Bank account, bank card and cheques in one week??? Apparently don’t hold your breath!

Salut!

I can’t believe I’ve already been here 2 weeks!  It feels much longer, and yet at the same time much shorter, it’s hard to explain.  I’ve managed to slip into Euro-mode fairly quickly, to the point where walking everywhere, taking the metro, buying baguettes daily and reading French seem perfectly natural already, almost like I’ve always done it (note: I did not yet say “speaking” French, not quite there yet, lol).

First on the list when I arrived was to set up a bank account.  Now based on what I’d heard from friends, this can be a very long, complicated and tedious process.  So to my surprise, I managed to get an appointment at La Banque Postale the very same day! (note: in Europe often the postal service also has a banking service, which most people use).  Mao hooked me up with the necessary papers on his end (a letter stating that I was staying with him, a recent electricity bill and his “carte de séjour”), and all I needed was my passport, some cash and my job offer letter, and by the next day it was set up.  The woman I met with was amazing, sooo super nice, we laughed a lot, apparently I am very “gaie” (I smile too much?), and before I knew it I was being given travel tips for northern France.

Whoever says the French aren’t very helpful or friendly to travellers, it’s so not true!  In fact, anytime you get on a bus here, the bus driver greets you, and when you get off, everyone thanks the bus driver and wishes him/her a good day!!!  They even outdo Canadians with bus politeness, it’s really nice actually – makes you feel more at home.

But as I was saying about the bank account, I was told I’d have my card and cheques within a week, so I thought, fantastic!  However, every time I tell people this story, they start laughing hysterically (ok, maybe that’s pushing it, but they laugh at me).  So now it’s been a week and a half, I have received a mobile text from La Banque Postale, but no mail yet…

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Let “Le blogging” begin!

Ok, so I know that it’s taken me a while to get started on this, but I had to get the design juuuust right! lol You know me!  Though I’ll probably end up changing it like 20 times again…

So where do I even begin…

Why not start with the adventure that was packing… aka. giving my mom an almost nervous breakdown because I was packing until the very last second!  Very unlike me in fact, but packing for a year was rather daunting afterall – as was the giant stack of clothing alterations I was still working on until 6 am the day of my flight (hence the delayed packing).  Thankfully Dad stepped in to the rescue and said he’d pay the overweight charges – MERCI!!!

I had a 7 hour layover at Heathrow, and as I’d hardly slept the last 3 nights, I decided to catch some shut-eye and set multiple alarms.  So I woke up after napping 2 hours, and the gate still wasn’t posted for my connecting flight to Toulouse, so I thought, ok, I can go back to sleep for another 1/2 hour.  Re-set my alarms, good to go, and… I wake up at 2 pm.  Here’s the thing, my flight was scheduled to leave at 2:20!!!  So I jump up and tore off for the now announced gate – only to find that the flight had actually been delayed, and they hadn’t even started boarding!  I think I had an angel watching over my shoulder that day, amen!

So, I finally arrived in Toulouse, with my two medium sized suitcases, my carry-on suitcase and my backpack and finally got to meet Mao!  What!!???  Steph, you met the Chinese dictator?  In Toulouse??  No, no, I met Mauricio, aka. Mao, my lovely Mexican host and now friend who was kind enough to offer up the bed in his apartment (while he sleeps on the floor!  No matter how hard I have tried, he will not budge on that one, though I’m still working on it.  Chivalry is not dead ladies! but he’s taken.) and welcome me to Toulouse.  Thereafter, he promptly laughed at the amount of luggage I had brought with me, but a girl needs her clothes, and art supplies, and sewing supplies, and teaching supplies, okay?!

So how the heck do I know Mao?  Well, actually, funny you should ask, ’cause I didn’t. See, it went a little something like this… my dad works with this guy Alex.  Alex is Swiss and his son Corey recently completed his MBA here in Toulouse.  So being the good dads that they are, they decided to put two good people in touch (that would be Corey and I, ;P).  However, Corey was about to move to Paris for a new job, 6 weeks prior to my arrival.  So a few days before my departure, in a desperate last ditch attempt to avoid the only hostel in town, and that had sketchy ratings on hostelworld.com, I sent out a random plea if any of his friends might take me in, and I’d sleep on the floor or standing up or whatever necessary and pay rent.  Well, Mao was kind enough to offer.  He is from Mexico City and is working on his PhD in Aerospace Engineering… yeah, pretty cool, eh? He’s a pretty smart cookie, and a nice guy to boot.

That first evening we hit the “centre-ville” to eat some Doener Kebaps whilst chilling on the banks of the Garonne River.  This was our view!!!

La Garonne par nuit. September 14, 2010

Don’t know how I got this pic to turn out the way it did, but I love it!

So that was the start of “ma belle aventure française!”

xo Steph 🙂

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