Goodbye France, Hello California

Hi! Guess where I am? (I suppose if I really wanted you to guess I shouldn’t have put it in the title.)

I left Lyon (in tears) and flew back to my hometown last week. Most of August was spent emptying our home in Lyon and trying to cram all of my belongings into two suitcases. (Bless the Lufthansa agent who let my overweight bag slide through!)

Everyone knows moving is the worst, but sometimes you forget how really Not Fun it is until you’re weeding through everything you own and getting stood up by Leboncoiners who are supposed to come buy your crappy chairs (RUDE!) August was hot and stressful and I was pretty cranky for most of the month. I pretty much stopped checking my email, which is terrible because some really nice people emailed me during that time. (I’m sorry, nice people!!!) It seems like a pretty wimpy thing to complain about, but I get so overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox.

So my last weeks in Lyon weren’t how I thought they would be – I didn’t have time to wander around the city and visit my favorite places one last time. Most of them were closed for the month of August anyway because France.

I didn’t feel like I was really leaving up until the last minute, even though I knew I was. You know when your head knows something, but it hasn’t hit you yet? That’s how I felt all month. I didn’t cry until we closed the door on our empty apartment and I realized we were never coming back.


Chez nous for the last year

I don’t know if this is the right thing or not (and if you know me, you know it’s nearly impossible for me to decide anything, even dessert, unless I’m absolutely sure it’s the right thing, and until I’m sure, everything hangs in limbo, which is really inconvenient when everyone else just wants you to order some cake) but I think it was right to try it. It was painful to uproot our happy, comfortable life in Lyon, but I didn’t want to wait until it was too late and then regret that we didn’t take the chance.

La Campagne, near Hugo’s parents’ house, where I spent my last day in France

I start graduate school on Monday. Hugo will join me soon. Know anyone hiring in California?

I’m not feeling major reverse culture shock yet. I’m in very familiar surroundings, so it almost feels like an annual visit home, except I’m not going back to France this time.

I’m getting used to hearing English all the time, writing the date with the month first, and using pounds instead of kilos. I don’t know how to end conversations since there’s no definitive “au revoir”, and I say weird stuff like “fidelity card”. I’m using to speaking Franglais – it’s easier on my lazy brain to mix French and English. But if I do that here, I just sound weird or snobby.

Oh well – I’m pretty sure Franglais won’t fly in translation class anyway.

California is pretty nice. I love being close to the ocean. It’s not too hot, not too cold. (We have San Francisco weather – lots of fog!) I’m really happy to finally live close to one of my very favorite people (whose wedding Hugo and I attended in May) – I moved to France immediately after she moved back from the UK. I think we missed each other by a month! I’m glad to be near my family too – they are pretty great! I’ve lived thousands of miles away for the last decade so it’s nice to be closer to home.

I’m also meeting people from all over the world at school, which is really cool! I think there are students from forty or fifty countries. Everyone has their own life that they left to come study here, whether they came from China or San Diego, which helps put this move into perspective for me. It has been complicated to bring Hugo here, but at least it was possible – some people had to leave their spouses or partners behind.

Beach weather

You might have heard about the fires in California – my family isn’t in the affected zone, but we have friends who are very close to the fires about an hour from here. There are fires almost every year around this time, but this is the biggest one since 2008. There are signs all along the highway thanking the fire crews for being so awesome. Not only are they working hard to save homes and contain the fire, they also have to deal with other hazards, like rattlesnakes. Because an out-of-control monster of flames isn’t enough.

The most threatening inhabitants here are hermit crabs. (Rattlesnakes in tide pools = apocalypse)

What about blogging? I plan to keep blogging as much as I can. I have tons of half-written posts to edit about Lyon and Paris and France, and I might post some updates about life over here if you care to know! I’ve gotten some nice feedback about my posts on Lyon, so I’d like to write some more at some point. My posts on teaching English are still the most popular, but I don’t know that I have much more to say on the subject. (Hi and bon courage to all the future language assistants who have stopped by!)

This is a big year for me – change is hard, but it also feels good, like stretching after being curled up in a cozy ball for awhile. I miss France, but I’m excited to see what life in California will bring.

Wish me luck, and keep in touch!

23 thoughts on “Goodbye France, Hello California

  1. “I don’t know if this was the right thing or not, but I think it was the right thing to try it.” This was so, so powerful and it gave me goosebumps. It’s scary uprooting (or in my case, thinking about uprooting) my happy France life. It’s not my time yet but that doesn’t mean it won’t ever be.

    I look forward to reading more and keeping in touch. I hope you guys find that same happiness in California. I’m always here if you need me.

    1. Thank you Dana!!! I am looking forward to following your journey too, as you go into this cool new year in France. I know whatever you do in the future will be interesting and awesome. I’ll live vicariously through your European travels until I’m back on the other side of the Atlantic 🙂 Thank you for all your support!! xoxo

  2. I remember how scary it was when I moved back to Texas for grad school. One thing that really helped was how motivating and interesting my masters program was. Having something to drive me with the return made all the difference. At the time I wondered why I didn’t just stay in France and do a masters degree, but in hindsight I really think it was the right choice. So, even if you may have your doubts now, things may all make sense later on.

    Please keep posting—California is an interesting place to learn about too!

    1. Thank you, that is so reassuring!! I am really excited about the program – it’s been keeping me really busy and classes haven’t even started yet. I’m glad to know that coming to the US for a masters turned out to be a good thing for you, I hope that when I look back I’ll feel the same about my decision.

  3. First off, they showed that staircase on a program we were watching about Lyon yesterday!

    It’s so hard to leave everything behind and start over. And with the stress of leaving and getting things done, it doesn’t hit until the last minute. It still hasn’t really sunk in that I’m only in Lille for a little over a month more. I’ve moved around several times these past 10 years, and it’s pretty much always been like that.

    Good luck with the start of school! (Have you shared what you’re studying? I can’t seem to remember.) I can’t wait to read about life in CA. That’s quite foreign for me actually!

    1. No way, that is so cool!! It was a beautiful courtyard, that was my favorite place I lived in Lyon.

      Thank you! I do not believe I have shared too much about the program I’m doing – it’s a masters in Translation and Localization, so I get to incorporate language skills and learn a lot of new technical skills too. I’m excited!

      I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Lille, and that the move to Lyon goes well. Let me know what neighborhood you end up in!

      1. Thank you!!! It’s at MIIS, I know that a lot former language assistants end up studying there. Three of us in the French program this year are former TAPIF assistants. I love it so far!

      2. That’s the one! I started a Masters at their other school in Vermont but didn’t finish as it was strictly language and I couldn’t justify the cost. Doesn’t MIIS now have a grant for former TAPIFs? I feel like I read that somewhere.

      3. Yes they do! TAPIF alums get a $10,000 grant (per year) which is awesome, plus any additional funds you might be awarded. It’s not cheap even with a scholarship, but I’m learning so much already, so I’m really glad I took the leap. I’m going to try to cram loads of stuff into my brain, fingers crossed it doesn’t explode.

      4. They started offering that grant after I looked into it. I think if it existed at the time, I might have applied to the program. I’m glad it’s starting out awesome! I wouldn’t mind reading some posts about interesting things you’re learning and the like if you ever feel so inclined!

  4. Good luck on your new adventure! I am in total avoidance of thinking about the fact that I might have to leave Italy eventually, so I’m very impressed that you can feel the emotions of leaving but still get on and do it. Your masters program sounds really cool, too.

    1. Thank you!! I went through some major denial about leaving France, but I have strong ties there so I know I’ll be back. Any time I felt really sad about leaving, all I had to do was go sit on a terrace (I’m extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke) and I couldn’t wait to be in California! A lot of my close friends in Lyon moved away at the same time so it felt like the end of an era. I am loving my classes so far – being a student is great!! 🙂

  5. Wow, good luck! I looked into MIIS too (especially with the $10k for TAPIF alums) but ultimately decided on a program at one of the state universities in New York. Everything I’ve heard about MIIS has been very positive. I’m sure you’ll have an amazing experience!

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