Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oh btw

I realized that I forgot to post about my phone conversation with the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs. Since I couldn't figure out the fax and this place doesn't have an email address, I called them. At 5:30am. YOU try speaking French on the phone after rolling out of bed. It ain't easy. Phone conversations have perpetually been my weakest interaction, mostly because there are no context clues like facial expressions, nonverbal communication, or visual aids. Also because native French speakers still do kind of throw me for a loop, even after a graduate class this summer with a native French professor. But I digress. After spending thirty minutes on the phone with the world's most patient and understanding receptionist, I have tentatively reserved a room - basically a bed - from about the end of September. I am under the impression that I will also have the opportunity to upgrade the room to a full-on studio: bed, full bath, kitchen. And these accomodations are also eligible for the CAF/French government housing subsidy, which after using the CAF calculator online, may save me up to half of the rent.

The problems with this arrangement include not really knowing what I've reserved, the lack of a set arrival date, and that it's 2.5km from the train station and my school. It is near the hospital, so maybe that's a plus. Also, FJTs as they are called is government housing for young people 16-25 (or sometimes older), and sometimes this low-cost and ubiquitous housing option doesn't attract the best crowd: the poor, disenfranchised young North African population which faces enormously hurtful racism in France, kids who got kicked out of their homes, homeless kids in between stints on the street, oh and also people like me who don't have the best way of getting other housing. It's entirely possible that I could go through a real estate agency to get a different apartment somewhere, but I'd like the majority of my money while I'm in France to be spent exploring and not paying for an apartment.

So that's what's happening there.

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