January 2016 Recap

*I’m going to try something new on the blog in 2016– a monthly recap of my travels, highs, lows, and the best things I saw/read on the internet this month*

Truth be told, I hate January. It’s no wonder that everyone loses motivation and desire when it comes to fulfilling New Year’s Resolutions just a few days into the game. At least in the northern hemisphere, January is dreary, gloomy, and lacking of sunshine. I didn’t do much in January apart from working and lounging around the house. Besides, it took me a week to recover from jet lag. Alas, here’s a breakdown of my January Recap:

Destinations Traveled:

  • Wisconsin, USA: I rang in New Year’s Eve at my friends’ wedding back in Wisconsin! Congratulations, Shelly and Ben! (By the way, NYE is an awesome time for a wedding– all of your friends and family in the same place for a party!? Nothing better!)


Otherwise, I didn’t go anywhere in January after coming back to France from the United States. I was happy to stay in Lille/Valenciennes and save some money for upcoming travels later this year, as well as to make a decent student loan payment, and put money aside into savings.


  • The Death of Grandpa “Coach” Jerry Bowe: As some may know, my grandfather, Jerry Bowe, passed away on New Year’s Eve (coincidently a day filled with celebration, American football, and cocktails– a few of this favorite things). Unfortunately, my grandfather’s funeral was scheduled for a few weeks after my return to France, so although I didn’t physically attend, I was there in spirit. The first few weeks of January were incredible in the sense of being able to see the outpour of prayers, memories and support shared by my grandfather’s former students, players, and family friends– from this blog, to the obituary pages and Journal Sentinel write-ups, to various pubic Facebook threads with 100+ comments. I would, on behalf of our entire family, like to personally thank each and every person who reached out to our family and attended Coach Bowe’s memorial service– over 800 people and a two-hour long wait outside in the Wisconsin cold just to pay respects and condolences. I always knew that he had made an impact in the community, but I (shamefully) don’t really think I really understood just how much until after his death. He truly built a legacy and an amazing family; I couldn’t be more proud to call him my Grandpa. If you missed the funeral, or are curious, check out his memorial video here!
  • January has been the month of using my voice and speaking out. I’m striving to get better at this. I’m (slowly) learning to talk about things that are bothering me or are making me upset, or even better, to laugh, ignore, and shake my head that things that aren’t worth my time. As I’ve said, I’m trying to be kinder to myself, and take it one day at a time. I’m proud of how I’ve used my voice in January.
  • Goodbye, Christy! Our wonderful roommate, Christy, has packed up her bags and moved back to The Netherlands. It was such a wonderful semester with her at home! We’ll see you soon, Christy! xo
  • Joshua and Valentin got PACSed! My friend Joshua and his partner Valentin tied the knot with a civil union here in France! Congrats, gents!


Overall, I’m in a weird place this month. I’m agitated, unsettled, uneasy, depressed. I have more free time than I’m used to and I can’t quite manage the productivity. I’m not sleeping well, I’m continuing to get various (perhaps stress-related?) insect bites that are painful and swollen, and I haven’t progressed quite as much as I would like on my 1/2 marathon training. On some personal levels I know why I’ve been sad and upset and sleep-deprived and unproductive; I’ve starting taking strides to confront those issues and move past them. But it doesn’t happen over night, and that’s okay. 


  • Lectrice Life: I’m very happy to be back at work! I’ve started two new classes this semester and I really enjoy them. According to the survey that so many of you filled out, you’d like to hear more about my lectrice life at work; I intend to create a new post in the upcoming weeks!
  • Employment: I will have finished my 2-year contract as of this upcoming August. I’m currently trying to figure out what I want to do / where I want to go next. Truth be told, most of my January has been filled with resumés, CV’s, cover letters, and lettres de motivation. I would ideally either like to stay in France as a contractuel teacher, or find a job teaching in an international school in France or the UK. I’m trying not to get too disheartened by the competition and the visa requirements, but sometimes I find myself rocking back and forth in a deep hole of despair. Why is job hunting so soul-sucking? Why doesn’t Europe want me to stay!?

Book Challenge:

I’m trying to complete the Pop Sugar Book Challenge in 2016! So far I’ve only completed one book, but I’ve joined a virtual book club with Blog friends/former TAPIFers Anne from Present Perfect and Hannah from Hannah Goes to France. If you’re interested in joining, click here for details on our first read!

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The only book I’ve managed to read so far (fulfilling the “A Book About a Culture You’re Unfamiliar With” category), Americanah should be required reading for every young adult. Main character Ifemelu is in love with Obinze (or “Ceiling” as she calls him ) when she leaves military-ruled Nigeria for the America. Despite her academic success on the east coast, for the first time in her life, Ifemelu is forced to grapple with what it means to be black. Meanwhile, Obinze finds himself (illegally) in London. Eventually, they both reunite in a more stabilized Nigeria.


If you’re like me and live overseas, be sure to register and send in your Absentee Ballot for the upcoming primary elections!

Good Stuff I’ve Read / Watched / Listened to:

Laci Green- “Abortion Under Attack”: If there is anything you should educate yourself on this month, it’s THIS. Abortion rights and access to safe abortion is under attack in the USA. Watch, educate, and support Planned Parenthood. The best news I’ve heard all month is in regards to the felony charges against the PP video hackers *Happy Dance*.

15 Ways to Be a Better Person in 2016- There are tons of these out there but I really liked this one.

12 Books That Will Turn Any Reader into a Feminist- Need any book challenge ideas?

Why You Need to Vote in the Primary Elections- A great, informative post by my friend, Brita!

Alan Rickman died! Sad times!

Netflix: Is anyone else as pumped up as I am about the revival of Fuller House and Gilmore Girls!? I’m simply over the moon! Otherwise, I’m currently working my way through Army Wives (an old show, I know), and I need to get back into the swing of things with Mad Men (a glorious train wreck).

Amazon Prime: I signed up for a 30-day free subscription in order to watch the first season of the new hit series, Man in the High Castle but have instead found myself watching all six seasons of Sex and the City.

How was your January?



7 thoughts on “January 2016 Recap

  1. So many thoughts!

    First, my condolences on your grandfather. I’m not sure if I offered them on Facebook, or not, but I know you can’t hear enough kind words while grieving.

    I think it’s normal albeit unfortunate not to realize how great our grandparents are until after their death. I remember attending the memorial service for a beloved older woman in my town, a former neighbor of mine who I would regularly visit after school or on the weekends. I always admired her for her humor, her kindness, and her intelligence, but only at her memorial service did I realize how much she had contributed to the people of our hometown.

    I had similar thoughts when my paternal grandmother died. I had no idea how involved she had been with our community as a young/middle-aged woman! I only knew her as my grandmother, the woman who baked me separate chocolate chip cookies because I couldn’t eat nuts, the woman who always had a stash of new lipsticks in her purse to give to her friends & family.

    You should totally apply to work at the international lycée in Saint-Germain-en-laye. My first cousin once removed and his wife live there! She’s both a teacher & a principal in the American primary section. When I was an au pair in Le Vésinet, my kids went through the British section of the school.

    It’s okay to be in a weird place and take time to sort that out. I did my version of that in December. I spent most of the month crying, sleeping, eating, drinking, and watching TV. Luckily it was just a temporary shitty month for grief, and I’ve slowly bounced back to my “new normal” (which still involves random bouts of crying, but at least I’m no longer sleeping 12 hours a day).

    Thanks for linking to me. 😀

    1. Brita! Thank you very much for your kind words and thoughts! I appreciate it!

      On a professional note would it be possible for me to contact your family member in regards to employment opportunities (visas, etc) at her school? Would you be able to put us in touch on linked in or by email, for example? Thanks so much!

    2. Hi Brita! I tried writing a longer comment but it didn’t go through for some reason.

      I think it’s so humbling learning about our grandparents. Yours certainly sounded amazing. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement on being in a weird place. i can’t imagine what you’re going through. ❤

      Thanks for the work advice– I'll contact you on fb! 🙂 xo

  2. Dana,
    Well done, as usual! I love that you are giving yourself time to deal with whatever issues you are struggling with. So many people think everything should be better NOW and cause themselves even more problems. Stay strong and believe in yourself…I sure do!

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