Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Fourth Day of January

As hard as he may try, it seems like Partner really can't catch a break when it comes to schooling.  He finished off a degree in chemical engineering in France in 2004 only to find out that it wasn't really what he wanted to be doing, but it was a foot in the door.  However, the university he graduated from in Lyon did have Biochemistry classes, and an exchange program with the US.  So he could chose.  He could go to a school with a great reputation, but in the middle of nowhere, or he could go to a school in the center of a fairly large city with a well respected medical campus.  He chose the big city with the medical campus.

After starting in his Biochemistry masters at Ohio State, he comes to find out that he won't actually be able to do drug trials and hospital research with this degree.  He'll only be able to design drugs for pharmaceutical companies.  With this degree though, he's light years ahead of the competition in France.  So he keeps working on his Masters, and finishes.  After all his hard work, he graduates during the height of the American economic crisis.  No one is looking to sponsor anyone foreign to work; credentials and excellent grades or not.  So it's decided: we'll have to move back to France to start looking for work there. 

Every corner he turns, it's the same response.  You have a ton of experience, but it's all university experience.  None of it is practical, real world application.  (The problem is, French companies don't understand that an American Masters degree and a French Master are not the same.  With the new education regroupments in France, my B. A. in Medieval History may be the same as a French Master.)  We'll forget that he was basically running his own project on using proteins for cancer treatment and had around 6 articles published in peer reviewed journals in the US.  Apparently that has no real world application according to France.  Remind me to thank Sarkozy for the state of research in France.  So that was a no go. 

He had spent a good long while looking for work in any city in Europe he could find.  Pretty much the only requirement was that I could go with him and have some kind of legal standing.  He applied for work in Bordeaux, Lyon, Paris, Lausanne, Brussels, Bern, Berlin, Dublin, London, etc.  Hell, one job was even in New Delhi!  We both eventually got pretty despondent.  Partner took a job in his hometown, well below his qualifications, working in a medical analysis lab.  The good thing was is that the pay was good, and he found he really liked the medical aspects.  

So in January of last year, we start talking.  He had decided that what he wanted more than anything was to follow his original dream.  Partner wanted to know if I would mind, because it was very much outside of our initial plans, if he applied to Medical School.  We talked about everything this meant.  We'd be poor for a while, and I'd still not have much in the way of legal standing.  However; we'd get back to our own life, and be on our own two feet.  We'd finally get a chance to be back to something resembling the life we had in Columbus.  I told him the most important thing for me was that he was happy with what he was doing.  After all, Partner has always been the pony on which to bet the farm.

So we move to Rennes and we start living a great life.  This has been a horribly stressful first semester of his first year.  He had to be up for classes around 6:30 and when he got home, it meant he would spend the entire night studying.  We got into a rhythm and I came to enjoy the life we had here.  Partner and I are living now believing that this is a temporary year.  Afterwards, maybe things will work out better.  There's really only one way to find out.

Now, why title this post as I did?  Because true to form with the rotten luck he pulls for education, Partner's concours, the test that determines his placement at the end of the first semester and will let him know whether or not he can continue on and become a doctor, isn't until January 4th.  That means he has to spend his entire break studying for this exam.  Every time he takes a break, he feels guilty.  

Today for example, he started studying at 10 am.  He studied clean through with one break until 3:30 pm.  Then we went out and had some hot chocolate and wandered around town for a bit.  (Also, I may have found a Mountain Dew source!)  We also took in the light show on the Mairie.  It was really pretty and made fun of Sarkozy.  Absolutely hilarious.  We had a great time.  

The only problem was that Parther was worried the entire time.  He enjoyed the time with me, but sure enough, in the back of his mind he was panicking about the time he was losing by not being at home studying the five binders worth that he has to commit to memory to pass this thing.  I could tell he was worried, and slightly distracted.  I mean, he was really happy that we got to have a night like that together, but you know how it is.  Also, finding a parking place was murder.  Partner is not known for his patience, so after we couldn't find a parking space for about 30 minutes, he started getting annoyed.  

The recompense that he does have though, is the week after is break for him.  There will be a week where he doesn't have to do anything at all after his concours, but before he starts the new quarter.  So that will be his decompression time, and I hope somewhat of a chance for us to really enjoy a bit of the break.  I get the feeling we'll probably just  spend the entire week trading off on playing Skyrim, but you know that sounds perfectly lovely to me!


  1. Sadly, I can identify with partner quite a bit. There's really never a time when I'm not thinking about work. Even now - when I'm on Christmas break - I feel on edge. I don't have anything I officially MUST do except put together syllabi for my spring classes. But I could do that in an afternoon, probably. I figure I should probably do some research for a couple of projects I've got on my agenda. But still. I feel unsettled - completely at sea - when I don't have work to do. Or when I DO have work to do, but I should be doing something family oriented.

    One of my colleagues keeps admiring how much work I do all the time. But I keep telling her, "It's because I no longer know how to have fun." She laughs at that, but I'm dead serious. I wish I knew the cure.

  2. Best of luck to Partner. Hubby just applied for grad school. We are now waiting to hear. Stressful indeed for all of us.

  3. Fie - It's amazing the amount of work that you do in your life and are still able to keep up with your family. I could not imagine keeping up with the amount of work that you have and still have all the expected familial obligations you have as a woman. I both admire and respect that!

    Nubian - On croise les doigts pour Hubby! Here's hoping everything goes smooth for his application process and he's accepted! It's just too much stress though. I remember the nightmare of having everything arrive at the same time when I applied.

  4. I'm very impressed with your partner's qualifications, and it's sad how hard it is to find something stable in today's economy. Sorry you guys had to move on account of that, or is France a nice change from Ohio? :) And I know that feeling before a big exam... Can barely eat myself when that happens. Best of luck to both of you!

  5. M@rvin - thanks for the encouragement. We'll get it all together someday. Until then, I'm just going to eat my body weight in crepes.

  6. I'm guessing Partner will do just fine on his exam. It's good he is so focused, but there has to be time to breathe too - for both of you.

    It's a shame I didn't know you when I went to Ohio State Univ. Oh how our lives kind of crossed.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement! We'll have a week off after Partner finishes up though. We talked about a few day trips, up to Saint Malo or over to Paris, but nothings been decided. With all the games we got for Christmas though, there's a good chance we'll spend the week exchanging places in front of the computer

    It is pretty amazing when one thinks of how one meeting could change so much! It's better to look at the positives though. At least we met now?