Speaking French, Saying Goodbye, and My Future

Life has been crazy busy lately. And I love it. I have always been someone who thrives off of being busy. It is incredible the limited amount of time you have when you work 40 hours a week. I alluded to it in a past post but I honestly do not have time to do laundry/clean my flat/go grocery shopping… you know the basic necessities of life. And now that I am friends with au pairs again it seems I have fallen into the routine of being responsible during the week and acting like a 20-something during the weekend. Two lives are quite tough to fit into one week. On top of this, I am now going to French class 3 times a week. Although my schedule is tiring, I am excited to get back into class.  My French skills are splotchy… I thought I wrote better than I spoke but my enrolment test told me otherwise. Probably because my specialty is business emails. I just need to have confidence in my speaking. It will come. But class will also help with the rules I don’t get when speaking at work or with my French friends so I am looking forward to it. I do have to say I am quite impressed how far I have come. From knowing nothing to being able to understand and hold a conversation without taking very many classes is pretty good I think. I do wish that my last year was more like the how it is now because then I would be much more progressed. I would say 90 percent of my French ability has been achieved in the last 6 months. So it is a bit of a shame that the other year I was here lacked in very much progress.

It is really weird to think about life any other way now. I think that is why I have so much anxiety about going home. I really, truly love it here. It just feels right. And I love all the people I meet and all the things I am learning.

The more I hang out with and interact with the French, the more I like them. The American culture and the French culture are so very different—which at first can be quite difficult to get over or understand. Even people that come here for a short time get their opinions based on the limited interactions and make their generalizations (which in French people’s defense, it is unfair to base all your opinions on Parisiens—they are not the vrai français. I have to say it did take a long time. I have always loved France but the differences in culture made warming up to the French a difficult task.

A few of my friends are leaving this week. Goodbyes are something you have to accept as an expat. And as much as I wish they got easier, they don’t. Because I am one of the rare few that has decided to stay longer than a year, I have had to go through various waves of goodbyes. Each one just as difficult. Two of my friends that are leaving was not by choice but rather by the iron fist that France has around issuing visas right now. Although I have been through a rocky road and worked my ass off to get where I am now, I still feel lucky that it managed to work out. It is awful to get something you want to get taken from you with no control over it. I guess this is the reality of trying to live in another country. It still is really sad how incredibly difficult it is to move here or find a job.

My good friend was asking me what I think I will do after this. I have a work visa for a year and I have the option of extending it. But, as sad as it is, I am not sure I have the energy to go through another visa process here in France. I think the last time just about destroyed me. I am not sure. I have no idea where I will be in a year. As of now, I love my life here. I am enjoying it so much and I would never change it. But, I know this isn’t a forever thing. I think next year I want to move somewhere else. I haven’t fully decided what continent I want that somewhere else to be but I think I will be ready to move on. Not because I don’t like France, but because this experience was so rewarding and I want another opportunity to do it again.

I have been looking in to a bunch of things—nothing too serious yet. Masters programs, immersion programs, jobs, etc. I actually even looked into jobs in the states. If I move back, I want to do something that involves travel. I was researching international event planning and it seems I need to know Spanish for the most part. Now, I do know a bit—as in I can get by or tell my friend Christy that the Spanish bartender is actually hitting on her and not just being friendly—but clearly not enough to land me a job. So, I think that’s my next endeavour… anyone in for a Spanish immersion program?? But really… how cool would it be to put French AND Spanish on my CV… German next…

The point is. I am not done experiencing things before settling down. And I don’t just mean the whole husband, house, kids sh**. I mean I am not ready to go back to what I know. I want to be challenged more, learn more, grow more.

So where am I going to be next year? No clue. But I am sure it will be awesome 🙂

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Je déteste mon école…

It is required for au pairs to be enrolled in language courses. Makes sense. Why else would I pick up and move to France? Obviously learning the language is a large part of why one becomes an au pair.

However, what I dont want to do is spend an absurd amount of money for classes that are not making me feel good about spending that absurd amount of money.

La Clef. My inadequate and disgustingly overpriced school. I HATE this place. Yes, I am using the word hate. There is a huge feeling of animosity that sweeps over me when I enter this “place of study” (and I use that term extremely loosely). Au pairs make next to nothing for pay and this school knows that. They also know they are the only school that offers French courses in the area. Supply and demand. Therefore, they find it necessary to not only over price their classes but also make them at inconvenient times. Problem 1.

Problem 2. I am sorry and this may sound extremely American but here I go…. If you are running an international school, I think having at least 1 staff member speak another language besides French it might be helpful. Someone like me, let’s say, knew no French coming here. Therefore, I am paying the school an exuberant amount of money to teach me. ok. good. on the same page. but wait, you need to know French to get anything done at the school…. hmmmm? I understand now, now that I have taken classes there and have a basic understanding of French why we would converse in French. But before, this doesn’t make much sense.

Problem 3. Hey La Clef. You are dealing with au pairs. You need to be flexible. A lot of us leave. A lot of us have families that demand we miss class. A lot of us get sick and need to miss class. These are all things that would be helpful to understand and sympathize with.

Problem 4. If I want to leave the country or get employed with a real job making it physically impossible to attend classes, my money should be returned. Plain and simple.

Problem 5. If you are going to charge that much for classes, perhaps you should make them worth it. Maybe I shouldn’t have to spend hours and hours outside of class to feel like I am learning French. There is probably one or two classes a month I feel like I get my money’s worth. Thank you.

Ok. I am sorry for all my bitching but I had to let out my frustration and complete hatred for this place. Nothing has been easy and yes this is France but c’mon people. I am paying you so much money. Try and be nice. Dont even have to be nice, lets just start with how about you teach me French?