In exactly one month from today, I will find myself in Charles de Gaulle airport and set my feet upon French soil.
However, before that day comes, I must deal with sorting and organizing the many, many things I will require for my proper installation. What better way to do this than by making lists?
The Passport (duh)
The Plane Ticket (duh)
The Arrêté de Nomination (my work contract-major DUH)
Multiple photocopies of said document
The French Cellphone (duh)
The French Cellphone Charger (major duh if you consider the French Cellphone)
French Checkbook for Société Générale
Société Générale Bank Card
Perhaps this sounds a bit negative, but considering the money I don't have in the account, this card is practically pointless...
Official Copy of Birth Certificate
Some French organizations require proof that I was born. It will impress them to see that I was born in New Jersey 23 years ago.
The SNCF Carte 12-25
This is a discount card for train tickets. Very, very efficient if you make lots of one-day trips to surrounding French cities. It requires a passport-sized picture and a valid I.D. (passport) with the train ticket. The pesky contrôleurs may or may not check all of this when you board the trains.
Divia Bus Card
This is a card that also has my picture on it. I use it once I purchase a monthly bus pass, which is different from the card itself. It wards off those pesky Divia contrôleurs who randomly hop on the buses to catch those without a ticket or bus pass and fine them.
The Carrefour Carte de Fidélité
Does not require picture I.D. It is the points card for the supermarket chain, Carrefour. This card collects store credits (money) and later awards me with store check which I can use to buy more stuff at Carrefour. When Carrefour wants your fidélité (loyalty), it gets it, all right.
Clothes-shirts, blouses, pants, dresses, hats, socks, bras, underwear
3 Packets of CUBAN ESPRESSO
Each packet lasts for approximately one month. That is, only if I end up with new roommates who also do not like coffee. If they happen to love coffee just as much as I do, then I predict I will run out of espresso by October 15.
Essential Bathroom Stuff:
2 Tubes of Toothpaste with Whitening Power
I've noticed, with horror, that the French have unusually yellow teeth. I would like to blame smoking and excessive drinking of coffee and alcohol for such a vibrantly disturbing color, but both my room mates neither smoked nor drank coffee and only drank alcoholic beverages on social occasions. Conclusion: something is up with their toothpaste.
1 American Toothbrush
French toothbrush heads are quite small. Perhaps it has something to do with the difference in dental structure between both cultures? Are American oral orifices that honestly that huge?
Yes, they are. I will treasure Oral-B for life.
Shampoo and Conditioner/Body Wash/Deoderant
I could easily save myself some extra weight in my suitcase and just buy this stuff over there, but I also aim to at least spare myself from having to purchase these toiletries for 1 month or so. I got to save some money and buy in bulk.
Feminine Stuff. *ahem*
Obtained Items for Trip:
4 New Pairs of Shoes
3 New Pairs of Jeans (In a smaller size, no less!)
2 Very Cute Bolero Jackets from Forever 21
1 Dress that I Got on Clearance (Thank you, Target!)
I always tend to splurge on new clothes for a trip. I blame my mother for instilling this vanity in me. Plus, I'm gonna be over there for 7 months...I need to spend in Dollars while I still can!
2 Small Notebooks (very handy when I need to jot down something quickly)
Money for rent and one-month deposit (!!!)
How I'll get this money, I'll never know...
At least 2 cans of Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam hair mousse
I just haven't been able to find anything that works as good as that in Dijon. I have a hunch that it might be available in Paris, but I'd rather pay for the mousse in Dollars rather than Euros. I'm sensibly stingy like that.
Bottle of Biosilk Silk Therapy (hair product)
While I am on this item, I would like to take a brief moment to vent. It seems that for the time that while I was away, the makers of Biosilk (apparently, Farouk USA) decided that it would be a fun idea to irk me by nearly doubling the price. Instead of viciously yanking out my hair in tufts, I'm gonna hit some stores and compare prices. The game's objective: whichever store offers the lowest price gets my money.
They only have the chocolate kind over there, and that will be sure to freak out my students.
A Bottle of French's Mustard
If strawberry Nesquick doesn't freak them out, then the American version of a bright yellow condiment that dare calls itself "mustard" will. Remember: Dijon = Mustard
I especially hope they get the irony of the brand's name...
American Mini-Oreos for my students
Oreos do exist in France, but they 1) come from Spain and 2) are quite expensive. I could get a 3 ounce bag over here for $1 at Target.
Lost Temporarily Misplaced CD of Christmas Music
The French have the wrong impression that American Christmas music consists of slow ballads crooned by Bing Crosby. "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" are unheard of over there! I really need to dispel this misunderstanding.
Gifts for French Friends!
One of them specifically requested that I get her a box or two of Duncan Hines cake mix. I think I will stock up on Cuban coffee and guava paste. Mmmmmm...
Before I start getting too excited, I must also remember that I am returning to a not-so-foreign country. Like many foreign countries, there is a possibility that I may encounter some culture shock-inducing instances.
That is why I decided to re-train myself and start the culture shock process while I am still in the States. I find that music often aids in my transition...
Ilona Mitrecey "Un Monde Parfait." Yes, this is a children's song and it was a hit over there. Deal with it.
Philippe Katerine. Just about anything he does is weird, but I still haven't quite recovered from "Louxor, J'adore" and "100% V.I.P."
And, the biggest shock: France Gall's "Les Sucettes." Written by the legendary Serge Gainsbourg, who admittedly was not the most saintly man, "Les Sucettes" is a playful song about a girl named Annie who likes "lollipops." Really likes "lollipops."
The best part? 17-year-old France Gall had NO IDEA about the song's innuendo. At all. Not even with the bluntly explicit music video.
After seeing these videos, you may wonder what exactly appeals to me about France. What could possibly make me love a country that produces such weird music?
...I just feel at home over there. I can't quite explain it, really. :-/
Wish me luck!
Barb the French Bean
Disclaimer: the videos are not mine...even I couldn't think up stuff this weird. o_O"