As expected, my last week of teaching proved bittersweet. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, especially considering my complete lack of qualification, and though I’m fairly certain it is not my future career path, I enjoyed it overall. The kids were a hoot and the teachers very kind and I think there’s something to be gained from working abroad that you can’t get from being a student or a tourist. Not to mention the injection of confidence the experience has given me. It’s in the same vein as the confidence I’d get from taking French classes alongside normal ones, as in: “Sure, I can write a 10-page history paper, I’ve written the same length but in French.” But now that application has broaden to be more like: “Sure, I can open a bank account or secure health insurance or start a new job, I’ve done the same thing but in French.”
My kids were absolutely adorable about my leaving, giving me cards and drawings and things (by “things” I mean shells and handkerchiefs and pens). One girl even brought me flowers and a mom made me cookies. They also very endearingly would use “I’m sad,” which I taught them earlier in the year as a response to “how are you?” So see? They learned! The teachers gave me this wonderful French cookbook that I hope to use out by cooking à la française for y’all back home. (OK, since I brought it up, you should all expect to receive your souvenirs in the form of food experiences. I’ve done badly on the whole buying presents for people thing… but I’ve learned firsthand from a coworker how to make genuine crêpes and I’ve got my new knowledge of cheeses and chocolates and wine. And partaking in this with me is better than some cheap key chain or refrigerator magnet, right?)
Not only did I have to say goodbye to my students and coworkers, but I had to start saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made here as well. Saying goodbye is always difficult and we all are saying goodbye at different times. It makes me think of all those high school retreats and summer camps when after a week or even just two days you have to write letters and affirmations to people to share how much they mean to you, blah, blah, blah. Here, I’ve met some FANTASTICALLY AMAZING people to hang out with and have shared incomparable experiences over a span of seven months and to part we just say “see ya” outside of a bar? I’m not a fan. Good thing I’m a terrific pen pal and take seriously all talks of future visits.
Pictures of my last weeks in Besancon can be found here. I officially am no longer a resident of Foyer Soleil and am now beginning my post-contract journeys throughout the European continent (or at least throughout the UK and a bit more of France). On doit profiter!