- Paperwork. Too much of it. You can't do much by mail or Internet, it seems; I had to clear out a day of work and train it down to Toulon to get my residency papers yesterday. But that's OK; it beats waiting in line all night at the INS office, which certain friends have had to do. I guess immigration paperwork is awful wherever you are. But here, it's totally inexact. I had four different documents tell me I needed to submit four different arrays of papers to get my residency card. I just went with the most authoritative-seeming source and the most likely-seeming combination, and it worked. But I forgot to send in a Xerox of the stamp in my passport that I got when I entered France. Apparently, even though it was listed as necessary, its omission was pas grave. Conversely, while I walked right in and opened my bank account at the same time as my friend Sophie (who had an appointment), I have heard of people who needed to bring in utility bills, their landlords' passports, and all kinds of ludicrous documentation. I needed a statement proving I had a mailing address (got it from school), my papers stating I had a job, and my passport. Easy.
- Indoor smoking. It's illegal but no one cares. My eyes and clothes hate me for it.
- Fermetures. Sunday? Lunchtime? Evening? Better have a book handy, because you aren't going to be able to shop much of anywhere, go to the bank, or do much of anything productive. At around noon or noon-thirty everything closes down, and an hour and a half or two hours later life begins again for the afternoon. On Sunday, you can go get food, but . . . that's kinda it. Well, there's the beach. The beach is nice. Now I love a nice leisurely lunch and weekend, but I also like the freedom to get something accomplished if I absolutely can't ignore it any longer. France apparently is indifferent to my preferences. Gah.