Almost six. I have lived abroad before, so I know that the first half year or year is what you need to survive and then it gets better. And it has already gotten better for me, not great yet, but good. It is a bit different or it takes longer, though, if you do not speak the local language (properly).
After having gone to language school for 3 months, 3 times per week, I feel much better in my skin and more confident on the steets of Nantes. My French is improving rapidly and I am no longer scared to go shopping or ask people for help. Sure, sometimes I do not understand the response completely, but I do not really care anymore. I am just glad that the fear speaking French and the jealousy of hearing other foreigners speaking the language better than me is gone. Everything will be easier from this point on. It is amazing how many things are blocked in ourselves by something purely psychological. Also how your personality can’t show when you can’t speak a language properly. You become quiet, shy, introverted. I can’t wait for the time, when I will really speak French well to get back my real personality and to be able to express my thoughts fully and not at the level of an elementary school child. I am going to continue the school in March but only twice a week to give me more time for job hunting.
I have met so many interesting people at the school and everyone has a story. Most of the girls are married to French guys and are trying to make a living in Nantes. Like me. Nevertheless, making friends is not as easy as I thought, especially due to the above mentioned reason. People have husbands, families, responsabilities. I am very happy to have 3 cool classmates that I can contact outside of school hours as well. An American, an English and a Philippine lady.
I also go regularly (about once a month) to the Parents and Kids meetings of the Anglophones in Nantes. Well, this is pure joy. I can speak English, the moms are very cool and Korina can play with kids. There are many babies in this group, so I could not make any contacts that could be useful for business or finding work. Anyways, this is for pleasure.
Korina has helped me to some company as well. She has a best friend at the kindergarten and the mom of this girl a Cambodian-French lady is super nice! She had invited us to their place where I have met other French moms and kids. This was nice too, but more of a free language course for me, very tiring. However, through her I met a Japanese lady, who is a piano artist and she also invited us for a playdate. So this is how you make friends abroad, slowly but surely, and with a lot of work and time invested.
Finding work and a meaning to my life:
Well, this is still an ongoing activity. I had the opportunity to work on a Hungarian-English translation project in the field of construction in January but February went by quietly (also there is a 2 week break at school). I have to add that there are many 2 week holiday periods at the French kindergartens, so if you do not have retired grandparents, you have to watch the kid for 2 full weeks day and night. No time for anything else during this period really. Many perople travel at this time, but I cannot imagine how can they have so many days off from work in a year. Doing some translation work made me feel as a useful part of society again but this is not what I want to do in the long run. I very much enjoy writing my blog though, but this cannot be a source of serious money.
The airbnb business is not going so great in winter, January has passed with zero guests. February is looking a bit better at the weekends but our prices are so low now that it does not make a big difference.
I would very much like to start my own business here, but I have not found the right idea yet. This way I could be my own boss and I could return to Hungary whenever I wanted or needed to. Also, would really like to do something that I love, therefore I collected all those things that I enjoyed doing in my life. The principle of this exercise was to find a profession, which relates to these words. I could not find any but here they are, should someone have some good ideas for me: communicate, organise, read, write, help people, languages, socialize. Not easy, I know.
I miss my mom and my friends in Hungary and around the world very much. New freindships need lots of time to give you a similar feeling to the old ones, so what one can manage to create in 6 months is nice but something completely different. I also miss our international friends who used to live in Hungary but now live all over the world, in the USA, in Slovakia, in Paris. My Hungarian friends are my roots to Hungary and beeing far away from them for so long shakes my identity a bit. I cannot complain though, we travel to Pécs for all the holidays, Christmas, Easter and summer vacation.
On the other hand we very much enjoy having the French grandparents close by and all Ivo’s friends and larger family, who live in Bretagne. We have the opportunity to spend quality time with those loved ones, who we missed during our years in Budapest. It seems like we are laways going to miss someone wherever we live, but the updside is that there are lots of people we love. We are lucky.
All in all…
…I enjoy my days, I cannot say I feel home or that I have found my place here, but I am hopeful that I will. There are many things in France that make loving life easy here and I do not only mean the fabulous food and wine. This is a country where people are polite and nice, you mostly see happy faces around yourself and optimism. The athmosphere is open minded, accepting and everyone can freely express their opinion (without any consequences). Having an opinion is very important in fact. People work hard, they are not afraid to try new things or start new ventures and they do not seem to be jealous of the others’ success, they do not criticize others all the time. This type of attitude brings constant development and failures are not seen as a tragedy but the rocky road to success, The city is lovely with lost of green spaces, two rivers and it is just one small hour away from the Atlantic ocean. Children have many activities and fun including the kindergarten. You can lead a life here, which should be the norm everywhere.
So, if you speak French, come and live in Nantes.