Bonjour! I’m Dana, a 20-something American who has been living and working in France since 2013. As Told By Dana started as a TAPIF blog to document my adventures living in France and traveling around Europe, but has gradually become my slice of the internet. It’s a mix of an expat / lifestyle / travel blog, and is the space where I like writing about various things: teaching abroad, feminism and social issues, politics and my perspective on world events, and my own personal life: the experiences I’ve had, the places I’ve traveled to, the memories I cherish, and the things I struggle with. It’s a space where I can see where I was then, where I am now, and how I’ve changed over time.
I grew up just outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the land of dairy, Green Bay Packers, beer, and music festivals. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in December 2012, where I studied French and English as a Second Language, joined a sorority (ΣΣΣ), studied abroad in Caen, France in Normandy, taught English at a summer camp in Fukuoka Japan, and waitressed during the summers. Back in Wisconsin, I was a state champion gymnast, captain of the diving team, and apart of a competitive marching band.
In regards to how I came to France: After briefly teaching in Wisconsin, I moved to the French Riviera to teach as an English teaching assistante through the TAPIF program in September 2013. When my seven-month stint was up, I realized that I wasn’t ready to leave France or quit traveling, so I networked a lot and eventually landed a job as a lectrice d’anglais at an engineering school in northern France, where I worked from September 2014 – August 2016. Now, I currently teach secondary English full-time at an international bilingual school and still currently reside in Lille, France.
In a nutshell, I’m a proud American with an international mindset. I love traveling and have been to almost 30 countries. In recent years, I’ve taken up running and yoga, and hope to add in pole dancing. I am a retired gymnast and a self-proclaimed feminist. My guilty pleasures include Diet Coke and musicals, and my life mantra includes reading for pleasure, staying in touch, and sending hand-written thank you/birthday cards.
When I first decided to move to France, I thought that expat life and was the answer to all of my problems, and the only solution to my happiness. A few years older and wiser, I now realize that happiness is (mostly) a choice no matter where you are; family and close friends mean everything; and that although life’s struggles have not left me unscathed, scars do fade over time.
Thanks for reading and coming along for the ride.