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“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy.’  They told me that I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –John Lennon

I bet you thought I was done with these.  But nope! Plenty of adventures ahead J

So I’m back.  Back in the states.  It’s been almost two weeks, and it’s been a blur. I’ve done almost nothing but work (68 hours in the first 9 days!).  I got back on Tuesday and started doing paperwork and training at the pool the day after.  I also began subbing again on Friday, and have subbed 3 days since.  I guess I really forgot what a workaholic I am: I just jump right in and don’t say no!  Hopefully this will help me bring my bank account back up after France…

I also forgot about that work-centered culture we have in the states; For example, it not being acceptable for me to miss a work orientation because of my cousin’s baby shower.  It’s a completely different mindset, especially with all of my friends graduating, getting jobs, and working their way up in different companies.  I feel the need to justify my lack of a “real job,” and it makes me feel like I’m just hanging around and not going to grow up for a few years yet.  As proud and excited as I am, something about being back makes me feel the need to explain my life decisions.  I miss the slower pace of France.  I also miss different accents and ways people talked.  I sat in Starbucks to write my PC essay, and I found myself getting very annoyed with the “North Shore” accent.  It’s kind of a cocky, “I’m so cool” accent, if that makes any sense.  It reminds me of teenagers and why I don’t want to teach them.

Everyone basically knows America is a consumer and waste-heavy culture.  In a way, it’s nice to be back with that courtesy that workers and shop owners always show, the customer service aspect.  On the other side, though, I’m getting really annoyed with unnecessary waste: napkins, papers, water, etc.  It’s kind of unacceptable.  Get your act together, America.

Another thing I miss is the independence and ability to travel.  Hopping on the train to Dijon is not quite the same as hopping on the train to Chicago.  I’m sure there’s plenty of things to do and discover near me, but it’s harder to motivate yourself when it’s home.  I mean, we didn’t even visit the museums in Chalon because we lived there!  I’ll have to try to take better advantage of my location.  Even though I don’t spend much time at home, I get more restless staying there, probably because it’s a bigger space with more room to wander aimlessly.  I also miss cooking for myself and controlling what I bought and ate.  I’ve been eating out way too much!  It’s a waste of money and unhealthy, but so good!

I’m very happy to be back with friends and family, and it’s made me happy that they’ve been so supportive.  Even though most people don’t want to hear me rave about my adventures, they at least have the courtesy to ask how it was and listen to me talk for a few minutes.  I also love being back with the school system here.  My first day subbing I watched as 3rd graders crafted persuasive arguments, researched, and created iPad movies and presentations.  And my French students didn’t think iPads could be used for educational purposes!

I also got the chance to meet up with a French girl from Chalon, the daughter of one of the teachers at my Lycée, in Chicago.  We got smoothies, walked around some of the main sights, and practiced French and English.  It was good, but it makes me worried about keeping my French skills to see how far I’ve regressed in one week!  I’ll have to try to find a way to keep my skills sharp… I’ve also been preparing for my Peace Corps assignment in Mozambique, mostly by doing the paperwork.  Soon I’ll start adding a Portuguese word of the day!  For now though, I’m going to try to focus on doing what makes me happy, and finding out how to get there.

French word of the day: Etats-Unis—United States.  France is still France though…

TED video of the day: http://www.ted.com/talks/cesar_kuriyama_one_second_every_day.html

It’s an interesting idea.  What would you see in your video???

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