Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Date Change

The visa is in my hands! Thanks to Meg from the French Embassy in Washington, I've got myself all the legal means to enter the country.

However, I had to change the date of departure. I am now leaving at 4:40 PM from O'Hare (note to tourists: not "O'Hara") on Friday, October 1st.

Mark your calendars!

Visa Problems

Oh, dear.

I had managed to convince myself that the logistics of getting to France were working out in my favor. I had subletted my apartment, sold some of my furniture, packed a couple of bags, and scoped out airfare. I was in contact with the school I've been placed in and everything seemed good.

This morning when I went to the French consulate in downtown Chicago to get my long-stay visa (Note: BAD IDEA to wait until the day before your departure), I had a nasty shock. One of the forms that was mailed to me hadn't been stamped by (??, somebody, probably a French person). The French lady told me this (in French, not English) and denied my visa request.

The only thing I got was the phone number for the project liason, an American woman working at the French Embassy. She rules.

I will get a phone call from her at about 8AM tomorrow. She will tell me whether or not I'm good to go.

Wish me luck, because it's getting *really* sticky...


Monday, September 27, 2004

Inaugural Post

Good afternoon, people!

Welcome to my travelblog and notepad for the next several months - this is about my looming journey to France to teach English at a high school near Laval.

Here's what I hope you're asking: "Geez, Matt, it's a good thing you waited until now to start a blog, because blogs that don't have a specific subject are boooring." Yes, I agree, Dear Reader, which is why I hope this one won't turn out that way. I intend for this little spot on the web to showcase a few specific things:

1) My own exploration and discovery - what am I learning about myself, about people, about life? What do I miss? What do I do in my spare time? Was my weekend in Austria a good time?

2) Culture-shock! What's up with the French? Are they really rude? Polly Platt has written a book called French or Foe? which aims to help folks like me get acclimated to the different culture. She argues that the French are meticulous and suspicious but warm and wholly personable underneath. The U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria says "Freedom Toast". We'll see who wins.

By the way, I will be conducting a beret count. I will try to make The Great Beret Count a front-page item on this blog, because I'm sure it's the sort of thing you will want to count. Obsessively.

3) Pictures! I recently bought a Canon Powershot A80 - it's a decent point-and-shoot digital camera that syncs nicely with iPhoto. I want to have a Picture of the Day section. I hope you see both my daily life and my development as a photographer.

So that's the beginning. Right now I'm still getting myself ready to go, but, God willing, everything will turn out fine. Leave a comment, if you like!