In the first week of living in France, I made a list in my journal of personal and professional goals. The list naïvely included mastering French and deciding whether teaching would be my career choice. Looking back on this year, I can confidently say that mastering a language as rich and complex as French will take a lifetime. I love that French words and expressions come to mind often before English ones and friends report that when I talk in my sleep, it’s most often in French. I look back fondly on my year in the classroom and feel utterly uncertain whether this is the profession for which I was made. While I can’t tie my list of goals up neatly in a bow, I still feel like it’s been a year of incredible growth and discovery.
And in a lot of ways, I got a lot more than my list of goals bargained for. Perhaps most notably would be falling in love. It would be accurate to say that I fell equally in love with a boy and a country. I also hadn’t anticipated enthusiastically searching for opportunities to stay in France beyond my one-year commitment.
I have been almost completely immersed in French. I learned to navigate bureaucratic formalities and awkward roommate conversations about doing the dishes.
I made a commitment to be consistently friendly in a country know for curtness. That decision led to countless encounters with warm, gracious people.
I felt deeply for a country that faced intense loss and fear and continues to grapple with dilemmas of identity and race.
It’s been a year of growth, discovery, encouragement, loss, and so much grace and I am enthusiastically ready to embark on year number two.