I’m in the middle of a 4 day weekend, which was critical given the hours I have been working.  Anyone who tells you that French people don’t work very much has never been here!  PB and I have spent the last two weeks working until 7-9 PM every night (arriving around 8 AM) with an hour lunch.  A couple of other people have been there that late a handful of nights as well.  Of course, this isn’t how it ALWAYS is, but with budgets, then month-end book close and the Senior VP of the whole plant coming right after, things have been busy!

Looking Back at the Past & My Decision to Move

I took some time over the weekend to go back and read my blog myself – it’s kind of fun to remember some of the things that I found surprising when I first arrived.  One thing that I realized is that the REASON and story behind why I moved to France were missing.  Due to it being a move for work, I was required to keep it quiet until everything had been approved, so my blog didn’t reflect the process that led to my decision.

The pictures in this post are of my current French house and the large lot it is on.  First, my back yard:

There’s kind of a big gap because of this, so I’ll tell the story now in a bonus post.  It was the weekend that I returned from England (late April) that I remember thinking, “I’m glad I’m on my way home!” and I clearly didn’t mean Portland.  I let that sink in a little, but decided to give it some time.  I knew before I came to France that my company was interested in me becoming the Controller if my project went well, but even though I’d dreamed of one day living in France, it was a “I’d like to study for a term” kind of dream, not a permanent relocation!

The primary house on the property – my house is a barn conversion!  This house is also for rent, but no luck so far, so I have the land to myself!

The following weekend I was standing at the old port in La Rochelle, soaking in the sun, and received a very kind e-mail about my work from PB.  I was completely happy in this little beach town, in this moment and that’s when I knew.  The small country town I lived in felt like “home” in a way that Portland never had; I was never really excited to return to Portland from vacation, but I found myself looking forward to returning to France; I would still be close to a lovely beach; my French co-workers seemed to like me and the GM, who generally doesn’t work weekends, had taken the time to compliment my work (not a typical French boss thing to do).  Not only could I be happy during my personal time, but I also enjoyed the work and team here (really important given the long working hours).

Since I knew that my primary job would be performing all of the analyses and providing whatever finance support PB (aka the GM) needed, I felt it was critical to ensure that I had his support before telling Portland and Belgium that I was interested.  So, immediately upon my return from La Rochelle, I scheduled a meeting with him.  In typical French fashion, the first thing he said was, “I’d prefer a Controller who speaks French.”  I assured him that I planned to learn French and he said, “Yes, but my biggest risk with you is that you will never learn French.  You might NEVER learn French!”  I thought this was a “no thanks,” so I told him that I understood and I was glad I talked to him first, then stood to go.  He indicated that he wasn’t done though and basically told me that he’d prefer the risk that I never learn French over the risk that he hires someone else who can’t do the job properly because he was very happy with the work I was doing and my way of doing things.  Since I knew that I had his support, it was time to express my interest in the job to my Senior VP at HQ and the Director in Belgium!

While I was pretty sure I wanted to live in France by then, it was a certainty after my week in Germany.  I had a great vacation there, as much fun as I normally do (aside from a terrible cold), but I still felt excited when the train was pulling into the Poitiers station – “I’m home!”  This was never the case for me when returning to Portland; on some level, I think I’ve always known that Portland was not “my place,” but I just wasn’t sure where I wanted to go.  So, now I find myself in France, a country that feels very much like home, despite the numerous language and cultural differences!