As of two weeks ago, I can say that I’m *officially* done with my first year as a lectrice d’anglais. Following a three-week vacation all over Europe, I returned to France to proctor rattrapages (make-up exams for students who’d failed English this past year) and otherwise to sort out renewal logistics for the upcoming year. I would say that it’d been both busy and not busy, which made for an interesting combination.
Any case, I had a lovely time traveling to several European countries in May and early June. I hit the extreme corners of the continent, from chilly Iceland to warm Croatia, along with the Balkan countries (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia) and Venice. Plenty of great and crazy adventures in between, but I’ll save the stories for later posts– thankfully, I didn’t let some mishaps deter me from enjoying myself. More travel posts of my adventures to come very soon!
Returning to France was kind of a downer, because it was dreary skies (again). Especially coming from the hot, sunny temperatures of Croatia, I wasn’t so keen on being back in town. At least I can say that the place is much quieter now, as the semester had ended for university students, so many of them are gone (no running into them anytime soon!). I also had a few gatherings, even parties, with some of my expat friends, some whom are *sadly* leaving within the next few months. Bittersweet, but also great memories.
Speaking of memories, I’ll say that this year has been quite the ride. I was wrong in believing that, having had two years of being in France under my belt, I would be much more able to handle whatever was thrown at me. What I hadn’t anticipated was the struggle to adjust to a different region in the country, as I was going from Normandy to the Rhône-Alpes. More so was the fact of living in a small city– definitely bigger than the previous towns I’d live in, but still much too small for me. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I really need to live in a big city, where I don’t know everyone and can be anonymous.
I’ve always had a hard time being social. I’m grateful this year for having a larger social circle to rely on, even if most are expats and I mostly spoke English to them. Definitely can say I’ve gotten better at putting myself out there, and I’ve made some good friends this year. From nearly-weekly pub hangouts to house parties, I’ve attended my fair share and enjoyed myself on the way.
I’ve also had some roommate issues this year. To start, I’d decided to go with a colocation, as it was less expensive than living on my own. I hadn’t done it since college, but I didn’t mind as long as I paid less for rent. Over the months of living, however, I’ve come to realize that I do prefer my own place. The first two to three months were tenuous, as I found myself really uncomfortable living with one of my roommates, who was an absolute nightmare. Thankfully, she (along with another) moved out in late November, followed by a couple who moved in early December. Then it was apparent that the couple and the roommate who’d been around since September didn’t get along at all, which caused the latter to move out by the end of January. Since then, two new roommates moved in and, while not perfect, things have been better.
Granted, despite having such a tumultuous roommate year, I’m still choosing to stay in the same flat for next year. The two roommates who’d arrived in February will be leaving in July, and my other roommate (also a lectrice) will be staying on. I’m hoping for an easier time next year with the roommates who’ll take over, as I’m pretty sure that the agence (in charge of the flat) has had a headache dealing with it all, as much as myself.
Teaching university students is certainly a whole new ball-game compared with that of collège and lycée students. At least in my school, I really don’t find the students particularly engaged or interested in English, as they’re science students. It’s been frustrating, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to give up at times. I suppose what’s kept me going is my amazing, supportive colleagues and the efficiency of handling administrative/logistic affairs. Plus, the vacation breaks are long and rewarding, which is why I’m returning for a second year.
From this year and all of its events, I’ve come to realize that teaching really isn’t for me, at least not in France. I will say that, at this point in my expat career, I have a love-hate relationship with the country, and I’m at a crossroad as to whether I want to stay or return to the U.S. at the end of next year. It’s a matter of what kind of job I find: in other words, if I can find a *non-teaching* job in a big city in France, then I would choose to stay– if not, I suppose I’ll take my career elsewhere, back to the U.S. or somewhere else. Asia has interested me for some time, so that’s also a possibility– who knows, really?
As you’re reading this now, I’m preparing to return to the U.S. for the summer. I’m flying out from Paris back to Los Angeles, although I’ll have less than 48 hours to rest in the comforts of my home before my family and I head out on vacation somewhere else in the world. Basically, we’re going to South America! It’ll be my first time on the continent, but I really can’t wait– I won’t let my jet-lag from France stop me from having fun! Will keep you updated on my adventures there.
I’ll be returning to France sometime in August before my visa expires, and then it’s figuring out the complications of “staying legal” in France and starting another school year. Many people have told me that the second year as a lectrice is much easier, and I’m hoping that it will be. Besides teaching and deciding what to do after next year, I’m also really looking forward to traveling again, as I did manage to travel quite a bit this past year, as much as I’d done my first year in France. There are so many places I want to see in Europe, and I’ll make this upcoming year count even more.
More updates to come soon, and I can’t wait to share them with you! Thanks for reading– à bientôt!