In just two weeks, I’ll be off to Bordeaux!
Sometimes I get asked, how can you just move to France and not be scared?
But the truth is, I do get scared.
I think it’s natural for anyone to get nervous or uneasy when change happens. And this past year, I’ve gone through a lot of changes!
I’m leaving for Bordeaux and I don’t know when I’ll be back in the US (or another English speaking country) next.
I definitely have my moments of panic, and am I doing the right thing? freak outs, but I don’t let that stop me.
Choosing to participate in TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) was certainly not the “safe” choice for me.
It doesn’t pay very well, my family didn’t really get it or respect it, and it meant moving there alone (JP doesn’t finish his studies in Melbourne until late November) but I still wanted to participate in it so, so badly.
TAPIF was something I discovered before I went to go study in Bordeaux, and it was something that I’ve continued to be enamored by ever since.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ve always had confidence in my decision. There are those moments where I’m tempted by offers or concerns from my family. My mom has been super supportive of me, but even she has been skeptical of TAPIF and its low salary. She often asks (even now, with a few weeks until my contract starts!) “Why can’t you just work in the US?” again and again, and again.
It has been frustrating trying to defend my choice and TAPIF (the program is actually quite competitive and sponsored by the French Embassy, but because it doesn’t pay very well many family members don’t see the value in it). But if I have learned anything, it’s that you can’t find your validation from other people.
It’s also been a huge comfort to have such a supportive spouse. JP wanted to study in Melbourne before we met and I wanted to participate in TAPIF before we met.
The distance is hard, but knowing that we’re both going after what we want makes it worth it. If we had altered our goals or plans based on having to deal with distance, I know we would regret it later down the line.
I know that JP is pursuing his dreams and that I’ll be pursuing mine, and soon enough we’ll be back in the same city and embracing everyday together.
So–yes, I do get scared about moving and making all of these big changes from time to time, but I also have confidence in my decisions and I also know that it’s okay if I’m not always right.
What if I end up doing TAPIF and hating it? Well sure, that’s a possibility but I’m not going to let any what if’s stop me. I’m confident enough in who I am and what I want, so even if I get nervous from time to time about leaving the US and starting my life in a new country, I still feel good about it deep down.
And having a husband who is so supportive and loving is a huge help. I know that if I mess up or I’m struggling he’ll always be there, even if it’s through the phone or FaceTime rather than in person.
I also know that you can’t expect to be happy all the time. There are going to be moments in life (no matter what country you are in!) where you feel upset or down or sad. And that’s okay.
I loved my time in Bordeaux, but there were times where I would cry at my inability to speak or understand French or miss the simplest of things–like being able to drive my Prius or go to a TJ Maxx. (I really loved my Prius and TJ Maxx…)
There’s this quote I love and I think it will resonate with anyone who has ever traveled and felt frustrated before.
“That’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I’m concerned. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses”-Bill Bryson
The beauty of living in a country is that eventually, you go from traveler to local. The moments of frustration and panic pass, and you feel at home.
I know there will be transitionary periods and ups and downs, but when the hard moments happen, I don’t let it make me question my decisions. I just learn how to adapt and embrace them.