Thankfully this was a rather uneventful week, so no repeats of frantic and ridiculously long posts (I didn't realize how long that last one was until like just now. Wow, sorry to everyone who actually read it!).
I'm in the middle of my sixth month with this program, which means that I have less than three months of teaching left because we have another big break coming up next month and some random long weekends in May. I can't believe this program is almost over already and that time has gone by so quickly. I know the rest of is will fly by, and I'm both happy and sad about that. There are some things I really can't stand about living here. To be flippant I'll list the horrible UHT (ultra high temperature pasturization) milk at the top of the list, but also things like the train strikes, some French behaviors, and most of their medical system, just to name a few. In that respect I'll be happy to get back to the US (where there are also a lot of things I can't stand, but hey, at least they are part of MY country and I have the power as a voter to fix them. Can't vote in France).
But this week I realized that I have made some kind of a life for myself here. Like when I went to the bakery yesterday. I haven't been in there in quite a while because I've been buying bread from Monoprix but the woman at the counter still remembered me and asked how my French was coming along. And at Monoprix, where I've somehow made friends with one of the check-out ladies. And when the professor at the lycée who I'm friends with asked if we could start having coffee during the week and speak English together. And how I have figured out the Paris metro system and am really starting to know (parts of) that city well. And when my kids see me in the town and run up all excited to give little bisous. And how this week I realized that I think I finally have this lesson planning thing figured out. And when one of my CM1 monster-class kids gave me a drawing on which she had written that she hopes I'll be here next year too. And how much I like the vast majority of the kids I teach and will be really, really sad to leave them.
Which brings up the topic of renewal. Considering the fact that as recently as December vacation I really wanted to quit and go home, it seems ridiculous that only three months later I'm thinking about staying for another year. I honestly can't believe it myself. What has changed since then? I hated the same things about France then as I do now. I guess I have just gotten used to being here and tried to do more to make myself happy. A lot of it is that I don't have horrible treatment anymore, so I have more free time to enjoy myself and relax and not be running around crazy busy and stressed. The things that I like are the same: my job and the kids (most of the monster class excluded), the people I work with (not that we're close, but they're nice to me at least), being able to get to Paris easily, and getting to practice and improve my French. And to add to that, the fact that I do feel more comfortable being here. The big question is, do I like it so much that I want to stay for another year? I I did apply for renewal, even though at the time it was just to keep my options open, in case. Now it seems to have become a real option. Renewal of the assistant contract is actually pretty rare because they give the preference to new applicants, but I think I have a better chance than most because Picardie is not a very popular region. Fewer people want to be here, therefore fewer new applicants to take spots the renewers want. So I'd say my chances of getting renewed aren't so bad. But would I take the renewal if I get it? I would only take it if I got assigned to the same inspection and the same schools. But am I romanticizing the situation because I've had a good couple of weeks? Could I tolerate being an ex-pat for another year, especially during an election year (I'm a politics junkie)? Wouldn't renewal be punishing myself doubly, because it would be even harder to leave after spending two years with the same kids?
Lots of unknowns. Which reminds me of a great quote by Gilda Radner: Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.