Posted by: vlibrizzi | January 17, 2009

two big “firsts”

Over the past two days, I think I’ve really started to get used to life here. We’ve been so busy adjusting to our new environment and life without jobs and thus, without much stress (except for the annoying carte de sejour debacle that I’ll write about in another post) that we really haven’t gotten the chance to take stock in how great it really is here and start actually living our new life. 

img_1906So yesterday, I feel like I had my official first day as an INSEAD partner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been living the low-stress partner lifestyle for days, but I feel like every day I’ve been doing something completely different (from Paris one day to wine and cheese at a friend’s house one day) that I haven’t gotten into a schedule. But tomorrow, I feel like I finally got into my new life groove (at least for the next three weeks until I start my new new groove at the Sorbonne)—I went to my french class in the morning with Madame Flambeau (I still can’t get over how cool her name is!) at her cute house (pictured here), then I had a croissant and coffee with friends at the INSEAD bar, then off to a quick party planning meeting (more on that later too!), then lunch with C. (one of my favorite perks about neither of us working for the year), then more coffee with friends, then a trip to the gym, then more coffee with friends, then dinner at a chateau, and then off to another chateau for a party. I know what you’re thinking….too much coffee! I agree. Maybe I’ll switch to decaf soon, but as of now, it’s not too much of a problem. I’m just a bit jittery, but haven’t I always been that way 🙂

Then, onto my second “first” which happened today—for the first time, we really felt like true citizens of Fontainebleau. C. went to the boulangerie down the street (we’re there so often lately that I think they must know C. by name, or at least know him  as the American who doesn’t speak a lick of French), we ate our croissants and had some tea as we leisurely got ready, and then we spent the afternoon walking around Fontainebleau like the locals. img_1907We walked down this lovely street photographed on the right, still with Christmas decorations stringing from the windows (as with everything else, the French are a bit slow in getting things done…but we don’t mind. We, or should I say C. mostly, prefer being a bit late sometimes).

All the locals spend their Saturdays walking around town, visiting the butcher, the fish shop, the cheese shop, the wine shop, etc. and leisurely visiting with each other. It’s such a laid-back lifestyle. img_1908

Below you can see a photo that I took during our walk this afternoon that turned into evening of the fish shop (poissonnerie) and the butcher shop behind it. You can also see a woman buying her fish for tonight’s meal. Hopefully we’ll get comfortable enough with our French soon enough that we’ll order fish from this shop. We did have a minor success today in that C. and I bought wine from a small wine shop. We tried to buy it and ask for advice about the best wine to buy in French, but the shop owner replied to us in English…let’s just say, our French accents (or lack thereof) often quickly give us away.img_1909

Here is a photo of one of the many cheese shops in the town. As soon as you open the door, you get a huge whiff of very smelly, moldy French cheese…the moldier, the better, think the French. But once your nose adjusts, the shops are quite enjoyable. I think the cheese shops are my favorites. You can get lost in them. I still can’t believe how many different types of cheese there are in this country. I don’t know if after a year we’ll be able to try even half of them! 

But, I’ll end my post today with a conversation that C. and I had at a cafe this evening after our walk. I was telling C. how happy I am here and how I feel like I could live in this town forever (a statement that when told to my mother on skype later in the evening, made her a bit concerned), and he asked, “What do you like more about life here….not being too stressed and busy or just living in France?” 

I replied, “Well, aren’t they one in the same?”

He smiled “an ancient, tired, knowing smile” (a quotation from”Easy Job, Good Wages” by Jesus Colon in one of the innumerable MCAS practice sets that I used to teach) and we both realized that, yes, we really can get used to life here.

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