This is the post I had originally intended to write to break my blogging hiatus, but when I sat down to write it, something completely different came out of my keystrokes. I think that’s one of the most amazing aspects of writing; the fact that it can take you to places that you hadn’t intended to go or it can open new horizons that were blocked from you daily mindset. But I digress.
In my last post, I discussed my past, present and future mindsets regarding this blog. I enjoy writing reflective pieces like that, but I know the internet and the average blog reader don’t prioritize cerebral posts. People want facts, updates and juicy details. And in less than 20 words a sentence please! So here it is internet, a summary of my life these past months. This post will cover the summer of 2016 (July and August). I’m only covering two months because it was crazy-busy.
I did actually write a post at the end of July, but in rereading it, I realize that it doesn’t actually say anything. Let’s fix that, shall we?
I knew and had known that July would be my last month in France. Saying that I was counting the days until July 1st would be an understatement. July 1st marked the last day of my au pair contract. I don’t want to bash people on the internet, especially people who gave me a place to live and money to spend on cheese and bread, but seriously, it was bananas.
First the kids: one of the kids I was in charge out was a disobedient ball of energy who threatened to run into streets of Paris lest I take my eyes off him for even a second. As if that weren’t enough, this kid got me so sick. I’m talking sicker than when I had pneumonia sick. Stomach bug after stomach bug for months on end sick. The other was a baby who was very sweet, but babies are fragile and labor-intensive and I had no experience caring for them.
With the kids alone I was stressed to the max. But, of course there were their parents to contend with. Lawyers who worked all the time. I was working until 8:30 every night, but it was often later: “There’s a problem with the metro,” “There’s traffic” etc. etc. I also babysat nearly every weekend so I felt like I never had time to recharge after my crazy weeks.
When July 1st came, I left my keys and cell phone in my chambre de bonne and I hightailed it out of there. It was potentially one of the best days of my life.
July was spent studying for and taking the DALF C1 exam (Diplôme approfondi de langue française), visiting every free museum possible, taking pictures, writing articles and enjoying my last days in France.
-Watching the July 14th fireworks from a rooftop in Paris, thereby enjoying the show and avoiding the crowds.
-Visiting the Versailles gardens at night for their light and fountain displays (and more fireworks).
-A day trip with Julie to Étretat that included perfect weather, eating delicious mussels next to the ocean and almost getting t-boned by a tractor.
-Binging on wine, cheese and baguettes in preparation for at least six months without them.
-Flying back to the US on July 31st, which is perhaps the busiest day of the year to travel.
Selected July Publications
As many problems I have with the US, especially ahem, for the past five months, I have to admit that it’s nice to come home, if only to see my parents. When I arrived, I only had about two weeks to visit my parents, apply for my visa to teach English in Korea, buy my plane tickets, pack and everything else that moving across the world entails.
The administrative stuff actually turned out to be a cakewalk compared with my struggles in France. For the visa, I handed my papers to a woman at the consulate. She asked for the money and two days later my passport came back in the mail. The plane ticket was a steal (about $700) because it was last minute, but I would later realize a crucial oversight…
Besides all the business, I had some quality time with my parents. I spent the first week with my dad and stepmom in Boston. We visited the JFK Memorial Library, watched hours of the Olympics and ate at some great vegan restaurants.
I spend the second week in New Hampshire with my mom. That was especially exciting because I hadn’t been in NH since I left for France the first time in August 2014. We went hiking in the White Mountains, drank iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts and visited the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Vermont.
It was a whirlwind couple of weeks and all too soon it was over. I left for Korea at 6:00 AM on August 17. There was a short layover in California and then a 12-hour flight to Seoul. The night before my flight I realized that I would be arriving at Seoul’s main airport, Incheon, but that my connecting flight to Busan (where my orientation would be held) was leaving from the other airport, Gimpo. I researched how to get there and it seemed doable, but I only had a few hours to play with and it would be tight, but that’s a story for a later post.
The next week was spent learning about EPIK (English Program in Korea), classroom management, speaking English to foreigners, cultural lessons, dance shows, making friends and doing my first real lesson. It felt like being at college orientation again. Running from activity to activity, socializing, eating in the dining hall. More than once I forgot that I was in Asia.
At the end of the week I boarded a bus with my fellow teachers and headed to our new home in Gangwon Province. Upon arrival I was met by my Korean co-teacher. As I said goodbye to the friends I had met, I realized that things were getting real and that I was getting flung into the deep end of Korean culture. We arrived in my new town, Wonju, around 1:00. I saw my school, I met a few teachers and crashed in my new apartment.
I officially started teaching the last week of August, but mostly I observed and jumped in when it felt like I could contribute something. Luckily I felt pretty comfortable in front of the class and Korean kids are adorable so my first days of teaching were enjoyable.
There you have it: my crazy summer. Two months, three countries, five different beds. As I said, I’ll post more about my program in Korea as well as summaries of the past months. Stay tuned.
Selected August Publications
What about you? Have you ever had a crazy busy summer? What was it like? Post a comment here or on Facebook.