Il y a un an . . . we moved to France

1010452_10151640711113374_1425742124_n Tomorrow it will have been exactly one year since our container from St. Louis had arrived and we were beginning to move our furniture into our apartment.  With our place being on what the French call the second floor, but to Americans is actually the third floor, those 54 steps up to our new abode were a challenge, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. One year ago. couloir Sometimes I wonder where the time went, and other times I know exactly how each moment was spent.  Since it hasn’t always been easy, sometimes I wonder how it’s only been a year.  We were still in the midst of scrubbing walls, floors, doors, toilets, and sinks when our container arrived.  It was exciting, yet frightening to finally enter the door and step into our new life in France. We’d opened the door to enter that corridor of relative homelessness when we’d left our home and friends in St. Louis two months prior. The corridor was familiar territory,  not much different than spending two months on vacation in France as we had for the last 15 years. When the container arrived and we set up house and home in Béziers, started filling the cupboards and purchasing school supplies for the kids, the corridor disappeared, and porthole to a previous life had been sealed.  It’s not a short term stay, we’re not ephemeral expats living out a dream to spend some time in France. This is our new home. That was one year ago.

group shot                                  img_2338

I’m a teacher, have always been a teacher.  Of course I’d be teaching in France.  The idea of teaching English in France frightened me a little, but annoyed me more than anything. “Tu devrais enseigner l’anglais à l’université”, “On m’a dit qu’ils cherchent une prof d’anglais par-ci et par-là.”  Wonderful, thanks for your concern, but I’m not an English teacher.  I’m a French teacher.   I started thinking about that, long and hard.  Why, I asked myself, would I consider doing something that I didn’t want to do at 41 years old?  Didn’t I deserve more?  I really love French, and love teaching it. That was when what I identify now as “the American in me” took over.  I can do whatever I want to do, as long as I’m willing to work very hard, and not be intimidated by the threat of failure or having to teach myself how to do something new. unnamed                           unnamed One year ago.  I told myself that I could do it.  I learned to ignore those who told me I couldn’t.  I overcame my fear of telling French people that I’m going to teach French here.  I started a new business in France. I became an English speaking French teacher in Béziers and on Skype.  I told myself that I am good enough.  I realized that I am. When I started writing this blog several years ago, I didn’t even want to tell my family and friends about it because I was embarrassed.  I was sure my writing was bad, and that nobody would be interested.  I didn’t tell my husband about it until I’d been writing for at least 6 months. When I started recording French lessons and putting them on a YouTube channel, nobody knew.  They didn’t know because I didn’t tell them. I’m not sure why my self-esteem had dropped from the time I was a young 20-something, but during the last year and a half I have seen myself change.  I see now that the greatest hurdle was telling myself that I am good at something, and learning to realize that people who don’t believe in me don’t have the final word on the matter. One year ago.  I didn’t know I was good at much.  Somewhere inside I guess I knew it, people had told me, but I didn’t believe it.  This first year of living in France has taught me that I’m not good at everything (like stress management and not taking on too much for one sane person to handle).  However,  I’ve accepted that I’m a really good French teacher, and I’m good at meeting new friends.  I’m a good mom, too.   I’m good at taking on a challenge, and I’m good at learning new things.  I guess the most important thing is that I’ve begun to accept myself, and I feel like I’ve made a new friend in me.   Now I need to learn to trust my new friend.  I think she cares about me more than anyone else can.


18 thoughts on “Il y a un an . . . we moved to France”

  1. I love looking back. I used to work as a translator-journalist at Euronews many years ago and often worked on a ‘rubrique’ called ‘il y a un an’ – or one year ago today. It was fun work and I enjoyed looking back at what had happened in the news a year before. And as I had lived through it in France, it made the translation easier as I had perspective. Sounds like you’ve gained valuable perspective on yourself since you arrived and made great strides in your career. Well done!

    1. Sounds like you’ve had an exciting professional life! Thanks for the kind words. Writing this post was the easy part. Publishing it was harder, but I figured maybe it would inspire someone like me. xx

    1. Hi there, long time no see! I haven’t had a lot of time to blog this year (obviously). I don’t know if it’s total reinvention, but nonetheless it is a process. I sure didn’t mean to sound like I am good at everything, because I’m not. I just think that we should all give ourselves credit for the areas in which we shine, leaving plenty of space to improve upon the rest. Nice to hear from you 🙂

      1. I continue to follow your adventures even if I don’t always comment. And you didn’t sound showy at all. It’s good to look at how far we have come when deciding what the next step is. It somehow reinforces that we are capable of so much. Lâche pas!

  2. Hello Jennifer,

    I loved this post! I, too, am a French teacher in Washington state, but coincidentally, just bought (with my husband) a little pied-à-terre in Murviel-lès-Béziers in December of last year.  I spent 6 weeks there this summer and am now back home getting ready for a new school year.  I would love to meet up with you some time and talk about this great venture you have taken on and the AD-venture that goes with it.  

    Bon courage et “merde”!  You’ll do wonderfully, I am sure.  Believing in oneself is the whole thing.

    Christiane Higashi


    1. Christiane, What a coincidence! Too bad I didn’t write this while you were still around. It would be lovely to meet you when you next come to my neck of the woods. Thanks for the vote of confidence, and good luck with the new school year! What an exciting time to be a teacher, and you’ll get to tell your students all about your adventures in Murviel-lès-Béziers 🙂 I know they’ll enjoy that.

  3. This gives me hope and inspiration! I hope I build a strong sense of what I can and cannot do, challenging myself while being kind and compassionate along the way. We work at what we have and that’s all that matters!! Great job Jennifer!!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Just writing this post made me feel right about all of the life changing decisions that have been made in the last year. It helps to put it in writing, helped me anyway 🙂

  4. What a lovely post! I’m so glad you’re living your dream! Hopefully you won’t have any visa issues like my daughter just did after living four years in London… Crazy.

      1. Long story, but the government kept her passport when she submitted her visa extension application. She’d even been sponsored by her company. she was supposed to come home next week to see her pregnant sister for the first time, but she can’t travel without a passport. So at some point she’ll be summoned and shipped back to the US – where and when we don’t know. It’s like she’s an illegal alien. And she works in antiques!!! Crazy!!!

  5. Congratulations! If you’ve made it through your first year, you’re a success already (6 months is crisis time). We just moved to a small village near Pezenas, permanently, and I look forward to the 1 year anniversary 😉 just so I’ll know we’ve done the right thing. We’ve lived in lots of foreign places, but this is it, or it better be it 😉 Good luck with your teaching career!

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