What am I doing?
I’m finally doing the Teaching Assistant Program in France! I’ve been considering doing this program for years, and even though it hadn’t necessarily been my original plan for this particular year, I feel lucky that everything worked out the way it did.
I’d never been to France before this, and when I tried to envision what my life would be like, I drew a blank. I read through tons of TAPIF blogs and spoke to former assistants, and even though each person’s experience is so different with this program, I found it really helpful to learn about even the really mundane details of daily life here. I hope that this can help my family, friends, and maybe even future assistants start to fill in the blanks about what my life here is like. I’ll also be posting the lesson plans that I’ll use along with sharing what I learn about sustainability in the communities I visit.
Instead of doing Nanowrimo this year, I’ll be trying to write a blog post each day and posting them over the next few weeks while the process of moving here is still fresh in my mind (and perhaps throw in some long overdue ones from India as well). I’d like to be completely honest about both the good and bad throughout this experience, but frankly, my first few weeks here have been (suspiciously?) amazing. Before arriving, some of my biggest worries were about where I was going to live and about needing to survive with my very rusty French, but it turns out that my biggest problems have been feeling like a cold, distant person in comparison to how kind-hearted and generous everyone has been here; not being able to choose what really cool places to visit; and figuring out what to do with myself when I work a maximum of 12 hours a week. Pas mal?
For months, France seemed so far away, but before I knew it, the summer was over and it was time to go. I’d made checklists and had been trying to make sure for months that I was on top of my paperwork and packing, but of course the day of my departure was still pretty hectic.
We had spent almost an entire day earlier on driving around trying to find an international cell phone with no luck. I ended up ordering one online and it arrived at the house immediately before I was about to leave. My whole family came with me to drop me off at the airport, and we spent the car ride trying to set up the phone and my international card. Turns out that while my dad had been trying to get the phone together in the house, he’d accidentally left behind a pretty critical component. Luckily, my brother managed to MacGyver it into working.
We got to the airport with lots of time to spare, so I went to check in. I was told that my backpack was too big to take with me and I would need to check it in, along with either my laptop or my camera. I really wanted my hard-earned camera with me in Iceland and figured that after surviving the all-nighters of college and being infested by ants in India, my laptop had lived a longer and more-fulfilled life, so with some trepidation I checked it in.
Finally, after a last meal in the airport and tons of family selfies and endless waving and goodbye texts, it was time to go. As the flight took off, New York City looked the prettiest that I’d ever seen it, the buildings of the skyline poking up and then just falling away, the lights becoming so sparse that it was hard to tell whether they were from the ground or whether we were just so high up that the stars were below us.