Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why it's hard to be practical in Paris, but someone's got to do it

The results are in on my last post, the commenters have spoken, and who knew that my readers are such wide-eyed romantics? So impulsive, so care-free, so, so...wildly impractical and unrealistic?

Stay! Stay, you say. Oh! Well, if only I had thought of that! But seriously, please believe me when I say that I've explored this one from all angles, and while it's not without a little bit of heartache, going back to the States is the only option that really makes sense. I mean, living here illegally while working part-time for an under-the-table ten euros an hour and no health insurance is all well and good for a few months, but I really (really, really) don't want to baby-sit for the rest of my life. Or even for the rest of the month, ideally, but I made a promise to stick it out through the month of June and that's what I'm going to do. And let me just cut you off here before you start suggesting I find a "real" job here: if you've never before explored the possibility of working in a foreign country then I can't really go into all the ins and outs of it right now other than to say that it is a difficult bordering on impossible endeavor. Apparently mastery of two languages and a can-do attitude aren't enough to get by here. Apparently you have to also have things like "working papers," a "visa," and "EU citizenship." (So I can't even hope to get a job as an English teacher here, while an English person can get any job they please. So. Not. Fair.)

Not that things on the home front are looking any better. Over the last few weeks I have sent out, at last count, fourteen resume/cover letter combos. So far I have heard back one. Ok, that's not strictly true. I did receive two responses. The first one said:

Thank you for the interest you have expressed in employment opportunities at [Unnamed International Translations Company That Apparently I Am Not Qualified For and Have No Business Applying To]. Your qualifications have been carefully reviewed. However, at the present time no position is available that would utilize your skills and experience. Please be assured that your records will be retained, and you will be contacted in the event our employment needs change.

The second response said:

Thank you for your interest in [Unnamed Private Academy Offering Only a Part-Time Job With No Benefits]. We have received a very strong response to our advertising efforts, therefore, it is taking longer than expected to carefully review and consider qualified candidates. Due to the volume, you will only hear from us again if we are interested in speaking with you regarding your relevant experience.

Yes, this sounds promising. I definitely expect to hear back from Unnamed Private Academy Offering Only a Part-Time Job With No Benefits soon. Any day now...

And keep in mind that this overwhelming response to my unique "skills and experience" is in the U.S., which may I remind you is the only country where I am legally allowed to work. Imagine then trying to find a job in France, where I am not. But seriously, you would think a bilingual girl with teaching experience and a Master's degree in French literature would be more in demand, wouldn't you? I mean, wouldn't you?



But yes, I am speaking of practicalities again, and who wants to hear about practicalities when there is a French boyfriend on the line? Yes, I get it. You guys are suckers for a love story, particularly of the Parisian variety. Stay! you say. Long-distance relationship! others of you say, which is very romantic of you, but otherwise a terrible idea all-around. To put it bluntly, at this point, with all the impossibilities of getting a job I've already mentioned, were I to somehow find a way to stay, I would be doing it only for him, which I just cannot allow myself to do. And whether that's due more to some hard-won and long overdue I am a strong woman and I am the most important person in my life attitude, or the fact that he is just not someone I can see myself staying for, I don't know, but it's most likely some hybrid of the two. Not that he has even asked me to stay, mind you, which he hasn't ever once, and wouldn't, and will not ever do. The necessity of my leaving is pretty much a mutual understanding, at this point, which doesn't make it any less heartachey, but there it is. We'll kiss, we'll be sad, and we'll move on. Maybe it sounds callous, or maybe it's that after going through the most painful (although necessary) break-up imaginable, with a man I was still very much (and maybe still am?) in love with, in comparison everything else just seems...not that bad.

Moving back into my parents' house, however? Now that is something to cry about. Seriously, people, I might not make it. You know how little kids threaten to run away, and pack their suitcase and roll off into the sunset and then come home a couple hours later when they get hungry? Yeah, that's going to be me. A twenty-nine year-old pretend runaway with nowhere else to go. Sigh. Hey, I wonder if I can get internet in a tent out in the backyard? I'm going to start stocking up on bug spray and flashlight batteries, just in case. Next up on Diary of Why: Why I've reverted to spooky stories, shadow puppets, and MASH- in which I gossip about boys, eat too much candy and get really hyper, and stay up way past my bedtime. Take that, parents!


  1. Do you really feel like your time in Paris was worthless, that you didn't really accomplish anything at all? I really want to know...

    Ever since my first study abroad in Europe, one of my life goals is to move to Paris or Madrid for at least a year (sometime in the next year or so). And, I know that we all have these dreams and aspirations and --whether we like it or not-- sometimes they don't turn out the way we want them to, or at least the way we thought they would... but are you really that disappointed? Or was that just a dramatic spurt?

  2. OK, excellent. You've laid the groundwork. The logic behind your return home is sound... but why not consider the logic of your heart? It's entirely irrational, no? Good, still following? Cause this is going to sound ludicrous...

    Marry the guy.

    (I'm only partially joking, btw.)

  3. Change your ticket to Seattle and bum here for a couple months, rent-free. I'll even keep you fed. And when you get bored or sick of it, I'll pay your way back if you can't on your own.

    Disclaimer: I live with hippies. (most Seattle-ites are hippies and/or hipsters).

  4. Anonymous- No, I absolutely don't think my time here was worthless and that I didn't accomplish anything, and if I came off sounding that way it wasn't intentional. My only disappointment out of the whole thing is that I wasn't able to make it work here for the long-term, which I knew was a long shot anyway. But I'm getting over it and I'm actually starting to look forward to coming home a little. You should definitely do what you need to do and I think a year abroad is never time wasted. Good luck!

    [F]oxymoron- YOU marry him.

    Jamielynnlynn- Expect me on your doorstep soon.

  5. I do feel for you, but there's also a slight but distinct sense of entitlement that comes across in your complaints that about how you can't even get a job as an English teacher 'while an English person can get any job they please. So. Not. Fair.'

    It's perfectly fair, and hardly surprising the EU prioritises employing citizens of its member countries rather than people from outside, the same way that the US does. When I wanted to live in the US, I went through the lengthy and expensive visa process, had interviews and medicals, a chest X-ray to prove I didn't have TB, jumped through every hoop, etc etc. When I decided I didn't want to live there anymore, I handed my green card back and moved to London.

    If you're prepared to hack living in France illegally and working under the counter, then good for you, go for it. But don't assume France owes you a living, however well-qualified you believe yourself to be. It's not an easy place to be employed as a foreigner in any case. Non-French EU citizens with fluent French often have difficulty finding work.

  6. i think you should be devoting some of this summer time to putting together chapters of a book. a best selling author can live anywhere she pleases.

  7. OK, got it.

    So, one day take the Metro Red Line downtown, and lunch is on me.


  8. This is probably a dumb question, but what about renewing the assistantship? Or getting a student visa? (Not that I'm advocating staying for the man - if anything I think you should stay for yourself).

  9. I didn't read any disappointment or entitlement in your entry, but it may be because I would feel the same way in the circumstances.

    I'm not going to give you any real advice, but I will say that you can get wireless internet on a laptop through most cell phone companies nowadays.

    Please think of me when you make s'mores.

  10. ok. i understand where you come from, and agree. but at least france was fun for a bit?

    i'm finally buying a house, after looking around for a couple of years and waiting for the financial crisis to happen. there's nothing like having your own place - i hope you get to find something other than your parents'!!! ;)

    good luck!

  11. Wow! After the "Why parting is such sweet sorrow", I think I read love(mutual) and was wondering why he didn't make things happen so you could stay because of YOU and because you liked it there, and liked your life as an expat and wanted to be with him. I thought the relationship had blossomed from "meh" to "va va voom!". From the comments, I can see that I am not the only one who was mistaken on that. More proof that a blog never tells the whole story. :) Well, c'est la vie, bon voyage and best of luck in the next chapter of your life. I doubt you will be with the folks for long, but hopefully that time with them will get you closer to answering "why?". ;) Cheers!

  12. Nathalie- I know the process is just as difficult on the other side of the pond, and that there are tons of Europeans who would love to get a job in the U.S., and can't. And that's exactly what I meant is so unfair. It's not at all that I feel entitled or that France owes me something, but rather I think it's sad that we as human beings don't necessarily get to choose where we work and live our lives. I know there are important reasons for such strict immigration laws, but at the same time I can't help wishing the world was different and people had more of a say in where they ultimately end up.

    Ksam- The thought definitely crossed my mind but finally I decided that it wasn't worth it to me to do the assistantship again or go back to school just to buy me another year in France. It just seems like it would be postponing the inevitable, when what I really need to be doing is focusing on starting a career that a) actually pays money and b)I can stick with for more than one 7 month contract at a time. C'est la vie, as they say, right? :)