Au Revoir

So here is my prerequisite farewell post.

In less than two weeks, I ship off to begin a 10-month adventure in France. I am delighted that all my preparation during the past year (and even before that) is finally paying off and that I’ll be able to check off one of the top things on my bucket list: “living abroad.” There are so many things that I want to experience while I’m in France, and of course, I am very hopeful that my time away will be extended.

I’m saying goodbye to this blog because I’m leaving DC; but also because I’m at a different place in my life.

I started this blog after my ex, Floyd, moved back home. And I end this blog — five years later — knowing that I have successfully released myself from that period of my life. As reflected in the changes in the content and frequency of my posts over the years, I’ve slowly started to lead a full and fulfilled life. During the past few years, I have “come into my own” as a career woman, as a single girl, as a daughter, as a friend, and as a human being. I know that my journey is far from over, but I feel that the past 30 years of my life were full of much laughter and that the tears were always, eventually, dried by greater knowledge and understanding of the world and my true self.

I enjoy blogging. It is a great form of expression and I know that it (along with old-fashioned journaling...) has helped me get through a lot of the struggles of my late-20s. Yet, I haven’t decided if I will start a new blog in France. I’m hoping that I won’t have enough free time to maintain one. But I also know that there are more than enough expat blogs out there to keep folks entertained regarding the minutiae of living in another country and culture.

So thank you, my “devoted fans” (i.e., my friends) and also the random visitors who’ve stopped by.

Au revoir. Bon courage.


Destination: Poitiers, France

May was a good month. I obsessed over the opening of PAUL USA in DC, celebrated my 30th birthday surrounded by friends, and took the perfect trip to France with my mother.

I am happy to report that I am still an ardent francophile. I was so worried that my trip off the beaten track would reveal a shallow schoolgirl crush on France. To my relief, I fell in love with my future hometown, Poitiers.

Poitiers is simply the perfect place for my French language immersion. It's relatively small and compact, with lots of students which gives it great energy. And it is beautiful. Lots of cute, narrow streets, lovely churches, and historic architecture. There are great parks and a river, and it's ideally situated between Paris and Bordeaux---with the Atlantic Ocean (La Rochelle) a short TGV ride away.

The main campus of the university is on the outskirts, about a 10-15 minute bus ride from centre ville. I am hoping to score university housing in a dormitory to save cash (yes, it's time for me to dig out my shower shoes and robe...).

I was blown away by how nice, open, and welcoming everyone was. I feel so fortunate to have been able to make connections before I arrive. During my trip, I had lunch with a girl who will be my language exchange partner, met a guy who is active in Poitiers’ green scene, and spent many, many hours with my Couchsurfing savior who made most of my Poitevin introductions possible (he held a dinner party at his house for every night I was there). And I can't forget the awesome German girl I met who will most likely be my first visitor in September.

Before I left, I paid my deposit for the university program and even got my first taste of the French administrative thought-process (a.k.a., bureaucracy).

I know that many challenges await me this fall and spring. But I am looking forward to tackling them all with patience, love, and humor.

I am over the moon with excitement about all that awaits me in France. I have a little under 3 months until my departure date (late August). Of course, I am anxious to leave for France, like right now. But I know that I will appreciate having three more paychecks in my bank account when the time comes to backpack across the EU or perhaps, enroll in a second year of study...

There is so much for me to do before I leave: visa appointment, possession purge, training my work replacement, and of course, making lots of final memories with my beloved friends in DC.


Bon Voyage

In about 9 hours, I depart for France. I am unbelievably excited about being in la belle France again. And I am even more excited to be able to share with my mother my first visit to Poitiers. It will be a different experience of France than on our last visit together over 4 years ago.

I have a bunch of fun things planned for the few days we spend in Paris: brunch along the Canal Saint-Martin, la nuit des musees at the Louvre, and a watercoloring session at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

But the real fun awaits us in Poitiers. I have 3 rdv scheduled with local folks: a Frenchman (who may not speak English…), an American woman, and a Taiwanese woman (who is taking a career break to study French, like me). And I’ll be visiting the university campus and language program. I had intended to get a lot done during this trip (opening a bank account, getting a cell phone, securing housing leads, etc), but now it seems that it will be a trip focused on simply getting to know the city. And that is fine with me. I can’t wait to get a sense of Poitiers, its rhythm, its layout, the beautiful parks, and even all the grimy, hideous parts.

When I return, I’ll have about three weeks to finalize my paperwork before my visa appointment with the French Consulate. I am crazy-worried about getting my visa application ready as I still haven’t figured out my housing situation. Even though I’m a bit old, I am interested in finding a homestay/au pair situation since it would give me an intimate window into French family/home life. At the same time, living alone or with roommates would be better for my social life and for hosting friends and family. I’ll have to figure this all out soon…

So all is well. My 30th year is truly off to a good start. I spent the last hours of my 20s and the first hours of my 30s surrounded by amazing friends, and I’m still on track for France. And for that I am thankful.


April Update

April has been a good month. Here are a few details of what’s on my plate these days:


I continue to gear up for my birthday trip to France in May and my “career break” in France this fall. At the beginning of the month, I received the disappointing news that I was not selected for TAPIF (the embassy program to teach English in France). So, I’ve moved on to what feels like “plan z” – applying to study French at the University of Poitiers.

I am happy that I can now focus my energy into researching one program and one city. And I am even a bit relieved that I will be going as an independent student. I will have so much freedom in terms of housing, extracurricular activities, and my length of my stay—that I would not have had with a structured program. And yet, I am envious of university study abroad students and the folks who were selected for TAPIF who will have the ready-made safety net and social circle provided by going through a program. So, I’ve started to activate my network and seek connections with people in Poitiers to get advice and tips to make my transition as smooth as possible.

I have become a little obsessed with spending every bit of my free time studying French and researching all the things I need to do before I depart, like obtain a visa and securing housing. Even though a stack of paperwork and chores await me this summer, I must commit myself to taking time out to enjoy another summer in DC with my friends--because if I get what my heart truly desires, I won't be back next year.

My journey to chase my dreams is definitely tinged with anxiety about the unknowns (and the red tape!) that await me in France. And yet, I know that it will be all worthwhile once I am settled in Poitiers, celebrating the minutiae of life. I am feeling anxiety, for sure; but also, an abundance of glee.


As a side note, PAUL is opening up a location in DC (http://www.paulusa.com/) . I fell in love with PAUL’s sandwich chaud saucisse last August. My two travel partners can attest that it is simply heaven… I actually went by on Monday to ask about a part time job – though I’ve been stalking the location ever since I heard about it last fall. I didn’t know it at the time, but I met the PAUL USA CEO (former President of Starbucks France…). He was super-nice and helpful, and encouraged me to come back and chat with the manager. Even if they don’t hire me, you better believe that I’ll be there on opening day to sample everything in sight.

Mon Anniversaire

One week until my 30th birthday. I feel ready for 30. My twenties were awesome, crazy, fulfilling, annoying, and at times, a little intense. Given that I’ve chosen to kick off my 30s following my dreams in France, I am certain that my 30s will truly rock.


March Update

Another month is coming to a close. My slow march to La Belle France continues and I am thankful that I still haven’t encountered any curveballs along the way (knock on wood…).

I continue to have a few lingering doubts about my decision. I know that it is the right choice in my heart. But I worry that it isn’t the best or most rational choice for my overall, long-term wellbeing.

Going to live in Latin America to learn Spanish would be more practical career wise. Reapplying to Peace Corps would be less selfish. Choosing a country that is less expensive or living in France for only a month would make more financial sense. Using my savings as they were intended – to buy a home and officially settle down in DC after 11.5 years – would make me feel less transient and more like a responsible adult.

Yet, as I talk to more and more “established” people, I am getting the reassurance that I need. For example, my new mentor loves the idea of my “academic vacation” and has silenced many of my career worries (and even offered me a job for when I return). And my mother, after a 2-week educational tour of Ghana, is even more enthusiastic about my plan for France. I think she finally understands my desire to challenge myself and immerse myself in another country and culture. Amazingly, I think she is considering a similar experience for herself through the programs at her church.

I have worked hard and sacrificed a lot (but perhaps not enough in the grand scheme of things…) during my twenties to save and invest and plan for a future when I’d be able to follow my dreams. Now, it is almost time to cash in. There is anxiety for sure, but most of all, there is satisfaction and glee.


February Update

Hmm… I just came by to quickly reply to a comment left by Organica (from Vietnam!!) and decided to type up a little update for the blogosphere.

All is well. Work is work. Life is good. My social scene has begun to perk up with the impeding spring. France as my destination of choice was made official in January. I am just waiting to find out if I’ll be in France as a teacher of English (TAPIF) or a student of French. I’ll know my fate sometime in April. And at that point, I’ll have to start organizing for my departure in earnest.

I booked two tickets for France in mid-May. It is basically a trial-run trip with my mother. I want to make some face-to-face connections with folks in the country in hopes that it will make my transition less overwhelming. If I don’t get the teaching gig, the trip will center on a visit to Poitiers, the location of my top choice language program.

I really hope that I am accepted into TAPIF. It would be great to be a part of an actual program. I’d get a paycheck and have health care setup for me. Though I know that I’ll face drama regardless as a foreigner, there would be a few less hassles under TAPIF than as an independent, adult student. And yet, I’ll have more freedom as an independent language student...

For whatever reason, I’ve decided to give my heart to France. I hope that she’ll be kind.

So, yes, all is well. I’m still on track.


The End of the Road

Wow, I think this is the longest that I have ever gone without posting on this blog. I can tell you that things continue to go well in my life (thankfully) and that I'm still on-track with my plan to be living in Europe before the end of the year. I doubt that this blog with come with me. And I must admit that I don't have the pull to publish as I once did. Instead, I'd rather write in my journal or chat with a friend.

I'm definitely not the first person to disappear from the blogosphere. Nor will I be the last. It has been a fun, worthwhile experience but I sense that I'm getting toward the end of my short stint as a blogger.

So that is all for now. I just wanted to post before the end of the month and let it be known that I'm still here. I will definitely craft some final post, when the time is right. Until then, expect haphazard posts on France and how I'm trying to make my last few months in DC truly memorable.