My hiatus from blogging has been due to my Intensive TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Course actually being quite intense.
I’m currently in Toulouse, France, where I signed myself up for school again — teacher school! I’m learning methods for teaching English to those who don’t (yet) speak English. We’re in class from 9-7 every day, learning pedagogical methods and grammar in the morning and practicing teaching in the afternoon.
It is SO nice to have a lot of work to do. It’s not just any work, either — I love planning lessons, and I love teaching them. My creative energies feel focused and my workaholism is coming back. I keep kicking myself, thinking about how much more smoothly my year would’ve gone (in my head) if I’d had all of this planning practice and all of these teaching and classroom management tools. I think it went fine as it was, but now that I know what was missing I can’t quash my urge to go back and do it all over again.
Luckily, I’ll get even more teaching experience next year, as an assistant teacher at the French-American School of Puget Sound! I’m so excited that I get to remain in (bilingual) education and use my French… and be back in the Pacific Northwest!! Though it still doesn’t feel entirely real that I’ve got a job…I keep imagining them taking it away from me due to some mistake in the hiring process.
I only have 19 days left in France. When that hit me, I felt…torn. Really, it’s my heart that’s torn. There are a lot of people in Europe who I love and who I’ll miss, and there are a lot of people at home who I can’t wait to come back to. There are a lot of things I love about France, and there are a lot of things I miss about the states.
But above all else, I think I’ve reached my traveling limits. One of my new Toulouse friends said, wisely, that we all have limits. Reaching a limit doesn’t mean that we can’t push ourselves past it: sometimes we want to push ourselves past limits… and sometimes we don’t want to. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to. I’m a lover of challenging oneself, but if I’m pushing myself in a way that doesn’t feel right, I’m no longer loving myself, or trusting my own gut.
It feels bizarre to admit this, but I’ve reached a limit with Being Abroad — one which, for now, I don’t feel the need to push myself past. I feel more isolated from my fellow expats, I more often feel depleted of energy, and all this makes me less willing to engage deeply with an environment that I know I’m going to leave. They’re all feelings I can compartmentalize, but they aren’t feelings I can ignore.
One of my least favorite things that people do when they’re “travelers” is when they judge people who “aren’t.” Traveling (and living abroad) is something you do, it’s not something you are. Some people don’t travel, and it doesn’t make their life experiences less cool or important. Knowing the judgment that exists makes me afraid to admit:
I don’t want to travel anymore.
I might get back to the U.S. and decide that next year I want to jet off again. I definitely will be driving all over to see my friends and family in different states when I’m home. Basically, it’s not because I’m incapable of starting over somewhere new, where I know no one and their language is not my first language. I’ve done that, and loved it. Twice. Three times, if I count this move to Toulouse. I would never trade away any of my Being Abroad experiences.
But at the moment, there’s something I love and miss about the familiar.
When it’s as easy as breathing to smile at people in the street, when you have to order food and know exactly what to say, when you’ve got old friends around to remind you of things you forget about yourself. When you walk into a place you’ve been a million times before, and the known-ness of it makes you feel at home….all of these are the things I miss when I say I miss the “States.” I want to swim in the lake and hike mountains and wine taste in Walla Walla with my very best friends. I want to cuddle with my cat, and hear about my mom’s work day, and get ice cream at Mallard’s with my sister, and sail in the Sound with Dad.
I know I’ll miss France. But, I can miss France and appreciate home at the same time. I can miss home and appreciate France at the same time. And I feel beyond lucky to have all of these things to love.