As the month of August draws to a close, and my 31st birthday looms large on the horizon, I have found myself becoming introspective and more than a bit melancholy.
I know it sounds crazy to be melancholy when my trip to France is just around the corner, but I’ve found that I have a tendency to get this way whenever I’m about to pick up my life and move far away from friends and family. The idea of starting over is exciting, but it also means having to make new friends at a time when you could really use the old ones. And because I’m moving for work, it also means that I have to maintain structure in my daily life at a time when I’d rather have no commitments beyond getting to know unfamiliar streets and figuring out where to buy the best produce.
Contributing significantly to this melancholy are some major events that have been going on in my life this summer, including but not limited to: the undermining and eventual disintegration of a seemingly-solid friendship; classes for my masters that have tested my patience and will to continue onward with my degree; and the wedding of one of my best friends to a wonderful man. (This last one is only melancholy-inducing in that it made me wish that I was in such a state of bliss as the blushing bride.)
On a more positive note, I have found out exactly where I will be posted in France. It’s exactly what I wanted, so be very happy for me! I will be teaching at the IUFM (teacher training college) at the University of Poitiers. This means, of course, that I will be living in Poitiers, itself, which was my top choice. I will be spending my time surrounded by approximately 30,000 university students and the culture they engender. I couldn’t imagine a better way to live out my time in France! Paris is too huge; a random village would be too small. Poitiers is just right! Plus, it’s on the TGV train line, which means that I have fast and frequent access to the rest of the country (and, hence, all of Europe), something I plan to thoroughly take advantage of in my abundant free time.
Yes, I said abundant free time! Although I will be moving to France for work, my contract is only for 12 hours per week. I’m hoping that my schedule will be something like 6 hours per day, two days per week, rather than a couple hours each day. I’d love to be able to spend long weekends riding the rails (or taking cheap RyanAir flights) to wherever the mood moves me.
Just last weekend I saw the movie, “Vicky Christina Barcelona” (fantastic), and it brought to mind what a great time I had in Spain, and how much I want to go back. So, that will be tops on my list. San Sebastian, here I come! I passed through there once on the train from Paris to Madrid, and I have always meant to actually get off a train there. All the beautiful buildings! Beyond that, I’m sure I’ll spend most weekends exploring France.
Of course, there’s also northern Africa to consider. Morocco (Marrakesh and Tangiers, in particular) have long been exotic destinations on my to-experience list. I’ve actually considered spending my two-week Toussaints vacation in Marrakesh, but a lot will depend upon finances. 12-hour work weeks do not a fortune pay.
By the way, please feel free to give me any suggestions for little-known places anywhere in Europe that I should visit. I would greatly appreciate it!
Anyway, that’s the update for now. Time is ticking away, so I think I’ll be spending my remaining time here boning up on my French and relearning how to walk for miles at a time. :-)