So close, and yet so far

Top o’ the morning to you!  I’m in Europe…not quite where I’m going to end up, but at least everyone in the States can understand my greeting from here.  I am currently sleep-deprived as all heck (seven hours total sleep over the past two nights), and it’s dreary here, which isn’t helping.  I heard an Irish woman say on the flight, “Well, you don’t come to Ireland for the weather now, do you?”  I keep thinking that I see people I know.  Julie S just appeared through the passageway, except it wasn’t her, just a girl with a similar face structure and long brown hair up in a messy bun and a scarf draped artfully around her neck.  Cordelia popped out to me as the girl in front of me at customs, with similar speech patterns and a tossing of her head at some slightly incredulous circumstance, going to do post-grad work at Trinity for the year.  (No…I don’t eavesdrop.  I’m dropping no eaves.)  But I’m exhausted and the adrenaline hasn’t worn off because it’s just more waiting for the next four hours before my flight to France, and thank goodness and all that is holy that M. Gris is picking me up from the airport this afternoon.  I’m going to try to be charming, but I might just fall asleep instead.  Don’t even mention having to speak French.  I think perhaps I should have brushed up a bit on the language.  I can understand pretty much anything that’s going on (I even had a highly successful trans-oceanic phone conversation with Mme Gris yesterday, which actually marks the first French phone conversation I’ve had that wasn’t booking a hotel), but I can’t really speak worth anything.  I try hard, though, which I hope counts for something.


Ireland is interesting.  I suppose all of the UK is also interesting for a similar reason.  It’s just that some people’s accents are so thick that it takes me a good five to ten seconds to realize that they’re speaking English and not a foreign language, which would be just as probable in Europe.  And this is beyond the fact that I immediately assume they’re not native English speakers.  But give me two days in Europe and that bias will fade away just like it had never been there.  Give me two days in Ireland and I’ll unconsciously try to adopt an Irish accent.  After hearing two sentences from the lady at the transfer desk, I already started adopting the musical lilt.  It’s hard not to, it gives a musicality to the English language which is not normally there.  Or at least not there in American English, which is all I’ve heard for the past two years, and nineteen before that.


I suppose I should get around to the reason for this blog.  The reason is that I have been given what is probably the most amazing opportunity of my entire life to this point — cooler than touring Australia, more fantastic than spending four years in New York City going to school, and a bit more exciting even than studying in Paris for a semester.  I’m going to a tiny village in the southeast of France to teach little children how to speak English.  Do I have an education degree, or any real experience teaching?  No.  But I love kids, I know how to handle them, I’ve tutored a bit, and I have a precious handful of invaluable resources in friends and mentors who have teaching experience, even language teaching experience.  Have I ever lived in a town of 2000 people?  No, and my high school was bigger than this town.  But the culture shock will be worth it, and I finally get to have my life slow down a bit, and it is just the prettiest little French village, and I can travel as much as I want, and besides, this will be as much of a learning experience for me as I hope it will be for the kids.  Les petits enfants.  Am I scared out of my mind?  Not quite, but close.  But the excitement pretty much outweighs the nerves, and certainly outweighs the fear.  The next couple of weeks will be a challenge, but a welcome one.  I have to/get to find my own housing, create some lesson plans, figure out transportation to the “big cities,” open a bank account to get paid, get the equivalent of a residency card, wade through the nightmarish paperwork of the French bureaucracy (yeah, you thought NYU was bad…), and take time — lots of time — to sit down and smell the roses.  Or whatever flowers happen to be blooming in early September.


Read as much or as little as you want.  I can only promise rants, raves, ramblings, homesickness, heroics, happiness, awe, aptitude, and my own special brand of eloquence that will depend directly upon the sleep that I got the night before and how much English I’ve spoken in the past day.  For those that I know, I miss you already.  And for everyone, welcome.  Here follows the account of an American girl, who’s very close to becoming a woman, looking at France through her own eyes.


If this flight ever takes off.


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