My trip to the States has come to an end, and I finally feel like I can look towards the New Year with some purpose and a bit of apprehension. My thirteen days with family and friends were incredible—nothing beats being able to hug your mom, telling your dad that you love him and plotting with your best friends. Nothing except being able to kiss the man you love as he waits patiently for you at the train station.
I’ve come up with three New Year’s resolutions that I wanted to share with you (and a few more that are restricted to my journal entries—no need to lay all my dirty laundry out to dry):
1) In 2013 I will be better about communicating: Granted, I’ve been pretty darn good in 2012 about staying in touch with those I love. It was a lot easier, as I spent eight months of the year in the United States, four and a half of which I was in an American university where my closest friends were a five-minute walk away and the rest the five-minute span of a text message and response. The long distance communication—to France and Switzerland—took no effort at all, as I worked night hours, enjoyed almost daily Skype conversations to Amiens, and had established an infrequent but consistent email/Skype relationship over the past four years with my Swiss family.
I told myself, when I moved indefinitely to France, that I would make a huge effort to keep up with those I love back home. As all those who have lived abroad can attest, you discover very quickly who thinks you are worth making the effort to stay in touch and who prefers to hear about your adventures once a year or two over a cup of coffee, but couldn’t care less the rest of the time. That’s partly why I started this blog—it’s easier to live vicariously through me without investing extra time and effort. But I wanted to do more than share about my life; I need a personal communication with the individuals who have touched my life over the years. I started with letters once a week. I’ve gotten four responses so far, partly due to my own slacking off on the letter writing. Nothing is more personal or more appreciated than a hand-written letter, but it certainly requires time and a little bit of money. Equally personally, although slightly more complicated to arrange, is the Skype date. I’ve had a handful of these with my close friends and weekly Skype calls with my immediate family. There’s also the phone call from my international phone line, which for 20€ a month allows me unlimited conversation with the United States. The connection is often less than incredible, and it’s hard to time the spontaneous phone calls with a 7-hour time difference and varying schedules. Then there’s the personal email, which allows for a lot of narration and less dialogue. This is definitely where I failed in communicating with friends. Slightly less personal but incredibly useful is the mass email, similar to a blog entry but much less colorful. And last, the incredibly impersonal but necessary social media, that’s to say, Facebook. I’ve become an expert at jumping on all my close contacts who happen to connect to Facebook chat or gchat (you are now forewarned).
I don’t look at Blog writing as a means of communication with close family and friends. Sure, I’m thrilled that many of my friends and relatives enjoy reading my posts and, somewhat uncannily, know all the details I’ve published of my last four months, but I see a blog as a way of reaching out to those who have shared a similar experience abroad or can relate to my desire to live, travel, work or study in an unfamiliar environment. I’ve always loved to write, and I view Expatlove as a way of expressing myself, both my frustrations and my triumphs (though there have been less of that so far!). It’s part of making this big global world a little bit more like home, through reaching out to other global citizens and travelers.
Short-term goal: I will consistently send emails to at least twenty individuals who are important to me, at least one email a month. Four months is really not acceptable.
2) In 2013 I will start running again: A little known secret about me… I am actually quite athletic. Part of my apathy this past year has resulted from the easiest of excuses: I’m not running because I can’t afford to go to the gym, because it’s too cold outside or wet, because I live on the fifth floor with no elevator, because I walk almost everywhere, because I don’t have enough time. Basically, I’m just lazy. From what I can tell, there will never be enough time in my life unless I make time to go run, or find some forsaken public tennis court (where are all the public tennis courts in France!?), or get a job and join a gym, or rent a bike.
Short-term goal: Run once a week (really pathetic, as I used to train for half-marathons, but you have to start somewhere).
3) In 2013 I will find a job: Well, this will happen at some point in 2013 because I won’t have a choice… somewhere down the line (and perhaps very soon), I will run out of money and resort to moving where I can work at least minimum wage. Hopefully I’ll find a job in France, but I really have no idea how to go about doing this. Working at a language school, a restaurant, teaching English in the black, anything. The degree I’m currently working on won’t throw anything my way until September 2013, assuming I pass both the first year Master’s and the CAPES/CAFEP (for teaching in private schools). Which would be awesome, but in the meantime, I’m not holding my breath… Let me know if you have any ideas!
Short-term goal: Make more than 12€ a week…