Happy Anniversary, Nashville

Technically, if you add up all of the days I’ve slept in the city, they definitely don’t equal a years time, but, November 15th marked the one year anniversary of us making the Nashville area our new home.  And I’m very happy to report that so far we are loving it here. The area is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and we regularly take advantage of the landscape and awesome weather by hiking, running, biking, rollerblading, etc.  So, in addition to that, here’s what we’ve been up to…

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Our 1st weekend in Nashville

Back in August, I joined a running group at my local YMCA and have rekindled my love of the sport. I’m running longer and faster than I ever have thanks to the encouragement of the group. Consisting mostly of housewives, these women give me hope that one day I will be able to maintain my active lifestyle with kids. Don’t get me wrong, these housewives are pretty hard-core. Many of them are training for marathons and other endurance events that I don’t have the stomach for anymore, while raising kids and managing life at home. Seriously, they are amazing and probably the main reason I am enjoying the Smyrna community so much. The coach of the running group also talked me into weekly Boot Camp at a park. The first week, I was so sore I couldn’t sit down or get up without assistance.

The YMCA Running Club after one of the sweaty summer runs.

The YMCA Running Club after one of the sweaty summer runs.

As for my french, I’m hanging in there and trying my best to not forget.  When I returned home we were really good about talking in french all the time, but I have to admit that we’ve both gotten a bit lazy.  However, in July I found out that I did pass the DELF exam (yay!) and I almost cried tears of joy considering where I started from back in January. I have been continuing classes at the Alliance Française and will also have the opportunity to use my skills at my new job (I’ll get to that later).

smyrna-plant

What started out as a big room has turned into a pretty cool assembly line

Fabien is also enjoying life in Tennessee. He’s busier than ever at work after the plant started production in January. And he has been fortunate enough to be playing soccer three times a week – much to my dismay. In the Summer, his team won the Nashville Championship. Then in the fall, the team that he captains, made the comeback of the season after losing their first 2 games. They made it to the finals where Fabien lead the team to victory by scoring both goals in the 2-0 game. He was so excited and I was so excited to have a huge trophy which took up residency on the living room coffee table .

Winning the Smyrna World Cup is pretty exciting.

Winning the Smyrna World Cup is pretty exciting.

And last, but not least, since August, I have been looking for a job and am happy to report that as of last week, I have accepted an offer. The company, Schneider Electric, is french owned and I’ll be working on a team of 8 as the Marketing Communications Coordinator for their Nashville office.  Schneider is huge energy company with over 130,000 employees in 100 countries, so the new industry will give me a nice challenge.  In addition to communications and other marketing projects, I will be using my french abilities to liaise with the french expats in the office. The position really couldn’t have worked out better in terms of company, job responsibilities and future opportunities.  I’m excited to begin work on January 7th!

But of course, I am missing Michigan and France. Between the two of us, we were fortunate to travel to Michigan over 6 times this year (phew) and to France 3 times. So, because it will be a while before I do anymore major traveling, we’ve decided to spend Christmas in the warmth of the Bahamas and take a little road trip through the south. To make it even more great, 4 other friends will be joining us. And, I’ve just renewed the website for another year, so even though I will soon have a normal life, it will be my normal, which means making the best of each day and exploring as many inches of the world as possible. So, here’s to another year of kinda living in Nashville.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

The Little Things

I was really, really, really happy to be back in the US these last couple weeks. Even though I love France, being there for 2 months has given me a renewed appreciation for my home country. My absence also has me missing those certain little, familiar, often taken for granted things in US life….

Not A French Home

  • Big, beautiful American houses. They’re so colorful, pretty and have so much life. While French homes have old charm  and are built to last, they also seem a little sad. 99% are gray with a brown or orange roof. There, you’d never see a great big  house with a grand front porch and a meticulously landscaped yard.

A Small Line at the Prefecture

  • Government administration. Oh, I could write a book on the inefficient, incompetent, heartless, blood pressure raising experiences of dealing with French administration. After waiting for 5 hours at one of the world’s saddest places, the Immigration office (called the Prefecture), a week before I left, I walked out of the building without being able to extend my visa. It’s a long story, but I was advised to return at a date closer to my visa expiration so my next one could be issued with enough time to carry me until the end of May.  Considering this, on top of my initial visa experience, I’m not sure how I will survive the 4 years until citizenship.  But, I am sure a french friend who is living in the US would say the same thing about American administration after she waited 4 months for her work permit only to have it lost in the mail. She was then told the process must be restarted from the very beginning.

  • Convenience. Business’s in the US want to make money so they are driven by customer wants and needs. For example, if I wake up at 3am and decide I want to eat a taco, buy a pair of yoga pants, followed by a workout at a gym it’s not a problem. In France, it would be nearly impossible. In fact, one time I walked into a Paris restaurant and was told that they were not serving food that week because the cook was on vacation.
  • Cheap gas. Yes, you read correctly. In the US it cost $60 to fill the tank on my Pontiac G6 compared to $108 to fill the economically friendly,  Henri in Europe.
  • Breathing. And what I mean by that is being able to take a good breath outside without inhaling second hand smoke. This french stereotype, unfortunately, is true. 

Of course, being back in the States has me realizing a few things not so good. Things that give other countries a lot of ammunition to making fun of us and things that I, myself, have been guilty of (I won’t admit which ones).

Never would this happen in France and thank God for that...

  • First things first, unless you’re Mark Zuckerburg, put the pajamas away. Those are for sleeping only, not for going out in public, America.
  • Young American girls, I mean this with nothing but love – stop dressing like skanks. I never realized before spending 2 months in France, but a lot America college age girls could take example from their French counterparts. Last Friday night, in Nashville, we went to a sports bar on the Vanderbilt University campus.

    These only belong one place and that place contains a pole and super expensive drinks.

    Throughout the bar were scantily clad girls. One had on a red dress that barely passed her underwear line with a pair of glossy red stripper style shoes. The only instance where that would happen in France is if the girl was “working”. On a weekend night in Orleans, most of the girls could be found in something stylish, classy, but yet sexy and pretty.

  • Anyone denying our obesity epidemic needs to hop on a plane to France for a couple of days. Search for a fat person and maybe you’ll find one. Sadly, it’s true.  I can go for a week without seeing someone overweight. Basically, it’s

    In France there are 857 McDonald's compared to the United States 12,804.

    made me realize we must do something before we all die of heart disease and diabetes. Also, it’s just not fair that the French are so thin.

So, the past two weeks I throughly enjoyed American life, time with Fabien, our animals, going shopping, running, reading, watching Netflix and just relaxing. The past two weeks have me refreshed and ready to tackle the next 3 months with gusto. Also, I ‘m working on Spring Break trip that gives me heart palpitations and butterflies in my tummy! Details soon…

The Worst Tourist in Paris

First things first – this post is going to disappoint you. Fabien & I went to Paris last week for a few days and I may have been the worst tourist in the city. We went to see the Eiffel Tower the first night but it was so foggy, you could only see to the 1st level. We never went back. I’m a loser. Do as I say and not as I do – Paris is not a city to say, “been there, done that.”

The perfectly decorated Galeries Lafayette - 2011

But, honestly, after visiting the city a 2nd time, under different circumstances than before (ie. our luggage getting jacked from the car on the first day), I fell in love with Paris. Thank God Fabien is in Tennessee otherwise, it might be really difficult to return to Smyrna after being in this city. There’s just something so beautiful about this place. Just like Owen Wilson in the film Midnight in Paris, I love the way the city looks, at night, after it has rained.  It’s little stone streets. It’s Haussmann buildings. The way everything is so perfectly decorated for the holidays. How the cafés are littered with Parisians sitting outside because they would rather smoke than be warm. I don’t even mind the gritty metro which has a certain smell all its own. I love how things are done for beauty and not because someone wants to build something as cheap as possible. I see why it’s called the City of Lights and known as the worlds most romantic town. However, this visit was not about running around the city like a manic making sure I see every amazing and beautiful site. It was about visiting friends and spending quality time with my husband who would be leaving me soon to return to the States.

Sacré Coeur from Buttes Chaumont

We did manage to pass by a few of my favorites – Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees.  Also, I added a few new favorites to the list. Visiting the Galeries Lafayette (see above) and Printemps to see their amazing Christmas displays. Canal Saint Martin where I can invision Amelie throwing stones.  And the best new discovery, the park, Butte Chaumont. I am no expert on Paris, but I am telling you, if you want a beautiful view, go to this park. From the highest point, on a clear day, the view of Sacré Coeur is so stunning it looks as though it’s not even real. In another spot you can see the Eiffel Tower. So, if you only follow one piece of advice I ever give you – go to this park. Don’t waste your time and money going up the Eiffel Tower. I mean, you can’t see the Tower from the Tower.

The China Crew

Our goal was met though. We caught up with old friends from US and China who were gracious enough to let us stay in their adorable, little Parisian apartments.

The Detroit Crew

Aside from seeing our friends, spending time with Fabien and discovering some new favorites in the city, the highlight of my trip was the last night when I got to ride in the driver cabin of the Metro. One of our friends manages a line and asked the driver if he wouldn’t mind giving us a lift. I felt totally special and thought it was super cool to see the veins of one of the oldest subway tunnels (established in 1900) in the world with a panoramic view.

I didn’t even take many pictures. So, not to totally disappoint, I included photos from this year and the last time I visited the city. View them here.