Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Moving on, staying put

So, as many of you already know, I've found a new job, and to everyone's enormous surprise, it's here in Tours! I honestly didn't think in a million years that I would find something here - it's not exactly the hub of the intellectual and commercial worlds, especially when looking for English-speaking stuff.

So on the one hand, I'm happy not to have to pack up my apartment and leave (yet), rehome the cat, say goodbye to my friends etc., and on the other hand there's a big part of me that has been itching for a change of scene for some time now. That said, the initial contract only runs until the end of August, so there's plenty of scope for me to be back out on my arse again shortly (they have said there is a good chance of another contract at that point though).

I'm also kinda terrified at the prospect of going back to work! There's the whole issue of just adjusting back to a normal routine again, on top of the normal nerves from starting a new job. Plus it's a role I've never done before (electronic document and records management), and in a private company, which I've also never experienced either in France or in my professional career (not counting jobs here and there when I was a student, etc.) And while I feel my French has obviously improved over the last few years, the prospect of writing reports in French and perhaps having to deal with people over the phone gives me the jitters!

But on the bright side, yay a job! I just sent the contract off today, so it's all official! I'm still not sure what the net salary is, but the gross is looking pretty good for someone coming off the chômage, and it is a really good chance to get some new skills and experience in a different field of information work and environment. Plus it gives me some permanence for the next few months, since I've felt in a state of limbo, never quite knowing what would be around the corner and if I'd suddenly have to leave town or even the country. This means I've been able to plan (separate) visits from a friend and my sister, and a weekend in Paris for Ella's wedding, yay! And I am already plotting ways to spend the extra cash - nothing too dramatic, but all the little things I haven't been able to indulge in for the past year.

So, I know some of you have been wondering about the outcome of the IIO job in Brussels. The bad news is, I didn't get the job :( The good news is, they put me on the waiting list for future positions. Normally, I would think that was the employment equivalent of "but can we stay friends?", but they have asked me to do some fairly involved follow-up stuff which makes me think it is a little more meaningful than that. I'm not banking on something coming of it, but I'm taking it as a positive sign and presumably I would be in a stronger position in the future. I would still love to work there, so let's hope so! Looking back at the fact that two of the other candidates at my interview already had some sort of IIO connection going makes me wonder if they basically always waitlist people before hiring unless maybe someone exceptional with just the right experience comes along...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Party all the time, party all the time

Hello long-lost friends! It has been too long since my last blog post, although in my defense, not much blog-worthy has been going on. This doesn't mean I've been in winter hibernation (although I think everyone is ready for spring to bloody well be sprung) - there have been Fun Times Aplenty, but not really of the variety that make for a good blog post. Although I'm now going to run through them quickly anyway.

Sadly, my good friend Laura left Tours (and then she came back again a few weeks later for the weekend, but then left again for good). Such is the nature of expat life - people come and go and sometimes only stay for a short period of time (a year, in her case). On the upside, it means that expats are usually pretty open to meeting new people and making friends in a shorter time-frame than might be the norm (certainly for France!), but the downside is saying goodbye to your friends just as quickly. Of course these days it's much easier to stay in touch with things like facebook, and even though that's a poor substitute for real-life friendship, it does keep things ticking over in the hope that one day you might be able to reconnect with a handy network of people flung out all over the globe.

We hardly need an excuse, but of course people leaving also mean parties! I think Laura's leaving do was the week or so after I came back from Belgium, and we had a lovely evening consuming her left-over alcohol stocks (including too much of the aquavit I brought back from Norway for her - that stuff is lethal!), playing a game of Secret Santa where the prizes were all the little trinkets she hadn't managed to rehome or sell up to that point (I scored some tupperware and little serving dishes for dips or olives or what have you), and busting a groove to a dancing game on Xbox Live.

 This is hard to see, but I'm pretending to eat the box because it has "not for human consumption" written on it

Liz and Charlie. I wish I had their ways with scarves!

Liz, Philippa and Charlie
A couple of weeks after that, Cute Neighbour, who you may remember from my birthday party, invited me over to watch the rugby at his place. I'm not a rugby girl, but in any case he accidentally (?) invited me round 3 hours early, and we spent the time chatting about all sorts of things and it wasn't at all awkward. Pity he still has a German Girlfriend. The only downside was that he smoked so much I felt ill and had to shower when I got home! In return, the next week or the week after I invited him round to Liz's place for a cocktail evening, which turned into an all-nighter out on the town.

Me and Charlie

Me, Liz and Charlie


Me and Cute Neighbour. There is photographic evidence that I had my hand on his thigh for quite some time. Whoops!
Then Laura came back for the weekend last week, and we had a pretty restrained time of it by our standards. This included going out Friday and Saturday nights for a quiet couple of pints at the pub and having a couple of glasses of wine with lunch on Saturday though, so it probably still wasn't exactly what the doctor ordered.
Snapping a few selfies in the kitchen: no night is complete without it!
Also somewhere in here was the time we went out and Caroline and I ended up staying out until 7 am or so when the clubs closed and then I was lured back to her place for an 'after'. I did actually want to go home, but she guilt-tripped me into not letting her go off by herself with 4 blokes, so the night ended drinking gin smoothies (much, much better than I would have imagined) as the sun came up - until after 11 am, in fact!

That brings us to this weekend, which had all the makings of a classic: Saturday was the Fête des Vins de Borgeuil, Caro and Marcia wanted to watch the rugby on Saturday night, it was Philippa's birthday and St. Patrick's Day on Sunday, plus after the long winter break, the Formula One was finally back!

It was pretty rainy and miserable for the Fête des Vins, but that didn't stop us having a good time. How can you not have a good time at an event where you pay 2€ to buy a tasting glass (to keep) and then you can sample as much wine as you like? As well as the usual suspects, we were joined by a new friend Mel and her husband. In a Gwannel Sandiego first, I was emailed by Mel last week via the blog! I have met up with people, mostly in Paris, via the blog before, but this was the first time someone in Tours came across the blog and contacted me. It feels a bit weird - while I'm not silly enough to think it's not "out there" on the internet, I kind of don't think of it as something that people in Tours are going to be reading. But, that aside, we clicked really well, so it is great that it has brought us together. What was I saying at the beginning about expat life and making friends?

Liz and I stayed on at the Fête until nearly 7 pm, after everyone else had called it a day, which meant a bit of a mad rush when I got home to get showered and changed and redo my ruined nail polish (I need to learn it's never a good idea to try to rush doing your nails), while watching a replay of the F1 qualifying from the morning (it actually got rained off, but I still wanted to watch it again because there was a lot of action before that).

And then off to stand in the pub while the rugby was on. We were pretty late, but seeing that I stood with my back to the screen, I didn't care. Poor Scottish flower Caroline was a bit deflated by the result though, and ended up going home not much later. As for me, I stayed on until closing time (2 am) but considering we had started at the wine festival at 2 pm, I decided not to go out clubbing and probably got home around 3 (after quite some time of wandering around collectively trying to decide what to do/chatting in the street). I probably should have got some sleep, but I tried to stay awake to watch the F1 at 7. I actually did quite well, only falling asleep for the last half an hour or so, and then unfortunately waking up to get a glimpse of the podium ceremony, so I spoiled the result for myself. Oh well.

The Tours Goat has made an appearance on the blog before, but I had to take a snap of him all gussied up with balloons!

Wearing green (nail polish too) in honour of St. Patrick's Day - it was after midnight by this stage!Also, I want to know what's going on in the background with Charlie and some cute blokes... I was too busy watching the F1 (they ran the rest of it late because of the rain) to notice at the time.
So, fun times, even if writing about them all at once does make me feel like a bit of a drunken disgrace!