Lost in Translation

I think my brain cells have gone on strike.  I just got back from the bank after doing business entirely in French.

I had received a notice from my French bank that required me to fill out a form and return it to the bank.  I had received something similar about three months prior so when I returned the most recent form I added a note stating that I hoped to keep the account since I was living in France and the bank was convenient for local business.

From what I understand US banking regulations have complicated the ability for Americans to have bank accounts in France.  Either the French bank has to be registered with the U.S. securities & exchange commission (none of the banks in Uzerche are) or must justify why the American should be able to maintain an account with their bank.

The French bank counselor and I got off to a fairly good start with the help of his manager to explain that I needed to verify that I was residing in France.  I suppose I was doing adequately up to that point because he then handed me pen & paper and told me I needed to write a letter stating …  I had to stop him before he got very far and explain that I would have to do a translation to be able to write what was needed.

I did get the gist of what he was telling me to write but my brain was translating it and thinking the response in English.  Besides, my spelling in French leaves much to be desired.  So he typed the statement on his computer and let me copy it.

Then it started going downhill.  There was a question as to what address I should use.  I gave the address for my second house but he asked if I was living there now.  No, but I would be in four days.  Where are you living now? I gave the address of the rental and said I only had four days left there.  Well it shows this address (the first house) on your visa.  Yes, I use that as a mailing address but I can’t live there.  What address is on your electric or water bill?  I don’t have a water or electric bill* because the sale of the second house was just completed 10 days ago.

By this time my brain cells were beginning to rebel but I tried my best to explain:

The visa paperwork in the U.S. has the address of my first house since I thought I would be living there by now.  But after discovering delays, cost, and additional problems that I was previously unaware of, I decided to rent a house instead.  So when I completed the French portion of my long stay visa I provided documentation for the rental house as my residence but maintained the address of my first house to receive mail.  After that I decided to buy the house next door to my original house so now, in 4 days actually, I will be living in the second house that I bought and will use that address.

The explanation is a bit complicated even in English.  But it’s even more complicated to describe in French, especially if you apply a conceptual thinking approach in addition to the language issues.

(Buying a second house to work on because one can’t complete the first house one bought to work on defies logic in some people’s minds.  –  For me it just keeps life interesting.)

It was decided that I will write an explanation of my ‘situation’ in English and drop it off at the bank and my banking counselor will have a friend translate it for him.

Now I’m off for a nap to give my brain cells a well-deserved rest.  I’ll need them in good working order when my sofa-bed is delivered tomorrow.


(*Fortunately a statement of service from the electric company arrived in the mail today and I took it to the bank later so they could make a copy for their records.)


About Joie du Voyage - Joy of the Journey

I'm following my long term dream of retiring in France. I arrived in France June 2015 and moved into my new house on New Year’s Eve. I’m experiencing challenges with ongoing renovations but it hasn’t dampened my spirit. Now I’m settling into life here, joining in the local community, enjoying visits from family and friends, and exploring other areas of France. * My personal motto: Don’t take life too seriously - or eternity too lightly. *
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