Thursday, April 12, 2018

All My Thoughts on Moving to France

I'm still kind of in shock! I cannot believe that in just about six short months, I will picking up to move, yet again. Except this time, I'm moving to France... WUT.


Basically this is how this happened:

Cleveland State University, fall semester 2011. I had just started my college experience. Having just come back from my year abroad in Belgium, I had declared a Theatre major and a French minor. Makes sense, right? Well, upon learning about my exchange experience, my French professors got a jump on recruiting me for the major. One of the major selling points was this awesome program in France where Americans go abroad to help teach English. Of course this sounded like something right up my alley. They impressed on my just how competitive it was, and if I was serious about pursuing something like that, it would be in my best interest to pick up the double major. Well, before I knew it, I had done exactly that. I had a Theatre and French double major. (And as if that wasn't enough, I also went ahead and picked up a Dance minor. But that's besides the point.)

Throughout my entire college career, this Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) was lingering in the back of my head. Post graduation, I moved to Florida and my priorities shifted. I knew I still wanted to go after this dream, and I knew I was dying to live in France, but it just wasn't the right time. Well, once I made the decision to leave Florida, I figured it was now or never. So, January 2018, I submitted all my application materials. A week ago, I got that long awaited email, congratulating me on my acceptance!


I have a LOT of feelings wrapped around this news. They are overwhelmingly positive, if not a little anxiety-provoking in some cases. My first and most prominent reaction is genuine relief. There have been a lot of decisions that I've been holding off on making, because they relied heavily on the outcome of this application.

The biggest one has definitely been my living situation. For those of you who don't know, in January I moved out of Manhattan to NJ for financial reasons. While I'm extremely grateful for the blessing of having this option available to me, it was difficult and disheartening leaving NYC after only three months (though I still commute into the city several times per week). Although I've been wanting to move back into Manhattan, I've also known that I won't if I get this program. So there has been this back and forth and back and forth in my brain on looking for a place, which is exhausting. It is now a huge weight off my shoulders knowing that I have a definitive answer for where I'll be living for the next six months.

I'm also struggling a little bit with the fact that I'll be leaving New York so soon after arriving... New York has been huge for me. Simply being here means so much, and is a big testament to my faith. New York is a symbol of all the difficulties of the last year and overcoming them. It's what I've been thinking about since I was a little 11-year-old who said she wanted to be an actress. It's been such a long time coming, and it took so much for me to finally get here. As amazing as this new opportunity is, it now feels sort of like I'm abandoning this big huge dream that I've talked about for so long and worked so hard for. Part of me feels guilty about that; like I'm being ungrateful for what I've been given.

Of course, my rational brain knows how silly that is. I have always lived my life, and intend to continue living, by taking hold of the opportunities that come, whenever that may be. What would really be ungrateful would be to turn this down, just for the sake of doing what I think others expect of me and my dedication to my career. I'm not selling out, and I'm not giving up on New York. I'm taking what God is offering me in this moment. NYC will always be here, but this opportunity may not be offered to me again. I have no idea what is going to happen after my program (and I think it's pretty useless to squash the joy of this news by trying, in vain, to figure that out right now), but I know that the option will always remain for me to come back here.


Speaking of my career... This is really a conversation for a whole other post, but, the older I get, the more I contemplate the idea of a "career" and if that's actually something that is important to me. I go back and forth, but I really think that THIS is what's more important: experiencing life and going where the wind takes me, even if that means leading a fairly nomadic life without a "career" guiding it. This decision to go live in France may very well mean that I take a hiatus from training/performing. Part of me is scared that I'll never return to it. If we're being totally real, though, I know that's impossible. I'm drawn to art and culture more than anything else and I don't think I could stay away from it if I tried. I definitely want to continue dancing while I'm there, and who knows what other opportunities will present themselves! Additionally, I've always said that if/when I get the TAPIF, that's when I'll start looking at grad schools, and seriously consider the options in the UK. So there's that!

I really believe that I am being sent to France right now for a reason. And not just for me. I feel like I am about to do some really important work, and I only hope that I'll be able to make a positive impact on the students. I hope that I can impart more knowledge than just English grammar; I hope that I'll be able to share what I've learned about culture and embracing that, about learning about world and exploring what exists beyond your own backyard, and about being grateful for the twists and turns in your life, even when it seems really dark... Not to get super heavy, but I really hope I can be a light for a kid who really needs it.

My light has been out for a while. It flickered back on when I moved to New York and then was quickly extinguished again in the New Year. It hasn't been the easiest transition, or really the easiest year, since leaving Florida. I felt very close to giving up before I got that email. I've been in a creative slump, I've been lonely, and I've been generally discouraged (the job hunt was getting real). Receiving that email, it was truly like a beacon. It's given me something to work towards, something to look forward to, and something to genuinely be excited about! God knew exactly what I needed, and while I thought He had abandoned me, He was just working to create something seriously awesome. What a huge gift and glorious blessing.


I just feel... lighter. I feel good! I haven't felt this motivated or excited about something in a really long time. I feel like the fire inside me is being rekindled and I am on the brink of a period of true fruitfulness. I knew that 2018 would be the year of my Personal Renaissance, I just didn't know that it would look like this!

As far as the things I know... I know that I will be in France for the 2018-19 school year, and I'll be teaching English at a secondary level school (middle to high school ages). I have been assigned to the region of Versailles, which is right outside of PARIS. *Dreams do come true!* I do not know yet exactly which school, nor do I know what my housing situation will be. My departure date has yet to be determined, as well, but I anticipate leaving sometime in September/October.

I am seriously so excited for this next chapter! I love Paris and I love France and I love travel and I can't wait to get back in that place of immersion where you just take it one day at a time and soak it all up. I know I've spoken a lot here about the more serious thoughts I'm having about this TAPIF, but there are so many more light and bouncy ones, too! I'm already making my Paris/France/Europe bucket list for all the things I want to make sure I see and explore while I'm there. I'm sure I'll have lots of musings as the fall approaches, so don't be surprised if it becomes a hot topic around here! To all of you who have reached out with your kind words of congratulations and support, a huge thank you! My joy and gratitude are absolutely overflowing. I better start brushing up on my French!

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