It seems like all of my posts recently have begun in the same way: “Wow, I can’t believe it’s been such a long time since the last time I wrote! Oof, it’s been a crazy couple of months – hard to find time to write! Yikes, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?!”
So anyway…. it’s been a while, hasn’t it!?
Last time I wrote, it was the beginning of June, I had just returned to the US from Marseille, and had a couple of days off before beginning 9 intense weeks of non-stop summer camp. Since then, I successfully finished that marathon of skits and crafts, I attended my best friend’s wedding, moved back to France, started a Masters degree, got settled in a new city, and even fractured a bone! So, yeah. I’d say that it’s been a busy couple of months!
So, here’s what you should know about what’s been going on with me since June:
- I still live in France.
- In September, I moved from Marseille to Toulouse, in the south west, near the Spanish border and Pyrenées (and just a quick train or bus ride to Barcelona, for anyone who’s thinking of their next vacation…!)
- It took me AGES to find an apartment in Toulouse. It was seriously a major nightmare, and an extremely stressful period, but I do now luckily have a roof over my head and even a washing machine !
- I live on my own in a teeny studio in a 5th floor walk-up. Although it’s not the most ideal set-up, and I have a terrible kitchen that takes 45 minutes to boil water (only a slight exaggeration) I’m enjoying living on my own for (almost) the first time (besides the 9 months I lived in a studio in my 4th year of college).
- They call pains au chocolat chocolatines here. I’m still not used to it.
- I’m not a language assistant anymore.
- I enrolled in the first year of a Masters degree at the University of Toulouse II/Ecole Supérieure du professorat et de l’education (ESPE) so that I can take a competitive exam in March that could allow me to become a full-time language teacher in French schools.
- It’s really freaking hard. Like 30+ hours of class time per week plus endless homework hard.
- I have classes in translation, literature, civilization, linguistics, pedagogy, and a variety of other classes that are meant to prepare us or the afore-mentioned competitive exam, called a concours.
- Most of the classes are taught in a mixture of French and English. Only a small handful are 100% in English, and a much larger handful are 100% in French.
- There are a handful of other anglophones in the Master, but I’m the only American 🙌 🇺🇸
- This week, an English professor marked several expressions as incorrect on an English translation I did, because they’re not used in British English… he gave me the points back in the end once I explained that they were correct in American English, but now I’m wondering if maybe I should learn British as a third language to help me pass my exams ???
- I fractured my toe at the end of October and while I officially stopped limping several weeks ago, I am currently living a 9-toenail life. (horrible gruesome pictures on demand!!)
- I only had to pay like 8 euro per doctor’s appointment. #thanksFrance
- I’ve been back to Marseille almost every single month and I STILL have stuff left in my old apartment to bring back to Toulouse…. Oh well, guess I’ll have to keep making trips ! 😀
- I wish I had time to really discover Toulouse the way I was able to discover Marseille. But going from working 12-18 hours per week to having a near endless stream of class/studying to do makes that difficult…
- The people in my class are generally really nice and supportive of one another, despite the fact that we will eventually be competing against each other for a limited number of jobs.
- They all speak English more or less proficiently… there are deffffinitely some interesting accents though! 😂
- I have managed to find a small group of friends – French and Italian – although we’re a very studious bunch, so even when we go to the bar or hang out outside of class, it’s usually to do group work. While I appreciate the low-key group study time (because studying by yourself gets sad after a while!), I do miss the zero-responsibility language assistant social life haha! I’m sure we will find a better balance once the looming concours is passed.
- Toulouse has been very much affected by the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protests just as much as Paris. There have been protests every weekend since November, and though they are mostly calm, there have unfortunately been several incidents of thugs (casseurs) who infiltrate the peaceful protests to wreak havoc.
- I got tear gassed in my own apartment. The police were trying to control a section of a protest that had gotten out of control and set off tear gas directly outside my building. The gas infiltrated the lobby just as I was trying to leave to catch a train to Paris so I could go home for Christmas… The gas’ effects were so painful, I thought I would be trapped in my apartment forever and miss my flight and have the worst, saddest Christmas of all time.
- I made it out, literally ran to the train station because the metro had been shut down, and made it onto my train with 2 minutes to spare.
- I spent Christmas at home for the first time in a LONG time! And my family hosted everyone for the first time EVER!
- My fam knows how to throw a good party !!! Complete with excessive Christmas decorations!
- Although I definitely enjoyed my time with friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in ages, I’m not sure I fully appreciated the fact that I might not be home for a pretty long time…
- For the big scary concours, I have to do two 5-hour written exams on March 27th and 28th. If I pass, then I “get” to do 2 EVEN HARDER 3-hour oral exams sometime in June/July TBD. If I finish in the top 151 of all the people taking the same concours throughout the country, then I get a job for liiiiiiiife! (in France, at least)
- People keep asking me if my goal is to stay in France forever…….. My answer is that I really like what I’m doing here right now, and so I guess I’ll keep doing that until I don’t want to anymore. Maybe the U.S. will call me back to her sunny shores… maybe I’ll fail the concours and my visa won’t get renewed and I’ll have to make up a plan B… but for now, I like where I am and so I’m gonna keep doing that until I don’t like it anymore!
So that’s a somewhat comprehensive overview…….. I would love to write some more things soon, although I’m really not sure if I’ll have the time/brain power. But could you do me a favor? If you’ve read this and you’re in any way intrigued by what’s going on in my life, leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to read about!!! Want to know about applying to French universities or what it’s like to be a student in France? Want to know more about Toulouse ? or Marseille ? The gilets jaunes ? My teaching concours ? My classes ?? Tell me and I promise I will write it … eventually !!!! xoxoxo ❂