A cozy rainy afternoon, and I’ve spent it reading TAPIF blogs. There’s the Canadian assistant who was placed in a town of only 3,000 people for her year abroad. Alone without other assistants or a train station nearby, she acknowledged how hard it had been but also found a lot of things to miss. An American assistant from last year had a French Tinder date a few days after her arrival…she’s now engaged.
A lot can happen in a year abroad…or not. You might meet the love of your life, decide to attend graduate school in Europe, launch a new career. You might have a dreamy year in exactly the city you wanted to live in. Or maybe none of those things will happen. You might experience problems at your schools, get your purse stolen, feel extremely lonely for a month with only Netflix as company. You might quit and go back home. Some people do.
In any case, the community involved in the program is really strong. “Alumni” want to help current assistants, and it’s easy to make friends with others in the same situation, kind of like how summer camp helps foster quick connections.
It’s all so unknown, which makes it exciting and scary both. When being here–alone, in France–was all hypothetical to me (as recent as like, a month ago), I didn’t even want to think about it.
Now that I’m here, and happy, there’s something simultaneously weird and comforting about living such a similar life as so many who have done this before. And I mean similar…the other day I talked with an English girl who lived in Montluçon last year…in the same house where I am now, also teaching in primary schools, and probably experiencing the same transportation headaches and visiting the same bars.
Though we’ve had and will have so many individual experiences, I feel like I’m repeating her life. Many people’s lives. When I read these blogs I realize my time here will go so quickly! In summer I was apprehensive, not sure I was capable. But now that I’m here, no matter what happens, time passes, and I’ll teach my last class in April and that will be that.
I’ve only been here a few weeks, and yet as I’m reading these blogs, I’m tearing up. I know this year won’t always be easy or fun, but when I read the stories of other assistants, read the posts where they say goodbye to their French lives and go back home, it just confirms what I already know: this opportunity is difficult and special and wonderful and over in a flash.