Below is every single thing that was on my TAPIF packing list. I managed to fit it into a small suitcase, a 46L backpack, a laptop-sized handbag, and a small purse:
I wanted to speak with young women environmental leaders about their experience organizing COY 11 Montreal (a climate change conference for youth). What resulted was tons of laughter and a fascinating conversation not just on how to change the world, but also “multipotentiates,” French words with no proper translation in English, and so much more.
You have to have your own trigger, your own thing, and the day I found this out, I was like, “Ok, so if I have to work on something, I have to work on triggers in people.”
But even this, this is saying that, “Oh, I can give you triggers.” That’s not true.
The past few months have been full of moments where I’ve thought to myself, “I really wished I’d thought of/known about that last year!”
You, my friends, get to profit off of my missed opportunities.
Aside from climbing beffrois and taking long walks across town to Auchan, here are a few ideas for staying fit while living abroad, with little to no equipment, and from least to most expensive:
(This metaphor’s worth it – promise?)
My favorite Telugu tradition is making ugadi pachadi, a “sauce” that’s made for the new year out of jaggery (brown sugar), tamarind, neem, and more, representing a mix of sweet, sour, and bitter experiences in the year to come.
This year’s brought its fair share of all those flavors, but for now, here are some of the sweeter things that made it the best year of my life so far, and some of the takeaways that I’m hoping to use to make this year awesome as well.
Or should I say…TAPIFs-giving (ah ah ahhh)?
Truth time: This post has been sitting in my drafts for about a year since I have pretty conflicted feelings about Thanksgiving, but I figured it was time to finally post this. Last year, I definitely felt conflicted talking about a lot of American holidays, but I generally tried to use them as a jumping off point for dialogue about other issues like colonization. If anyone has thoughts on other ways to approach those topics, though, please let me know!
In one of my first emails with my host teacher, I’d been told that the assistants’ Thanksgiving in Bethune was legendary, so I went with popular demand and decided to focus on making some delicious vegetarian food (and talk about Native Americans with the kiddos). It was also great to have everyone together and discuss what we’re thankful for (mostly each other and how amazing this experience has been, duh).
Here are the recipes that ended up working out for the food that’s available here and that could be modified for different dietary restrictions:
For a while now, I’ve been wanting to “act like a tourist” in Sleepy Hollow. Partly because it seemed silly that I’ve lived here most of my life without seeing a lot of its attractions, partly to do more local/low-impact travel, and partly to reclaim this space as my own.
I’ve been questioned a lot over the past week about “Where I’m really from,” and I always staunchly answer “Sleepy Hollow,” perhaps in the hopes that discussing the headless horsemen will stave off thinly veiled (or pretty blatant) questions about my ethnicity. I remember one of my professors in college wondering with us, well, when does your “history” start if you’re the child of immigrants? Isn’t the history of this land also your own? So out of some kind of defiance – and the fact that a lot of tours end this week – I decided to finally go for it and explore.
I thought that opening a bank account was going to be no big deal; after all, my host teacher was kind enough to make an appointment for me at her bank and was going to be coming with me, and the last assistant had successfully opened an account there as well. I had plenty of time before the deadline to turn in my paperwork so that I would get paid for the first month.
Or so I thought.
While everyone’s experiences at their schools were pretty different, one fairly common experience was being grilled by students the first “observation week.” Some of the questions I got included:
“Do you have children?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
And my personal favorite: “Are you a vegetable?” (The student was trying to say “vegetarian.”)
One of the things that seemed the most daunting about moving to France was finding a place to live, especially since I kept hearing that I should just wait until I got there to figure it out. I ended up lucking out and had to do pretty much no work, but here are some ways that other assistants I know have found housing, roughly in order from easiest to hardest: