I’m positive I was instantly pegged as an American today because of the perma-smile on my face. While the near-perfect weather and brilliant sunshine put everyone in a good mood, I had a few more reasons to be très contente.
First of all, I have been reunited with my luggage. I made a little trip to the Nice airport after many lost-in-translation phone calls, and my suitcase and backpack were patiently waiting for me in the luggage services office. Jetlagged and frenzied in the Frankfurt airport chaos, I put my turned-off American cell number as my contact information. Apparently, that means that my file was never actually entered into the system. Bien sûr! However, I’m happy to take the blame since everything was accounted for and in (almost) perfect shape. Only one travel casualty to report: an almost-full and now-shattered bottle of Chanel perfume. I’m just grateful I stuck in a Ziploc bag at the last minute.
In even better news, I have met a woman who is basically living the life of my dreams. And she has hired me as an assistant. Upsides of this new position: instant inspiration, fabulous connections, tax-free income in Euros. Downsides: English-speaking and on a computer aka exactly what I left back home. But did I mention I’m getting paid in Euros?
Rosa Jackson has lived in France for more than 10 years—first in Paris, and now in Nice. She runs two businesses: a cooking school for English-speaking tourists in Nice and a customized food itinerary service for foodie-tourists in Paris. She also writes restaurant reviews and acts as a Paris food correspondent for a ton of foreign guidebooks and magazines. Plus, she writes cookbooks in French—one is called Cooking for Lazy Girls and a section is entitled how to not panic in front of an empty refrigerator. My kind of cookbook.
Basically, she eats delicious food and writes about it. And she gets to live in France. Sign me up, please. I’ll just be doing administrative stuff, assisting with a few cooking classes, and ramping up her social media program. It’s not very glamorous, but I’m pretty darn excited about it.
I’m still looking for another side job, or as the French say, un petit boulot. (Have I mentioned that I tend to overschedule myself?) I’ve checked in with a few English-speaking pubs and I’m trying to perfect my spiel (in French) to inquire at some private beaches. Apparently, I have the right “look” to work in a bar, but my lack of waitressing/bartending experience is a bit of a deterrent. There’s also the whole complicated-French-bureaucracy thing since I don’t have a European visa.
I also had my first day of courses at Alliance Francaise today—I’m still beaming from my teacher saying she couldn’t tell I was American! The usually-telltale American accent just ruins the French language, and while I’m far from accent-free, it’s nice to not immediately give away my foreigner status.
Most of all, I’m happy because I truly feel at home. I still can’t believe that I’ve been here less than a week! I’m so glad that I decided to do a homestay—my “host mom” is Madame Paillard, a widow a bit older than my parents (but still active enough to trek up four steep flights of stairs every day). My favorite part: she makes homemade jam that I can spread on my toast every morning! (I’m a bit like Joey in Friends when it comes to homemade jam—disregard this if you’re aren’t as obsessed with Friends as I am.) Je parle only French with her, but she speaks slowly and clearly and spells out any words I don’t recognize. Overall, she’s very helpful and friendly but still gives me plenty of space. Perfect combination!
I’m certainly starting to get settled in here, and I couldn’t be happier about where things might go in the next six months. C’est la vie!