Bonjour from Tel Aviv (still).
I said I’d write something about my experience teaching English in France and I will…I didn’t win “Most Dependable” in the 6th grade pop polls for nothing! So here’s a very little bit:
Summary of TAPIF from my perspective…teaching is very difficult, and I am very happy I got to live in France.
One of my students asked me what I had learned from my experience. I learned that preparation is key, but that even the best-planned lessons can easily take unexpected turns. So be prepared for the unexpected and get it done! The hardest lesson I had to learn was to not take things personally. Many of my students had little to no interest in learning English, and I had a fair amount of discipline issues with many classes, especially with my little collegiens.
Overall, it was a challenging but good experience. Though, most of all, I am extremely grateful for the incredible friends I made in Strasbourg, and for the massive amounts of time I was able to use for traveling.
I am re-reading one of my all-time favorite books (a thick tome I left here in Tel Aviv at my grandma’s place a few years ago), The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and I came across a passage that resonated startlingly well with how I felt about some of my recent travels in France, in Israel, traveling solo v. traveling with friends, and about traveling in general:
As an adult, I have often known that peculiar legacy time brings to the traveler: the longing to seek out a place a second time, to find deliberately what we stumbled on once before, to recapture the feeling of discovery. Sometimes we search out again even a place that was not remarkable in itself–we look for it simply because we remember it. If we do find it, of course, everything is different. The rough-hewn door is still there, but it’s much smaller; the day is cloudy instead of brilliant; it’s spring instead of autumn; we’re alone instead of with three friends. Or, worse, with three friends instead of alone. (Kostova)
Moving right along…
My upcoming plans are pretty exciting after I return to Europe from Israel in a few days:
El Camino de Santiago! Specifically, the Camino del Norte which runs nearly the length of the northern Spanish coast before heading southwest to Santiago. Greg and I will begin in Irun, a town on the French/Spanish border, and walk as far as we can. It’s a total of 830+ kilometers, and we hope to accomplish it in 5 weeks of walking.
Unfortunately there will need to be a pause in the middle of this endeavor; I have to go back to France for a wee bit of surgery. That will hopefully not slow us down more than necessary, and it will be an adventure in and of itself. The silver lining is that I get to spend some more time with my excellent friends in Strasbourg. I will update this blog as often as I can while on camino.