Friday, October 08, 2004


Yesterday I went with Amy to the Ostwald Marie and then to our branch of the bank.

The Strasbourg officials sent Amy to the Ostwald officials when we first tried to get her Residence permit because she was living in ostwald at the time. Now that we have moved to Strasbourg we went back to Ostwald to tell them and to find out what we needed to do. It was funny because the secretary called the clerk in charge of approving the permit and he was like "oh I'm just looking at the application this very second." Which of course he wasn't but it was somewhere on his desk along with a big stack of others. So Amy has made an appointment for next week to talk to the clerk and figure out what she needs to do.

Then we went to our bank. Like I mentioned in an earlier post we recently asked a local branch when our bank cards/checks had been mailed and found out that they hadn't been ordered. Well the reason for that is our accounts have not been finalized. Banks here are not like American banks where if you have some cash you can open any account you want. Here we started the process a few weeks ago. We have been able to deposit and withdraw any money we wanted but we hadn't been officially approved yet. Some officer actually looks at the account checks references with other banks in town (who are more than willing to spill the beans on any bad accounts) and then make a decision whether they will keep your money or not. So yesterday we signed the final papers and ordered our checks. Oh, and it still costs us 7 Euros a month to keep our money there. Oh, and you have to have a bank account because employers will only pay you by direct deposit here, they don't give out checks.

Anyway the subject for today is how I felt through all of that. I am taking private French lessons and though I can say a few things and have learned a lot of verbs, nounts, adjectives and the like it is still a far cry from understanding normal conversation. So when we go to these places I sit and smile and have not a clue as to what anyone is saying. I am basically useless through the whole thing until I have to sign my name somewhere.

I met Jean Claude on the street yesterday. I was coming back from taking some pictures of flowers in Place Kleber and nearly ran into him. He is a member of the church here and speaks about as much English as I do French. It was quite an experience having a conversation. He said the few words he knows in English and I said the few French words I know and we used a whole lot of hand gestures. It was relly kind of fun. One of my goals here is to be able to have a real conversation with the French speakers here.


Jamison said...

Jean Claude Van Dam?

Are institutions like this to everyone or just Americans?

Refresh our memories... whats a Euro value in relation to the US dollar?

As a side note, my dad bought like 100 Euros when they first came out, and they have gone up in price since then so he made some good money on them...

midnitcafe said...

Banks, government offices, telephone companies, etc. are aparently like that to just about everyone. The French systems just haven't caught onto the whole customer service/everything is fast way of life yet.

Jean Claude is an older member of the church here. He is a true Alsacian Frenchman and speaks narry an English word.

The Exchange rate for the Euro has been right around 1 Euro for 1.25 American dollar. Which totally sucks when I take money out of my American account. Like if i withdraw 200 Euros, about 250 American dollars is actually taken out of my account. That's like throwing 50 bucks in the trash! It's the same thing when you purchase things. Things in France are already expensive and then when you convert it to dollars its outrageous. So i try not to do the conversion in my head anymore. One nice thing is that we are so close to Germany, where a lot of things are much cheaper.