Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Despair, hope and splendour

Today was even more hectic. After getting up early so I wouldn't be late for my appointment I put extra effort into looking the part. Oddly enough I haven't seen any 'fashionable' Parisiennes and no Parisiens in swanky suits. Everyone looks very ordinary and rather 'decontracte'. Really, you wouldn't know it was the world's fashion capital or I'm not moving in the right circles.

I followed a common practice here and took my dress shoes with me in a bag. So there I was, throughout the day, pulling off or on my socks and sneakers and changing to my high heels, depending on the circumstances. I arrived in plenty of time, negotiated the door, entrance inside covered in huge mirrors and experienced the smallest lift I've been in all my life. Only just possible for me to turn around in it to press the buttons.

I waited for a bit and then was courteously greeted and we settled down for a chat. Rosemary was friendly and encouraging and felt I had a great background. She was very interested. And what was my work status? The earth dropped beneath me.

She said they no longer sponsor and practically no language schools do so now. Everyone is on hourly rates so no guaranteed income for many and it's so much easier to hire EU citizens despite my CV. Couldn't hire me without working visa, can't get one without a job. She suggested I consider becoming self-employed but I'd need money behind me and it could take a very long time still to be accepted into the country.She never asked that obvious question before she granted me the interview but she must have known to ask it. Really, the whole experience was set up for despair.

Well, I thought, that's that. It was a devastated Frances who made her way to the train station to head for my next meeting. Things really seemed miserable as I had literally spent hundreds of hours before the trip and during, to find work. In NZ I can't get employment, I can't even get an interview yet in France a number of language schools were interested in hiring me so long as I was legal. How ironic.

My contact was very busy so I waited a while. We went to lunch in one of his favourite haunts and I explained why I was in France and what I do in NZ. This was of interest to him as I have the background and experience to contribute to the project but there is currently no job and the comms job I had already applied for was already spoken for. However there's a glimmer of hope. To do what I do in France would be fantastic. Even if it was a bit more limited initially I could gain valuable experience and contribute something worthwhile to sustainability projects while I improved my French, thus making myself more employable and visible.

He has asked me to stay in touch from time to time for the next few months. It's a thread of hope which really could make my dream come true. There's just nothing concrete at this stage, no offer, but I've left him some info on past successful programmes I've run. That's been good to show him what I've already achieved. Fingers crossed.

I dithered about what to do next because I was feeling a bit churned up by the day's events but  I decided to travel to Versailles. More walking, queuing for tickets, waiting for trains, queuing for entry tickets, cold and windy weather. By 4pm I was in Versailles. Not enough time or sun to explore at leisure but a start.

A charming young man from Texas, of Indian birth, asked me to take his photo because he was on his own and was never in shot. I was happy to oblige because I have the same problem. We ended up touring around the palace together, taking shots for each other and chatting non-stop. This made the whole experience more fun. We caught a train back to Paris and I eventually made some connections that would get me home. I hope he had a nice time in the pub. I was too tired and busy to accept his kind invitation.

I had two other invitations today. An old Spanish guy tried to pick me up on my way to Versailles. He insisted on writing his phone number in a notebook, ripping it out and giving it to me, hoping I'd ring him and go around Versailles with him. I wasn't about to give him MY number. A young french man saw me at Chatelet station and accompanied me on the train and wanted to go for a drink. Sorry, too tired and my blog requires quite a bit of time so that was a NO as well.

I'm heading for a well-deserved rest and will try not to worry about a day that didn't quite go as I hoped. Maybe it could end up better further down the line.


Defogger said...

Great story line, and your American Indian friend was able to take some lovely photos! And why would I be surprised men are trying to pick you up? I love your commitment to your dream and your passion.

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