So what exactly have I been up to these past few days?
I go to the bus depot to buy a bus pass, find out I need to have a photo (I swear photo’s for the French transit system will be my undoing, not only did I get fined for not having one in Paris, it took me two days and 15 Euros to find a machine that would take one). Pictures in-hand (photomaton located inside the grocery store, just me or is that weird?) I go back to the bus station. I need a copy of my passport. Okay no problem, I needed to get one made anyway. Back I go. Bus pass purchased, two weeks and three tries later. Whew. If every errand takes me this long I’ll never get anything done…oh wait, every errand takes me this long.
Setting up a bank account? Sarah, Maciej and I go together as neither of them speak any french and we all have the same address anyway. More than an hour and the most paperwork I have ever seen later, with a very funny bank clerk who at least has some english, we have officially opened our accounts. All we need is proof of our address. Electrical bills with owners name are acquired. Delivered. But wait – our contract was signed with the property manager. Another form is needed with the signature of the owner. No problem – retype document, send to Valerie, she sends to M. Cleary in Australia who signs, includes a copy of his passport and sends back to Valerie, who then sends form to me. I print form at nearby internet café and deliver to bank. (at least that’s the game plan, document hasn’t arrived back from Valerie yet.) It will be my fifth trip to the bank on Monday when I hand over to the document and hopefully we can then pick up our bank cards and stop paying $5.00 fees every time we withdraw cash from the machines.
Joining a sports association through school? Economical and a great way to meet other (french speaking!) students. All I need is a form signed by a french medical doctor saying I am fit to participate in sports. Google “doctors in Antibes area,” am presented with a list of doctors who have been approved by the American and Canadian embassies as speaking enough english for non-french speakers. That address looks close, and due to an inordinate fear of having to speak french on the phone (to the receptionist) I walk over. The receptionist is very kind, she teaches me the word for phonebook, tells me I’m in completely the wrong place (not only no english speaking doctor but it’s the wrong kind of doctor to sign my form) and wishes me “bon courage!” She does give me a list of the general practitioners in Antibes since I don’t have a phone book. I find another doctor, this time one who can sign my form, who is only five minutes away. I walk there, again, due to my inordinate fear of the phone, discover I actually do have to call because you need to be buzzed into the building. Call – and guess what, I understood everything and was able to book my appointment with no problems. (Well except for forgetting how to say the number fourteen when asked what time I wanted my appointment for, at which point the doctor simply switched to speaking english. Sigh.)
I have also successfully had new keys cut for the front door of our apartment as we only had two sets for four people, learned where in the city I can take my recycling since my building doesn’t have any, and chosen my courses for the semester. (Take what you now know about how successful I have been at getting basic tasks done and apply it to these tasks. You’ll have a pretty good idea about how long all of those things took.) Good thing I’ve only had two classes so far – if I’d had more I would never have gotten any errands run at all.
I’d miss Canada more but the south of France has enough things like perfect fresh bread, endless sunshine, breathtaking scenery, and the best fashion imaginably to make up for having to wait in line or come back later to do anything.