Archive for June, 2009

About.com and Laura K. Lawless’s French blog really are wonderful. Read her post on how to read a French menu: http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/menu.htm. Now you won’t ever have to worry about dining out in France!


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The assistant contact to the French Embassy in D.C. recently sent out an email to all 2009-2010 Grenoble assistants (Americans), listing our email addresses and suggesting that we begin introducing ourselves while waiting for our paperwork to come in. We’ve received quite a response already – about half of the 60 email addresses listed have replied with a few paragraphs about where they’re from, what they like to do, what they expect from living/teaching in France. And in order actually begin remembering everyone (by putting faces with names), I started a Facebook group, Grenoble Assistants 2009-2010! Now it will be much easier for us all to find travel buddies, roommates, and friends even before we get to France.

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I think I’ll begin posting these interesting French idiomatic expressions that About.com faithfully sends me each week. This is mainly for me to remember, but who knows, maybe you’ll be able to use one or two in a sticky non-English-speaking situation…

Expression: Chercher des poux dans la tête (à quelqu’un)

Pronunciation: [sher shay day poo da(n) la tet]

Meaning: to search for any reason to argue (with someone), to quibble

Literal translation: to look for lice in someone’s head (gotta love the French 😉

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I knew that living as an assistant in France would give me an amazing amount of “vacation days” since my holidays correspond with the French school year, but I didn’t really take the time to figure out exactly how much time off I’ll have – until now.

In France, school vacation times are divided up into 3 zones:

  • Zone A: Caen, Clermond-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse
  • Zone B: Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen, Strasbourg
  • Zone C: Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris, Versailles
  • As you can see, Grenoble is in Zone A; therefore, I will have the following days (or weeks, really) to do whatever I want (i.e. gallavant across France and Europe!):

    Toussaint (All Saint’s Day) – Oct. 24-Nov. 5 = 13 days
    Noël (Christmas) – Dec. 19-Jan. 4 = 17 days
    L’hiver (Winter) – Feb. 13-March 1 = 19 days
    Printemps (Spring) – April 10-April 26 = 17 days

    So…if my calculations are correct, the grand total equals ~ 9 weeks off!

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    Recent chance meetings in my life as well as one of my current projects at work have gotten me thinking about the power of connections in getting things you want and/or where you want to go. Today’s world is all about knowing somebody, who knows somebody, who…etc., who knows how to get what you want. I guess this goes back to that “6 degrees of separation theory.” But as I progress into the real world community, I am seeing first-hand the benefits it can have. Not only am I learning to consistently think about possible work connections, but also personal ones that have gotten and will continue to get me to where I want to be.

    Take, for example, my current job. I probably wouldn’t have even heard of an international non-profit opportunity in BR if it hadn’t been for study abroad co-workers at my university. Then there are all the people that I meet through work and run into later in various places around town. Those connections have come in handy many times. I guess the “Red Stick” isn’t all that enormous after all!

    Thinking of all this purposeful and some not-so-purposeful networking has also made me begin looking forward to forming new relationships while in France. Though it’s sort-of a shame that I won’t be in Aix-en-Provence (what a perfect opportunity to obtain an internship on the other side of Baton Rouge’s Sister City program and really help to further relations between our two cities), I’m very excited to be in a region just as beautiful and very different from my home where I should be forced to put my French to better use. Regardless, I look forward to visiting Aix a few times and will be open to passing along any correspondance/documents that could aid in strengthening its “jumelle” bond with BR.

    I’ve also begun keeping a list of all my friends and contacts who will be in Europe at the same time I am. In doing this I will hopefully be able to visit them during one or more of my several paid vacations 🙂 So peeps, if you are reading this and will be around, let me know! Thank goodness I’m not going overseas in debt because traveling does cost money and the assistant salary is notoriously known for its frugal nature!

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    Due to a seemingly whirlwind of events which spanned all of 10 days, I received an email from La Fondation Louisiane revealing that I was eligible to apply for one of three heritage scholarships offered to 2009-2010 Assistants from Louisiana; however, the interview was the following Tuesday (only 5 days away) and the scholarship luncheon (which we also had to be present for if we received une bourse) was on Saturday.

    Needless to say, I did well enough in my first all-French interview to earn the Belleau Heritage Scholarship and now have a bit more money to put toward my plane ticket/immediate coutes de la vie when I first arrive in France! Yay for good surprises, and thank you La Fondation Louisiane!!!

    Interviewing for the scholarship also allowed me to meet three other assistants from Louisiana who will be placed in Lyon, Besancon, and Strasbourg. Hopefully we’ll be able to get together again this summer to talk about what’s in store and help each other prepare for the adventure ahead.

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    Things are finally beginning to progress as I received my second email from the official Assistantship contact person at the French Embassy in D.C. This email was pretty much just to introduce herself and let us know what we should be doing this summer (both while waiting for our paperwork and after we receive it). Here’s a run-down on the steps I will be taking:

    June – July :

    • Make sure your passport is valid.  – DONE
    • Locate a copy of your birth certificate that you can bring to France. – WILL DO (MAY ALSO NEED CERTIFIED TRANSLATION OF SAID BIRTH CERTIFICATE, BUT THEN AGAIN I MAY NOT…)
    • Research airline fares and purchase your plane ticket. – HAVE BEGUN THIS…UGH
    • Save money. – HAVE ALSO BEGUN THIS!!!
    • When you receive your Arrêté de Nomination:
    • Verify your personal information
    • Check for the stamp from the DDTEFP
    • Look for “Le Carnet de Route”
    • Contact your school!
    • Look for a letter from the ANAEM
    • Make a visa appointment at your regional French Consulate for late August or early September.


    • Contact Carolyn in D.C.  if you have NOT received your Arrêté de Nomination by early August.
    • Make sure you have all the necessary documentation, photos and photocopies for your visa appointment.

    Late August – Early September:

    • Get your Teaching Assistant visa at your local French Consulate


    • Leave for France!!! (once you have both your Arrêté de Nomination and your visa)

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