Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Just a quick tip. I can't remember if I mentioned it but if I did it probably wasn't anything more than a name drop. Meeting people in Paris is hard. In America wherever you are you can just go up to whomever and make conversation. But not so much here. Even a friend of mine got made at me for doing it. Like it was some societal sin.
But I don't go to uni here, and I don't work here, so my options are very, very limited. However I found Meetups gets the job done. I had never heard of it before because we don't need it where I'm from, but if you're coming over join a few groups and hopefully make some friends.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
I've been researching this a bit because the thought crossed my mind. I've thought about staying through the Summer, or at least moving down South. As an American you can stay in the country for 90 days. If you happen to be another nationality check the French Embassy website.
Let's say you have it in your head that you want to move to France. If you have a large enough savings it's possible to get a long stay visa. I believe you need to show the Embassy that you have at least €450 a month to support yourself, which doesn't sound quite right but don't quote me. Maybe that's for outside of Paris? This proof of income will let you move to the country for at least a year. You will then have to go to the Prefecture to renew your carte sejour when the year is up.
If you want to move here but need a job, well that's going to be much, much harder. You can try to apply with an American company, but to be honest with you the French have their own unemployment to worry about. On top of that they have EU nationals that they're going to pick over you because in order to work here they're going to need to sponsor you and that's probably more paperwork than just hiring a European. Unless you have some very in demand skill, finding someone to sponsor you is going to be really, really hard. And if your level of French isn't very good well then... FYI if you do apply for citizenship one day, you're going to need to take a language test to prove that you can speak it so start learning.
Another option is to apply for the teaching assistance program. The application closes every year in January because the program starts in October. There are only something like 1,400 places open so it might be tough but it's an avenue to look into.
And there's also becoming an English language teacher. When I took the TEFL I was told that they could find you a job, but I'm not sure how that works. If you look at the teaching jobs offered, every one of them says you need working papers in order to apply. If you don't have working papers, once again you're going to have to find someone to sponsor you.
The au pair route is it's own visa. Become one and you could get to stay in the country for at least a year. Most hiring happens when the school year starts so be aware of that if you decide that you want to come before September.
But by far the easiest way to get a visa, to live and work, in France is by being a student. If you don't have good knowledge of French you're probably not going to get in. And worse because French education is free, French students battle it out for places, so I'm sure the process is very tough for an international student. A friend of mine who studies at the Sorbonne told me that French students are very competitive because of this. And another friend (who is French) said the competition for his engineering school was very tough. He went to one of the grandes écoles and he said he worked hard to make sure his grades were up to par to get in, and even once he was accepted, and began to attend, he had to make sure he kept them up. Think of it like being on scholarship in the US, if you don't keep that GPA high your scholarships get taken away. In this case you don't get to continue going to school.
However there is an even shadier way of working the system and that's by enrolling in a language school. You don't have to apply at a university. Though the Sorbonne does offer a program. Find a language school, and become a student in "learning the French language". It counts as being a student and it gets you a student visa. This will in turn allow you to work at least 25 hours a week.
And one more very important thing. Let's say you decide to go to France before securing a visa, just be aware that you can not apply to extend your stay in the country, once you are in the country, if you are not on either a short stay or long stay visa. You MUST go back home and apply for it that way. The French Embassy in DC was very rude, and very clear about this (I wish I could show their emails. The tosser actually pulled a Kanye and wrote in all caps). Staying longer than 90 days is illegal and you will severly hurt your chances of every obtaining a visa or being allowed back into the country. And unfortunately once you use your 90 but decide that you'd like to travel to Italy for instance, you will have to wait 6 months. You already used your 90 days in France, so any other Schengen country is out of the question.
This is actually a really great guide http://www.ielanguages.com/documents/stayofficialinfrance.pdf. But I'd just like to point out that it says you have to wait 90 days before entering the Schengen area again, according to the US Embassy, it's 180 days. A friend of mine was going to go to England for a day and then try to re-enter. Suffice to say she wasn't let back in.
I am a history nerd. I don't know what gave me this gluttonous craving for it, but I love it. I love seeing the way human beings evolved, I love seeing the beauty we can create, and the destruction we can wreck. We are fascinating creatures. Our history, literature, and art is a testament to that.
The good thing about being in a Paris is that you're surrounded by it in every aspect of your daily life. I guess you can thank the government for their protectionism. I think being an American we tend to appreciate that more becuase we don't have it. Or rather we do but it's not amongst us quite the way it is in other parts of the world. Less than 400 years looks pretty sad in comparison. In London it used to make me feel so insignificant walking the streets because I always knew that I was just one of many that would walk the same path that others had done for over 1,000 years. I pass Notre Dame everyday and am still in awe of it (I'm a sucker for gothic architecture in the French style).
But I have to admit I am the shittiest tourist on the planet. I'll probably be the only person to visit Paris who didn't see the Eiffel Tower up close and in person (and I'll wear that shit like a badge of honor thank you very much). Maybe it's because I'm here for so long and I'm a procrastinator, or because the weather is absolute shit most days that it doesn't inspire me to want to go out and explore. I've probably only seen like 20 of the 50,000 things you're supposed to see. But, and call me crazy, seeing the sights for me is just walking around and checking out the different neighborhoods. One of my absolute favorite things to do, and the distresser for me here, is walking along the Seine at night. I know it's not as 'OMG amazing' as climbing the towers of Notre Dame but it does the trick for me. If you prefer not to go on your own there actually is a group to join that does neighborhood walks.
But if you're only in Paris for a few days I guess you probably feel like you have to see everything and so will probably go a bit crazy. The museum pass might actually be worth it. But if you have the luxury to live here for a few weeks, do yourself a favor and learn how to work the system. And don't get the museum pass, it isn't worth it. If you're a student or an EU citizen aged 18-26 you won't need this advice because you have the luxury of getting in for free.
The first Sunday of every month, the museums open up for free. If you don't feel like spending alot of money on each individual one, and don't have a problem with crowds, this could be good for you. I don't think you can hit up more than one in one day, but I guess if you rush it you might.
If you do want to take your time though, and you know you're going to need more than one visit to see everything the Louvre or d'Orsay offers, I'd suggest buying the membership. At d'Orsay it was €25 for the Carte Blanche (if you're under 65) versus €11 for the general ticket. You can buy the deux version as well if there's two of you. With the Carte Blanche I can visit everyday for the year if I want. Pretty nice deal. And it gives you access to de l'Orangerie as well. I can't be sure of the price for the Louvre (it's on their website) but I believe it was a bit more expensive at €35. But again you'll have access for the year so it's value outweighs the cost. With the Louvre though you have to take a picture for your card so act like it's school picture day and remember that.
Other sites like Notre Dame, Hotel de Ville, Carnavalet, are free. There are actually a whole host of others so make sure you plan. One thing to remember for Notre Dame though is that they don't have groups everyday unless you want the French version. For instance English is only three days a week at 2pm, Russian once, etc, etc. I'll post some list links at the end so you can plan your trip better. Places like Sainte-Chapelle and Conciergerie will let you buy a joint ticket, instead of buying them individually so there's a bit of savings. I don't know if there are others that do this...
One thing that I have wanted to try (when it's nicer), and I have heard great things about, is the Fat Tire Bike Tour. I see them all the time on the bridge near my house when they're doing their night tours. I always want to rent a bike but I already almost get hit on the daily. I also have piss poor coordination skills. You know Alicia Silverstone in Clueless? Replace the Jeep with a Land Rover and that's me everyday back home. Except instead of hitting flower pots I'm hitting the security gate for my apartment. "Oops my bad", but in fairness that hating gate does not open like it's supposed to. Any way maybe as a group I'll be less likely to injure myself (tip, the little green man at the crosswalk lies). http://paris.fattirebiketours.com
I know it's not super sage wisdom, and a Parisian probably has better tips and tricks, but hopefully I edumacated you a little. And don't let those scary stories of the pickpockets freak you out. I'm clueless and I hadn't heard of it before I came. my first day in Paris I went to Trip Advisor to look something up and saw all of these postings. I got a bit freaked out because those posters can be sensationalists. However it might be a bigger problem in the summer because I am always walking past d'Orsay and the Louvre and haven't seen the petition signers, the ring scam, nor did anyone try to bum rush me when I was in the area. Be aware of your surroundings, but don't let it give you paranoia.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Taking a serious moment. Let's put up the "Shits About to Get Real" sign and talk about some not so funny stuff.
I cannot really take the moral high ground on this issue. Afterall I don't sleep with random dick, but shit happens, so who am I to really judge? However I feel like American girls need to hear it because it's making us all look bad.
When I was 18 I was more serious than my peers. I was a suburbs kid who grew up in a wealthy middle class neighborhood with a lack of rules so I had middle and high school years filled with partying. I liked to pick and choose what classes I went to like I was in college or something, but I graduated with a 3.7 GPA and acceptance into a good school in London despite that, because I may have the wrong priorities, but I'm book smart. So when 18 came around I had already been partying and going to raves for 6 years and believe me that shit gets old.
But I know not all girls grow up with such lax parental supervision so 18 is your "go wild" period. I get that you're finally throwing off your shackles and getting out from under your parent's thumb. You want to do hoodrat shit and you're moving to a new country like France so go wild right?
No. Please don't. It's not cute and it's a bit sad. Being a dumb ho is not the look. To Frenchmen American girls are known as being easy. Probably because there are stupid American girls who drop their panties over the slightest bit of an accent despite the guy being a total plonker. I personally don't see the appeal of Frenchmen. The accent doesn't get the panties wet.
But I get it, it's new, it's exciting and you can drink at 18! But you don't need to get sloppy and you don't need to sit on every dumb dick that pays you attention. You're American, you're reputation is already cemented. You don't have to fall for it.
And don't fall for the "go to Montmartre" line. Who were the dumb girls that started that trend? Had they visited any other parts of the city because frankly there are better places to see (unless drunk dudes and the smell of piss are your thing). But if you have to make the trip, do it yourself or go with some girlfriends.
Respect yourself, make sure you vet the shit out of the guy, and don't give it up just because it has an accent. We all know you weren't raised to be a dumb twat so don't act like one now. Believe me, you don't want to end up with a story like mine. They may not all be like that, but you won't know if you drop the drawers the first night.