My two month France-iversary crept up on me this past week. This past month has been amazing, but it has also been a huge adjustment. Thanks to some personal changes I have begun to make, as well as the wonderful connections and the people I’ve met in Toulon, I am in a much happier place right now than I was a few weeks ago. I reached a breaking point last week during vacation, and even worse, I was beating myself up about it. “Dana, you basically quit everything to move abroad. You are in France living your dream, doing what you love; you should be happy all the time! Why are you feeling like this!?”
It was then that I remembered one of my favorite travel bloggers wrote a post entitled Happiness is Booking the Ticket. Christine quotes,
“[…] I knew I wasn’t doing everything in my power to be happy. Basically as soon as I hit publish on that post, I realized there was plenty that I could do to shift my attitude through my actions–so I did.” ~Christine Amorose
Later in her article, Christine quotes,
“Travel is still what rejuvenates and recharges me.” ~Christine Amorose
And then I remembered my goals for doing this program.
- Perfect my French/integrate into the French culture
- Teach, and have this program be a gateway into a career abroad
And then I remembered some of the things that make me happiest:
- My friends and family
- My own personal guilty pleasures
Finally, I spoke with some assistants, and learned that I was not alone! Most assistant blogs that I have come across only focus on the positive things; but these feelings of doubt, unhappiness, uncertainty, and yes, homesickness, are completely normal, and common! So, I then took into account some great advice given to me by a former assistant when I talked to her about how I was feeling:
“Once I stopped trying so hard, everything worked out better, and I became happier. I just did what I wanted to do, and if someone followed and came with me, awesome. If not, well, that was okay too.” ~Julia
So, just as Christine, Liz, and my friend changed their attitudes, so I did I. I called my family and friends, I watched two episodes of Glee, I downloaded a new book, I went out for a few drinks with my new friends, I rocked out to some seasonal holiday tunes, and I started looking into places to move. Finally, I had a good night’s sleep.
And then, I did a couple of other things:
- Booked some trips!!! (see below)
- Went to a Yoga class and a Body Pump class
- Started brainstorming different options for next year
I immediately felt better after exercising, and quickly reminded myself that even though I bike to work everyday, going to the gym more often is something I need to continue doing to be happy. Additionally, I always feel joyful and fulfilled after spending time with my new friends here in Toulon, especially when we speak French– I am so grateful for the wonderful people I have met so far. Even so, talking to my friends back home and indulging in some good old American television does the heart good from time to time. But, I felt even better after booking a few trips. Because let’s face it: Everyone is here doing TAPIF for different reasons, and I am here to travel. Traveling is my number one goal here in France, whether I travel solo or with another person, even if it means I have to miss out on a few nights out, and even if it means I’m not doing what everyone else is doing.
So, here are some of my upcoming set travel plans:
- Nov. 9-10: Marseille, France (I’m going to see Mamma Mia in French!)
- Nov. 11: Cannes, France (I’m going to visit my host mom!)
- Nov. 30-Dec. 1: Aix-en-Provence, France (I’m going to celebrate Thanksgiving with a family friend!)
- Dec. 7-9: Lyon, France (I’m going to see Le Festival Des Lumières!)
- Dec.20-23: Strasbourg, France (I’m going to experience the famous Christmas Markets!)
- December 23- Jan. 1: Caen, France & Paris, France
- March 2-7: Istanbul, Turkey
- April 18-21: Paris, France
- May 6-19: Italy
Last week, I re-watched the first episode of Season 4 of Glee. Rachel had just moved to New York, something she has wanted to do for her whole life. But, she wasn’t happy. She sat down and had a sort of pep talk with her new friend, Brody. She confessed to him, “I sort of feel like I’m going to throw up all the time,” to which he responded, “Well, that’s because you’re becoming a different person. That’s why you came to New York… to be that new and improved girl.”
Just as Rachel pushed through those are times at first, so did I. Hopefully I am becoming that new and improved person, too. I’m in France, and I’m doing it my way. Here’s to a fantastic next few months.