Friday, October 9, 2009

Arrival in France

I know it has been quite some time since I used this blog. I guess the last time I really used it was last summer when I was in Brussels. But I'm hoping to get it going on a more regular basis now that I'm in beautiful Amiens, France for the school year!

Where is Amiens, France, you might ask? I had no idea either before getting my letter saying I was assigned here. It's in the north of France, Picardy to be precise. A little north of Normandy. It happens to also be the capitol city of this lovely region.

I arrived in France on September 23 for several days' visit in Paris. I stayed at a lovely guesthouse recommended by some friends who only live a couple of blocks away. I had some great talks with both Mme. and M. B. She's American living in France and married to a Frenchman, so she gave me lots of tips (and an extremely valuable book) on French culture, etc.

Then I headed to Amiens on Saturday. I met up with one of my new collegues at the train station. I was immediately taken and dropped at another collegue's house. This one is married to an Australian who had been home from a world tour with his business for only 2 days. That evening I got to enjoy my first French party (a welcome home/birthday party). Super crazy. But fun. And educational.

And great for my French. In French culture, as in any I suppose, there are so many faux pas one can accidentally commit. What's to be done? I had the luck of being chosen to help serve the champagne. Why? Not sure. This is a delicate task in France. It must be served according to age rank and gender. I had no idea. Nor did I have the foggiest idea who to serve first. Fortunately, my host helped me out. Which was good. The 'oldest woman' in the room looked about 10 years younger than at least two of the others. *sigh* I survived. And they all got their champagne. And no one cursed me in French. They all smiled and enjoyed their glasses of champagne.

And I even got an invitation to another party fort the end of November, to the home of one of the French couples! My American friend's book said this is practically unheard of, so I felt like I accomplished something. At least I hadn't offended them.

Then off to school on Monday. The week was spent filling out paperwork, moving in, meeting millions of people (okay, more like dozens, but they all blend together after about 4 for me). There are still people people who I don't know and don't remember meeting who come up to meet and just start talking to me as if we have been friends since the cradle. I haven't an idea in the world who they are, but they seem adament then they know me. Okay. Whatever. That's French culture! Roll with it. Yesterday I had one of my collegues introduce me to the Italian professor (I had a message to relay to him but didn't know who he was) only to have him inform her, very passionately, that of course he already knew me and no introduction was needed. And a slight wink in my direction as if sharing a joke with me: "silly woman, doesn't know that we're best friends". I smiled back. This is what we do in France.

I'll have to share more another time. I'm having problems with my computer (again, it seems to happen when I come to Europe). I gave it to the Computer Department to work on here at the school, and she told me that the mother board is broken. *sigh* So now they've lent me one for an indefinite period. But I can't access facebook, youtube, or blogger in my room. I have to go to the school's library for them. Posting may be slow until we work something out for that.

Until next time!


michelle said...

Josh! I'm so glad you're posting again!
I loved the- "silly woman, doesn't know that we're best friends" part. That's pretty funny...and i can just picture you telling that story. :)

Ruth said...

You provided an amusing dinner conversation. ;-) How did all these friendly people know you were Jewish?? ;-)

gail said...

great stories, P. B. Stories which entertain us over here, but in which you get to live. Lucky fellow! Make the most of it. Blessings