Thursday, August 13, 2015

Parisiennes; Toujours Ensemble

I was watching the news with my wife tonight when they showed a piece on all of the traffic and accidents from everyone leaving the cities in France during the months of July and August. I just thought it would be funny to share these photos. (No, I did not take them personally)

Protests or Manifestations

Traffic or Buchon (I prefer Bordel)

At the Beach for Vacation (Sur la Plage pour les Vacances)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Living in Paris!...Well, Close

As you all may have noticed, I have been somewhat inconsistant with my blogging. Sorry. I and my lovely wife have moved just south of Paris by about 25km, which for you Americans is roughly, 15.5mi. We have installed ourselves in a pretty little village called Orsay. We were fortunate enough to come here thanks to my wife's new position working at the local syncrotron (anyone have one of those nearby?) where she has taken the role of "Beamline Scientist"! 

Bracing myself for another season of Being Depressed and Home Alone, I figured at least being depressed near Paris might be more enjoyable. Well, my wife wouldn't have it. 

"Cameron!" she'd say. You need to get a fucking job so we stop eating all of my damn savings and so you get off your ass and stop being depressed!"

Now, to those reading this and not having met my wife, you might ask yourselves, "man, is she brutal or what?" But honestly, this, I had coming. I had indeed, a really tough time finding work in Grenoble but I did kind of drag my feet as well. I wasn't really sure of what I was going to find up here in "la region parisienne", but I knew that my chances of finding SOMETHING were much better. 
We moved in on a Thursday evening and on the Friday rode our bikes from our place to "Le Palais de Versailles" or Versailles. Yes, yes, King Louis XIV who had built the palace but then his jackass grandson Louis XVI used it as a hide out while all of Paris was suffering, getting himself dragged back to the city to be imprissonned and then eventually having his head removed from his torso...(this sounds a lot like the French Revolution, hmm). Did anyone ask for a history lesson? Didn't think so. 


Versailles is b-e-a-UTIFUL! And boy, is it grande?! We enjoyed our Saturday and Sunday getting ourselves situated. On the following Monday, I gathered up the little courage I had in my reserves to maybe go and find myself a serving job somehwere or perhaps even babysit. Before even getting on the train to go to Paris (30min trip, cool right!?), I found a little private afterschool that teaches in English. In short, I took down their email, went home, wrote to them about my interest, got a call 10 minutes later, interviewed 10 minutes later after that and started the next day. Eglantine was much pleased and very surprised, may I add, that I found a job on my first day of searching. This place is 15 minutes walking distance from the house, 7 mins by scooter (yes a "razor type) and about 3 minutes by bike. Is it convienant? Yes! Does the job involve a bunch of crazy little kids? Yes!

Having been pretty comfortable at Stanford serving out cappuccinos and what-not for four years, this was a gigantic step outside of my comfort zone! Little kids, screaming and ARTS AND CRAFTS! What!? I had a knot in my stomach for the entire first two weeks. But, I guess this is normal in starting a new little journey. I overcame and tought the hell out of those kids...well I spoke to them in English, which I do very well. Then, was given the crazy idea to start my own business in tutoring English privately. I must give credit to my wonderful wife for encouraging me to actually think that this is possible. The American, starting the "American Dream", in France...huh? It actually doesn't seem like it will be too complicated and I already have three potential clients who are very interested to start in September or October, all I have to do is pull the trigger on this thing and get to work. 

So having such a gap since our last time together, I want to say, I am sorry. There are so many moments of lost hope, excitement and uncertainties that blogging and communicating just don't get into the front of my brain and I really just, forget. I hope that my experiences so far and time here will encourage others to get out there and travel or just move somewhere different. Whether it be out of country or 100 miles away, change is change and change is always challenging. 

That is where my journey really began was moving from the Sacramento Valley to the Bay Area and boy was that different! Shake up your environment! Since then I have met a beautiful French lady who has become my wife. I have traveled to numerous national parks. I have started running, alot. I have in case you haven't noticed, moved to France! In turn, I have learned a new language which has drastically opened up my world. So, what are you waiting for? Try something new.

I am going to start and try to take this blog a little more seriously and post more frequently. I will try to upload videos and other fun things. Please leave me comments, I love comments! And don't forget to add your email to subscribe to my blog so you can see when I add new content of my journey abroad. And while you are add it, why not subscribe to my Youtube page if you haven't already?

Cameron's Youtube Page

As always, Ciao for Now and miss you all!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friends in Far Away Places

Bonjour à tous!
Let's talk about friends,

It has taken a while for us to meet anybody here in the French country who we consider calling our "friends" but I believe we have found them. We were constantly discussing, why it is so hard to meet people and find someone who shares some of your views at least enough to tolerate serious conversations and someone who you can joke around with? Then all at once we seem to have too many friends. We don't know how it happened but it did. I met a beautiful family at the restaurant where I work and we discussed a little on how they liked it in Grenoble. They were not from the area so they had an idea of how Eglantine and I were feeling. After a week or two they contacted us and invited us for lunch in their place on a Sunday afternoon and we sat and ate and talked and talked and just had a good time. Then again the next weekend at the castle but all day long! We absolutely love spending time with these people because they are sweet and open-minded as well as compassionate. We are truly lucky to have met these people!

Around the same time one of Eglantine's old friends/boss from Paris moved to Grenoble for work. She is also super sweet and totally fun to be around. Even better, her boyfriend is a stand up comedian! We spent the evening with them last night and had a blast! (So funny)

As I am writing this we are getting ready to head out again to see our new friendly family. They are planning a Taco Night with a movie! (We miss Mexican food sooooo much) We have a lot in common with them already...They are from New Mexico!!!  Right?! I am so excited to share our adventure with someone else who is and has been doing the same thing. I hope to continue to develop a lasting relationship with this family and share some good times together! (Their daughters are adorable)

I would like to share that you do not need to move far away from home to meet some cool people. However open up and try some new things. Or maybe you should just move far away???  ;)

Talk to your neighbors and embrace your community...if you have one

You can follow our new friends Lesley, Greg, Tigerlily and Rose here (there blog is kickass):
Familia Wanerlust

Ciao for now et Bon Courage

à plus!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Small Fun Things For Less Cash

Hello All!

I just wanted to share a couple of little things that could be either fun or maybe even a solution to some of the common housing needs.

These ideas may not be for everyone but they served as an easy an inexpensive solution for us to get what we wanted while moving into our new small space. We didn't have a whole lot of money for furniture before we moved in to our apartment and some things were donated to us by Eglantine's family or were just hers from when she was living here before.

1. Bar Seated Kitchen Table 
While we searched and searched and searched some more  for the perfect dining table to meet our requirements we became increasingly frustrated. We needed a high table to be able to see out of our awesome window to enjoy our awesome view while dining. Every table we looked at in the big department stores, furniture outlets and even furniture specialty shops were all way too expensive. Ranging from 275€ to 450€. We knew we needed to find another solution. I was jazzed about making my own since I had made another piece a furniture that was functional but no where near perfect looking. I was scared to make a table that would be ugly and or collapse while we were eating and break my kneecaps. While perusing the local Castorama (French Version of Home Depot) we found the cubby storage shelves with some planks of wood nearby and decided that cubbies, plus plank equaled, storage and big table. The shelves happened to be the right height to fit some bar seats and as we only had one closet in our apartment, we gained vital storage space. The original concern was the cost, so this decision was made easier in that the shelves were only 60€ and 40€ with the plank being 30€ so we saved big bucks while gaining space.  Check it out!

2. If you have some books, movies or what-have-you's and no money for a shelf system, head to your local mill or wood distributor and ask if they have any scraps that they wouldn't mind parting with. We did that and made little wood boxes to store all of our books. Afterwards you can stack them any way you like and personally I enjoy the odd and different shapes they give. This was free :)

3. If you have an odd space that you would like to be able to add stuff, why not turn a suitcase into a shelf? Eglantine had seen this somewhere on the internet and thought it was too funny. We went to an antique shop and found a old briefcase for 5€ and then some old wooden shoe inserts. We turned this old dude into a little traveling shelf who serves as our bathroom guest. After adding some new linings and two pieces of scrap wood for the shelves, Romain is our coolest little friend.

4. This idea is more of a common idea I believe. Here in France when you buy little puddings in the store they are usually in little glass containers instead of plastic. We always save them because they are cute and look to be useful. We are constantly transforming ours into little flower pots to give to friends and just to serve as decorations for the house. If you do not have glass pudding in your area try finding anything that looks like it would be trash and give it a purpose to harness some new plant life. Too cool !

I hope that these ideas were somewhat useful to someone. Until next time!

Au bientôt, du monde!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Learning with Joe Bob

Today was my first full day of actual French lessons since being in France. I was required to go from 9am to 12 and then back at 1:30pm to 4:30pm. I was excited because they placed us in a high school in a room far away from any other class activity making it feel like we were some important secret experiment. There was about 12-15 of us in the class and all were mixed from different countries with different stories of how we ended up here. We, meaning myself and two others, were then separated from the rest of the class and put in the front corner of the classroom to work on something completely different from everyone else. I was told that we were far more advanced than the rest and we would work quietly together and just ask questions when needed. I indeed felt special but then somewhat cheated when I received my exercises for the day and didn't understand what the hell was going on. After some collaboration with my special little task force we were able to sort it out.

Pretty much how I felt

I certainly spoke the best out of the others in the group but the one Japanese girl certainly understood the written part of language far better than myself and the other woman. The three of us after lunch grew to five in total after some late comers decided to show up for the afternoon thralls. I realized how cool it was that each one of us were from different parts of the world all gathered in a little room with the same exact problem; we need to learn French. With this problem I am certain that we will be a strong little group of bees.

Towards the end of the day, about an hour until class let out, we moved into another room to work on some exercises on the computer and I discovered a lovely and terribly funny contribution from the University of Texas for one of our French lessons. Follow the link and listen in French about how Joe Bob feels about shaving. I really appreciated this knowing that every French person probably wishes I spoke like that.

Find the funniness in Joe Bob

Au bientôt du monde!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Getting Caught Up

           I was naive to have thought I knew anything about France really before moving here. I arrived and like any other person was excited to touch French soil but in the airport of Charles de Gaulle I wasn't immediately overtaken with culture shock. It did however set in overwhelmingly in the first week. I realized that my small attempt to acquire a base in the French language through the program, Rosetta Stone was helpful but no where near enough to help me understand what the hell was going on.
           After meeting my wife Eglantine, I obtained an unquenchable thirst for wanting to come to France. Eglantine received an opportunity to work at a research lab in Grenoble, France on a one, possibly two year contract. She was weary at first but with a gentle American nudge I was able to convince her that that was the best opportunity for the both of us. So yes, I take the credit for getting us here however without my wonderfully beloved, it would not have been possible.

         The picture above was taken from the front patio of Eglantines parents place in the Department of Drôme. Like counties in the U.S.A., France is broken up into Departments and Regions. See if you can find the mummy in the rocks. Hint: his/her feet start from the top of the tree on the left. The lovely dirt patch in the bottom of the picture is the garden where that have food all summer and autumn long. It is full now and I plan to take a better picture soon.

Back to my story!
         We got to stay with Eg's parents for our first month here while we searched for an apartment in Grenoble which was over an hour away. I was so taken with the beauty of where her parents lived that I wasn't sure that I wanted to move to a city. That changed when I saw where Grenoble was located. It is smack dab in the heart of the French Alpes and is unique as far as cities go. Yes, it is still a city and I prefer not to live directly in it but the history of how it became is very cool! In Grenoble you are surrounded by what are the Four Massifs: The Vercors, The Chartreuse, The Belledonne and The Taillefer. Mountains in the states are cool but the Alpes are all too special. So much character and charisma speaking from them as if they were playing lead roles in some geological theatre special. I was only getting a small glimpse of the region upon arriving in Grenoble but I knew it was special.
           We searched and searched for apartments in our price range in the city itself and found rien! (Nothing). Nothing that suited us or made us comfortable. They all had one thing that was kind of cool and something completely different that was awful and made no sense. Views of brick walls and graffiti but a cool bedroom or kitchen. Views of the mountain but with a sink in the middle of a bedroom with a kitchen that was completely falling apart. It was like this for awhile. Frustrated and worried that we wouldn't find what we were looking for or something that just didn't scare us. It was like this until one night back in the Drôme I decided to do a search on the internet for apartment in a Chateau (Chateau is castle in French). I did this search as a sort of joke and partly out of desperation of hoping there was something perfect hiding from us. Well, there was! Chateau d'Uriage of Saint Martin d'Uriage had two apartments available in our price range and is located at the base of Chamrousse, one of the most popular ski mountains in the Belledonne. The best part is that it wasn't in the city at all but just 20km outside which was a perfect distance to still be able to relax after the work day.

So yes, we found what we were looking for and we took it. Located in the region of the Rhônes-Alpes in the department of Isère I have began my journey. How about that? I came from California in a little dump in East Palo Alto and upgraded to a 13th century chateau...not bad.

Eglantine and I have been here for about 6 months now and have had fun, been depressed, been optimistic, been frustrated and been uncertain. We have both had to adjust and grow and continue to do so each day. I have been having a huge learning experience in getting acclimated to a new culture and language. We are trying something new together and I hope that we continue to do so to grow as a couple and get in tune with ourselves. It has not been easy and probably never will be but it will always be new and exciting.

I found myself a job at the Café Leffe in the center of the city (Centre Ville) working as a server. My language learning has accelerated immensely and will continue to do so especially because I finally start my French classes tomorrow! I am required to do about 200hrs and it will be every Friday for 6hrs.

Place Grenette: I work where you see the Monte Carlo. The picture is old and all the restaurants are different as well as the people ;) but the buildings are the same

Well that was a lot for me to post for my first ever blog. If I forgot anything I am sorry but hopefully it will show up somewhere else and later on. If you want to keep up with me I am going to try and do a weekly update (possibly more) so you should subscribe or whatever it is to follow my posts. Hopefully this wasn't too much to read all at once and that I didn't ruin any productivity for someones workday but I am glad you read at all :)

Much love to all my family and friends!
Mom, Travis, Gavin and Dylan love you guys so much and miss you too and hope that everything is super great!  Gros, gros, gros bises!

Please hit me up with questions for more information or of anything that you would like to see like pictures and such. 

Au bientôt du monde!