Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Sorry things have been a little quiet here. We've mostly been hanging around Orléans, working, and reading books. Starting this weekend things are going to get a little crazy for the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for more interesting posts in the future.

We've had three days in a row of lovely, warm weather. Dare I say it...spring is here! It's so nice not having to pile on layers of coats, scarfs, hats, and gloves to go outside. It's amazing the (seemingly) overnight difference in temperature. People are out in the streets, soaking up the sunshine. We went to the center of town on Monday and just sat in the sun talking for a while.

We had an Asian potluck two weeks ago with the other assistants. It was a success! I made tempura and Andrew made California rolls, and we had a great range of stir-frys and other yummy treats. Unfortunately, I was glued to the stove and didn't take any photos until after the food had all been eaten.
I made homemade bagels for two French friends, Emilie and Thibault. Emilie lived in San Francisco for a year, so she was very familiar with them, but her boyfriend Thibault had never had them before. It was a fun treat, and they're so easy to make! I made seasame, poppyseed, garlic/onion, chocolate chip, and cinnamon.

We went to a raclette party at Sandrine's house with the other assistants. It was fun, even though some assistants got a *little* tipsy and broke glassware. I was, I think, the only sober one there as I had a bad cold and didn't have the stomach for booze. I'm really thrilled about my 5€ raclette grill that I bought oh so long ago and would love to take it home with me! We'll see how much room Andrew's parents have in their luggage when they leave France. Maybe we can bribe them with chocolate to carry some extra stuff!

Andrew and I decided to do the French summer program and head to Italy for three weeks after, thus flying out of Rome to China. The Italian program was being really picky about our schedule, and the fact that we may still be dealing with Chinese visa issues in June means that we should stick around the embassy in France until that's all sorted out. But I'm excited to go to Italy and visit some friends I have there and to FINALLY see Italy. It just seems wrong, having been a Classics major, studying Roman history and Latin for so many years, that I have never been to Italy. Well, it shall be remedied.

My sister will be having her baby really soon. I wish I could go home to see her!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Great Italy Debate

Things are finally falling into place for China. All our medical forms are done, our diplomas have been found, and we're just awaiting the working permits to go to the embassy in Paris to get our visas, which I'm sure will pose a whole other set of problems. In the meantime, we're trying to decide the best course of action for the summer. We're pretty bummed about our lack of travel this year, so we've decided to make up for it in some way with the extra cash we should be getting right as our contract ends (our last months salary and housing deposit, plus most likely our housing subsidy which hasn't arrived yet and Andrew's university pay which is also taking forever).

The situation is: we've been offered jobs as summer counselors in southern France from May 16-June 18. The job doesn't pay as much, but it's something, and we might get to live in a chateau for the summer! However, we also applied to be counselors in Italy, which pays more money. We're going through the interview process and are pretty sure we'll be accepted. But they want us from May 30-July 7. As you can see, the dates overlap. Add to this our desire to travel a bit before heading to China on July 8. As much as I want to see more of France, I'm a *little* frustrated with it right now and Italy is looking better and better. Our contract here ends April 30, we'll probably move out May 2 or maybe even 3 and stay with a friend in Orléans until the 8th, which is the last day of the Joan of Arc festival in Orléans. At this point we're considering traveling Italy for three weeks before doing our program for five weeks, or alternatively, traveling one week in May in southern France before doing the summer program until the 18th, then heading to Italy for three weeks as tourists only before flying to China.

The Italian program pays more and gives us a full two months in the country, but requires us to do our traveling before we get paid as counselors, while the French program would be paid before we headed to Italy, thus theoretically giving us more money, and it will allow us to see a little more of France before we leave and feels a little more comfortable because we already speak French, know the culture, etc. Another option is to do the French program and then head to China/Asia three weeks early and travel around there. But honestly, I really, really want to go to Italy, and I want to soak up Europe before I head to Asia.

What do you think?

Option 1: Travel Italy for three weeks, then do Italian summer camp for five weeks before heading to China.
Option 2: Travel southern France for one week, then do French summer program before heading to Italy for three weeks.
Option 3: Do French summer program, then head to China three weeks early and travel around there.

Woe is me for having so many cool choices before me!

*P.S. Did I mention that Andrew got a (fourth?) job teaching English to masters students at the university here? It's only 2 hours a week, but eventually it'll bring us some extra cash, once all the paperwork gets settled.