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August 1, 2010

Digoin, the tiny French town where dreams come true

On Monday morning, I finally got the call I've been waiting for since hatching this crazy plan to move to France.

"It came! It came!" my dear p'pa sang to me. "Your contract is here!" I asked him what city was listed on the forms. "Dijon!" he cried.

Oh, jubilation! It was my secret wish to end up in this city of 150,000 dear French souls. I would be a mere 1.5 hour train ride from Paris. I would make legions of amies at the Université de Bourgogne. Restaurants, cafés, and yarn stores would abound. I asked Pa to email me the address of the school listed on the form so I could start researching the crap out of it.

Oh, woe. The lycée was actually in Digoin, not Dijon. Digoin, population 8,500. Digoin, which barely even has a Wikipedia page.

But then I did a bit more research using French Wikipedia, and discovered that this fair city is known for having a cool-looking bridge with a canal running through it, a ceramic factory, and an old church, and for really, really loving escargots. In 2007 they broke the record for snail consumption by hoovering 100,800 of the slimy little guys. The more I learn about it the more I've come to like the idea of living in this charming hamlet.

Photo from projetbabel.org
My main concern for the past week was how to get there. The first site I used told me it would take me more than 13 hours and five connections to get from airport to Digoin. The thought of lugging all my  possessions with me from bus to train to train to train to bus after a seven-hour flight was far less than appealing. I also tried looking on the national railway website and it came up with errors every time I punched in Digoin as my destination. (I realize now that I was using the fields for getting real time arrival/departure information, which is why it didn't work. Whoops.)

I was getting a little freaked about the whole situation and the idea of being so inaccessible from Paris, so I got my creep on and started searching Facebook for Digoinais who looked nice and might give me tips. I sent a message to a kind-looking dame and didn't really expect a response. But! She not only wrote back and was super helpful, but it turns out she used to teach English at my future place of employment! And! She wants me to hang out with the adults she teaches English to now! In no time at all I suspect she'll ask to be my honorary French grandma and she'll teach me the secret art of making escargots de bourgogne.

She also confirmed something I've been wishing for on every detached eyelash: my school will in all likelihood provide me with free housing in their dormitory. That's many hundreds of euros saved that I can now spend gallivanting across the continent.

It feels so good to know there will be at least one friendly face waiting for me when I arrive in less than two months. If I'm really lucky, she'll be a knitter juste comme moi. I'll save my next five eyelashes to ensure that comes to pass.

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