My days have been recently filled trying to get myself a job. Which is much easier chez moi than here. The cover letter and CV funfest is back! Luckily, I had a good self-taught lesson in this lovely exercise back in April and May, when I was applying to grad school. CVs and cover letters aren’t just for grad school or “real” jobs, like at home. It’s for every, and any kind of job—from a cashier at a supermarket to the CEO of a large company. You must provide a letter describing just how much you want to check those groceries through and how well you’ll do it! Which, in my opinion, leads to a lot of insincere, bloated letters, but I guess it’s the thought that counts? I miss simple applications and same-day interviews!
Writing each letter takes a lot of time. I have to google the classic politeness sentences to start and end letters with, and then I search for models of the letters, according to industry. I use them to make my own letter, but it's good to have a rough idea of how to write them. French has a way of just sounding much more formal, so sometimes even my best attempts sound elementary compared to what I see actual letters look like. It took me the better part of last week to get about four cover letters that I changed slightly for each company I applied to. I applied as a server, a barista, and an English teacher to several places in Paris. I’ve mostly gotten responses from the English teaching jobs.
I had an interview on Saturday with a children’s language school and got the job, for one day a week. Since my schedule is really limited with already watching kids after school and then having school on top of that, the only day I’m really available for them is on Saturday. They believe that teachers are only effective for five hours a day, which I really admire, but that means that another job is necessary to make up some more hours, because I can probably not survive on just a few hundred euro per month. Unless I neglect bills or stop eating. One of the two. I had a trial day at an American café on Tuesday, and they asked me to come back and train, so it's good to have the job situation figured out, at least theoretically. If only France paid every other week rather than once per month! It'll be another long famine like last October I s'pose..
I guess the most frustrating part is that even though I’m in France, it’s starting to feel like the US, because of the work part. Between school, nannying, and a part-time job (or two), I will not have a lot of free time to do much, especially traveling! I know this is my doing—I wanted, and want to be here, and I knew full well that this could happen. But I guess that France, to me, has always been more of an adventure than work. Working, really working, was reserved for at home, when I worked 13-hour shifts at the restaurant and went out for drinks afterwards, three nights in a row. France is supposed to be the culture capital of the world, where you drink espressos on a daily basis, wear heels to the grocery store, and wait in 4-hour lines to get opera tickets. Where is hard work supposed to fit in there?!
Classes were supposed to begin this week, but at the end of last week, I happened to stop by my department and saw that the Master's students' start day had been pushed back a week. An extra week is fine by me, and obviously it's helped me job-wise. What I found annoying is that it was by total chance that I even stopped by. I was in the neighborhood and I was trying to get wifi from my university and thought I'd stop up by my department to see if my classes were posted yet. The schedules were up, so I guess they figured we'd see the notice that way..but I still think an e-mail or letter should have been sent to the students concerned. Ah well, I should be used to this kind of thing by now!
I’ve been so worried about being able to find a job so that I can eat that I haven’t even given much thought to just how hard my program could be and how much time it will take up in my already over-scheduled life. I am in class for 13 hours per week, which will eventually have to be supplemented by an internship. (I am not yet stressing over this; I can only handle so much at a time and I have a few months..)
Rachel's formula for success in a foreign country:
13 hours of class+
15 hours of babysitting+
20 hours of work
= living the dream!
I am determined. I got here on my own; I have had this ambition to return since I first stepped foot here nearly five years ago. I have tried to imagine every possibility of what could happen since I decided to apply to grad school earlier this year. Everything that I’m worrying about now—I’ve thought about it before. I can, and will, make this work. I know I will. In the meantime, cheap wine helps.
Worries aside, I live in Paris, a beautiful city. There are things to do, people! Two weekends ago was the Journée du patriomine, meaning that tons of buildings around France and Europe were open to the public that are usually closed off or only available by a private tour. So I went to see the Sorbonne, Panthéon, and the Luxembourg Palace, which is where the French senate is located.
Ornate woodwork inside the Sorbonne
Training for my English teaching starts tomorrow, schools begins on Tuesday, restaurant training starts sometime next week..wish me luck. I'll need it!