I originally started blogging in order to create a helpful and informative TAPIF blog as well as to record my travels during my “Year in France”. However, as time has passed on, the style and purpose of my blog has shifted. I have also realized that I simply like having a dedicated space where records of my life have been documented over the past few years. One of my favorite parts of this blog is going back and reading my old stories, glancing through old photos, and seeing how I’ve evolved. Although this blog holds (many) of the bigger events in my life, I’d like to start recording the little, daily things that make me, well, me: books I’m reading, restaurants I’m trying, TV shows I’m watching, and things I’m doing.
I’m honestly and truly not exactly sure how it could possibly be April. Seriously, what happened to February? And where did March wander off to? I feel like I say this every month, but the last fifty-nine+ days have really just flown by. As of current, my blog has been put on the back burner– I’m struggling to keep up with my grading and lesson planning at work, but luckily we are starting our downwards decent—with the Bac Blanc this week and vacation creeping around the corner in a few weeks’ time. In a nutshell, February and March have been pretty good months—but I’ve had some personal ups and downs. Here’s the best (and worst) of February and March 2018:
- Kathmandu, Nagarkot, Bandipur, and Pokhara, Nepal: I went on a life-changing trip to Nepal with five wonderful colleagues plus two other kickass women at the end of February and into mid-March. Long story short, our school has ties with a school in the village of Nagarkot, for which our students have managed to raise enough money to fund a five-year lunch program for the students at that Nepali school (we are currently on year 3/5.) However, on the 2015 student trip, the devastating earthquake struck. Thankfully, no one was hurt from our student group, but the school hasn’t run a student-trip since. One of my colleagues and friends, Rebecca, decided to introduce some of us female colleagues to Nepal this past February with hopes of rekindling a kind of project within our school. We took a ten-day trip, and before this, I had never been to this part of the world, knew little-to-nothing about the country or Nepali culture, and didn’t really know what to expect. I had met some of the employees of Himalayan Voluntourism when they paid a visit our school in France this past May, so it was reassuring to see a few familiar faces. Overall, it was a fantastic experience, and I learned so much—as well as grew as a person. I can’t wait to share more photos with you as well as figure out what direction our school’s project will take over the next few months and years.
- Paris, France: I visited Paris twice in one week at the end of March, both times for work—once for the ELSA (English Language Schools Association) France Conference, and once to chaperone the Poetry by Heart finals competition. One of our Terminale students did an amazing, fantastic job, and it was inspiring to see young students performing poetry in their own ways and interpretations.
- Lille, France: Besides Nepal and two day trips to Paris, I stuck around Lille for the majority of February and March. One of my formerly favorite bars has since closed and re-opened into an English pub—perfect for those nights when I’m missing London!
Mom and I in Lille’s Grande Place
- Dunkerque, France: I celebrated Carnaval for the second time this past February with a mixture of different friends. It was a bit different this time around as we just did the day in Dunkirk, but it was equally plenty fun. Overall, we had a great time. The downside to this Carnaval was, of course, the abundance of ‘justified’ Black Face that still runs rampant in France, as well as the homosexual slurs being chanted in abundance by the ‘manliest’ of French men.
Roses and Thorns
- Mom: The best part of March was of course having my mom here! As a French teacher in the US, she runs a student trip every other year to France (see: 2014, 2016). Typically, the students spend five days in a host family and then four days in Paris. This time round, the students’ families were placed in Lille, so my mom could stay with me in my new apartment! I was completely spoiled, with trips to IKEA, to HEMA, and other discount stores. Thanks to my mom, I have new sheets, and towels, other random household items for my flat, as well as a new pair of jeans and several new tops (plus a fully stocked fridge, and many goodies from the USA!) It was awesome showing my mom my life in Lille and having her meet my colleagues and friends, especially since the last time she was here I had only just made the move from Valenciennes. I know the city much better now since I’ve made it my home, and am in an overall much happier place than I was in July-August 2015.
- Julia: My friend Julia, whom I met in Toulon but now lives in Egham, came to visit from the UK for a weekend in February! We have some mutual friends here in Lille, so it was great to have some mini reunions and go to Trivia Night, as well as introduce her to the craziness that is Carnaval in le nord—especially when you compare it to the civility that are the parades in Nice.
- Turning 28: I turned 28 on March 16th—a couple of my friends (Jeff! Denise!) organized a mini-surprise party at a chic cocktail bar in Vieux Lille. It was an awesome new discovery (The Joker for you fellow lillois) and just such a nice night spent my friends. I will admit, I am freaking out a bit about being this close the other side of 30… in some ways I think I am doing awesome.. in others, I wish my situation were different (ie: relationship status; financial cushion). On the bright side, 28 feels a lot better than 22—I really am enjoying the late twenties and like who I am as a person much more. I hope to soon write a more detailed an personal post about my journey through my twenties.
- Taiso: I’ve started a new exercise class with my friend Rebecca called Taiso– I go every Saturday morning, and although it’s different than something I’ve ever done, it does get me up and moving every Saturday at 9:30. Now, I really just have to be a bit more rigorous about reintegrating yoga and running into my weekly schedule.
- Food Poisoning: The day after I returned from Nepal (where I, mind you, never drank the water, never had ice in my drinks, and brushed my teeth from water bottles), I got food poisoning—from a WELSH (a traditional northern France dish.) I knew the welsh tasted funny, and that the fries were undercooked. I knew it was fishy when I couldn’t even manage to drink my beer. Needless to say I hurled for about 12 hours overnight and spent all of Saturday lying horizontal on my couch watching Queer Eye.
- Mom: I’ve pinpointed that the most difficult part of expat life isn’t homesickness– it’s saying goodbye. Whether that be Mom going home, me coming back to France and leaving the USA– it doesn’t get any easier. If anything, it has gotten harder as I’ve become more settled and secure here. Additionally, I’ve had to miss a lot of milestone events in my friends’ lives back home over the past two years especially– most notably engagements, weddings, births, and my upcoming ten-year class reunion. It’s been hard feeling the string between friends growing longer and longer. It’s scary.
- Weight Gain and Insecurities: I’m trying to make peace with the fact that I’m not too satisfied with my body at the current moment. I used to have a lot of body image issues, so I’m really not into dieting. Instead, I’m trying to just simply listen to my body as it tells me what foods I should nourish it with, when I should exercise and when I should sleep (while simultaneously watching what I eat). I know it’s the pile up of work combined with the winter blues that has caused me to slip a little bit, and I’m determined to get back into something solid as the daylight hours get longer. I’ve also found solace in @Bodyposipanda on Instagram. Check her out if you haven’t.
With weight gain insecurities has come insecurities about my relationship status, which I’ve always tried not to let bother me– as that is a key part of what I work through in therapy. On that note, I think I’ve realized my number is 3, in regards to getting past heartbreak. I’ll let you determine if that number 3 is in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years. So, there is some positivity in that. Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve begun to let go– really let go.
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon: With the help of my friend Julia, I was able to build a really great unit for my low-level 3èmes (9th graders). The story follows 15-year-old Christopher, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, as he tries to figure out who killed his neighbor’s dog. It’s fun to examine literal language and have the students work on descriptive writing. The book was also a hit on the West End, and I was able to incorporate Netflix’s Atypical! The only downside is that the play is no longer in London!
Otherwise– I am really trying to get back into a reading and blogging habit. The other books or plays I’ve been reading have been just for my work (The Lovely Bones, Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Holes, The Last Runaway, A View From the Bridge…) Thankfully, I got some great new reads for my birthday and I cannot wait to break them in and read for fun again!
- Queer Eye- I spent the weekend I was bedridden with food poisoning binge-watching the new Queer Eye— and my only complaint is that they didn’t include more episodes! I do like that they focus on men in general, instead of just straight dudes. Did anyone else notice that the entire season seemed to take place in Georgia, USA?
- Atypical- My student told me about this show when we started reading Curious Incident— and I was immediately hooked. My friend Julia also successfully integrated an episode into her unit, and thanks to her guidance I was able to do the same! I watched all of the episodes over the course of a weekend while I was spring cleaning. Sam is an 18-year-old teenager with high-functioning Asperger’s. The story takes him and his family down various paths as they all conquer their own individual battles, while simultaneously exploring how having a child or brother with Autism has affected their everyday, individual lives. Long story short, I really enjoyed this series. I laughed a lot, and look forward to season 2.
- This is Us (Finished): The second half of season two of This Is Us was all kinds of intense. Between Jack’s death to Kate’s wedding, I’m already counting down the days until season 3!
- Walking Dead: I used to watch this show religiously but I am having a really hard time motivating myself this season. I am just simply over this war, and the death of a major character from season 1 was a bit too much to handle. Has anyone started Fear the Walking Dead?
- Lady Bird: Long story short, I really enjoyed Lady Bird. It was nice to have a Coming of Age story about a teenage girl and her mom. It also brought a lot of sentimental feelings when thinking about my own experience fighting with my mom while growing up in the 2000’s.
- Three Billboards: Wanting to be up-to-date with Oscar nominations, I watched this on the way home from Nepal, and while I enjoyed it, it’s not really something I need to watch again. The funny thing was that Air India censored the entire film, so I think I really should try to watch it again in order to get the full swearing effect.
With April already halfway through, I’ve enjoyed hanging out with my mom in Lille and Paris. The next two weeks will be mostly filled with chaperoning students in the UK and correcting final exams.
How’s your spring coming along?