My Road to Montréal – Part 3 of 4

[This is part 3 of a 4 part series. In case you missed the first installment, read this first]

So after working over the summer of 1995 to build up some more savings, I returned to Versailles in late-July. It is interesting how it was such a different experience even though it was in the same city and the same building. All of the discussions among Nathalie’s friends were in French so I had no choice but to get an ear for the language if I wanted to understand anything. We were often invited over by friends who offered very traditional and unique meals. I think for Christmas we had snails, oysters, and cheese that had maggots crawling out of it (they said that was the best part, but we passed). And our friends Mereille and Daniel were almost our foster parents offering us items for our stay like a TV and bicycles and inviting us over for long and very late nights of food, drink, and conversation.

Before the big push for the thesis, we took a little vacation. We visited Venice, Athens, and the Greek Islands. It was great to see these places. Like the Parthenon that we had studied in our architecture classes. It was an interesting trip looking back since it was truthfully on a shoestring. I remember eating an olive loaf and a can of tuna in Venice (though with a great view of the canal). Sleeping on grass mats on a beach on the island of Naxos along with sleeping on the train and the deck of a ferry. But at the end of the trip we splurged a little. We got a real room with an ocean view in Santorini. The previous day, we had gotten into a scooter accident that required that each of us get stitches. Nathalie’s wounds were more painful and she was taking painkillers. So while she was knocked out in our room, I went out and bought a ring. When she woke up, we went to dinner during sunset and I popped the question. Luckily the painkillers were still effective and she said “Yes”.

Apart from that trip, we didn’t travel much due to our very limited budget, but we did get to see many places in France travelling with friends. In general our life there revolved around the thesis. Spending all of our day and some of our night at the studio, while returning home for supper and later to sleep. After scouring Paris for an architecture job, I came up empty. When funds started thinning out, I started looking for anything. Eventually I found a prospect handing out flyers in the train stations for a rather dicey hotel up by Montmartre. It was the low season and there were very few travellers. Plus I’m not big on approaching people (because I don’t like people doing it to me), so I didn’t hand out many. There was some misunderstanding between the hotel manager and myself, and I did not get my finders fee for the two people who showed up after my three days of work. Apparently I was supposed to reach a quota of two each day in order to collect my 200 francs. I thought it was 200 francs after finding two patrons. So I quit. Eventually the Versailles program hired me to grade papers. It wasn’t quite enough and I had to borrow money off of credit cards, but it was enough to keep that from being excessive. My father also provided assistance as much as he could.

After finishing her thesis in Versailles, Nathalie returned to Montreal to work during the summer of 96. She had received another fellowship to go back to Champaign/Urbana the following school year for a one year Masters degree. She hoped this would facilitate getting licenced in North America. I returned to Chicago and got a real job. After Nathalie returned to school in central Illinois, our long distance relationship became easier to manage since we were in the same time zone and only a couple hours away by car. I took the train down very often on the weekends to help out again with building models. After finishing this school year, she returned once again to Montréal, but this time only for a short while before returning to Chicago for a real job.

That was the summer of 1997. Over the next six years we enjoyed our time in Chicago. I switched from architecture to engineering. We bought a place in a neighborhood we enjoyed only a block from the bar we used to hang out at. We really enjoyed experiencing the city as working adults.

Continued in Part 4.

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~ by Frank on July 25, 2007.

One Response to “My Road to Montréal – Part 3 of 4”

  1. […] in Montreal Observations, Memoirs, and Opinion « My Road to Montréal – Part 1 of 4 My Road to Montréal – Part 3 of 4 » My Road to Montréal – Part 2 of 4 July 23rd, 2007 [This is part 2 of a 4 part […]

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