Okay. So laughing right now because I am imagining the look on the hotel housekeeper’s face when she cleans my room tomorrow and realizes that I took the 2 new rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom cupboard. And the trash bag.
I’ve found a place to stay! It’s in the apartment building in the centre ville (center city), and three other American teaching assistants live there as well. I found out about it from one of them, and she gave me the phone number and email address of the landlord. After taking survey of the 15 meter squared room, we signed the contract, I provided the mula, and he handed over the keys!
I’m still in the hotel though because I paid for Tuesday night (womp womp), and best believe your girl is getting her money’s worth out of this hotel!! When I came back, I asked the guy at the front desk if I could have half the money back from today if I left tonight, and he looked at me like I was crazy hahaha. Oh well. Living abroad this time around is so much different from the last time. At least when I was a junior, I had the Georgetown University safety net of scholarships, grants, and whatnot supporting me during my year abroad. Now, I’m just supporting myself on my own savings. And it’s exhilarating but supremely scary at the same time.
I am broke. And when I say broke, I mean I-can-afford-a-few-groceries-and-some-bleach-to-clean-my-new-apartment broke. Like, anorexic savings account broke. Considering-walking-the-(40? 50?)-minute-walk-from-the-hotel-to-the-apartment-with-my-carryon-suitcase-tomorrow-morning-to save-change-so-I-can-put-that-money-towards-mailing-in-my-immigration-papers broke.
But the good thing? I am no longer homeless broke. And that’s a good thing. Also, I’m broke in France, meaning that:
1. I can apply for CAF, an incredible institution in France’s social security branch that grants money to students, young adult workers, families, and people who make under a certain salary. In the US, when you think of getting money from the government, you think of welfare. In France, this money is not something only given to so-called “poor, lazy people,” but a right. All you have to do is fill out your papers, mail them in, and CAF will pay half or even three-quarters of your rent for you. This money is deposited directly into your bank account. Sometimes it comes 3 or 4 months after you first apply for it, but even then it’s really nice because then you can just put it into your savings. This is what I did the first time I came to France. I signed up for CAF, and I got my money later than most people, in April. But when I got my hundreds of euros back in the spring, they all went into my savings and came with me back to the States.
2. No matter how broke I am, I will be covered health-insurance wise. The health insurance company recommended to the language assistants, MGEN, charges an annual fee of 105€ for people under 26 (and about 210€ for people over this age). For this price, everything is covered- doctors visits, prescriptions; even hospital visits are free. You pay 22€ upfront for a doctor’s visit, and then you fill out some paperwork and get 21€ back. For medicine it’s the same thing, only most of the time you get paid back 100% for prescriptions. The 105€ doesn’t have to be paid upfront either for you to be covered; you can pay for it in 3 installments and still benefit from the perks, which is what I’m planning on doing. (Once I get a checkbook from my French bank…lol. But that should happen in about 2 weeks the agent said.)
3. I am getting paid 80% of my salary at the end of this month. So that’s a great, big relief.
4. My birthday’s November 1, so I’m hoping my family will send me some money then, and not only will I be covered needs-wise because I’ll have my end-of-month check, but I’d also have a little extra to buy a 32€ roundtrip train ticket to Paris and perhaps spend a night in an auberge there with friends! 😀
So even though I’m kind of living-on-the-edge broke, I’m not starving broke. And I think it’s really important to make that difference. This month I may be a little strapped, but I will survive. And I have a place to live. YAY! :0)
Just fyi, my internet is going to be spotty for the next 2 weeks as I won’t get wifi straightaway after I move into my apartment. But two of my friends and I are planning on buying a box and sharing the rent amongst each other (I live next to S, and M lives right above me). So fingers crossed this works guys, ’cause this means 10€ internet a month!
Take care and lots of bisous (kisses). xo