It has been over seven months since I last posted a “Life Update” on this blog. It has also been almost six months since I left France indefinitely to return to the US. Plenty of things– the good and the bad– have happened since coming back, and I’m dedicating this post to recounting them all.
Following the end of my teaching semester in early May, I spent the next two-and-a-half months traveling like crazy all over Europe. As it was my second and final year under my contract as a lectrice d’anglais (as well as also not having another job lined up afterwards), I chose to treat myself to this long break from work, all the while still being in Europe and still getting paid under my contract until August to fund for my trips. I went all over, from Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia) to Turkey to northern Spain to the south of France. I also spent some time back in Paris, where I got to see the 14 juillet fireworks after five years. It was a solid time spent, as I saw so much, ate a lot, and overall fulfilled my love for travel.
Heading home was extremely difficult for me. Not only was it because I’d spent four years of my life abroad, but also I didn’t get proper closure before leaving. Reverse culture shock was horrible, and it took me over three months just to get even remotely used to being back home for good– even almost half a year later, I’m still trying to adjust. Still trying to get over the fact that car culture is prevalent (especially in LA), sales tax not being included is annoying, and just how brash and capitalistic people are here. Guess my years living in France (a rather socialist country) has made it hard to readjust to the capitalistic mindset in the US.
Besides getting used to being home, I was also dealing with other personal issues. One was a family health problem, which was actually the reason why I had to return earlier from France than expected. The other was getting a job, now that my lectrice contract was over. I actually had a tentative job offer to teach in China, which would’ve been exciting, but I ended up turning it down due to the family health issue. I was quite bitter about that for a while, but now I realize that I’d made the right choice: if I had taken the job, I would’ve been very unhappy, and even more so.
I was unemployed for about one-and-a-half to two months, as I struggled to find a job. The job hunt proved especially challenging, because I was choosing to make a career change in a competitive job market. I realized that I didn’t want to teach anymore, and not only was I trying to figure out what I wanted to do instead, but also if there were jobs that I qualified for in those fields.
Not knowing what I wanted to do, as well as being unable to find jobs I had experience and qualifications for, was soul-crushing. Even if I hadn’t been unemployed for that long, those few months were agonizing, as I stayed mostly at home with my family and didn’t do much aside from job hunting. Being unemployed was a first for me, as I’d had consistently held down jobs since I was in college. Coupled that with family health issues and no longer traveling, I was miserable and seriously hating my life.
Thankfully, I got a job in October, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Basically, I work at the airport, which is cool as it pertains to my love for travel. It pays decently, and I’m blessed not to have to pay for rent or car insurance while living at home, so that I can save up for the future. I even started a savings account to rack up money for retirement, as well as learning to properly budget my earnings for gas, parking fees, and leisure. I’ve also put aside some money during each paycheck for travel, whenever my next adventure will be.
That’s basically it. I’m back in the US and otherwise working a regular job. It’s clock-in, clock-out five days a week, about 30-35 hours each. I don’t intend to do this current job for the long-term, but rather I consider it as a “break” while making my career change from teaching. My next goal is to find a full-time position in the government, which might not be my “dream job,” but it’s a solid career with better work-life balance and pension than private companies otherwise.
I admit, I still get bouts of self-doubt, worries, and sadness from time to time, but I’ve learned just to take it one day at a time. I’m still young, and I have time to find a job that’s stable and that I can relatively be fine with. Returning to the US and working here has changed me somewhat, as I’m learning to take life slower– even enjoying the day-to-day routine of work, eat, and sleep. I’m learning to enjoy my family’s company even more, especially after being away from them for years, as well as my close friend’s.
My early-mid twenties in France were all about travels and adventures every day and, even if I dearly miss my time there, I know that I can always go back some day to visit. I knew after my first year abroad that I couldn’t envision myself living in France long-term (let alone become a French citizen), and that the US will always remain my home. Again, I have time to figure things out, to get a stable, full-time job, and to save up for big trips later on down the line. I already have plans to take a few days off in March for my birthday to travel domestically, as I haven’t really seen as much of the US as I had with Europe. Even small trips are rewarding in themselves!
That said, my time in France has come to a close for now. Even if I don’t live there anymore and no longer travel a lot, I still have a lot to say on this blog. There remains my trips to northern Spain, and southwest France to recount, and I reckon they’ll take this blog until the first quarter of 2020. It’s incredible just how the 2010’s have flown by, let alone my time abroad. With a career change and life back in the US, I guess you could say that I’m hitting “Reset” on life and trying something new. The idea kind of scares me, but I know that everything will turn out fine in the end.
This isn’t the end, but rather the beginning.