03 December 2008

More Ups and Downs

When I opened my mailbox today, I was extremely excited to see a letter from the Sous-Prefecture in Sarlat saying my residency card (carte de sejour) was ready. I went in October to apply for the card and was told that I would receive the recipisse (document saying I am waiting for my residency card) very soon in the mail. Well, it never came. I've been calling the Prefecture in Perigueux asking about it for a month now and getting nowhere. Everytime I talk to the same guy and he asks my nationality and after I tell him I'm an American all he will tell me is not to worry. He won't even take my name to look up my file and make sure. So anyway, I walked across town this afternoon to the Sous-Prefecture office only to get there, get my card and see three huge errors. First, my first name was spelled wrong, second, it said I was born in 1984 not 1987, and third, my address was wrong. I don't understand how this many errors could possibly happen and especially on the three most important things. They had put my old address on the card which is very strange because I didn't give it to them. I only gave them a copy of my lease for my current apartment. It also can't be blamed on my handwriting as I gave them a copy of my passport and filled out no paperwork. At least the lady there was extremely nice and very apologetic about the errors. She told me that I would have my new card very quickly. Hopefully, she's right.

Everything else is going well. I went to the library today and got a library card. They actually have a really good English section and they have lots of books about learning languages and CDs so I checked a couple of French books out. The building is very old and looks like something out of a movie. There are hardwood floors that creak when you walk and the ceiling is very ornate with paintings and moldings. Its very cold in there because, as with a lot of old buildings here, there is no central heating. Until very recently almost everybody relied on fireplaces for heating and a lot of places haven't installed any sort of heating system. A lot of shops and restaurants (the library included) have little space heaters all over the place. The newer buildings of course have heating and are usually incredibly hot. My school is kept so hot that a lot of the teachers end up opening the windows by the end of the day.

Continuing with what Andrew was talking about last time, I read a very interesting article in the New York Times (yes, its our favorite newspaper ) about how unaffordable education in the US is and how its going to keep becoming more expensive. Its an interesting topic that is going to become more and more important because as the article states we are one of the few countries with a less educated workforce now than in the past. A lot of the people at school ask me questions about the education system back home and when I tell them what a year at a public colleges costs, they are absolutely shocked. The article states that public university tuition on average is 28% of a middle class family income. So as I ponder going back to school, I also have to wonder is it really worth it? How much school debt is too much? Its a hard question especially for me because I know that I could be and would be forever a student. I'm a little crazy, I know.

Well, I guess thats it for now. Andrew is will be arriving late Saturday and spending the week in Sarlat with me and then we will be travelling to Carcassonne, a small town on the edge of the Pyrenees. Hope everybody is well back home.


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