“When life goes out of control | Draw back your lips | Whistle and exclaim | Aal izz well!” – 3 Idiots
I can’t deny the fact that I’m not a fluent speaker of French despite almost two years of formal language studies. My abilities are only enough to get me through simple conversations and are by no means passable for the professional level. This is the main reason why I am so concerned about not finding a company that would accept me as an intern. Without work, I won’t be able to graduate because we are supposed to apply what we will learn in class in an actual business setting. Moreover, I do not have enough financial resources to last that long as a part-time student/part-time bum.
So, I have given up my chances of finding a job in Paris. I feel that it is almost next to impossible for a foreign student who doesn’t speak French to find work there. Lucky for me, my only hope finally materialized and I was officially employed the day after I celebrated my birthday. The only thing is that I have to leave Paris. It has been two weeks since I moved to Le Havre, France and it’s quite surreal that two years ago, I was only here for a business trip for Chevron Oronite. Now, I’m already one of its employees!
Le Havre is by no means close to Paris in terms of things to do, places to see or people to meet. It’s a relatively small and quiet city but deciding to move here has definite advantages for me. First, there is no adjustment needed in terms of work (language aside) because I am familiar with the company culture and the work environment. Obviously, I get to collaborate and talk to the same people I’ve been working with during the last four years. Second, I have better chances of improving my French because I am rarely exposed to the English language here. Third, there is lesser possibility of having “Paris-overload” since I would only be there for less than two weeks each month. Fourth, it’s less expensive to live here. Lastly, I’m always treated to equally beautiful sunrises and sunsets. For art junkies, Claude Monet lived here as a child and the city had so much influence in his style of painting.
Right now, I’m really very grateful for the things that have happened and I couldn’t literally ask for more. Despite some initial worries (which is pointless to do), things are doing really well and I just pray that they continue to go smoothly as months go by. The many wonderful people in school, at work, the old and new apartments, the Filipinos I’ve met and even other strangers and tourists on the road, they have all helped me achieve this amazing experience in my first seven weeks here.
Waking up to one beautiful sunrise
My very first birthday card in French given to me by my adopted family during the past month
« Ce n’est pas le niveau de vie qui fait le bonheur des hommes mais bien la liaison des cœurs et notre point de vue sur notre vie. Or l’un et l’autre sont toujours en notre pouvoir, et l’homme est toujours heureux s’il le veut, et personne ne peut l’en empêcher. »
It is not the standard of living that makes men happy but the connections that our hearts make and our perspectives in life. Now, both are always in our power and one is happy if he so chooses, and nobody can stop him.
– Alexandre Soljénitsyne
– As I understood the translation of Catalina, my housemate
Well, hello October! I have been here for almost a month now but it feels like I have only arrived a couple of days ago. Save for a week of classes last month, I haven’t been busy at all since my internship is not in effect yet. Initially, I was very optimistic that it would be easy to find an opportunity here having worked for two international companies. However, I underestimated the fact that I have limited French-speaking abilities and that it takes time to complete the processing of government or job-related requirements.
The honeymoon phase is officially over and the crisis stage has begun. Starting today, I will not be as relaxed as before because I have so many things to put into order. After our scheduled classes next week, I am supposed begin my one-year contract with Chevron Oronite. Since I will be based at the Gonfreville plant, I need to find a house to rent in Le Havre, a port city in Normandy two hours away by train from Paris. Sadly, that means I only get to spend time in Paris during the week of classes and some weekends. It was a hard decision at first because I’ve always imagined myself living in my dream city 100% of the time during the entire year. But come to think of it, I will be able to utilize my previous experience and apply what I will learn from school in a very familiar working environment. Work-wise, there isn’t a big adjustment because I get the chance to collaborate with former colleagues and talk to friends in Manila more regularly. I am not even homesick yet and with this, I’d say the probability is dropping even more and more.
But maybe not for long. For the first time this October, I will celebrate my birthday alone. Not even in Paris where I have found new and very likable friends but in a city where I know practically no one except future officemates. Maybe that’s when the homesickness will kick in. I don’t know. I do hope that when you catch me online on my birthday, you will keep me busy. Talk to me so that the day will pass without having to think about how sad it is to spend my birthday in an unfamiliar place by myself. Not to cry on my birthday is my only wish!