I had my first “I hate France” moments this weekend.*
Don’t get me wrong, overall, I’m very happy with my decision to come to France. I’m generally enjoying my time here and I appreciate that I have had this opportunity to spend three months in Europe. I love the sights, I like the challenge of trying to learn a language, I like how different everything is, etc. However, there are times when it just gets to be too much. So, I hope you don’t mind if I take the time to briefly vent. Here are my most recent frustrations:
Frustration #1: Credit Card Limits
On Friday, I needed to pay rent for my apartment. Since I don’t have a French bank account, I can’t pay with a check; so, I went to the ATM to get cash. My rent is 800€, but the ATMs will only allow me to take 300€ out at a time. So, I took out 300€ twice. I tried to use the ATM to take out the remaining money, but I couldn’t. Apparently, after two times, my credit card was used up. That’s essentially what the ATM told me – your card is used up for today. Frustrating! I gave the 600€ to my landlady and told her that I would give her the rest the following day, which she was completely fine with, but still…
Similarly, I had to buy train tickets for Isaac’s trip. So, I went to the train website (sncf.com) and purchased my ticket to the Geneva airport** to meet up with him. Then, I bought our tickets from the Geneva airport to where we are staying in Lausanne. Next, I tried to buy our tickets from Lausanne back to Lyon. Can you guess what happened? After two transactions, my card was used up! Apparently, like the ATM, the train website will only allow you to use your credit card twice in one day. After that, you’re done! *sigh*
Frustration #2: Grocery Stores
Here, grocery stores are not like at home. There is no store like my QFC on Broadway. Instead, they have many specialized stores. In general, I like the idea of this (you get very good quality products at all of the specialized stores), but it becomes kind of a pain when you need to stock your fridge. Anyway, I’ve been able to adapt (though it has definitely affected how I eat each day – man, I have a simple diet over here!). On Saturday, I walked over to the biggest grocery store near my apartment, a Monoprix. This is a pretty big chain and they have foods that I have been unable to find elsewhere (like Philadelphia Cream Cheese – I was inordinately excited about that discovery!!). I stocked up on some groceries and went to the counter to pay. I handed the woman behind the counter my credit card. The French have credit cards with special chips in them, which are used differently than American credit cards – but I’ve been able to use my American credit card everywhere I’ve tried. Apparently, the Monoprix I visited only accepts American Express. My American MasterCard would not work. And, of course, I didn’t have the cash for it (see ATM story above). So, I had to leave my groceries there, walk three blocks to find an ATM so that I could get the necessary cash, and then return to pay for my groceries. *sigh*
Frustration #3: Stupid Policies
Today, Cynthia and I visited the Ikea. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited about this adventure. We took the tram out there, wandered around the store, and ate quite the fancy dinner.
It was fantastic. Until I realized, as we were leaving, that I had left my jacket somewhere in the store. We were leaving just as the store was closing, but we went to the employee and asked to return to the restaurant or the section near the suitcases to see if my jacket was there. They wouldn’t let me look! And they wouldn’t even go look for me! Too late. Already closed. Return tomorrow. UGH. They refused to help me. Now, it may not have been those particular employees fault – I really do believe they have strict policies about that sort of thing. BUT I think it is RIDICULOUS. I was so annoyed. Cynthia kept being nice but I was ticked. I had to walk to the tram, walk from the tram to the metro and then walk home in the cold weather with no jacket. *sigh* And, Cynthia and I will be returning to Ikea for lunch tomorrow to see if they found my jacket. I love Ikea, but I don’t love it so much that I need to take two trips there in two days! Sheesh. I just don’t think that would have happened in the U.S.
Okay, my venting is done.
In other news, I had another picnic last week with C² and their peeps, which was fun, as always.
Picnics like that (and trips to Ikea without lost jackets) make me happy to be in France. I just have to get past the frustrations and focus on the fun.
* To be fair, having to work on my fourth final in three weeks may also be partially to blame for my frustrations this weekend.
** ISAAC WILL BE HERE IN JUST 3 DAYS!!! WAHOO!!!