Exactly one year ago, I started my first day of work as an English teaching assistant in Douai, France. If things would’ve worked out as I was hoping for, I would be doing the same thing today! Unfortunately, that’s not the case – but when I look back at this year and everything that has happened, I am like whoa.
I spent 8 months in France, teaching 12 hours a week to French high school students. I definitely had my ups (like my great class of senior students who always greeted me with a smile) and downs (like that one time that I ended up yelling in French at my sophomores who didn’t want to listen to a word I was saying), but I definitely learned a lot. If I ever have the opportunity to do the assistantship again, I would take it.
I lived in a small city but made great friends from all over, including my roommates from Spain, Italy, and Germany and my other assistant friends living nearby.
I had the chance to travel to new and old places. Caen, to visit friends from the Baylor exchange program. Paris, to spend a weekend with fantastic people. Amiens, to see the sights. Dunkerque, to celebrate Carnaval. Hannover, to visit a friend and see a new part of Germany. Bruges, to revisit a favorite city. Krakow, to discover a new part of Europe and take part in an awesome language immersion program with awesome people called Angloville. Yorkshire, to spend a week with my coworkers and students exploring a gorgeous part of England.
I was lucky enough to see my family in France twice. I welcomed my brother Grant and his friend Matt to Europe for the first time, taking them to Paris, Lille, and Amiens. We definitely had some hiccups in our travel plans (like that time that Belgium went on strike and made it impossible for us to go to Germany) but they were great travelers. The three of us celebrated our first Christmas in France together and it’s one of my favorite memories from the year. Two months later, my parents came to France, spending time in Paris and in the city where I was teaching. It was one of the coldest weeks of the year in France, but we survived and enjoyed our time together!
In between leaving France and arriving back in Dallas, I spent two weeks traveling to New York and California with my boy and two friends of ours. We all discovered the craziness of NYC and then spent a lovely week in San Francisco and Los Angeles. My favorites from NYC: strolling through Central Park, walking on the Brooklyn Bridge, eating at Shake Shack. From Cali: hiking the hills of San Fran, enjoying Disneyland, driving on Highway 1, passing through Big Sur, riding in the cable cars, watching the solar eclipse at Santa Monica beach, seeing the Golden Gate bridge.
I spent the summer at home after my stay in France, and it was so great to see my family and friends again, babysit two of my favorite kids in the world, watch my brother graduate from high school, celebrate Bastille Day in Dallas, and spend a weekend target shooting and barbecuing in the Texan countryside.
And then, somehow, I ended up back in France because apparently I just can’t stay away! Since I’ve been back, I’ve traveled to Ireland with the boy to celebrate two years since we met, visited Brussels on my own and Bruges with his family, gone to Paris to see Baylor friends, given private English lessons to a handful of clients, gone to my first FIBA, and I’ve met some of the new language assistants for this year. (If there are any assistants out there reading this right now, I hope you guys have an awesome year like I did!)
I could surely go on… or even look back two years from this day… but I’ll stop while I’m ahead! It has been an incredible year (and can’t believe I’ve blogged about nearly all of it!) and I can’t wait to see what the next one brings.