I have an announcement, and it’s been SUCH a process getting to the point where I could announce it to you. It has been the HARDEST secret I’ve had to keep, but now it’s finally go-time.
We’re moving to France.
By we, I mean my husband, Kevin, and I. And I know, I know, it’s crazy, but we’re doing it. I’ve quit my job and Kevin is wrapping up his PhD. We’ve been packing up the house, arranging our visas, and selling the house. It’s happening.
There have been a LOT of questions we’ve been getting as we tell people–so I figured I’d tackle the most frequently asked in this post. I’ll cut right to the chase:
The FAQs of Why the Heck We’re Quitting and Moving
1. First question: WHY?
Kevin got a job.
Living abroad has been the setting of my daydreams for a long, long time. Arriving at college, I had never left the country. In college, I spent hours over my course plan finagling a way I could study abroad for a semester (my secondary education program made it almost impossible–something I think teacher prep programs need to seriously re-examine).
With a couple intense semesters and summer school, I was able to move to Costa Rica my spring semester sophomore year for 5 months. This was no small thing. This was a girl with social anxiety who had never left the country and hadn’t flown since she was 6 years old, flying solo to a country where she didn’t speak the language and didn’t know a soul. Despite the shock of the first few days, that decision was the best decision I ever made. It was hands-down the best 5 months of my life–and not because living abroad is all puppies and rainbows. Every day challenged my worldview and expanded my perspective. Every day I was learning something and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. And as a plus, I learned a language that unlocked the potential for conversation with another 6% of the world.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I married the man I met at the end of that trip. He was the only one I knew that understood the why behind living abroad and the piece in my heart that would always belong to the people and places that shaped my first experience with it.
Which was convenient, since it made convincing him to do it again with me that much easier.
So that leads us to the next question…
2. Why France?
That’s where the job offer was.
Short answer is true. Here’s what happened before that:
At first, we wanted to go back to Latin America. After some research, though, it just didn’t seem feasible to find the income and visas we needed to live in a Latin American country for more than a few months. I’m sure it’s possible eventually if we really wanted to do it, but we don’t have that figured out yet. Europe, however, was a comparative hub for what Kevin studies (agroforestry), and so was much more promising.
So, for the past few years, wanting to continue our Spanish skills, we’ve been planning on moving to Spain. It’s beautiful, rich with culture, and best of all, we’d be able to continue developing our Spanish.
Barcelona was our first choice. Last year, though, Kevin went to a conference in France and connected with some really great opportunities in his field. Since my skillset is pretty versatile across Europe (#englishteacherperks), we decided to change plans. I’m excited to learn a new language, and we’ll only be a 3 hour train ride to Barcelona. I’d say it’s a win.
3.Where in France?
Montpellier. It’s in the southern part of France, very close to the Mediterranean coast.
4. Have you ever been to France?
Nope. Just once to Europe. Kevin’s been to France a couple times, and once in Montpellier.
5. Do you know any French?
Nope. But I’m so excited to learn. I’ve been following Fluent in 3 Months for the past year, and have started focusing on learning French this summer. I feel like for many people, their confidence in operating in a foreign language is their biggest obstacle; any progress in learning a language is progress, and too often people underestimate the significance of learning even a little bit of a language. The hardest part of learning a language is just about putting yourself out there and embracing your own level.
I anticipate posting this summer about my progress in learning French, and providing tips for teachers that might be interested in learning a new language, too.
6. What will you do?
Kevin will be modeling.
Ok, actually Kevin’s position is a post-doc position, and he’ll be working on an agroforestry computer model, but I like telling people he got a modeling job in France.
I will probably be teaching English in some way.
True, I will probably be teaching English. But real-talk, I’ve had a growing interest in becoming an entrepreneur. I really want to take this rare opportunity to go crazy with it. I’m working on this blog, opening my TPT store, and working on developing some webinars and other consulting work. It’s an intimidating thing to start a business, and not exactly something I enjoy explaining to people that I don’t know well. This image to me perfectly says how it feels whenever I try to explain it.
But I’m working on positive self-talk. It’s helping that I’m meeting more amazing teachers out there starting their own side gigs and boosting each other.
Kevin and I do need a second income, so if I can’t start making enough of my own money before long, I’ll look for a more conventional teaching or tutoring position. Most likely I’ll do a combination of both because even when I make millions from my business ventures (positive self-talk), going from interacting with 200 humans a day to only a handful might make me go crazy.
7. Where will you live?
We’ll probably be living in either university housing or an apartment. We’ve played with the idea of not having an apartment and instead staying in temporary AirBnB’s and taking housesitting jobs to save money, but that might be a little too advanced for us
*Update: can’t live in university housing, we found out. Apartment it is!
The plan is to go to Europe in the beginning of September, and settle in France at the end of October.
9. How long will you be there?
A year, maybe two years…
10. Will you teach when you come back?
Great question. My answer now? Of course! But here’s the thing: half the reason Kevin and I want to stop and move abroad is to reset. Take a step back. Re-evaluate. If there’s one thing that is true about both Kevin and me, it’s that we are driven by a passion to make the world a better place. Kevin with sustainable agriculture, me with social justice. Until now, teaching has been my world and my outlet for making the world a better place–and I plan on focusing my energy on helping other teachers improve the world. I have no idea where the next two years will take us, and how I’ll continue that mission once we get back to the United States. But I am incredibly grateful for an opportunity to stop, take stock, and choose the best path forward. It might be teaching. Or it might be something else. Until then, I’m thrilled for the opportunity to throw myself into helping YOU, as a Teacher Off Duty abroad.
There they are: answers to the most frequently asked questions we get. Have more? Post them below! Have YOU done this before and have tips? Or tips about France?? I’d love to hear from you! Don’t forget to sign up below for updates, and I’ll post more, soon. I will also be posting much more about moving abroad to the Teacher Off Duty Instagram, so be sure to follow me there.
– UPDATE –
I’ve moved all my writing about travel and living abroad to a new blog, called 17 Pockets. If you’re interested in reading more about our adventures and what it’s been like since we moved in September 2017, check it out here!
Want some more reading?
Feeling that travel bug, too? In case you needed more inspiration, check out my post on why all teachers should travel.
Here’s a post with concrete, step-by-step ideas for changing your mindset about work and prioritizing taking care of yourself. For you, for your kids, and for the profession itself.
Even more justification for taking care of yourself. Check out my post where I take apart why self-care can be so difficult to justify, and why it’s one of the most critical things teachers can do for their students.
Some other things you might also be interested in:
How I met my husband – a Costa Rican matchmaking story
Teacher Travel Pinterest Board – a collection of travel ideas and teacher grants to do it
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