Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Adjustment- Day 5

5 days in and i'm finally starting to feel like this is less than miserable. Dramatic? Maybe. True? Yes.

It has been 5 days flooded with information; At __;__ o'clock, you drop the kids off here. At __;__ o'clock, you pick the kids up. At __;__ o'clock, you take Cecile here but not Clement. At __;__ o'clock, you pick up Cecile and drop off Clement. At __;__ o'clock, you drop off Cecile and pick up Clement, but only every other Tuesday and first Thursday of the month. Monday and Thursday, you pick the kids up for lunch. Tuesday and Fridays, they eat at school. Wednesdays, they don't have school. To get to music lessons in Charbonniers, you drive. To get to music lessons at the conservatoire in Lyon, you drive to the bus with Cecile, park the car, take the bus to the metro, take metro D, get off the metro, take the tram, walk around the block, up the stairs, down the hall and second door on the left..but on Wednesdays, it's the down the other hall. If you're leaving the house, drive this way but if you're coming home, go the back way. Don't forget to complete your french language hours in, give the kids a bath but only wash their hair on Wednesdays and Fridays.. (oh, and please keep the bath under 5 minutes to conserve), feed them, dress them, study with them, and repress the desire to beat them.

Oh, and explained completely en Francais. This is my life for the next 12 months.

Just as the time change hasn't quite settled, the culture is still taking some adjusting to, as well.

  • A friendly "Hello" from a passerby stranger, is nearly unheard of. I'm used to California where everyone says hi to everyone. Here, it's perceived as "uhh, I don't know you so why are you talking to me?"
  • "Everyone for themselves." I'm not sure if this is a trait of metropolitan cities like New York and Paris, or if it is just a French thing. Everyone just keeps to themselves and if you don't watch yourself, you'll be run over.
  • Signs are suggestions that are obeyed when desired. Smoking signs, pedestrian "walk" or "don't walk" signs, parking signs, etc...
  • Meal time will last a minimum of 2 hours and usually includes a smoking break--even at restaurants. I was so befuddled when I was having dinner with my dad and the two guys dining at the next table over, got up after their salad to have a cigarette outside and return 15 minutes later for their main entree. Children also get an hour and a half for lunch! A far stretch from the 30 minutes we used to get in grade school!
  • Dinner. It starts with crackers and spread in the entertaining room, followed by the actual dinner. Just when you think it's over, the cheese and bread platter is brought out. Don't worry, dessert is close behind.
  • This isn't a European thing but I am having the most difficult time adjusting to the weather. I learned very quickly that I am a California girl at heart and I don't do snow.... At all. Never in my life have I been so freezing, uncomfortable, and convinced I'm on the verge of frostbite. Reevaluating graduate school on the East coast.
Aside from trying to get acclimated and the cold weather (and by "cold" I mean "below zero temperatures"), it's alright here. I'm in the suburbs, about 10 minutes by car and 45 minutes by bus, from the centre-ville aka the downtown of Lyon, and it's quite cute. Actually being with the kids is the easy part. Do they speak English? No (Except Clement now says "hey dude!"). Are they cute? Sometimes. A handful? Absolutely. Birth control? You bet.

They prove true for the reason that women fought so hard to be in the workforce. It wasn't desire for equal rights, it was taking care of children all day. I've grown an appreciation for the calm and unruffled law firm setting that was my life about 2 weeks ago. However, I wouldn't change where I'm at and ready for this adventure.

Today's gratitudes:
  • I went out to dinner tonight with my dad in downtown Lyon. Though calf's foot salad seemed appealing, I went with the salmon.
  • They found my luggage. I'm not sure where it's at in the delivery process but finding it is absolutely a step in the right direction. Good thing too because I'm running low on undies!
  • The care package I got from my friend Stef, has saved me! Especially on days when dinner included bacon or steak.
  • I have a heater in my room. Old school but crank it up full blast, close the door, and when I return home, my room is nice and toasty.
  • My dad and I are going boot shopping tomorrow! When he felt my toes after 3 hours of trying to navigate my way to school and his hotel, new boots moved to the top of the list :)
  • Kiki is doing good and is in good hands!


  1. Calf's foot salad? Oh my. I'm so happy you posted to give an update. I'm sure it's totally overwhelming learning the schedules, hearing the French, adjusting to the meals, feeling "at home," etc. I'm glad your dad's there! You still make me laugh, even when you're not feeling totally peppy. That's something, right? ;) I cracked up at you repressing the desire to beat them, and the birth control comment. Perhaps this is a good thing... a little motherhood trial, and a weather experiment (so you can narrow down grad school choices). I romanticize cold weather, so it's good for me to hear that it's not all cozy with hot chocolate by the fire. I know you'll continue to adjust just fine. It's a big change in lifestyle! For better or worse, the year will fly by. I think it'll be interesting to read the beginning posts when you're a few months in. Thinking of you!!!

  2. aw glad to hear kiki is doing well! and it's so great that your dad is there, you're not completely on your own! omg i would die in that weather, you deserve an award just for braving that, let alone all of the other culture shocks. cecile and clement? really? those are such names that snotty kids would have, i hope they aren't too bad ;). and you're DRIVING in france? ahhh! i sometimes get anxious about driving in SF (the hobo factor, always afraid to run one over) but in a whole other country i'd be screwed. glad the goodies i sent ya have come in handy! should have given you more PB though :)

  3. Oh goodness, it must be hard adjusting to the temperature after living in CA! It was -22C (-8F?) in parts of the UK yesterday, which I was pretty impressed with. I'm glad your dad is still there too, it must be reassuring to have someone familiar to while you're getting used to all this. Major changes like this are always difficult but hopefully in a few weeks you will have it all sorted out and you'll be having fun :)

    (BTW - I used to be at but I moved to wordpress while you were on your blogging break! I suddenly realised that you might not know who this random woman commenting on your blog was :P )