Thanks to Sara, a fellow Wisconsinite in France, for nominating me for the “Sunshine Bloggers Award,” which is for bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. She has written ten questions for me, so, without further ado, here are my answers!
- Why did you decide to start studying French?
I always knew I wanted to study a foreign language. In 7th grade, I spent six weeks testing out French, Spanish, and German. Long story short, French was my favorite, so I enrolled in French I in eighth grade. My mom was (is) also a French teacher so that meant I had a bit of exposure to the language and culture as a child, but was never pressured or forced to study it. Afterwards, I just really liked learning French and learning about other cultures outside of the United States. I did a study abroad to Caen during my sophomore year of college, and that confirmed my desire to teach it.
2. What are some things you do to work to improve your French?
Funnily enough, I was talking to my friend Rebecca about this recently, and I have to be honest… nothing. I am an American living in France, and I speak English the majority of the time. I live alone, I read English books, I watch English or American TV, I have a lot of Anglophone friends, my social media is mostly in English, and I teach exclusively in English. My students speak to me exclusively in English and half of my colleagues are also Anglophone. But– I live in France. When I am out doing my daily activities, shopping, running errands, etc., I use French. I interact with parents and colleagues in French and I do have francophone friends with whom I correspond in French. I know there are areas I still need to improve on or invest more time in, but for now, after having spent five years in France, it’s all I’m willing to do.
3. Where are your favorite places you have traveled?
The most beautiful place I’ve ever traveled to is hands down, Santorini, Greece. I just love Greece and am dying to return. I also really liked Portugal, Copenhagen, and the South of France. In regards to cities, I never grow tired of London, and Paris.
4. What is your dream job?
Frankly, I am almost there, at 27! I want to teach French (or ESL) at an international school in London. Right now, I’m an English Language and Literature teacher at an international school in Lille, France– so I am getting closer! For the moment, I am still very challenged and quite enjoy my current position (really, I am surprised by how much I love literature), so I don’t plan to leave just yet. (Plus, I have a great work-life balance, and lots of vacation.) I am also close to qualifying for French citizenship, which may or may not make it easier to eventually hop across the channel on a permanent basis.
5. Do you consider yourself a “leader”?
I’ve thought long and hard about this question and decided to answer it last, despite it being #5 on the list. I think I’d say, “Yes,” I consider myself a leader because I try to lead by example with my students, friends, family, colleagues, etc. In situations where I used to just bite my tongue, I find myself speaking out a bit more. I try to think about the person I was ten years ago and the person I want to remember myself being in 10 years from now– and I try to mimic that behavior.
6. What is one goal you have for 2018?
I saw an amazing quote from Expat Edna on her post “Realistic Resolutions for 2018”, and I want to steal it and incorporate it into my life. She quotes, “To health, wealth, and minimal heartbreak.”
In regards to my health, I’ve managed to complete “Dry January” and I am doing well with not bringing my screen to bed (woo hoo!) My sleep has undoubtedly improved. As the year strides on I am going to also try a month without refined sugar to see if that helps me clear up my skin and decrease the two kilos or so I’ve managed to put on throughout the past year.
In regards to my wealth, my goal is simple: Save more money. I’m traveling to Nepal on my own dime this month, but besides that I plan to mostly stick around the north of France. Living on my own has resulted in increased living expenses and a lot more budgeting. As a single person with no dependents my income taxes are extremely high in France which has also resulted in careful budgeting, as France doesn’t withhold from individual paychecks. I have finally set up a company-sponsored pension to which I contribute every month; my goal is to have a six-month emergency fund saved up by the end of the year.
And in regards to minimal heartbreak… well, let’s just say, I’m working on that. My love life (or struggles with my love life) is just about the one thing I keep off the blog. Although I’ve hinted mostly about struggles in the past, this is something I’ve been working on over the past few years. I have goals, or things I’m trying to work through, but those are mostly things I’ve been keeping to myself (or amongst close, real-life friends.)
7. Do you prefer to spend time alone or with others?
I am without a doubt a people-person, but I have noticed a large increase in my introvert-ism over the past two years or so. I find I need more alone time than I once did and I crave solitude. I enjoy living on my own and look forward to nights where I can indulge in Netflix and a glass of wine.
8. What inspires you?
I am so easily inspired. Lately, it’s been all of my fellow gymnasts who have come forward during the Larry Nassar case. I feel so inspired and uplifted by every single woman and girl who has come forward to share her story in support of the #MeToo movement. I remember feeling like the “well at least it’s not rape” mentality in regards to sex was the best I deserved or the best I could get, and how crappy and hopeless that made me feel in regards to my love life or long-term relationships. I am so, so relieved to know that so many of us know we, as men and women, deserve better.
9. What is one thing you are great at, and one thing you are not good at?
Things I am good at (I think / hope): teaching, following through, reflecting, admitting my own faults, reaching out, keeping in touch, being a good friend, traveling, organizing, planning, being culturally sensitive, gymnastics, yoga, running, diving…
Things I’m not good at (but am working on): Expressing my feelings, sleeping eight hours without waking up, singing in tune, resting, saying no.
10. What is one travel goal you have?
In 2019, I would love to do a trip to South Africa or Southeast Asia during my summer holidays. I would also not say no to returning to Japan.
Thanks for the nomination, Sara!