May begins the general theme of “let’s work less” and eventually leads up to summer vacation. There are 3 bank holidays in May and they always fall within 7 or 14 days of each other. This year they are all on Thursdays.
I’ve probably explained “bridge” days back in my Annecy chapter, but for a refresher holidays that fall on a Thursday often constitute taking Friday off, hence making a bridge to the weekend.
Here’s a fun re-cap/ preview of my work weeks since Brussels:
Week of April 22: Easter Monday- 4 day work week
Week of April 28: Bank holiday May 1st, took the bridge- 3 day work week
Week of May 5: Bank holiday May 8th, will probably take the bridge - 3/4 day work week
Weeks of May 12 and 19: 5 day work weeks (How will we ever make it?)
Week of May 26: Bank holiday May 29th, work imposed bridge- 3 day work week
This is a horrible time to get anything done in France. Did I also mention that the country is also coming off of spring school vacation- 2 weeks rotated over 6 depending on your academy zone.
This past week was the last week of classes and exams for my on-site masters program students. Now they will scatter across the globe for their internships. Some important facts, these students range in age from early 20s to mid 30s. I’m 27 (and closer to 28 at this point). At the beginning of the year, I was conscious of the age-closeness. However, that broke down and I got much better with the balance of being close in age, yet still fulfilling a professional role. It also helps to have an excellent group of students that are motivated and organized.
They invited me to a Christmas party right before the holiday break, so I wasn’t too surprised that I got invited to their end of year dinner this past Friday. Early on, one of the students told me the year was done and we could forget about the student/staff divide. It was refreshing, because it enabled me to be a part of their group. (You would have never known I was the academic secretary and not just another student).
Dinner turned into drinks, drinks turned into bar-hopping, and bar-hopping ended at a discotheque until the wee hours. Somewhere along the way, I was invited to the Saturday afternoon/evening BBQ. That night, watching the photo slide show of their year, I realized my luck to have this group be my first.
Bonne continuation et a bientot-
This week was the first in which I’ve felt that all aspects of my life have fulfilled themselves: work, outside activities, socializing with different groups of friends. I am moving towards having a more stable life and am feeling less of the ex-pat transitioning.
Highlights of the week:
I had my contract renewal interview on Thursday. Because of a new French labor laws, a CDD (defined duration contract) will no longer be renewed every year, but after 1 year will be renewed for 3 and following 4 years will be re-evaluated and renewed for 2 before moving into CDI (indetermined duration contract). I’ve been really happy with my job and felt I was doing well, and during the interview with my department supervisor and 2 hr representatives that sentiment came through.
I also survived my first strike that directly impacted my day. The public transit service was very limited. The weather was also gorgeous and I was wearing sensible shoes, so I didn’t mind walking 1/2 to 2/3s of my work commute that day.
Much socializing! St. Patrick’s Day and happy hour on Thursday with my anglophone ex-pat friends. There was also some French spoken. The weekend was spent with my flatmate and his PhD/ post-doc physics friends. My flatmate and I have very different schedules, so it had been quite awhile since we spent time together.
Springtime weather and all work lunches enjoyed on the rooftop terrace. Good thing I am vigilant about sunscreen.
In my quest to create a post-grad school life in Grenoble, I’ve avoided making temporary friends. Unfortunately, this means I’ve avoided ex-pat groups, mostly because I’d associated them with students, teaching assistants, and various other former life stages.
That also meant my life had fallen into a pattern of work, errands, choir, relaxing and more errands on the weekend, repeat. Dull. I needed to find friends in my peer group, francophone/ anglophone, whatever. A contact at work had told me about the anglophone ex-pat group and after conveniently forgetting about them for 2 months, I decided to go for a Thursday night happy hour event.
Needless to say, that went well; I met lots of anglophones and though some are here temporary (such is the life of ex-pats) some have been here for years. Ex-pat groups, especially groups of Americans, seem to have a funny clash of small-worldness. I’ve met 3 UW-Madison grads, 3 Minnesotans (including one who knows someone from my high school), and 4 other mid-westerners.
Since Thursday, I’ve been invited to a bon voyage party on Sunday and will be heading out for a St. Patrick’s Day drink this evening.