...we landed at Charles de Gaule, exhausted and excited in anticipation. New jobs, new home, a new country for my son. A year later, we're just about catching our breath, but overall I believe this was the right choice for our family. Here is my assessment of the situation at Y+1:
My job is awesome. Landing this position was nothing short of a miracle, and one year later I still feel truly blessed. My colleagues are a group of friendly, knowledgeable and competent scientists. I am happy with my new research project and the way things are setting up - and, well, my project was one of the lucky 12% to get funded in my study section for the French equivalent of a junior R01. Also, I expect to get tenure in a couple of months and job stability does wonders for my stress level and general happiness :-)
I had some time off over the holidays. I took two weeks off in May and I did not look at my work e-mail once. I flew to Spain for a long week-end for a friends' wedding in June. I took another two weeks off in July - and worked every single day, but who's complaining when there's a BBQ and hammock waiting riverside when you're done? Vacation time and the flexibility to work from home whenever convenient, no questions asked, is really a must.
We're finally caught up with family, enjoying a helping hand or two (or three!) to entertain our son during evenings, week-ends, holidays. It's nice to have cousins, brothers and sisters drop by and to know that it won't be another year or so before you see them again. The urgency to tour the country to visit every single relative within a week time is also down.
We have another job situation in the family that is not so awesome. The European rule of "permanently in or out after <4 years" is tough. This is our sore black spot.
Transportation in the greater Paris area is a nightmare. I guess it is the case in most big cities but seriously? Getting anywhere from our place by public transport takes at least an hour in ideal conditions, i.e. when there is no major strike, bad weather or construction going on. In any case you can expect to be crammed in a tight space with a bunch of tired fellow commuters who also just want to get there already. I can't decide whether driving is better or worse. I still can't get used to the narrow streets lined with bloody flower beds, bumps and other car-unfriendly devices that make it a challenge to have opposing traffic of small sized cars coming through in a two-way street. Then, there are the trucks and utility vehicles of all kinds. And the constant double parking. And the street construction sites that sprout with no warning during summer. Getting from point A to point B can take anywhere between 30 and 150 minutes - even if there are general rules that apply (of course a particular drive will be longer than ideal at rush hour) the smallest straw will break the Camel's back and spin your timing out of control.
I miss Rumba Cafe, Teaism, R & R Nails, decent sushi, DC shopping, the odd bacon cheese burger.
More importantly, we miss our friends. The casual BBQ and pool parties just around the corner, the takeout game nights, the pedicure chats, the brunch dates... But hopefully an upcoming trip in a few weeks will help with that.