Similar to last year’s post on 2015, I’ve decided to recap my life from this past year- 2016, that is. Unlike what I did last year, which was merely highlights of it, I’ll be doing a month-to-month breakdown of my 2016 year, since so much had happened…and exciting stuff, too!
From the good to the bad, here’s what my 2016 year looked like:
Was still in France for my first year of teaching abroad. Had just came back from two-weeks of whirlwind traveling through the UK/Ireland, and admittedly, the post-travel/back-to-school/winter depression hit me pretty hard that month. Wasn’t feeling very happy living in my small town and made efforts to escape every weekend, which I did: I had a long weekend in Lyon, along with a *fortunate* week off to go to Switzerland!
Had my official two-week break from school (les vacances d’hiver) and jetted off to the southwest of France (Bordeaux, Pau, Toulouse) before hopping over to Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) and finally ending in Portugal (Lisbon, Sintra, Aveiro, and Porto). One of my favorite vacances to date, since the warm, sunny weather was much needed away from the Normandy cold.
Funny enough, I also did a trip to the Normandy Landing Beaches and le Mont St-Michel with a friend later that month, and it proved to be a nice weekend getaway whilst still being in the region. Cold as heck, but stunning!
Still in France, still in my small town teaching. Traveled almost every weekend when I could. Had another random week off from teaching and took off to the south of France, spending a grand total of 1 euro on a bus from Paris to Montpellier (whaaat??!) and hitting the southern cities of Nîmes, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille. Hiked the calanques of Marseille, got breathtaking views, and soaked up the much-needed Mediterranean sun.
Celebrated my 23rd birthday in the Brittany region, visiting Rennes, St. Malo, Dinan, and Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region. Cold, but kind people and delicious galettes aux saucisses!
Had my next two-week vacation from teaching (les vacances des Pâques) and took off for Amsterdam, spending three nights taking in the canals, the museums, and the tulips (including a day trip to the Keukenhof Gardens). Tried a space cake and almost ruined my life, but I’m still alive! Next flew over to Munich to meet my parents and spent a few nights visiting the city, along with day trips to Salzburg and the Neuschwanstein (castle that has inspired the Disney one). Boarded a very posh cruise for a tour along the Danube, visiting places like Vienna, Cesky Krumlov, Bratislava, and Budapest. Just a “tapas tour” of each destination, but it was lovely; I’d like to revisit some of them!
Found out that I was wait-listed in the teaching program that I’d reapplied for, and I was devastated: true, I still had a chance, but the uncertainty of it all killed me. In the meantime, I took a day trip to Giverny to see the Monet House and Gardens, as it was springtime and things were opening up again. Really lovely!
My teaching contract ended, and I was to return to the United States. Before leaving, though, I spent five days gallivanting off in the Cinque Terre, Italy where I hiked along the treacherous cliffs for amazing views of the warm, Mediterranean sea and colorful houses. Ate a ton of amazing Italian food, too.
Returned to the United States back to Los Angeles with my family. Spent the rest of the month searching for work, doing a bit of tutoring on the side. Received an invitation to work at a French university, of which I had an interview at the very end of the month.
Received news that I was “selected” to teach at the French university; I was elated! But paperwork still had to be processed, which was taking forever and worried me. In the meantime, I went off to Japan with my family, spending nine days touring the island of Honshu and visiting the big cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, as well as smaller ones like Kamakura and Nara. Ate amazing food, especially tons of matcha-flavored ones!
After the tour, we headed over to Taiwan to visit family, as well as spend a few days doing a tour of the country outside of Taipei, which before was the only place we’d ever stayed in. Hit all four corners of the country, from Taichung to Tainan to Hualien. Explored many night markets, ate a lot of excellent food, and saw plenty of breathtaking scenery along the road. Definitely was a change from the stuff that I saw in Europe!
…oh yeah, and Brexit happened. Really shitty.
Returned home on the Fourth of July. Received news, ironically enough, on 7/7 that my paperwork didn’t go through and that I couldn’t work at the French university the upcoming year. I was PANICKING. Luckily, I contacted the representative of the teaching program that I’d just done and was able to get back on the wagon for the upcoming year. But still…the rest of the month, until August, was just slow with processing and hearing back, which were not happy months for me. Filled with angst, doubt, and anxiety.
In the meantime, I hung out with old friends in my town, one of them my oldest friends who would be leaving out-of-state for grad school soon after. Otherwise, I just did some small side jobs with freelance writing and tutoring to earn some money.
First half of the month was still uncertain with whether I would be returning to France for the upcoming school year. Had a nasty falling out with a friend of five years, of which still bothers me, but I know that it wasn’t a good friendship to begin with. Continued my small jobs and towards the end of the month received news that everything was processed and that I could return to France!!! Booked my VISA appointment and got myself mentally prepared to go back.
Had my VISA appointment in early September and received my VISA a week before leaving. Was wrapping up things at home with tutoring, packing up and getting ready to move back for the next seven, eight months. Experienced a massive heat wave in Los Angeles before I left, then took the direct plane over to Paris, then a train to Normandy where a colleague picked me up and gave me dinner before taking me over to my new flat. Had no Internet for the first few days until I caved and bought data for my phone.
Met the other teaching flatmates who lived in the same building as me, which was a huge change from last year’s situation, going from zero teaching assistants in my town to eight; I’m happy with the change, though! Still getting settling in, as well as figuring out how to get Wifi for the flat; it took us until the end of the month to finally acquire it. Started my online Master’s program as well, which was a struggle at first with the inconsistent Internet connection.
In the meantime, I did some mini-trips, visiting my town, as well as a day trip to Giverny (again after five months!), and then over to the Normandy coast for les vacances de la Toussaint, seeing an old colleague and exploring more of the region (including places like Honfleur, Deauville, and Trouville). Had my immigration processing appointment, and afterwards became “legal” to work and stay in France.
Officially started teaching at my new school, while also making a couple of day trips to le Mont St. Michel (again, after nine months) and Paris (where I got to meet a friend in person for the first time). Wanderlust hit me too hard, especially seeing photos on Facebook of other teaching assistants living it up during the past vacation. On impulse, I booked trips for December.
…and oh yeah, Donald Trump became president-elected. Even shittier.
Spent the second weekend in Lyon for la fête des Lumières (“Festival of Lights”) which was short, but absolutely lovely. Finished up work for my Master’s second term and freelance writing before heading off to Germany and Spain for the holidays, meeting my family in the latter and enjoying the warmer weather. Crossed German Christmas markets off of my bucket list, too, and loved it so much (mulled wine, ftw!). Returned to my town in France for a little while before going back to Le Havre to ring in the New Year with a good friend. 2017, whoot!
*note* I’ll be posting more in detail of my winter vacation the following week, but until then, here’s a taster of what I saw:
…and that’s about it! That’s my 2016 year in review. Again, so much had happened, in terms of travel, friendships and family, and just knowing myself more. I might’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I think that I really needed that year in order to figure out myself, especially having had just recently graduated college. While I still can’t say that I’m 100-percent certain about my life, I believe that I have a much better idea of what to expect for the next few years. We’ll have to see!
Thanks for reading! Let me know how your year was; I’d be curious to read it! Take care. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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