French bureaucracy, part 2

22 June 2010

Today, less than three weeks after applying, I had a letter from the CAF. I am now officially registered, I have my own online account for child benefit and a card to prove that I am registered. I have not had money yet, but I hope this will arrive soon-ish too. At the moment, the website says that the agency is studying my file. I hope the get this done before everything grinds to a halt here between July and September. But I am really, really pleased that everything is going so smoothly on that front.
My second experience today was my reunion, my group meeting, at the job agency. This was good too. At least it was a great learning experience for me. We sat around a table in a group of about 15 and had to talk about our backgrounds and what kind of work we are looking for. This was a first for me, talking about myself in front of a group of complete strangers (all of them native speakers) in French. But I did it and it went well.
After the group session, we had an individual session with the lady who ran the course and this was good too. I had fun, she had fun, we laughed quite a bit and she so praised my French. She thinks that I don’t need a course, just a few more ‘technical terms’. So I am pleased to say I pulled that one off successfully :). But she also confirmed the feeling that I had during the group talk: After looking at my CV she told me that my skills and experience are too diverse to be matched to a job that could be arranged via pole emploi: there aren’t any jobs that would offer me the complex (but incredibly satisfying) skill mix of my old job. It’s funny (or rather sad) really, that one can be too diverse. Anyway, I will now increase my networking and keep my ear to the ground, I suppose this is the best strategy for my if I want to find an interesting job. Anyway, I shall stay registered with pole emploi and duly update my account to let them know when I will be in town in July and August — I am entitled to 34 days of leave! I was not surprised by the outcome (or lack of it) of the meeting, but I had a good time with the group. We had a good laugh when six of us were waiting for our individual appointments. People confirmed that the French job market is kind of rigid. So if I can’t find work, I will pursue plan B, which I conceived there and then and shared with the group (they liked it): I will write a book in nouveau français, that is, a book filled with French words created by me. I have already come up with a few such as the verb ascendre (this does not exist in French but I think it should), as well as efficient/e. I am looking forward to horrifying the Académie française with some weird and wonderful expressions that I use so effortlessly in everyday life. As long as my French remains as it is at the moment, I have plenty of material to write a BIG book…. 🙂

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