jeudi 5 mai 2011

New city, new blog

Head on [link removed] to read about my new adventures. Don't forget to put it in your RSS reader or bookmarks too!

I'll still be keeping this blog, though, when I want to blog about something France/French related or my travels. I'd like to just keep one blog (it's easier) but the title and URL is kind of not relevant anymore.. d'oh!

mercredi 4 mai 2011

New Life and Stress

I realise that all the stress and anxiety I had when I first moved to France is coming back to haunt me. Although I don't cry like I did back then (yes I admit I had my moments!) I feel constantly stressed. My life is currently so unstable and I'm gonna have to fork out a lot of money upfront for various things... money that I don't have. I had to borrow money to pay for my months' rent here in my apartment. But the problem is I have not been able to withdraw it from an ATM here. I have no idea what the bloody problem is and it's seriously frustrating me because I NEVER had any problems with this (Australian) card/account in France or Italy.

Then, yesterday, I tried to open a bank account only to be refused because I have ties with the USA so today I have to go and try another bank.

So for the moment... I'm totally broke AND Swiss banks hate me!!! OK so I'm not totally broke since I have the pay from the school for me to live on for the moment.. but still. In the land of money, it's not much. In the land where ATMs give out 200 franc notes as if it were nothing and you can pay for things in the supermarket with a 100 or 200 franc note without anyone batting an eyelid. (In Italy I had people checking to see if my 50 Euro notes were real every time i went to pay with one!)

But I'm so stressed not having a permanent address since all these billions of forms that I have to fill in require an address, and I realise that in the near future I'll have to go back and tell them all that I need to change my address.

Finding a nice and affordable apartment in Geneva is harder than finding a needle in a haystack, it seems. There is a serious shortage of them and people just hang on to them forever. Not only that, if I did happen to find something OK it seems like people only want to rent it to you for short-term only. I'm going out of my mind with this apartment search which I actually started as soon as I found out I got the job, over a month ago.

The good news is that soon I will have my Swiss residency card meaning I won't have to carry around my passport anymore.. yay! I am so sick of having to bring it everywhere I go considering it's so precious and important.

Another unexpected thing I have to deal with is... I have to cook again! I'd forgotten how to do that. Seriously. I mean I now have to buy groceries (which aren't cheap) regularly and prepare and cook once I get home from work! Ha! And I have to do all that washing up too afterwards. D'oh! I was too spoilt at the school with the cantine and its plentiful and cheap meals. Painfully, I am surrounded by almost every kind of restaurant you can imagine - Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, Lebanese, Turkish, French, Spanish, Indian, etc, within a 2 minute walk and yet I can't afford to eat at any of them :(

Perhaps not the expected update but I realise that everything is hard at the beginning and once I'm settled, life will become much much better and easier. At the moment the weather is beyond amazing and gorgeous. Low 20s, sunny, with a slight breeze. Unfortunately for me by the time I get home it's 8-8:30pm so I don't get to make the most of it but I'm really looking forward to all the upcoming festivals and events here :)

lundi 2 mai 2011

The Big News

So, what was my big news? Now I can finally reveal it. It was a saga that took around 2 months.

At the start of the winter school holidays (end Feb) I decided to stay 'home' and look for jobs instead of travelling and I'm pleased to say it totally paid off! But I don't think I could've done it without the support of two friends I had spoken to beforehand about it.  Everyone suggested I should look for jobs in Switzerland instead of France, though, mainly because it pays better.

However, money never was a motivation for me as I don't believe that money makes you happy. However, I knew there would be some benefits if I applied in Switzerland such as they would more likely want to employ a native English speaker, as there is far more demand for them than in France (except for perhaps Paris). After having visited Paris several times now I know there is no way in heck I'd want to live there. I think people have this glamourised romantised view of the city when they have no idea about the realities of living there. Life there is certainly not easy at all. Even getting a tiny tiny apartment is close to impossible unless you have connections. The metro with all its stairs and long winding tunnels drives me nuts. I much prefer the tramlines that I used in most other cities.

Anyway this post isn't supposed to be a rant about Paris.

If you go over some of my past posts (or if you've already read them and can actually recall what I wrote, about 'the issue') I was really stressed because I went for a job interview for a job I really wanted. The interview lasted almost 4 hours (and included various tests) and we have since exchanged many phone calls and emails and I spent a fortune on calls, having to make international calls from my mobile! I have spent many many weeks and lots of lots of money and effort to get this job, even after I was offered it.

Why? Because I'm not French, I'm not Swiss and I'm not European.

I already knew that going into this it would be hard. However, I never let that stop me before. In fact I didn't even meet all the criteria for the teaching job in France, and yet I applied and got it anyway :) I believe that if you tell yourself you 'can't do something, YOU are the one putting limitations on yourself, noone else is. So what the heck... I applied for some jobs in Switzerland anyway. It was the second job I applied for, the only interview I got, and I got it!

However getting it was actually the easy part. It was actually getting the right to reside and work in Switzerland that was the hard part. There was the possibility that perhaps I'd have to to back to Australia (which would have been a nightmare for me given the high cost of last minute airfares, the jet lag, the stress, the waiting and really just not enjoying going back home at all not knowing if I could even come back) etc...

Luckily I didn't have to.

All I had to do was go to the Swiss Embassy to Paris to get a Swiss residency visa, since I am/was technically a resident of France. Sounds pretty easy but having to go to Paris TWICE last minute was rather stressful and costly. And the nightmare of nightmares occurred when I turned up with what I assumed were all my papers and they told me that HALF my dossier was missing. I nearly fainted from shock. I subsequently had a 40 minute phone call with my boss (luckily she called me as there was no way I had enough phone credit for a call of that length) about all the other papers I still needed (that someone previously told me I did NOT need - ugh). So then that afternoon, evening and the next morning I was frantically getting all this stuff together and my boss and the company itself also had to email all this stuff to the embassy. Luckily I did NOT have to submit it in person and could just do it over the internet so at least I was thankful for that. (keeping in mind that I was still teaching at the school during this time too and still had lessons to prepare and teach).

Basically the company has to prove why they need to hire you instead of a similarly-qualified European. And that, I wasn't even sure of why myself but I had to now write a lettre de motivation (cover letter) explaining why the company needed me. And as much as I don't like to do it, I had to brag about all my qualities and skills.. blah blah blah...

Then, I had the pressing problem that I really needed this Swiss visa before the end of April and was told it would take 8-12 weeks to get. Well... I didn't have 8-12 weeks so it was stressing me out to no end. In fact, I didn't even tell many people I got the job (including my family) because I didn't really feel like I 'had' it till I'd gotten the visa. I really only told people that HAD to know, people in the school.

After no news from the embassy for a week and a half (waiting those 10 days nearly killed me already wondering what was going on?!) I decided to contact them again and they told me that I had to get my employer to submit some MORE information... and they couldn't have told me this earlier? Ugh.

Luckily it was done without too much fuss and then FINALLY I was told I could go to Paris to collect my visa. Yay! I was actually going to do it through the mail but that would've meant stressing about it during my entire Italy trip (not to mention I actually NEEDed my passport for the trip) so I decided to go in person (and see my friend at the same time). :)

The irony of it all is... I thought that it was all over when I finally got it, but.... it's only a temporary one and I still have to get another permanent one (that lasts one year and can be renewed)!

(and there is even a lot more to the story that I didn't write about but I didn't want to drag it out too much and besides, a lot of it is too personal).

So now I live and work in Geneva :) It's been a dream of mine for the last few years to live in a(nother) top 10 city (the first being Sydney) so I'm pleased. When I tell/told French people that I'd gotten this job in a rather important place in Geneva their first thought or question is that I must be making a bucketload of money. Well compared to my poorly-paid job in France, it is much more but for the high cost of living here I don't feel like it's that much. I used to think that things cost a lot in Australia but that was before I came to Switzerland. The cost of housing and food is particularly very high :( but it's something I'm gonna have to deal with! I actually prefer to have more free time over more money but that's just me... however for the moment I'm very happy with what I've got. :)

And before anyone suggests to me I should live in France for lower living costs (as has already been suggested to me by dozens of people!) I do not currently have the right to reside in France (anymore) so I have to live here. Not that I'm complaining. I like living in the heart of the city where I don't need to rely on cars.

So now the title of my blog no longer applies as I no longer live in France :( However I'll still blog about my adventures in retrospect of course, and about my travels. But for now I still have loads more to do getting started with a new job and having to find permanent accommodation.

Ciao for now!

dimanche 1 mai 2011

On French boys

I found this girl on YouTube some time ago when I was looking for videos of French people talking. Unfortunately it turns out she speaks English in most of her videos and not French but anyway... this is her latest video and a detour from her usual make-up tutorials. Quite amusing to watch, I actually didn't find any of it the least bit surprising given my own experiences and stories I've heard...

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