Friday, August 9, 2013

We're in France!

I must sincerely apologize for the time between posts on this blog.  The perfectionist part of me (Chris) took charge for awhile and it prevented me from posting.  How, you ask?  So much has happened in the last few months.  And every few days, it seemed, was another step.  I kept thinking, "After x happens I'll do another blog post."  And the next day it was x+1 and so on until the backlog was overwhelming.

So, I'll encapsulate the last couple of months.  And I'll try to be less of a perfectionist in the future...but no guaranties!

Since our last post...we got our visa situation sorted out.  We were a confusing case for the French government - and that's no slight on the French.  Why in the world would a married couple in their 40's with five college degrees between them and 3 children aged 7, 9 & 11 request student visas?  It turned out that our case was forwarded from the embassy in Washington to Paris for a decision.  In the end, we were steered from student visas and issued Long Stay visas - good for one year of residence in France that is extendable.  It cost less up front, but more in the long-run.  Anyway, the bottom line is that it all was sorted out and we arrived two and a half weeks before our language study began in July.  God certainly was providing for us in the process and any speed bumps that showed up were smoothed out quickly and without much stress.

We got to meet Teri Centner, a sorority sister of Lori's, in Washington, DC for dinner after our appointment at the
French Embassy.
Our last couple of weeks in Virginia were very busy.  The kids had some swim meets and we visited with a lot of folks for "one last time" before we left.  We missed some folks when we ran out of time and that was a bummer.  There was also one last hurrah hosted by the Hintons and Crowes with loads of food and fun.  Good times!


Our travel to France...was great.  We got a great deal on tickets complete with extra baggage allowance.  We flew from Washington, DC to London to Geneva, Switzerland on June 18/19.  We were met in Geneva by a very kind van driver that drove us across the border into France and on to Albertville.  We stayed for two and a half weeks in a temporary apartment until our regular apartment was ready.  In that time we were able to arrange our banking, utilities, and cover some school requirements for the kids (immunization records, etc.) as well as getting acquainted with the town.

With our heap of luggage outside Dulles Airport in Washington, DC
We moved into our regular residence on July 6th.  We have a 3 bedroom flat above a Kabob shop.  The shop has been closed since a couple days after we moved in.  We're not sure if he closed for Ramadan or for the month of August (a large percentage of businesses and such close for most of August while much of the country vacations) or both or if he went out of business.  We'll find out in September!

The outside of our building.  We're on the third floor.
We did our first language school session in July.  The intensive session was focused mostly on oral aspects of the language.  The regular school sessions focus a bit more on grammar and written work.  We were happy with our teacher and had a good start to our language learning.

Noah, Kristin, and Ben in front of the Olympic torch in Albertville.  Albertville hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics.  The Olympic park is about a half mile from our home.
We've adjusted pretty well to living in Albertville.  It is a nice little town with lots of beauty, but more charm - kind of like our hometown of Lynchburg.  We've had a blast taking in local culture by exploring a bit into some small villages around Savoie.

Visiting the medieval city of Conflans, which is located on a hill overlooking Albertville.
Savoie is the "department" that we live in.  Departments in France are more or less the size of a larger than average county in the US.  And Savoie, coupled with the department to the north, Haute Savoie, has an interesting history.  This link provides a good synopsis of the history of Savoie in English, although the website is pretty old.  Wikipedia also has a good history as well as an entry with details of the local economy, demographics and such.  Savoie was a sovereign nation until the French came along and tried to integrate it into their sphere of influence during the 1500's.  It then was tossed about between Italy and France for a time before finally becoming French territory in the 1860's.  The culture here has a very independent flair to it that reminds me of the type of identity assertion that Texas has within the US.  It's been fun to explore the cultural nuance of this area while also absorbing French culture in general.
The 19th stage of the Tour de France passed right in front of our apartment on July 19th.  We had our entire class over that afternoon to have lunch and watch the cyclists pass by.
This is from our visit to the town of Beaufort, which is up in the mountains just east of Albertville.
We are currently on break from school until September 3rd.  During this time, we are doing a lot of independent study, meeting with our language helpers, taking some time to explore on the weekends, taking a week-long family vacation, having some placement testing for the kids schooling, and helping the new students arriving over the next couple of weeks to get settled.

Until next time...Soli Deo Gloria.

This was the view from Noah and Ben's room at dusk one evening in July.

2 comments:

  1. Great post and glad to see the entry! I am so excited for you guys and LOVE the pics on Lori's facebook page.

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  2. No apologies needed! The photos have been plenty!

    ReplyDelete