5 things I've learned so far from doing TAPIF

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

As the holidays wind down to a stop, it's time to reflect on my time living in France as a teacher abroad. It's crazy to believe that the program is half way done (eek!- time to find a real job !!).  Throughout the three months that I have lived abroad in Montpellier, France I have been able to learn a lot about myself, the world, and others around me. Here are just a few lessons that I have learned as a teacher within the classroom, and as a 'student' in the real world (after all, we are never done learning lessons are we).

  1. Be grateful for your experience abroad : As we get into our daily routines here in France, I sometimes find myself taking France for granted. Montpellier has become my home. The honey moon phase is over, and I find myself becoming 'oh-so-French' and complaining about trivial things such as money, schoolwork, and the French bureaucracy more than one probably should. Sure, at times living abroad can have it's downsides, but overall coming back and living in France has allowed for me to grow as an adult. I find myself constantly having to remind myself of how lucky I am to live here. I might be out of the honey moon phase, but that doesn't mean that I haven't fallen out of love with Montpellier (or France). I'm living in sunny southern France away from the Minnesota cold, what really could be better than that?
  2.  The importance of friendships:  Living abroad can be difficult at times because of how far away you are  from your friends and family back at home. Know that at first it will be awkward and hard to branch out and talk to new people. It will get better, and you will make friends. You don't have to like everyone you meet (that's life) but if you allow yourself to open up and be willing to meet new people, you can find some pretty awesome friends along the way.  You can never really predict how/if/or when you are going to become friends with someone abroad, but somehow magically it seems to happen, and the friendships you create abroad can be some (if not the) most rewarding and strongest ones yet. 
    Some friends and I enjoying Barcelona, Spain
  3. The importance of family: Missing birthdays, holidays, and important events can take a toll. At times you might even feel guilty for moving abroad and not spending those momentous occasions right by their side. I won't sugar coat it and say that it's possible not to miss your family while living abroad. It's going to happen, and some days it will be hard not missing them. Know that it will get better and  that there is always another fellow traveler friend that understands exactly what you are going through. If you are lucky enough to have your family over (like I was) know that it can sometimes get overwhelming, but that's the joy of having family around, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. At the end of the day, you know that there is someone miles away, doors open, waiting for your arrival. It honestly can't get any better than that. 
    The family
  4. Try new things: There comes a time where you might begin to consider yourself to be an expert in certain new areas and fields (such as navigation, language, etc). As terrible as trying new things such as eating alone at a restaurant, asking for directions from a real-live person, or traveling alone can be, they can help you become a stronger and better person. I'm not an expert by any means of having the confidence of trying everything out, but thanks to some wise words from my dad during the holidays, I'm trying to remember that every day is another opportunity to learn something new. 
  5. Travel: Take this opportunity while living abroad to travel as much as possible. This is your time to see as many different parts of France, and the world so do as the French do and 'profitez'! 

Until next time, 

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