to do (and not do).  I have strong colleagues at work and plenty of people to go to lunch with.  Amadeus is making plenty of profits so we have longevity for business.  Time will tell if this blog will take a more antipathetic tone and I follow the paths of previous expats.  The main thing is to stay focused on year 3 in order to really assess whether I stay in France or not.

Personal note: For those interested in what I did specifically to bring in the Nouvelle Année, I spent the evening with some new friends.  First I did have to work a half-day that clearly had a relaxed attitude.  Then one of my new friends hosted the evening in his apartment for simple food, wine and dancing.  It is one evening you can have a party in France and not have your neighbors yell at you for being too loud.  The party lasted until 3:00 in the morning and then we all got safely home.  France is really cracking down on DUIs (since it has a not so good record compared to its European counterparts) and the police are out full force on New Year’s Eve.  Luckily my ride didn’t encounter any along the way.  It was good time and just the way I like it as I am not one to really go to public spots on New Year’s.  Bonne année et bon santé!

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