With my fate to be determined in one month, I thought I would reflect on my past and try to deviner le futur a little bit, or at least daydream a little.
In September 2011, I began what was to be a one semester study abroad in Orléans, France. At my university, we had limited choices – it was either a really expensive program in the south, the middle-of-nowhere in Quebec, or this little town in the Loire Valley famous for Jeanne d’Arc. Naturally, I chose Orléans without hesitation for several reason:
a) its proximity to Paris and other places due to its location in the center of France
b) apparently the accent is the “purest” in all of France
However, problems quickly arose as they always do. There was no availability at the consulate . I remember everything about the day when I tried to make an appointment (except what day it was apparently). I clicked, refreshed, clicked, refreshed, ad infinitum. Nothing. That sinking feeling hit me, and I thought “how am I going to tell my dad?” It was my own fault after all for not making the appointment further in advance. I asked a friend, “okay, I might not be able to go to France; recommend me something to listen to to bring my spirits up”. So I listened to Beck’s Sea Change, which helped a little to quell the stone that had dropped into my stomach. I called my French professor who is a magician (are you watching closely?). She called, lied about who she was (the most believable lies always have a grain of truth though!), and magicked my friend and I “appointments” with “Jean”. Yes, we were told to go without appointments and ask for “Jean”. No last name.
We left at 1am for our 9:10am appointment, arriving at 6am and expecting to be jumped by a shady Frenchman named Jean in the parking lot. As it turns out, the French consulate in Atlanta has the most lax security I’ve ever seen. They let us in sans rendez-vous, and when we passed through the metal detector were told to continue without checking our bags when it beeped.
At the consulate, our hopes were squashed as we saw the consulate worker make someone cry and suck the hope out of another who, upon being told that he would need a new passport, sat back down with vacant eyes.
So yeah, we were scared. When he called for the next person, I went up, gave my information, was asked penetrating questions, had to be given a napkin to dry my sweaty palms, and may have gotten this “Jean” in trouble. Enfin, I sat down. I made it! My friend, however, casually strolled up, said “same as him” and was done in minutes whereas mine lasted fifteen!
After we left, I received a call from the consulate asking us to come back and would not tell us why when we asked. I think I could have fainted! It turns out they had not given me back enough money when I paid, hahaha!
On our way back, we had a sobering moment when I realized that Atlanta is EST and we were actually one hour late for our “appointment” and somehow we were able to be accepted. But we never found out who Jean was!
As it came to be, in October I had a moment with a friend, Imjeong, who told me “You are going to come back to France. I can tell”; and later that month an experience that changed my life and made me decide to stay for another semester (which I have written about in this blog, when I went on an impromptu trip to Normandy). If not for this moment with my friend and the trip, I would have gone back in December and probably would not have realized that what I want to do is to travel through teaching English abroad.
So that’s le passé, now what about le futur?
Well, right now I am living only to hear the news in one month. I have a semblance of a job doing consulting work for a software company, but it’s not what I want to do. I put the académies of Lyon and Orléans-Tour as my preferences, the former a city that I never visited and the latter as a nostalgic choice that I could not not put. While I was there, I visited la région Centre, Paris, Normandy, Bordeaux, and Nice/Monaco. I want to be somewhere I have not been but is close to places I love, like Lyon and its proximity to Nice. I would love to be placed in that académie, for another reason: my dad has the chance to be a part of a work visit to Geneva, which is just a stone’s throw away from Lyon and anywhere in that académie.
I’ve also thought about my back-up plans, if I am not accepted into the TAPIF program. I have already been in contact with programs that send English-speakers to Korea, China, and Japan. I have been fascinated with Korea and Korean culture (and food! the most important incentive in the world!) for quite some time now, but I would equally love to go to the Canton region of China if possible. Regardless of if I get the assistant teaching job in France, I will go to these places.
This year, France! Next year, Asia!