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..... our furniture arrived in France - two weeks before we did. Doesn't time pass more quickly as you get older. I know many of you have been here so much longer, but anyway, here are some thoughts:

Settling in - fairly painless, apart from the xxx!!!??? "working" for Orange/FT. Things seem to have improved with their new voice activated call direction - no more being trapped for weeks on end between customer service and technical dept.

I am also appreciating more and more life in a country where people are more important than money.

Acceptance - no major problems - neighbours are very friendly - cutting as much our "lawn" as they can, and bringing fruit, veg, jam and incohol. Speaking the lingo certainly helps, and we have friends in all parts of France going back some 35 years. A bit like women in business or politics - we have to try harder. We try as much as possible to be good neighbours, and support local the residents association (especially free food + booze at AGM)

Integration - this is difficult to define but we try to "give back" something to the country for receiving us so kindly. I help out with the local rugby club, and my wife helps out with local cubs/brownies.

Work - not really top of our list 4 years ago but at the moment we are exceptionally busy with English lessons - and my wife has even been teaching French to expats. My wife is an autoentrpreneur and has her numéro de formatrice so the local Pole Emploi sends jobseekers our way, and we are also getting workers taking advantage of their training rights. This is on top of working for tuition agencies + private tuition. We enjoy the work, it keeps our brains active, and we have made many great friends.


Problems - our neighbour (the one that doesn't cut our grass or give us fruit or veg) has a dog which annoys everyone for a 100 m radius. Unfortunately other neighbours seem unwilling to complain, even though the dog wakens people up at 4am, and barks whenever we - and they - step into our gardens. And staff at the local Sécu office are starting to play silly games with our Carte Vitale. But we are learning....

To finish, it it weren't such a mouthful I would change my moniker to "Evenmorecontentedscot".

Got to go now - two children in 6ième to teach, and prepare for my 6 hours teaching tomorrow

If you have been intereste enough to read this far, how have your past few weeks/months/years been?

PS - just got the year's electricity bill and monthly payments for May 2012 to April 2013 have gone down. Couldn't have been too cold a winter after all. Or maybe I'm still more Scottish than French
 

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If you have been intereste enough to read this far, how have your past few weeks/months/years been?
Just coming up to one year since leaving California - the blog tells it all in detail. It hasn't been an easy year but we feel we are winning. The biggest mistake was buying a house that in hindsight needed too much work and was really too big.

On the plus side I totally agree that France and the French have been wonderful to us, great neighbours, great friends and everyone being helpful.

Here's to another year :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just some more thoughts :

Things that have surprised me :
Drivers in SW seem generally considerate - I certainly notice the difference when I drive to Provence. But before coming here we were warned by French friends in Edinburgh that many French drivers did not feel it necessary to acknowledge some good road manners, like letting someone join a main road from a side road.

I still have to master the quantity of water required for veg + trees in our clay soil - fortunately the water level in the well has risen these past few weeks. Never needed a well in Edinburgh. I hope my fruit harvest will be greater than last year's 2 cherries and 1 apple.

Things that have shocked me :
The extent of drinking + driving
Level of bank charges - I was used to getting interest on my current account, and money back on my credit card expenditure
Apparently no improvement in the level of service offered by staff in Nouvelle Lafayette and the like since my first stay in France in the mid 70s


Not intending to complain - just a few thoughts that might be useful to anyone planning a move, or newly arrived..
 

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Interesting - and further proof of my observation that the whole settling in process is very different for those of us "married in" to France rather than those who arrive with their non-French spouse and family members.

Initially everyone seems to think that being married to a French person, your settling in will be so much easier. But in fact, I think the opposite is true. If you arrive with your foreign spouse, you have someone to discuss all these strange and curious new customs with - you can even make fun of some of them if you like. But for your French spouse, this is "home" and "the way things are" and if you ask why people here do this or that, or (heaven forbid) make fun of some of the ways you find bizarre, s/he is very likely to take offense.

As I've stated before, my first couple years here were pretty awful, due to my immigration problems (plus some health issues and other stuff). I suppose my first big revelation here was that the locals have no idea how immigration works in their own country. (Though when you think about it, that probably applies to most of us, too. Unless you've somehow been involved with immigration to your own country, you've never needed to know any of that stuff!)

But gradually France starts to become "home" - no matter how many petty annoyances or inexplicable behaviors remain. I find it helps to have at least a couple of "foreign" friends, with whom you can share your observations about French behaviors and French attitudes without causing offense (and try to develop your own theories about the "whys").
Cheers,
Bev
 
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