Tag Archives: American in France

And So Begins Another Year

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Wow! It has been a really long time since I’ve written about my life and my adventures. It’s hard for me to believe that it is already the middle of October! The past five months of my life have been among the best in my life. I’ve never been happier and I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent nearly half of the year (?!?!) traveling with some of my nearest and dearest friends and family. I plan to dedicate a significant amount of time to blogging about all of my adventures, but that is going to be a huge undertaking, which I shall commence next week, when I am on vacation.

Here’s a quick overview of my late spring/summer/early fall endeavors to pique your interest:

  • 3 continents visited
  • 13 countries visited
  • 6 states visited
  • 2 friends came to Europe
  • my mom and I spent 5 weeks exploring Europe together (and both made it out alive!)
  • returned to France for a second year of teaching

When I write it, I still can’t believe that this was my reality for so many, many months. I am currently back in France and have begun my second year of teaching English as a Second Language. This year I am in one collège (middle school) and one lycée (high school). So far I am loving working in the high school and am very excited about everything that this next year will hold for me. In addition to teaching, two of my dear friends will be getting married at the beginning of the month, so I will have the opportunity to attend a French wedding and the opportunity to celebrate their very special day.

After tomorrow, I am on vacation (already). As I’ve only been in France for a few weeks and I’m still acclimating myself to my French life, I will not be traveling anywhere for this vacation. Honestly, I’m a little sad to not be taking advantage of this opportunity to explore another new country/city, but am secretly relieved to have a staycation after such an intense summer of traveling. However, I am planning a long weekend away somewhere during the month of November, followed by a real vacation in December.

Here’s to another unforgettable, absolutely amazing year in France!

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Enjoying some limoncello in Venice. Cheers!

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Timing in Everything

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I cannot believe it is already the middle of April and that my teaching contract for this year is done next Friday. Where did the time go??? This year has been an eventful year, and I will write a separate summary/reflection about my time in France. The purpose of this post is not the reflect on this year, but to ponder the options for next year. To begin, let me just mention how much I hate being an adult when it comes to times like this. I miss having my parents make decisions for me and not constantly worrying about what the ‘right’ decision is going to be.

Here’s what I know about next year so far:

  • I have applied for and been granted an additional year-long leave of absence from my permanent teaching position in Michigan
  • I have submitted all of the necessary paperwork to renew my current teaching contract in France for next year.
  • I just received an email from a position I applied for with the U.S. Embassy. I am being considered for a position teaching ESL at the university level in Vietnam.

This is a ton of information to process, and to be quite honest is extremely overwhelming. I feel like I have only recently become truly settled and comfortable in France. I thought that after living here for one year my wanderlust for France would have contained itself. Boy was I wrong! The opposite has happened. Being an immigrant in a foreign country is an eye-opening experience and really changes one’s perspective on immigrants and immigration. I am also constantly reminded how difficult it is to be an American outside of North America. Even with all the challenges I have faced this year, I am beyond content with my life in France.

While I haven’t officially been offered either position, just the prospect of having to make a decision is terrifying. Upon receiving the email that I was being considered for a position in Vietnam I was so excited. I immediately texted my mom and best friend. I thought I had misread the email, but I had not. After the initial excitement wore off, a panic attack set in. I cannot imagine my life in France coming to an end. The next several months are filled with friends, family, and crazy adventures. I have so much to look forward to that I cannot even begin to think about the possibility of having to give up my apartment and leave France.

I’ve already begun the color-coded diagramming process to help make this (potential) decision easier when the time comes. For the position in France I will be told anytime between the beginning of this month and the end of August. For Vietnam, I will know before the end of this month, most likely as soon as the end of next week. Needless to say, I am terrified and excited about what the future holds.

An adorable road I discovered when I got myself lost driving around the French countryside.

An adorable road I discovered when I got lost driving around the French countryside.

My First Solo Music Festival (in France!)

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IMG_2528Music has always been an important part of my life, both playing, listening, and appreciating. I was in band for eight years, and continued playing in my free time throughout college. As I’ve grown older and busier, actively playing music has become a less important part of my life. When I met my best friend almost four years ago, she helped me to rediscover my love of music. We went to many live performances together. In fact, so many, that without really stopping to think and diagram everyone we have seen live, I don’t know that I could begin to name all of the awesome performance we have seen.

Each year, a local magazine puts on an awesome music festival, featuring local and up-and-coming artists. Last year, at MetroTimes Blowout we discovered some pretty awesome bands from Detroit. One of those bands was Captain Ivory. We didn’t know much about them at the time, and we stumbled upon them quite by accident, but we both quickly discovered how much we liked their music. Of course, this was at the time that we were both preparing for my move to France, so we were a little bit sad about discovering this great new band, only months before I left the continent. We then discovered that Captain Ivory was going to be relocating from the Detroit area to Nashville, which didn’t really help with the sadness.

Since arriving in France, I’ve had a very difficult time finding live music, especially with local musicians. It has become much easier, as my favorite bar in Tours, le Bartok, has live performances almost every week. My next challenge was overcoming my fear of going to performances alone. Luckily, the events at le Bartok were painless and easy for me, as I have become a regular there, and the owners and their dog have befriended me in a way. Little by little, I’ve been pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and been searching for live music throughout Tours, as well as the other cities/countries I visit in my travels. IMG_2534

I still follow all of my favorite bands from back home, even though I no longer live there. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. I like feeling as though I’m informed about what is happening back home, but at the same time it makes me feel a little sad realizing how much great, live music I am missing. Captain Ivory is one of the bands I follow on Facebook, and I noticed that they were working on a European tour. While I wasn’t getting my hopes up about them coming to any of the cities in my immediate area, I was really hoping they would have a few dates in France. Turns out, they were going to have two dates in France. The first show was on a Thursday night, near Paris. As I work both Thursdays and Fridays, this was not an option. The second date was a Saturday night, still near Paris, but do-able, as it was the weekend.

The seed had been planted, and now I had to decide how brave I truly was. I had been to this town before, but only to catch a flight. It’s a small town, with not much to do. Turns out, the only thing this town is known for is a music festival, le Blues Autour du Zinc. And apparently, this festival is a pretty big deal and this year was the 20th anniversary. This was the festival where Captain Ivory would be playing, alongside another American musician, Otis Taylor. After pondering my options, I decided that I would ultimately regret it if I didn’t take the opportunity to see a Detroit band play in France, because let’s face it, this doesn’t happen often. Tickets for the performance were very reasonably priced, just under $20. I bought my tickets and then began working on the logistics of how to get to the festival, where to stay, and how to get to the concert.

Figuring out the train was easy enough. Of course, I had to change trains in Paris (because that’s how it works in France for almost every destination). I am incredibly comfortable with navigating Paris, so this did not stress me out in the least. I had also picked a hotel very close to the train station in Beauvais, so I was comfortable with that part of the trip. The only part of my adventure that was stressing me out was figuring out how to get to the actual concert. The venue was not in the centre of town, and as it started in the evening, all public transit would have stopped by the time I needed to depart for the concert. My only realistic option was to take a cab, something that I very strong oppose. I hate taking taxis, as I think they are the least affordable way of getting from Point A to Point B. However, I literally had no other choice (aside from renting a car). To get from my hotel to the concert venue was a 2 kilometer drive (less than 1.5 miles). The round-trip cost of my taxi ride for the concert was 30€! For less than a four mile journey. This was nearly double the cost of my ticket for the concert. At the time, I was pretty irate about the cost, but in the end, ended up being okay with it because I had a great time at the concert.

The concert was in the coolest venue I have ever seen live music performed, la Maladrerie Saint Lazare. It was a medieval hospital for lepers that has since been converted into a venue for live performances. The history of the building itself was extremely interesting, but actually standing there, thinking about it, while watching a band from my hometown perform was a surreal experience. I’m still trying to figure out the role of live music in the French culture, as every live performance I have ever attended has been drastically different from what I’m used to. For all performances in France, most people sit. This is a very strange concept for me, but one I’ve since gotten used to. When I arrived at la Maladrerie, the first thing I noticed were the chairs and the number of people sitting. There was a very small space (what we would call ‘the floor’ in America). There was hardly anyone standing there when the performance began, but then it started filling up. I was able to find myself in the second/third row for the entire concert. While I don’t typically sit for performances, I also typically avoid the floor, as it tends to get a bit hectic and rowdy. People were definitely having a good time, but were very much in control of their bodies the entire time.

Anyone who has hung out with me in a social situation or attended a live music performance with me knows how socially awkward I can be. This is one of the countless reasons that my best friend and I are best friends. We are equally awkward, but make it work when we are together. Attending this concert alone was a very uncomfortable situation for me, but I quickly tried to stop thinking about it. Thank goodness for technology, as I could text Jeannette throughout the night, especially when I needed a bit of encouragement.

Captain Ivory’s performance was amazing. Exactly like I remembered them from Blowout. I had been listening to their music for several weeks leading up to this festival and  was very excited to have a bit of home in France. Throughout the entire performance I felt as though I had been teleported back to Michigan and was listening to them perform at the WAB or Old Miami or the Majestic. I felt at home and completely happy (even if I was there alone and feeling socially awkward throughout the performance). I had forgotten how awesome a live performance by an American band could be. Needless to say, I stayed out way past my bedtime, but it was totally worth it.



Inside l’Opéra de Tours

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Those of you who know me know that I love going to the theatre, whether it be musicals, operas, symphonies, or plays, I’m interested in seeing them all. Since I was a child, I think 12 years old, I have attended a minimum of one event at the theatre each year. Last Sunday was the day of open doors at the Opéra de Tours. Simply walking into this building caused me to have an instant desire to attend a performance in the near future.

On the outside, l’Opéra de Tours seems massive. On the inside, it seems small and intimate. Apparently, there are 1,000 seats in the theatre, but in my opinion in felt much, much smaller. The architecture and design is very classic and elegant. I sat in a box seat for several moments to take in everything. I was overwhelmed by everything I saw.

While I knew that the open doors day was quickly approaching, I had forgotten until we walked by and saw the doors open. When we returned home I promptly visited the Opéra de Tours website and selected the performances I want to attend. One goal that I have set this year is to attend an evening performance at l’Opéra de Tours, where I get dressed to the nines. Matt and I are in discussion for how to make this happen, as it is something that he would like to do as well.

I am hoping to attend my first performance at l’Opéra de Tours within the next couple of months.