Small Steps in the Charente
The progress we've made so far has been in rather small steps.
Though we've been living in the Charente for just over three months, I’m still at the point where I get excited if I manage to hold down a thirty second conversation with a French person. It's not a very good sign.
I admit now that I moved to the Charente with a somewhat naïve view of what I should do before taking the leap. Perhaps a few French conversation classes wouldn't have been such a bad idea? Perhaps a little more money in the coffers might help?
Savings? Work? PAH! Who needs to worry about those when you’ve got an honest smile, a firm handshake and a flagrant passion for the smelliest cheeses in the known universe? Why that practically makes me a native.
The problem is that it’s very easy to get over excited about the prospect of coming to live in the Charente without setting the proper foundations. My sister is hoping to move over with her family next year and if there’s just one piece of advice I would offer, it is- if you don’t have savings to last a lifetime, make sure you have a job!
And I don’t mean a vague promise of one either. (Which is what I discovered was waiting for me). Be certain you have a guarantee of a regular income that’ll set you going in the system; whether that’s a letter, a badge, or a gold-embossed marble tablet with a signature engraved in blood.
I’m quite fortunate in that I’ve managed to carry on working via the internet. But the ADSL connections tend to be a bit hit-and-miss in the rural areas and, let’s face it, rural areas are in the majority round here! On the downside, I’ve missed out on French conversation because I’m stuck in front of a computer that doesn’t care what language I use when I threaten to throw it out of the window.
So if you’re not set up with a business or a nice long list of clients, make contacts from England, take reconnaissance trips or find out if there are any local forums or help centres. Talk to people (reading this website is a good start) and get a feel for what’s over here. It’ll make the settling in process an awful lot easier!