April 10, 2014, by Guest blog
The most important thing about spending time in any place is not the place itself; it’s the people
I am entering the final weeks of my teaching assistantship in North-eastern France, and while trying desperately to soak up every last opportunity to improve my French, travel around Europe and drink cheap wine, I am beginning to reflect on the things I will miss about living in this country. The most significant thing I have learnt during my time here is that the most important thing about spending time in any place is not the place itself; it’s the people.
Gaining experience from my job here and gathering good references and transferable skills is certainly worthwhile – teaching is something I am interested in for the future and I have certainly become more confident in my ability to command the attention of a group of unruly teenagers. Furthermore, I have improved my language to such an extent that I now feel more than able to take on any challenges France throws at me, be it spending hours on the phone to my Internet server, or having to explain to the policeman at the station that my drivers’ license is in fact considered adequate ID in England so I’d appreciate it if they didn’t try to detain me. However, although these things have contributed to my enjoyment of France greatly, they’re not the things which make me want to stay. It is the people I have met here and the friends I have made which make me very reluctant to leave such a beautiful place.
I have met people from all over the world here. There are lots of other language assistants in Metz and I have learnt a lot about so many cultures, not just France, and have been able to make contacts from virtually every continent- something which will be invaluable in my future travels. Having other foreign friends is great as I know I am not alone in feeling out of place every now and again, and I always have someone to share my frustration with when I am required to produce yet another set of 40 forms for the state or when I find myself waiting for 15 minutes in an exceptionally long line at the bakery, only to find there are no baguettes left and I’ll have to come back tomorrow.
Nevertheless, it is the French people I have met here who have really helped me settle in to life in France and been there for me to call on when I find myself in a pickle. I have spent many lovely evenings trying every French beer on the menu with my friends from rugby, eating proper French food at one of the teachers’ houses and going for walks in the countryside with my French friend and her dog. The people I have met here have shown me such kindness and generosity and given me a wonderful impression of a country sometimes mistaken as cold and unwelcoming. As a result, I have become rather attached to this place and feel lucky to have called it home.
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