I’m a teacher, which means my interpretation of when exactly the year “begins” (September) and “finishes” (June) is slightly different from the rest of the Western world. It’s hard to fathom that we are already a solid month into classes. Unfortunately, with the annual back-to-school kickoff comes the lingering, stomach-churning question– “Will this be my last French rentrée?”
I am trying to make a constant effort to live “in the now” instead of always worrying about the next thing, but lately I haven’t been able to help it. Living in a place where you need a visa to work, sometimes it’s impossible not to always be planning out the next move. This is my third year teaching and living in France; I’ve completed one year as an assistante and will have done two as a lectrice. When it comes to staying in France to teach, unless I want to be an assistante again I am basically out of options, except if I wanted to sign up for the CAPES-CAFEP (the Master’s program to prepare for the concours, highly competitive exam to teach in France’s private schools, as I am American and do not have the right to teach in the public sector), or am miraculously hired at one of the American/British International Schools with my US teaching degree AND am sponsored a visa, I’ll be out of options.
Needless to say, I’m trying to find an appropriate balance between enjoying this year as well as starting to apprehensively think towards the next one. I am in a good place; I am already settled and established in France as well as at work, but I’ve been given more responsibilities this year, including planning and executing an 18-hour curriculum for Master’s students. I’m comfortable with the right amount of challenge, which I enjoy.
It’s a bit of a shame, really, because after changing cities and moving from one place to the next no less than five times in the last two years, I’ve really come to like Lille, and have started to make it my home. In all honesty I wish I could be a lectrice for a little while longer, but I suppose it will be good to be forced to move on, instead of becoming too comfortable. As of now, there are quite a few cards on the table, including:
- Obtaining QTS status in the UK (basically, changing my US teaching degree to a UK equivalent and applying to work in England’s schools).
- Attending international teaching recruitment fairs in London
- Moving to teach in South Korea with EPIK
- Trying to stay and teach in France (private schools, contractuel positions)
I guess, no matter what I decide to do or where I decide to go, I hope that if and when I do leave France, it will be my choice; that I will leave with the feeling of satisfaction, dignity, and closure– having felt that I had come to France with a goal in mind and achieved it. I don’t want to leave kicking and screaming, begging the border controllers to let me stay, or, even worse, feeling that I had grossly and desperately overstayed my welcome. If and when I leave France, want to walk out on my own terms, my head held high with no regrets. For the moment, only time will tell.