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Warrior Dash and Taming the Jungle

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Warrior Dash on Saturday was, if anything, even more awesome than last year. The course was a slightly different route and some of the obstacles were new. They got rid of the on where you had to go hand over hands down a rope from the 20-30 foot platform, which was good. That was the obstacle I was seriously thinking of skipping and I really didn't want to have to skip any. I did it last year so I knew I could do it again...but if I slipped or landed just the wrong way it would have been very easy to snap my ankle. Which is probably why they got rid of the obstacle - last year a lot of people broke their ankles on this obstacle, mainly by letting go of the rope halfway down and landing poorly.

The final mud pit was longer and, I think deeper, than last year's. They also had barbed wire in front of the mud pit so you would have to get almost on your knees to get under it. Another good improvement....last year one of the participants ended up paralyzed from a broken neck because he dove into the pit, which was only 3 feet deep, in disregard of all the warnings and the detailed waiver.

This year the water obstacle was a lot tougher. You had to wade/swim/paddle to a bunch of floating boxes lashed together, tread water while waiting your turn to haul yourself up on them, get into the water on the other side, swim to the next set, repeat and swim to the bank. I think that was to hardest obstacle. A guy behind me was nice enough to give me a boost on the first set (probably to get me out of his way lol!) so I returned the favor by letting him use my arm to help pull himself up.

There was also a rope bridge instead of the rope spiderweb which was pretty cool. I almost lost my shoe in the mud bog. And - again! - I wound up behind some wussy girl who started to freak at the top of the climbing rope net and got in my way, wasting time.

I finished in about 48 minutes I think. My goal was 45 but I also took my time on the obstacles to make as sure as I could that I wouldn't get hurt. The fastest times, from the first group of people to go, were about 24 minutes. I'm hoping they bring Warrior Dash to Europe next year, or one of the similar races like Run for Your Lives. If I could get a team I'd love to do the Tough Mudder sometime but that will probably have to wait awhile.

After the race I came home to confront the jungle that has overtaken my yard. Apparently there was rain during the two weeks I was in France...and no one mowed the lawn since a week before I left. So three weeks of unrestrained growth = jungle. The grass had to have been at least 5 inches in some places. It took twice as long as normal to mow it since I had to go over each section twice. So I split it over two days.

I started cleaning out the garage again, putting things in piles to sell or donate or Freecycle. I'm still waiting for the Freecycle posts to get approved and sent, and I listed a few things on Craigslist. I haven't sold anything there in years so I don't know how effective it is anymore, but I hope the items sell, they are too big to list/ship on eBay.

This morning I'm meeting with a moving company to get an estimate on shipping my furniture and stuff and my Dad will arrive at noon to start working on the doors and trim. I met with my ex on Saturday to get a notarized "permission slip" for our daughter to live with me in France - right after the Dash since it was held only a few miles from where he now lives so I was filthy and smelly, made quite an impression on the local library staff where we went to print out the letter! I personally didn't care, but it was worth it to see his expression - he's very uptight about "what people think" and was beyond humiliated to be seen with me! Yes, I am evil LOL!

I'm still waiting for the property management guy to call me back about renting out my house while I am gone. I called him late Friday afternoon, so I can almost understand not hearing from him over the weekend. Almost because I know real estate agents do work on the weekends a lot. So I'll give him until today for the call back and then call someone else. I have neither the time nor the inclination to chase someone down in order to give them business.

It is going to be a busy week!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUNNER12COM 7/31/2012 6:05PM

    Congrats on the dash!

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 7/31/2012 6:23AM

    Ditto on the "I love your brand of Evil, LOL!" emoticon

Congrats on completing the run again! emoticon

I so want to get to that point where I can complete something like that in a decent time. I rely on my iPod to a large degree to carry me through my runs. I guess I will have to learn to give up that crutch!

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YAGERMONSTER 7/31/2012 5:55AM

    Was the water even cold this summer? Either way, you're an awesome competitor two years in a row!

Comment edited on: 7/31/2012 5:56:00 AM

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TRI_BABE 7/30/2012 10:16PM

    Lol! You should go on that show - called American Ninja Warrior or something? I've only seen it once.

And keep being evil to people who deserve it. It's fun ;)

I don't know if you like running clubs buts when I've traveled around the world I've found it is a great way to meet new people and learn new routes. I just Google it on the internet and am able to find them pretty easily.

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CODEMAULER 7/30/2012 7:22PM

    I love your brand of Evil, LOL!

I'm glad that you had a great and productive weekend. As always, your exploits motive me!


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SAFARIBABE 7/30/2012 6:51PM

    Warrior Dash IS in Europe! I know they do one or 2 in the UK. Sounds like you had a blast! WTG on sticking it to the ex!! I LOVE it!!

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HOPEFULHIPPO 7/30/2012 3:52PM

    wow, I thought I'd be able to do the mudrun someday, but LOL

As for you. You rock. period.

As for the ex: evil and I love it!!

as for the PM: ugh, I hate dealing with those guys and yes, call another one if you don't hear from him. cuz if you don't hear from him today, they won't call.

I bet it IS going to be a busy week, so I'll wait and look forward to the next blog. When the big move date again?

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SCOTTPILGRIM 7/30/2012 1:35PM

    Wow! Your Warrior Dash sounds a lot more dangerous than the one they had here - I did not hear of anyone getting seriously hurt. Now I feel cheated. ;)

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MCJULIEO 7/30/2012 12:06PM

Way to GO!

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SEXBOBOMB 7/30/2012 11:24AM

    Way to be a badass!! Awesome! emoticon

(And is it wrong that I was amused by the ex's discomfort by your appearance in the library? It sounded like a real "movie moment", with the role of your ex played by Dabney Coleman or some other stiff!)

Comment edited on: 7/30/2012 11:25:19 AM

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GETSTRONGRRR 7/30/2012 11:12AM

    Very cool, congrats on the dash! hope all the moving works out for've got a busy summer planned....hope it all works out!

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DEERLADY45 7/30/2012 10:50AM

    Well, Your an Awesome lady! You are living the dream of moving on and spreading the eagle wings! I admire you for that! i know so-o many who never live their Dreams! I hope you both love it in France, At my age and bad joints id never make a Warrior dash! WOW! BLessings! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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INIT2LIVEIT 7/30/2012 9:34AM

    Maybe you won't find a Mad mud run in France, but I can see them taking place in the UK. Just a bullet train ride away too!
Love hearing about your strength in dealing with the ex. My sister is still trying to find a way to put hers in his place. Problem is I think he is too stupid to stay there!

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STSCOTT11 7/30/2012 8:56AM

    ...WARRIOR DASH indeed. Sounds real extreme sports kinda stuff.
Broken ankes. Possible broken neck...your very adventuresome.
GLAD you got through, wasn't hurt...I bet it was thrilling.

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DEZZIEJAMES 7/30/2012 8:34AM


Do you know what an amazing, strong, and resilient woman you are?

OK, I am a tad bit scared of trying a warrior dash. Let me rephrase that. Terrified.
A. I am no where near ready.
B. PEOPLE BREAK NECKS AND ANKLES???? Are they that stupid or is it that dangerous?
C. I don't want to be the whiney girl, so I WILL be ready when it comes time to do one.

You are such an inspiration to me!

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Warriors - Prepare for Battle

Saturday, July 28, 2012

It is ON!

Once again Warriors from all over Michigan assemble to battle to the death as card carrying members of Warrior Nation.

That's right, today is the Warrior Dash, billed as "the craziest frickin' day of your life". In just few short minutes I will depart to defeat the barbarian hordes in Mt. Morris.

For those that have not yet heard of the Warrior Dash it is a 5k trail race...with a bonus obstacle course. Warrior Dashes take place all over the country, and now in Canada too. You can find the details here:

I participated last year and it was awesome. So a year ago I registered for today's. For the recap of last year's battle go here:

Of course I was also supposed to have already tested for black belt by this point so I could focus on taking on the course 100% without having to fear injury derailing my plans. So today, since my black belt testing is actually NEXT weekend, I think I will not be going all out today. There is a real risk of injury on some of the obstacles if one is not careful or just unlucky and I will be most upset if I get hurt today and cannot test next week.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUNNER12COM 7/30/2012 1:49AM

    I love the Warrior Dash. Crazy fun!

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SAFARIBABE 7/29/2012 6:46PM

    WOOT! Can't wait to hear how it went!!

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GETSTRONGRRR 7/29/2012 3:18PM

    knock em dead, warrior queen!

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NAYPOOIE 7/29/2012 12:39AM

    That sounds like so much fun, but I think I would die.

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INIT2LIVEIT 7/28/2012 3:25PM

    Good luck and have fun!!!

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REBECCATKD 7/28/2012 1:42PM

    Take care -- and take 'em!!

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MARISPHERE 7/28/2012 11:48AM

    Waiting for pictures! Injury-free pictures!

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DOODIE59 7/28/2012 11:44AM

    Can't wait to read about it:)
Have fun, and good luck next weekend.

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MCJULIEO 7/28/2012 10:54AM

    You CAN DO THIS!!!!!

Leopard skin skirt today?

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KAREN42BOYS 7/28/2012 8:09AM

    Go, warrior woman! Conquer the course!

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CODEMAULER 7/28/2012 6:21AM

    Have fun - sounds like a great event!

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COCK-ROBIN 7/28/2012 6:05AM

    Wonderful! You do that race and don't get hurt! emoticon

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More Differences in France

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Now on my previous list I should have been clearer that the differences are based on what I have experienced in a very localized part of France. It is like comparing a large town / small city in the Midwest USA to New York City...what I observe here in Compiegne is going to be different from major cities like Paris, and even from other regions in France. Many of the differences may very well be my misinterpretation because I don't know the language or the "why" behind certain behaviour. Nor am I passing judgement in the slightest (unless expressly stated) because things are simply different from what I am accustomed to, not necessarily better or worse.

Except for the number of vacation days I now get, those are way better.

I will adapt fairly easily. Except maybe for the morning hand-shaking / cheek kissing routine, that is hard to get used to; I can't wait for cold & flu season.

So caveats aside, some more of the differences I've experienced lately:

*for grocery shopping everyone brings their own bag because the stores don’t provide the cheap flimsy plastic bags we are used to in the US and you bag your items yourself (just like Aldi now that I think about it, but that is not that common of a store in my area)…no bag, too bad (and everyone stares at you)…finally I fit in with all my reusable shopping bags! My kids laugh at me because I have my own bags but now I have the last laugh!

*the grocery store has the normal things you walk between to detect shoplifters but also has security guards at the entrances. I'm sure that's normal in parts of the US too, but not where I live. And those shoplifter detectors go off when I wear a certain sweater because of something in the name/care/size tag. You'd think I would have remembered that from the first time it happened but nooo, not me. They almost didn't let me in tonight because I was setting off the alarms. I had to rip the tags off to get out of the store without setting them off again. Thankfully it was the sweater tags setting them off and not the tag on my pants because that one wasn't coming off without scissors.

*if you ask for butter for your bread or ketchup for your fries you may get stared at (in one case in a restaurant in Paris my American coworker got a horrified look complete with a gasp & raised eyebrows for asking for butter for her bread. Now the waiter may have been having fun with us, I don't know, but it was quite a visible reaction); in the store I went to here in Compiegne the ketchup bottles are the size of mayo bottles in the US (small) and the mayo bottles are US ketchup sized (large)

*there is no “Diet” Coke or “Diet” Pepsi…here it is branded as Coke or Pepsi “Light”

*ice in your water/Coke/etc is not a divine right; neither are free refills

*you have to ask for the bill at the restaurant. I have been told it is because it is considered rude and seen as rushing the customers if the waiter brings the bill to you before you ask for it; if you pay by credit card they have nifty little hand held machines they use right at your table (and very few places accept American Express). Imagine my surprise at check-out after staying at a little bed & breakfast here for 2 weeks - which was booked for me by my company travel agency - to learn that the B&B did not accept AmEx. Now I already knew that most places in this area did not take AmEx but I had assumed (bad me!) that the agency knew I had AmEx as my travel card and would therefore book me somewhere that accepted it. Now I know to stipulate form of accepted payment up front when making reservations.

*the credit cards all have a little chip in them so they just get inserted into the machines, no swiping a magnetic strip. I usually get very strange looks and my cards get scrutinized since US cards don’t have chips; sometimes the person swipes it backwards or upside down b/c they are not familiar with no-chip cards. This also means there are some things I can’t do right now, like buy a train ticket from the machine or get fuel for the car unless I go to a place with an attendant who can accept cash (which I have avoided doing, again due to not knowing the language and fear of putting the wrong fuel in the tank and therefore killing the rental car)

*On average most of the people I have seen are smaller than in the USA; of course here I feel very large and overweight compared to a lot of the women I see or work with although I know I am not (size-wise I am a medium in France and a “small” in the US due to our vanity sizing). On the plus side I don’t think I’ve ever seen here any of the fashions modeled by the People of Walmart which is a very good thing. If you don't know what I mean go here:

*Another good thing…no Walmart

*there is greenery EVERYWHERE…there are trees, shrubs, flowers, plants literally everywhere, along the road, in parks, on balconies & roofs…everywhere…and lots of parks…compared to Detroit & the suburb where I live it is like being in a greenhouse here (and is most awesome)

*no Mexican food (supposedly there is Mexican and TexMex in Paris but I have been told it is not what I would expect) and no Starbucks in Compiegne and nothing comparable, although there are 50+ Starbucks in Paris it is a bit far to go to get my fix

*many more foods are eaten with a knife & fork, including things like hamburgers and pizza and fruit (and the pizza I've had in the restaurants is more like a thin crust than our regular pizza except the crust is soft instead of crispy)…although there is a Dominos Pizza just down the road that I haven’t been brave enough to order from due to my almost non-existent French, which might be closer to what I expect from a pizza. I will also mention that while I have seen many people eating a hamburger with fork & knife I have also seen people pick one up to eat with their hands.

I fly home to the US Friday morning and get to stay there for 2 weeks, to meet with the moving company, preperty management company, go to the French Consulate to turn in our Visa and residency applications, and have my Dad hang the last few doors and put in the house trim. And start packing and get my son moved & re-registered for school & moving on his Eagle project & get his Dad motivated to help him and get the pets microchipped and & and & and.

I will be very glad when the move is finished. I come back to France for 1 week in mid-August to sign the lease for the house and then back to the US again to finish packing. And - I hope! - get our Visas in time to come back at the very end of August for good.

And my question for the day: If windows in France do not have screens how do people keep their pets inside the house without keeping the windows closed all the time? I don't think I can live without opening the windows, it gets too stuffy to breathe, but I don't want the animals going outside either. The yard is completely fenced so I'm not worried about Stupid Dog but the cats can get past the fence.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VYVIENN 8/25/2012 8:35AM

    Tilt the window, honey. emoticon For the summer, though, you might want to see if you can get some screening (like the stuff Tesa makes, I think) to cover your windows because of the bugs. A friend of mine in Heidelberg uses it, and it does the trick.

Is your bank going to issue you a debit card? Here in Germany, everyone carries a EuroCard (which incidentally isn't accepted ANYWHERE outside of Germany); if the French banks have something like that, you wouldn't have to shlep your credit cards around.

It's neat to read about all the things you notice!

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SAFARIBABE 7/29/2012 7:50PM

    ROFLMAO!!! I love the way you look at things!

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MCJULIEO 7/28/2012 11:03AM

    You are wise to Watch out for ordering pizza when you don't know the language... my son got OCTOPUS PIZZA in Romania once... (His thought before that was, "How different can pizza BE?" He found out.)

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CODEMAULER 7/28/2012 6:28AM

    It's been a dream of mine to actually use the 5.5 years of French that I studied. I'll be living vicariously through you.


I hope the packing + move isn't too crazy. Congratulations on the next chapter in your adventure!!

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HOPEFULHIPPO 7/27/2012 12:36PM

    maybe you can get some of that rolled up screen stuff and tack it to your window?

Awesome, No Walmart!!! LOL

I like the other differences too....maybe I should head that way. :p

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RUNNER4LIFE08 7/27/2012 9:36AM

    I love reading about your France adventure! And great question... how do you keep your pets in? And how do you keep other creatures from coming in your house?

Yikes! emoticon

I guess I like my screens!

Good luck with everything you have going on right now!

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DOODIE59 7/27/2012 8:55AM

    These are very exciting times for you ... also exhausting! Enjoy all of it. Three years will fly by in the blink of an eye:)

Take care

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AWOOD1973 7/27/2012 6:26AM

    Wow! So many changes! What a lot to get used to! I bet by the time you get back in the latter part of August, you will be a pro at handling all of them! :) Thanks for sharing! Us Kansas people seem to never leave our turf! LOL

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INIT2LIVEIT 7/27/2012 4:56AM

    The French are considered amongst the more fashionable in the world on an everyday basis. The more French people move to Israel the faster fashions are changing here to accommodate their style.

Considering the past couple of years has seen a big upswing in terrorism and hate crimes in France and all of the EU, good security is a huge +!
I remember one of the first times I went back to visit the US and didn't need to show my bag to a guard or walk through a metal detector just to get in to a Mall, I was shocked, it felt so strange.

Here is a little tidbit when requesting your bill, catch the waiters eye and make like you are writing in the air with your hand- universal sign for check please!

Love reading your updates, good luck with the windows and pet issues.

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DEZZIEJAMES 7/26/2012 9:24PM

    Can you blaze a brave new path and screen your windows in?

Do you have Rosetta Stone (or something like it to learn the language)? This is so exciting to me! Thanks for posting these blogs!!!!

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CLAIREINPARIS 7/26/2012 4:17PM

    emoticon I am 6ft (1.82 meters) and a French size XXL at the moment... However, I do agree it isn't typical French at all! Even when I was slim, most people thought I was a foreigner!

As for cats, people who live in houses let them go everywhere they want to in the neighborhood. People who live in apartments need to have cats that aren't afraid of heights as there is nothing to keep them inside indeed when the windows are open.

At supermarkets, if you forget to bring your own reusable bags, they sell bags. :) Ohhh I have had the same thing happen to me at the supermarket, in my case it was a tag in my diary, very strange.

Compiègne's forest is one of the most beautiful I know, and it is big too. You are very lucky in terms of greenery there! I hope you'll enjoy many wonderful hikes. I think it was at the Compiègne tourism office that I bought the map I have of Compiègne's forest with several different hikes. A good buy in my opinion! :)

I really hope everything will go very smoothly from now on, both the move and the visas! Your daughter must be getting excited too, such a huge change!

Comment edited on: 7/26/2012 4:18:12 PM

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KAREN42BOYS 7/26/2012 3:38PM

    I'm enjoying your expatriate blogs!

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BOILHAM 7/26/2012 3:26PM

    Enjoying all your updates. OK, my life is dull lately. LOL

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/26/2012 3:17PM

    What I noticed in Europe was a lot more smoking in public places, noticeably in restaurants. Perhaps that has changed as
it's been awhile since I visited. Never hit
France or Spain, though.

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Sports in France

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On my initial "look & see"' visit to Compiègne I received a ''Sports Guide'' listing all the clubs and teams available. It is quite a bit different from where I live in southeast Michigan.

Some of the possibilities include:
* several types of martial arts
* circus arts
* cycling
* aviation
* rowing / canoeing / kayaking
* badminton
* boxing
* orienteering
* rock climbing
* fencing
* mountain boarding / skateboarding / rollerblading
* wrestling
* swimming
* parachuting
* rugby
* motor biking
* table tennis
* shooting / archery
* triathlon
* volleyball

Plus the common things like dance, soccer, track, gymnastics, baseball, basketball, horseback riding, etc.

Many of these are available where I live in MI, but not necessarily close by, and are typically offered as a class at the community college so not necessarily practical for continuing practice.

To continue with karate I will need to start in a different style, at the ''beginning'' again, which is OK as it is a new challenge. I think I will also look into fencing. I took one class in college for my gym credit, with my boyfriend (and whooped his behind 'cuz I was bad-ass even then) and really enjoyed it. I also used to watch re-runs of the old Disney series Zorro as a kid and always thought fencing was super cool.

There are so many possibilities that I will have no excuses to slack off on the fitness once we're moved here!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAREN42BOYS 7/26/2012 12:31PM

    What a FUN list! Have fun choosing, maybe you need to try 4 or 5 of these new sports! Circus rts sounds vast and deep with possibilities!

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MCJULIEO 7/26/2012 10:36AM

    A twenty-something niece (Texas soccer background) who moved to France for her job wound up playing on a semi-pro SOFTBALL team there, because they really didn't have that many women interested in playing sports there, strangely enough.

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NINJA_SMOO 7/26/2012 10:32AM

  I just, two days ago, found a fencing school a few blocks from my home. I am soooo tempted! Let us know which sports you sign up for :)

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/26/2012 9:28AM

    I'll do circus arts. (smiling) Not sure what orienteering is.

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AWOOD1973 7/26/2012 4:47AM

    Love that there is such a variety! What a great way to keep up on top of your fitness!!! emoticon

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STRIVER57 7/26/2012 4:01AM

    it's also possible that your karate style is there, but not listed because not an "association." your karate teacher ought to have a list of people doing that in France (there's probably some kind of international federation) ... though it is of course possible that there's no one in or too near Compiègne. probably in Paris though, so you could come in once everyone couple of weeks for a couple of classes, for example.

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CLAIREINPARIS 7/26/2012 3:38AM

    It sounds great!

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Moving to France, part 1

Monday, July 23, 2012

I am in the process of moving to France for work. I was offered the opportunity a few months ago...with no specific position named at the time but a promise of one to be found...and since I work for a French company an international posting, to France in particular, is a major coup. Few Americans get that opportunity and I'd have been short-sighted to say the least not to take advantage of it.

So we started the process and in the interim I had about 3 different potential positions until the final decision, which ended up being a promotion to the position I had expected last year. Bonus! So since June I've been going back & forth, starting my new position & closing out my old one, waiting for my work permit & Visa to be approved so I can make the final move.

Needless to say it is somewhat stressful. In addition to not speaking the language (yet) the culture and environment can be a bit different than Americans are used to. Fortunately I've been to France several times for work so it's not a completely new experience but somehow it just seems different from a short term visit.

For my fellow Americans, some of the differences I've experienced so far (outside of the obvious language & metric system ones):
*toilets are in a separate room from the sink/shower/tub in homes & hotels
*shower heads are typically the hand-held kind with a hook or something attached to the wall to hold them
*no shower curtains, just a short glass/plastic rectangle that is maybe 2-3 feet wide (so needless to say one gets water everywhere until figuring things out!)
*no window screens (and no mosquitoes!)
*occasionally see men urinating on the street (which is technically illegal but happens anyway)
*opening a bank account is a big deal - I had to provide proof of residence, a letter from my employer, pay stubs, my contract, and an utility bill.
*not that I will do this but the bank made very sure I am aware that bouncing a check is a major deal - if it happens, no more bank addition to the legal penalties
*renting a home or apartment is also a big deal - I had to provide all of the same documents as above but also my current property tax bill and my income has to be a minimum of 3 times the rent
*homes are much smaller than we are used to in the US, and more expensive (than my area in MI anyway)...the house I am trying to rent is just under 1300 square feet and the rent will be as much as my mortgage in the US for a 2400 sq.ft. home
*yards are also much smaller (at least as compared to my neighbourhood, which is old though so the yards are much larger than the norm today for new housing)
*yards are typically completely fenced in around the entire property, front & back
*real estate agencies are all independent and there is no master on-line data base of all the houses/apartments for sale/rent in the unlike the US where you can go to any agency and see everything regardless of which agency lists it, here you have to go to each individual agency to see only what the agency is listing. This really slows down the process
*at work one is expected to greet & shake hands (or kiss) all coworkers every morning...this is probably one of the hardest things to get used to
*no tipping in the restaurants, this is already included in the bill...another thing difficult for us to get used to
*there ARE "real" grocery stores and people DO shop for more than a day or two at a time...unlike what we are led to believe
*no peanut butter or Keurig coffee makers/k-cups...Nutella is just not the same and the Keurig equivalent is Tassimo
*air conditioning is not a divine right
*cars tend to be stick shifts and use diesel, not gasoline
*malls are not the norm, most stores are in street store fronts
*stores/banks/offices tend to be closed during the lunch hours, and close by 6-7 at night; they are also generally closed on Sundays, and some on Mondays as well; my bank, for example is open from Tuesday-Friday, from 8:45-12:30 and 2:00-5:15, and on Saturday from 8:45-12:00
*closing time does not mean you come in at 11:55 am when they close at noon and still expect to take care of your business; closing time means the time all business is finished.
*there are coins for 1 and 2 euros, not bills

I will be located in or near to a city called Compiegne, which is about 45-60 minutes northeast of Paris. Here is the wiki link if you are interested:

The house I found last week is in a tiny village (population 556) called Guiraumont, about 5 miles away from the Compiegne city center & about the same from my company. I'm still waiting to find out if I can rent it. Here are some pictures of the front & back of the house:



We (me, my daughter, Stupid Dog, and 3 of my 5 cats) will be here in France for 3 years. There may be a possibility to extend my contract for another year or two, but it's impossible to say what will happen 3 years from now. We have to go to the French consulate in Chicago on 8/6 to submit our Visa applications and the lady in immigration thinks we should be approved by mid- to late- August, at which time we will make the official move.

In the meantime my Dad is coming to MI for a week (from SC) to hang the last 3 interior doors and put in all the new trim & door mouldings in the house. I had thought about letting my son stay there when I move, since he is staying in the US to go to school. He will be 17...but I don't think he is quite mature enough to be allowed to stay on his own. He would survive but I don't think my house would fare well. So he will go live with his Dad which means he will have to go to a different school than the one he planned, and find a different job, since his Dad lives about 45 minutes away from us.

My daughter will be going to the regular French public schools. She just finished 9th grade in the US but will be repeating it in France since she is not fluent in French and is also "behind" in math - in MI our schools teach geometry in 10th grade but apparently in France the students have already learned it. So for her first year (anywhere from 3-9 months) she will be in the "special" French school to get caught up in her subjects (French & math) and when she is fluent enough in French she will transfer to the regular public school.

And in the meantime I am racking up the frequent flyer miles going back & forth!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VYVIENN 8/25/2012 8:40AM

    Nice place you found there! You'll also be pleased to hear that along the northern coastline, there are many dog-friendly vacation places (NOT something to be assumed to be normal in Europe, alas), in case you and Jaqc want to do a long weekend getaway sometime.

It's funny you'd comment on Nutella. We the Europeans complain about the same thing, only in the reverse direction. I always find that as Nutella boasts to be a hazelnut/chocolate spread, it should taste at least a little like hazelnut, like it does here...

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IYA_EKUNDAYO 8/1/2012 3:11PM

    Good luck to you and your daughter (and fur babies).
My husband and I recently (days ago actually) have found we in a similar situation. We are planning a move from Florida to Puerto Rico. He is from Puerto Rico so it will not be a big deal for him, but it is for me.

Enjoy the adventure!


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PAMNANGEL 7/28/2012 12:04PM

    France! Wow! I get stressed just moving across town. Good luck to you.

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EUPHRATES 7/28/2012 11:25AM

    WOW, what an adventure! How exciting!

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MYOWNHERO 7/28/2012 11:17AM

    How exciting! This is an awesome opportunity for your daughter (and for your son too since I'm sure he'll get to spend some time in France too). Best wishes for all!

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ILOVEMALI 7/26/2012 4:02PM

  I love your change. It is brave. My daughter is planning to take her last year of college in Provence -- she is a vocalist and a French major. This is also brave!

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KKINNEA 7/26/2012 3:38PM

    What a big life change! I hope it's totally rewarding for you!

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BOILHAM 7/26/2012 8:56AM

    You know how to live. What an adventure you have in front of you.

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NOSUGARADDED87 7/26/2012 4:35AM

    Welcome to France! You'll actually be about 2-3 hours from where I am. If you need any help or want to chat, feel free to send me a message!

I'm an American who lives in France currently, and although it takes a lot of getting used to, I love it!

You are so amazingly lucky to be able to come here with a job already offered. In fact, it's seemingly miraculous. I have gone through unbelievable hoops just to get the right to work, and it seems that the Prèfecture wants to deny me that right until November. *sigh*

I hope that your time in France is wonderful! :)

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STRIVER57 7/26/2012 4:19AM

    Claire is right that some of those things are not quite true, at least throughout France ... but many of them are. We have one separate toilet and a toilet in the bathroom, which doesn't have a tub but only a shower (but then we renovated the apartment, which we owned, when we moved in).
i think moving to a foreign country is one of the bravest and most challenging and most rewarding things one can do in one's life. the first year, most people feel (i certainly did) that surviving every day is an accomplishment, and that you've learned something new & made progress every single day. it's good you're staying at least 3 years, because you -- and your daughter -- will feel at home here sometime before you leave.
sounds like she will be getting some "individualized" education for the beginning, which is wonderful -- individualized instruction in France is rare ... normally everyone is expected to fit into the mold, and tough if you don't. no allowances for people with less than major handicaps because that wouldn't be fair to the people who don't need them!!! if you have any questions about how they teach math here, ask me ... DH teaches hs math (and speaks fluent English and understands about the differences).
good luck and feel free to ask any questions and to rant (you will feel like ranting often).
btw, otoh, your bank can and should offer you an overdraft allowance ...

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CLAIREINPARIS 7/26/2012 3:53AM

    It is SO brave to move to France without speaking the language! Congratulations for doing it! But you do seem like a very brave woman!

May I say without offending you that a few things you are saying about France aren't right? For example if you never leave any tip in your favorite restaurant, don't expect a good service!!! Tip isn't mandatory, but it is seen as a kind gesture - which develops a relationship. Try and leave a little something (at least a couple of euros) if you found the service and food OK. If you don't, they will either think you didn't like it, or you are rude!

The toilets thing made me laugh so much!!! The toilets are in the bathroom in my apartment, it is just coincidence that you went to places where the toilets aren't.
The shower curtain made me laugh like crazy too!!! I have never been to a place that has a shower curtain like the one you mentioned! It is sooooo funny!

As for the bank, I know you won't need that, but I am afraid you misunderstood. You still keep a bank account (otherwise you couldn't live a normal life!!!) if ever a cheque you wrote is rejected because there was no money on your account. But it takes a while (5 years I think) to have the right to write cheques, have credit cards back, etc. Thank goodness you aren't left without a bank account!!! What is true however is that you cannot open a NEW bank account during that time, in any bank at all.

I never realized Americans thought there were no grocery stores in France, none of my American friends ever told me that. Oh this is just too funny!

I have never ever owned a car that used diesel!!! Diesel is only worth it if you drive a lot, because cars that use diesel are much more expensive (and very bad for the planet!).

As for shaking hands or kissing all your colleagues every morning, I think my colleagues would think I am completely mad if I did that!!! In my office (only French workers there), we only kiss or shake hands to wish each other Happy New Year when we come back after the holidays.

Remember that you live in the 'Province', in the countryside by Parisian standards! Compiègne is a very small town. So many things will be different there compared to bigger towns and cities. For example most stores remain open during lunch time in Paris, thank goodness!!!

The house you found looks like a typical 1980s-1990s French house! I hope it will work out and you'll enjoy it.

Comment edited on: 7/26/2012 6:12:29 AM

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    So I commuted to France from '91 until 94 and finally moved to Aix en Provence, with three small children in tow. I came "home" in '98 and my kids finished their high school education in France. One graduated from Tufts, one from Northwestern and one is graduating in December from Cornell. The academics are challenging but your daughter will grasp the language pretty quickly with some motivation, generally the peer thing works pretty well in this situation?
The quality of life is so MUCH nicer in France than the US, the weather is nicer-family from Wyandotte & Trenton, MI-almost no humidity, very little snow where you are. Think of the differences simply as a new way of life, much like Spark . It is simply new, not different.
Public markets are run 2-3 times a week and have fresh, seasonal produce, meats, cheeses and pretty much anything you want. Whatever you do, don't touch the fruit-the salespeople help you , self service isn't an option except when it comes to bagging groceries and then it's the only option, lol! Most Frenchies have really small refridgerators so they don't shop a la Sam's club or Costco and shopping frequently is simply part of their life. Many don't drive or own cars in the cities so getting a lot of anything is a bit of a hassle. Stock up on sneakers here and anything "American." I was lucky and got unlimited clothes/shoes from Adidas while I lived there but when I had to buy sports apparel, the sticker shock was huge.

Try living the French life, take your vacances, enjoy Sunday as a family day and see the country by train, TGV. As long as you attempt the language the people are nice. Between my California accent, tone deafness and actually taking French classes in the southern part of the country I have an outrageously BAD accent...however everyone was incredibly kind, patient and helpful as I merrily butchered their language because I was told that most Americans don't even TRY. I was comdic relief at a few dinner parties by inadvertly using slang simply by changing the verb placement around. "It" can always be hot-Il fait chaud-"you" or "me" cannot be hot unless we mean hot like in suis chaud. Really it was a lot of fun, I'm so glad I had the chance to do it.

We spent most school-year holidays in Paris with the children's grandmother and while the pace of life was a bit more frantic people were exceptionally generous with their time. There is tons to see and do in Paris and the surrounding areas, pace yourselves-the sights have been there for a couple world wars and a few hundred years. English books are pricey so invest in a nook or kindle, something we didn't have so I made do with book swaps. Have fun! Vive la difference! I am so jealous!

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JENIYE707 7/25/2012 6:08PM

    You sure do have alot going on. good luck with everything. You deserve it.

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SPOOKYTHECAT 7/25/2012 4:05PM

    That is absolutely amazing! I am in firm belief that we only get one life , & to fill it with as much adventure & new experience as possible.

& you are living my dream, I Will live in Europe (at least for a while) & speak French, someday.

Hooray! Good luck ;-)
If you get the chance, read Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, may help ;-)

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DEZZIEJAMES 7/24/2012 10:09PM

    You have so much going on.... and the black belt testing soon!!! You are so amazing. I too look forward to reading more about your adventures!!!!!

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STUFFANFLUFF 7/24/2012 3:46PM

    Awesome! Sounds like a very hard, but wonderful choice you are making. Way to go!!

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SPOONGIRLDEB 7/24/2012 1:49PM

    Sounds like an awesome opportunity! I worked in Switzerland for a summer (not quite the same, but still...) and I know what you mean about the banks - I wanted to keep my "swiss bank account" but they wouldn't let me once I moved away. Oh well! LOL

On a practical note, please make sure you do your homework on taking your pets! At my current job I endorse certificates for pets going overseas, and the EU changed all their rules this year, creating a nightmare for us! Don't forget to get all those ducks in a row well ahead of your scheduled move, so you don't have to leave them behind :-).

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IMPROVINGME 7/24/2012 12:46PM

    How exciting for you! What a wonderful opportunity for you and your daughter!

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ILIKETOZUMBA 7/24/2012 9:01AM

    All that stuff would definitely take some getting used to! You're so brave for being ready and willing to embrace moving to another country for several years at least...I wouldn't have the nerve. I admire you! Good luck with the house and transfer and all those flights! :)

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 7/23/2012 10:26PM

    Sounds amazing! But change (even good change) is stressful.

Take care of yourself!


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STARL_73 7/23/2012 5:26PM

    don't forget everytime you walk into a store, you say hello to the salesperson. Especially before placing an order.

As for "malls" - I haven't been to many, but it was different that you took your shopping cart throughout the building. I especially remember that at the mall.. think it was near the new arc (the modern one.. it's been so long since I've been there).

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APED7969 7/23/2012 5:16PM

    That is such an exciting opportunity! From someone who's lived overseas for 8 years it'll get to the point where some of those differences will feel totally normal and it will feel strange when you go back to the US although there will be other things you miss about home. I'm sure that will be even more true with a different language. Good luck finding a new place and learning French!

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SADDYSPOT 7/23/2012 4:35PM

    I was in France last year for a couple of days as a super tourist (running from place to place). It was beautiful. Good luck on your adventure!

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INIT2LIVEIT 7/23/2012 4:29PM

    I was chuckling from most of the stuff on your list. All of it seemed so normal to me, but growing up in Israel makes me closer to Europe than the US. Guess there's a lot more in common.
Its a wonderful experience for you both. and think of all the weekend trips you could take to other European countries!

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HOPEFULHIPPO 7/23/2012 4:07PM

    that is totally AWESOME!!!!

I cannot wait to read all about your adventures :o)

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KAREN_NY 7/23/2012 1:43PM

    WOW!! How exciting!

Many of your observations are true in NL as well. I absolutely fell in love with the pace -- it wasn't "slow," but it wasn't burn-yourself-out-until-you-can't-f
unction like it is here.

I never really got a handle on how personal business is taken care of though. Are work hours sufficiently flexible that you can take non-lunch time to run errands? Or is Saturday the national errand-running day?

I admire your fearlessness & wish you every bit of terrific!!!

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TARABEAR 7/23/2012 1:34PM

    Congrats! That is so awesome!!!! Yes, it is and will be super stressful and difficult at times, but what amazing adventures you will have! I'm so excited for you!

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DOGSTARDADDY 7/23/2012 1:26PM

    Good luck with everything.. and please keep us posted.

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FIZZYBALL 7/23/2012 1:09PM

    Awesome! I lived there for 18 yrs. and do miss it some. High school was more like college is here. That's a life experience your daughter will never be able buy. What a gift you have given her.

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SAFARIBABE 7/23/2012 1:01PM

    Don't forget pay toilets in the middle of the sidewalk! The other thing we have at my French affiliate that I don't have in the US is a comapny cafeteria. Apparently going out for lunch is NOT the norm as we've been lead to believe -- the 2 hour lunch and all that.

Sounds like you're embarking on a grand adventure! Enjoy it!!

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KAREN42BOYS 7/23/2012 11:45AM

    What an adventure this will be! I'm glad your housing has come through.

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MCJULIEO 7/23/2012 11:27AM

    So glad to hear how things are falling into place... your new (possible) digs look charming, and you are going to thrive like crazy... Way to go!

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-POLEDANCEGIRL- 7/23/2012 10:31AM

    What a wonderful opportunity!!!

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ALWYS-LKN-UP 7/23/2012 10:31AM

    So many things going on for you!! CONGRATS!! Best of luck & oh yeah, SUPER cute house!!

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SEXBOBOMB 7/23/2012 9:59AM

    So excited for you -- what a fabulous adventure!

Also, how great an experience will this be for your daughter! My Dad had an opportunity to transfer to Belgium when I was in high school, but in the end, he and my Mom decided to turn it down because they worried how it would affect me and college.

To this day, it's the one thing we regret not doing as a family.

This will definitely bring you and your daughter even closer than ever -- and will give her such a leg up in understanding how very small the world is and how different (and how similar) other countries can be.

Best of luck to you both!

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EMFRAPPIER 7/23/2012 9:55AM

    That sounds so exciting! What a great adventure!!

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SLIMMERJESSE 7/23/2012 9:28AM

    WOW, what a fabulous adventure. Congrats. Looking forward to hearing how things progress.

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RUNNER4LIFE08 7/23/2012 9:27AM

    What an adventure! Can't wait to hear about more.

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MERIADATH 7/23/2012 8:57AM

    What a wonderful opportunity! Avoir une belle aventure!

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DOODIE59 7/23/2012 8:56AM

    Wow. What an adventure:) May you get the most out of it -- actually, I have no doubt you will.
Take care

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DABLUECAT 7/23/2012 8:25AM

    How exciting! I'd love to go stay in France for a while. Hope your paperwork/jumping through hoops, finishes soon.

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