It’s been a while since my last “Life Update” (back in January, I believe?), but in any case, I’m writing to keep you up-to-date with what has been going on in my life since then. From returning from my long winter holidays to teaching second semester at the university, a lot has happened…and at the same time, not so much.
As you know, I’ve just wrapped up my second semester, i.e. first year, teaching as a lectrice d’anglais in France. I actually finished teaching and giving final exams to my first-year students back in early April, but I still had to teach my second years until the end of the month– it wasn’t until the first week of May that I finished with them with their final exams, and I spent last week grading everything. I finalized their grades and have since submitted them to administration. In other words, I’m free until the start of June, when I have to proctor les rattrapages (“make up exams”) for the university. All the same, it’s freedom!
I would be lying if I said that the winter blues didn’t hit me full-force earlier this year. Having lived in France for two winters prior to this one, I knew it would be hard, but I guess I was naive to assume that, because of experience, it wouldn’t affect me as much. Wrong I was, as I found February and March to be really trying on my mental health. I chose not to go anywhere for the February vacances, which in hindsight was a mistake, as I found myself lounging around in my flat doing absolutely nothing except drinking wine and watching Netflix shows. While perhaps one or two days of loafing around isn’t so bad, I spent the entire week doing that, which made me all the more depressed. At least I discovered some new shows online, but as for my social life, it was virtually nil.
I guess even my expat friends were feeling the winter blues, as our weekly bar meetings that we had in September and October reduced to once-a-month meetups. While it was good for my budget, it was also quite lonesome, as we didn’t really hang out as much. I also got new roommates starting in February, both Spanish stagiaires who are really nice, although I wouldn’t say that we’re very close– at least the roommate drama which had plagued the flat previously was over!
Work-wise, I started my second semester of teaching. Compared to the previous semester, when I only taught second years, I was teaching a mix of first and second years, all the while having a *slightly* heavier schedule. From my English-teaching career in France so far, I have to say that this past semester was probably the most-challenging I’ve had, although I’m sure it could be much worse.
Teaching first years was a real struggle, as I had to face class upon class of students who constantly misbehaved, didn’t do work, and otherwise complained when I gave them in-class assignments to do. Maturity and concentration levels were unbelievably abysmal, and at times, I asked myself if it was really worth renewing my contract to stay and teach students who behaved so badly. Likewise, my second years weren’t as great as those from the previous semester– while they did have a better level of English and work ethic than first years, they were still quite weak at the language. Attendance rates fluctuated greatly, and while I didn’t take it personally when they didn’t show up, it showed me just how French students differ from what I knew as a university student in the United States.
That said, I spent most of my time in February and March wallowing in my distaste for French students. Thing did start to look up in late March, though, when I did a weekend getaway to Avignon to celebrate my birthday at a fellow lectrice. It was a short stay, but it was what I needed since I hadn’t traveled outside of my city since January. I also spent a week in Paris during the April vacances, as a sort of last-minute trip to see my parents who happened to be there, and I enjoyed my time revisiting and falling in love with the French capital again while under the warm, spring sun.
Back in February, I wouldn’t have guessed that I would arrive at this point in the year, especially when I was really having a hard time. I guess having incentives to keep going were helpful, as I ended up booking flights and accommodations to more European destinations upon returning from Prague, as I just really wanted to get out of France (more specifically, my city) to keep my sanity. I booked them for the month of May and June, once I finished teaching second semester, and that was what kept me going.
In regards to teaching in France, my contract allows me to stay another year– as I’d mentioned earlier in this post, I had debated whether it was worth a second year as a lectrice d’anglais, especially after dealing with so much crap from students this past semester. I have since decided to stay– selfish as it sounds, I want to prolong my time in France to travel more, all the while continue to find other opportunities afterwards. At this point, I know that teaching isn’t for me, and I hope to have another year to discover just what I can do after my contract ends.
As of today, I’m on a *long* vacation, similar to the one I did between November and January after my first semester of teaching. I’ll be busy moving from place to place, but I’ll be scheduling posts while I’m gone. I’m eager to share more of my adventures with you once I return. Really excited for what’s in store, as I’ll be visiting places that I haven’t otherwise– until then, enjoy what’s to come on the blog!
Thanks for reading my ramblings, and I’ll catch up with you soon!