posts » Une semaine à Paris

Une semaine à Paris

Alors, je suis arrivé! I've been in Paris for just over a week now (actually, it's closer to two, but let's not get carried away with details). I'm loving it. The city of romance? I've found it to be a lot more grungy than that, more like New York than London - but definitely one of the world's big, great cities. Even if it's small: according to wikipedia, "a population in 2013 of 2,229,621" (or, more than 2.2 million in the French version, with greater than 10.6 million if the wider areas are also counted).

What am I doing here? Well, currently, looking for housing - but if you want to know more, then...

About six months ago, I applied for funding to go and spend some time doing research alongside Pierre-Yves Ancel, one of the examiners for my PhD. I recycled the application for a couple of other possible funding sources too, even managing to get shortlisted by the Stillbirth and Neonatal Deaths charity. However, my focus was on applying for a position as a consultant neonatologist working within the UK National Health Service.... Numerous applications later, I was becoming increasingly disappointed in not being awarded a position (which, in any case, I probably didn't want), and wondering what to do with my life.

Out of the blue, I received an email from the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale:

Monsieur ANDREI,

Vous avez déposé auprès de la Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale,
une demande d'aide.

Celle-ci a été évaluée par les membres de notre Conseil Scientifique
et a reçu un avis favorable.

Vous trouverez ci-joint en document attaché, sous un format PDF, la
lettre d'acceptation officielle.

En vous remerciant de nous communiquer les informations demandées,
dans le courrier joint, au plus tard le 5 octobre 2015.

Avec toutes nos félicitations,


Le Service Scientifique



You applied to the Foundation for Medical Research for funding.

This has now been evaluated by the Scientific Council who wish to
support your project.

Attached to this email is the official letter (in PDF format).

We thank you in advance for communicating to us the requested
information by the 5th October 2015.

With our best wishes,

The Science Department.

You gotta love the French language, with all the formalities and floweriness! And yes, they really did ask me to respond by last year, but this was clearly a typo, the "official" letter got the date correct (and was even more flowery: "Nous vous souhaitons tout le succès possible dans vos recherches et vous prions d’agréer, Monsieur, nos salutations distinguées.")

So, here I am. I didn't know anyone in Paris a week ago, now I've got a bunch of friends - friends of friends, a colleague who I coincidentally moved to Paris at the same time as I (he is French though, so slightly more reason!), people I knew from my childhood and haven't seen in more than 20 years, newly met colleagues-to-be... the list goes on. I've walked all over, seen a number of the sites, spent time in the graveyard (gotta love 'em!) and visited the tomb of Jim Morrison, even been to the theatre ("AntiFaust" at La Colline, a production of which I think I understood about 80% but not a bit about the story - until someone told me afterwards that the French don't even understand it) and participated in a political demonstration against the police state, supporting the sans papiers. My language has stood up to the test so far, so much so that I've been offered medical work by a few different people (well, one was as a generalist paediatrician in the south of the country, but the others were working here in Paris as a neonatologist).... It's been a great week, and I'm looking forward to living here immensely.