|The village where I work: L'isle sur la Sorgue|
It has been one year and nearly 1 month since we arrived to France and I started this journey of adaptation and building a new life. When we hit the one year mark, I was trying to evaluate my progress and decide if I had accomplished a decent amount of things. Had I improved enough my French? Had I pushed my boundaries hard enough? Or had I avoided stepping too far from my comfort zone? At first I felt like I was exactly the same as when I first arrived. Time seemed to have gone by so fast that I could possibly not have made much progress in anything. But when I really thought about it, I remembered last summer: working on my first job, going to French lessons, fighting with the administration and preparing our wedding. And then in the autumn I attended a receptionist course, followed by a successful internship.
I have certainly been pushing my boundaries. I wonder though if my impatience, perfectionism and need to get everything done right away played a part in creating my burn out at the end of last year. I am not a religious person, but on some level I'm always looking for signs to guide me in life. And I have believed that by following one's intuition and putting in maximum effort, the universe will reward you. A lot of things happened that made me question this perception of life: the hotel of my internship betrayed me, Pôle Emploi told me I had abandoned their course and I was humiliated in a job interview for my French. I was hit hard because they were outcomes of three things that I had been aiming to get right for several months. In the end everything I had worked hard for seemed to fail and I was left with the question: now what??
It was time to take a deep breath and do absolutely nothing for a while. I did crochet. I played video games. I drank wine. Then I took the decision to stop trying to get a job that would make sense with my degree. I accepted that I am not a super human and I just cannot pick up where I left off in Finland. We started looking for manual jobs such as fruit picking, factory jobs and dish washing. As I mentioned in one of my recent posts, I had a job interview in a restaurant where the boss looked like a captain of a pirate ship. Well, I got the job of a dish washer there and I have now been working a few weeks. The contract is for the season and this will help us to achieve an other goal we have set for me: enrolling in the University of Avignon to study French. I have come far by myself in terms of learning the language, but it's time to get to the next level. The whole academic year costs about 2500 euros and I intend to save up that money, shift by shift, by washing dishes.
My first year of being an expat has taught me this: if the first plan doesn't work out, just re-evaluate the situation, set the goal and start working towards it.