The first few days in the city of lights have been (not surprisingly) very gray and damp but really great so far. No complaints yet...ok a few complaints but I'll get to that later.
I've been very busy since I landed on Thursday, accomplishing more than I had planned to in the first few days. I was originally going to wait until this week to be productive but was forced into it earlier when I ventured out Friday morning to buy a French plan for my cell phone. You wouldn't think that going to the phone store would be the catalyst for a chain of ridiculous hurdles to jump through, but it was.
So I'm at the phone store where it's always so busy you have to take a number and wait for at least 20 minutes. I figure out what I need for my phone plan when the girl helping me asked for my French banking information. Well, I definitely didn't have that and didn't think I would need that but apparently it's a must. I figured I had time and energy so I went and opened up my French bank account which I would have needed eventually but didn't plan on doing this on the first day. To make a very long story short, I opened my account and thought that I was set. I had my account number, the debit card would be ready in a few days and I would have personal checks in a week. I was exhausted after the bank because I was running back and forth between the bank and Marie's apartment to get all of the required documents for a foreigner to open an account - which is a lot of random things that you wouldn't normally have on you – but I wanted my phone! The obsession with having a phone stems from Marie not having internet at her apartment. Or a computer. She's 75 so I'm not shocked, but it does drive me nuts. If I have a phone with internet I'll be a happy camper.
At this point I thought I had everything to get the phone so I went back for the second time that day and showed them that I had my bank account now. The people at this phone store only give me information as needed so finding out what I need is like putting together a puzzle. From opening up my bank account, I had Marie's ID card and an electric bill with her name on it. I understand the bank needing this information (somewhat) but never thought the phone place would need it. Well, they did. And they needed a letter from Marie stating I was living with her at the moment. I'm sure if I had a first born they probably would have asked for that, too...and I probably would have given it to them because I want a phone that bad. So I walk the couple of miles back to Marie's and she writes a letter for me to bring to the phone store again. I walk in for the third time that day...take a number...wait...wait...and then I'm told I need a voided check or my debit card to prove that the account information I have matches up with the debit card and checks that I should have but won't have for a week. I'll try again in a couple of days – fourth time's a charm, right? Until then, I'll keep stealing internet from McDonald's until they kick me out. But in my defense, McDonald's should not have a stellar internet connection if they don't want people to use it.
I have a feeling this is how most things will play out for the first couple of months here. I was warned by Jaime (my sister living in Germany) that everything abroad is ten times harder than it needs to be but Germans are super strict so I was hoping it was country specific...not so much! My next adventure is apartment searching which is already more difficult and complicated than I thought it would be, but like everything else it will all work out in the end.
When I'm not making circles around the city trying to get a phone, I've been hanging out with my friend Libby from Minnesota who has been teaching English in Paris since September. I met Libby while studying abroad in 2006 and it's so nice to have her here while I'm getting settled. When she left in the fall, I told her to find us friends to hang out with and she did a fine job! Everyone is super welcoming and fun – the perfect escape when the city wears me out.
Ok, time to go apartment searching again!