Well, it’s been almost 3 weeks now that I have been home. After my return, the first couple of days were spent at work preparing to give a workshop at SFU (for the Japan Foundation) about the new BC Japanese curriculum 5-12 to Japanese teachers.
(Presenting the workshop at SFU)
Now, with that behind me and with memories still fresh in my mind I wanted to write some reflections for my 5-month trip to Paris from Port Hardy.
What were some of my realizations?
- Paris is a great place in so many ways: Paris is sleepy until 10:00am in general; people gather along the Seine to sit back and relax with friends; people are very accepting of various lifestyle choices; interesting and fun events and festivities are popping up every week; there is good transportation; and art is ubiquitous
- If you invite family and friends to visit you in Europe, they will all come. For many years, I have invited family and friends to visit me in Port Hardy which is surrounded by extraordinary beauty, but to date not that many people have visited in the past 13 years. However, staying in Paris was a different story. Before I left, I casually said to people to come to Paris if they had the chance. I didn’t realize 14 people would have the chance and in the end during my 5 months there I ended up meeting up with them. After speaking to others who live in Europe, I have heard that this is a very common phenomenon when one lives in Europe- people will come to visit, more than in other areas of the world.
- It takes a lot longer than I expected to write a blog in 4 different languages- on average it took 5-8 hours for each blog entry. However, this was a good exercise in maintaining my writing levels in each language.
- Life is precious- was reminded of this throughout my trip, especially after Mike from Australia passed away from a heart attack on the cycling trip.
What were the highlights of my trip to France?
- Meeting Lynn from Bellingham at the Sorbonne and speaking French with her for the full 4 months
- Studying art history and literature with two inspiring profs at the Sorbonne
- Visiting Vimy Ridge
- Hiking in Étretat
- Visiting Katarina in Stockholm and taking in the many festivities there
- Cycling through Provence with Intrepid Tours with a group of amazing people
(Our cycling group at Pont de Gard in the Provence region)
What I was thankful for?
- Parents of a former student of mine recommending the apartment in the Marais district where I stayed
- The BC Teacher Exchange and Mobility Award
- Being able to access the professional development fund from the BCATML
- Being connected to Yolanda Robins, a property manager from MAC IMMO, who was helpful with my stay in Paris.
- Good health and no major mishaps while I was away
- Having the opportunity to fulfill a Iife-dream of going away to celebrate language, culture, and mobility around my 45th birthday
(In Paris at 17 years old (1987) on a school trip with classmates from my French and German classes. This was a year and a half after my back operation to fix my scoliosis that was discovered when I was 15)
(30 years later (2017) on the same steps at the Opera House in Paris. Thankful to have no back complications from my surgery when I was a teen.)
- Continuing to appreciate the best of French lifestyle- appreciating French art, literature, music and sitting back and socializing with friends over good food.
- Reading my first French novel from cover to cover- I think I will start with Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse
- Continuing with French and Kwak’wala studies
- Working with Japanese teachers around the province on the new BC curriculum for second languages
- Returning to work in the fall to teach French, ELL and facilitate the learning of Kwak’wala
- Presenting the benefits of digital technology for language learning at the BCTF Super Conference in Vancouver in October, 2017
- Saving for another educational leave in 5-7 years- perhaps to a Spanish speaking destination next time with Michael
- Simplifying life and avoiding excess
- I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to live, study or travel abroad to go for it. Such an enriching experience! In one of our texts at the Sorbonne, we read that living in another country helps people to adjust to life’s changes and to remain resilient.
- I encourage others to learn and live in a foreign country to gain new perspectives in our globalized world.
- I encourage others to take a break from one’s regular routine and try something new.
Until next time…
À plus tard…