By Fiona Hardie.
Every so often I have a day where I feel like things about French Life have just fallen into place and everything just ‘clicks’. In the last month I’ve been noticing a lot more of those days. Winter at last seems to be behind us; the days are getting longer and lighter, bit by bit, and French life is well and truly underway. A few weeks ago I mentioned on instagram how I felt like a life balance had been restored, and, with the exception of a few little stumbling blocks, it seems to be holding.
Ironically, I’m at home as I write this. It’s February half term, and when my parents headed home after visiting me for a mini-holiday, I went with them. It’s the first column I’ve written at home since my first one, which feels strange and surreal. Midway through writing up my plan for it, I went to the kitchen for a cup of tea and bumped into the cat, who ended up sitting on my lap for half an hour without budging so I had no choice but to sit there on the kitchen floor and think about how I was going to write this. It was a welcome and much-needed thinking session so thanks, Ernie.
Five months have passed. How weird is that? Life in 2015 so far has been busy and social and really productive. My work and my project all feel fairly balanced and in harmony, and I’m just excited to see where it all goes next. With every passing day I am more and more sure that working in a primary school was absolutely the right choice for me this year.
Following on from last time, I’m still trying to keep up with all the things that make me ‘me’ and keep me inspired, maintaining the mixture of integrating into life in France and being myself. So far we’ve had a Burns Supper, Australia Day, and a Galentine’s Day brunch (thank you, Leslie Knope). I have cooked more, I have read books for leisure and I have held spontaneous solo dance parties (best idea ever, FYI); I have watched my favourite comedies and I have laughed and laughed.
As for the other half of my resolution, I’ve eaten at new places and tried new things (galettes are some of the best things you will ever eat) and I’m making a conscious effort to befriend French people who share my interests. My scholarship project has become something I’m genuinely grateful for, as lending DVDs to teachers at school has sparked some amazing conversations (in French, for the most part) and goodness knows I love talking about films with anyone, but it feels even better to be able to do it in French and feel like I’m making friends in the process. It isn’t always easy, making friends in a foreign language. It’s so tricky to come across as interesting or funny, even if you have a good grasp on the language, but I can ramble on about films at anyone for any given length of time, and I just pray my passion for it comes through in my French, mistakes and all. (You know what? Even if you’re on a year abroad and you don’t have a scholarship project, I’d still recommend doing something like this, if you’re able to get the resources. It is honestly so rewarding.)
Here’s what I actually said on that instagram photo:
Living abroad is such a mix of emotions. Some days are really, really tough. Some days are just okay. And some days you have an amazingly rewarding day at work, and then you’re on your walk home and it starts to snow but it’s still sunny, and the Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Yellow comes up on shuffle and things actually genuinely feel really good.