This is one of the first photos my partner took upon arriving in Luxembourg. I will in be San Francisco through the month of October, handling the move from this end. My tasks include donating or selling our belongings, preparing Simon medically for transport, obtaining TEFL certification, and getting acquainted with French. So far, things are going pretty smoothly.
I wanted to get the cat taken care of first. Forcing him into his carrier and taking him to the vet is always a traumatizing experience (for me). But we managed to pull that off with minimal scratches/blood loss. Here is a taste of what he looks like pissed:
There was a brief panic while the vet was looking him over. It seemed to be going well until she looked at his hind end and exclaimed, “That’s not normal!” She seemed at first to think it might be an infection in his anal gland, which apparently is the very last thing any pet owner wants for their pet. When asked, it is definitely far down on my list of preferred pet maladies. Luckily, she took him into the backroom for further examination (I did not accompany her, and would prefer not to know what went on) and determined that the anal gland was just fine. Mr. Kitty was deemed healthy to travel! Vaccinations were up to date, and we obtained an international certificate of travel.
That just about covered what I needed for him, or so I thought. He is already neutered and chipped, and he now has an official statement of health. What more could I need to do? Apparently, I need to go through this list:
So I came home and looked up some pet relocation companies for possible assistance. It seemed like a godsend! The man on the phone was very friendly, and informed me they would coordinate everything with the vet, the USDA office, get all the documents in order, and even pick up Simon at my front door, transport him overseas, deal with customs, and drop him off at our door in Luxembourg.
So, in related news, I am not using a pet relocation service. I decided I am actually capable of faxing and mailing things on my own. On the positive side, I spoke with an extremely helpful woman at the Luxembourg embassy in San Francisco today. She walked me through everything, emailed the documents, and said I could call her any time with questions. All for free! How’s that for evil government socialism?
I am now officially enrolled in an intensive three weekend course at San Francisco State that will give me my 100 hour TEFL certification. I start next weekend. It was kind of pricey, but I read nothing but good things about it online, and the time frame was perfect. They were even up front on the phone–before I even paid–that finding a job quickly would be more difficult in Europe than it would be in Latin America or Asia. My degree in English should help, though. So fingers crossed!
As for French, I am mostly through the first level on Rosetta Stone. I am quite pleasantly surprised by it; it is intuitive and hence quite easy to use, even for someone like me. I typically grow angry and impatient with electronic devices and information technology (not unlike your grandma), so I was skeptical at first and wanted to take an in-person immersion class. My partner got a great deal on all five levels of Rosetta Stone, however. Now I’m a a convert. It teaches you a language the way a child learns it, so you learn intuitively and not by boring rote memorization of vocabulary and verb conjugation. Plus, there is this:
So I have learned that there are a lot of cats in France. They are mostly on and under tables, but also occasionally are inside hats (dans chapeau!). I am so ready for that. Also, the cheesy stock photography used for the software–while I learn–also allows me to make snarky comments about how people dress. Such is the case in this photo, where a man has made the unfortunate decision to wear a tie with a short-sleeved shirt:
“Cheveux roux” is French for “Ginger with no common sense.”
I am fairly confident that–after completing the five levels–I will be able to communicate in French better than I can in Spanish (two years in high school and 18 hours/minor in college). The hardest part at this point is mastering the French “r,” which sounds similar to the hacking sound Simon makes when he’s ingested too much hair.
To be continued…