Life Update in France #3 (I’m Going Home?!)

Bonjour!

It’s incredible to realize that I haven’t written one of these “life updates” in over four months, with the last one being back in January, right after coming back from the vacances de Noël. In any case, so much has happened since then, and I thought that I would dedicate a post to catch you up-to-speed with what has been going on.

To start, January and February were rough, to say the least. I should’ve expected the winter depression to hit again, since I’d experienced it around the same time during my first year as an assistante, but I’d forgotten how shitty it was. Just the fact of feeling unmotivated to go to class, becoming despondent with my colleagues and flatmates, and losing the confidence that I had back in the beginning of the year was bad enough, and they seriously made me doubt myself as to why I was even doing this for a second year in a row.

At the same time, though, the seasonal depression didn’t hurt as badly as it did the year before; I attributed to the fact that I actually had flatmates to talk to, and I could tell that they were also feeling the winter blues, too. Having that sense of camaraderie was one reason that I managed to pick myself back up faster than I’d done my first year teaching, so by the time I returned from my short February vacances in the beautiful, sunny Marseille, I was feeling better.

Most of my weekdays were dedicated to teaching; I actually had a weird schedule between the vacances de Noël and the vacances d’hiver, just because one of my colleagues was out for surgery and I was supposed to teach two or three of her classes, which never really happened. Long story short, it was a lot of back-and-forth with administration, who was supposed to be in charge of letting students know that there was class (or not), and often times, I would show up to my intended classes to find out that no one was there. This went on for three or four weeks until I got sick of talking to the admin and just didn’t turn up to the classes. Nothing happened, of course, because the students didn’t show up, but still, I was frustrated at the lack of communication and time wasted spent at school doing nothing until the next class. I suppose the plus side was having a consistent seven hours of teaching per week, compared with the twelve hours that we, as assistant(e)s, are expected to do.

March rolled around, and that was when I started taking more weekend trips out from my town. Before, I hadn’t been getting out much, just because of my online Master’s program, my freelance writing side job, and the fact that I wanted to save money for my bigger trips to come in April (and soon-to-be May). However, I decided to let go a bit and actually get out in the month of March, making weekend trips to places such as Rouen, Paris, and Fontainebleau. I celebrated my birthday in the beautiful city of Dijon with some of my flatmates, a weekend getaway enjoying the laid-back Burgundy region with amazing food to boot!

Classes continued, life in France went on, and soon enough, it was the April vacances, aka the final holidays for us assistant(e)s before our contract ended. I spent the first week-and-a-half in Poland, which turned out to be one of my favorite countries to have visited this year, if not ever in Europe! I solo-traveled to places like Warsaw, Gdańsk, and Krakow, as well as made day trips to Auschwitz and Zakopane. I did so much in the ten days I was there, seeing so much, eating and drinking a lot, and overall enjoying a beautiful slice of Central Europe that I hadn’t seen before. Plus, I went under-budget this time, which has never happened before! More on my Polish adventures to come soon…

Now, it’s the last week (heck, last day) of April, and it’s so surreal to believe that another year in France has gone by. So much has happened, but at the same time, not much has happened, either. This year has been interesting for me, just because, well, it’s different from what I was accustomed to last year. While this is not to say that I hated my first year as an assistante, I would have to say that this year has been a lot easier, and generally-speaking, I’ve found myself happier than before. Granted, the anxiety and lack of confidence are still there, but less so. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I’m in a *larger* small town, with other assistant(e)s to talk to and let off steam. I’m grateful for them and our weekly “fête Fridays” drinking and chilling out in our flat complex. Although there have been some fêtes which got rather, erm, messy, I’ve found them extremely therapeutic and a way for me to unwind after a long, stressful week of work. Most of my flatmates have already left, and I know that I’ll miss them dearly.

…so what’s next? My contract’s done, and as an American citizen, I’m required to go back to my country as soon as my visa expires in late May. I’ll actually be traveling a bit more before I return home in mid-May, enjoying as much as I can across the Atlantic until then. I do have plans to return to France the following year, as I’ve already been accepted as an assistante for a third *consecutive* year (which greatly surprised me). However, I’m still waiting to hear back from lectrice d’anglais positions which I also applied to, and I really hope to get an offer soon. If not, I’m fine returning to teach secondary level next year. Anything to return to Europe and travel more, really!

That said, although I’m saying goodbye to France now, I know that I’ll be returning soon. Even though I already know that I’ll be “job-secured” for at least another year, I’m just as uncertain about my future as anyone else out there. However, I’ve learned to accept it. Because even though I know that it won’t be easy and that I’ll struggle I know at the same time, things will turn out fine in the end. Even if it wasn’t what I’d expected it to be.

I’ll keep you updated on the flip side of the Atlantic (and then the other)! Until then, à bientôt!

— Rebecca

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10 thoughts on “Life Update in France #3 (I’m Going Home?!)

  1. It does feel like it’s gone by so quickly! I love solo travel and Poland sounds amazing… adding to my European bucket list! Also wow a third year! Congrats, can’t wait to read more about your French adventures 🙂

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    1. Yes, I feel that this year went by faster than my first year as an assistant! Poland has got to be one of my favorite places in Europe now; definitely go if you can! Have you decided to renew, or are you just planning on returning to the United States?

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      1. Ahaha no renewal for me, but I do have a friend that will be in the Montpellier académie next year so I might come back to see her 🙂 Honestly I don’t know how you second years do it, and then again a third year! It’s truly admirable and wonderful that it works out so well! I just feel like I need to be getting things done back home, so although no plans are solidified, I’m hoping to start making a dent in my professional field of study!

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  2. The winter blues definitely hit me pretty hard this year too – the sun seemed to disappear for weeks on end, and having spent Christmas at home it was hard leaving everyone behind again. Congratulations on being accepted as an assistant again – I didn’t even realise it was possible to be one three times in a row! Have you applied to many lectrice positions?

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    1. Yes, the winter blues seemed to hit everyone; glad that springtime is here and things have gotten cheerier! I didn’t think I would be accepted a third year, let alone a consecutive one, but it happened! I’ve applied to many lectrice positions and have received many rejections, but I’m still continuing to apply for more, hoping to hear back of an interview or an acceptance. We’ll have to see!

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      1. I’m also glad of that – it’s a shame in some ways that the assistant contract runs mostly through the winter, as many assistants leave before the warmer weather returns! Fingers crossed something comes up, I should think with two years’ experience as an assistant you should be in a good position. Though even if it doesn’t, at least this year you’re safe in the knowledge you have a place as an assistant next year 🙂

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  3. glad that you will be back for another 3rd year. I always love reading your posts and seeing where you will travel to next. it’s also interesting and encouraging to hear that your second year was even better and much easier than your first. i wonder how my second year will be ?? but i am looking forward to it and looking forward to more growth in different areas of this experience. have fun traveling in May and have a great summer back home! 🙂

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