When I arrived home on May 15th, I was dead-set on returning to France to work again in the fall. I left one of my huge suitcases full of winter clothes and household items with my landlords for my return. In my mind, it was inconceivable to think that I would do anything else! My contract was all set and I was going to keep my phone plan and bank account open for easy transition back to France in October. However, after a month or so of being home I completely changed my mind.
When I first returned, it was so nice to be surrounded by my amazing friends and family. I wanted to enjoy their company as much as possible during the summer, knowing that I would be leaving again. However, after a few weeks I started getting what I can only describe as a gut feeling that I did not want to leave. I surprised myself in even considering staying! Then the more I reflected on the options, the more it made sense to me.
Part of me had forgotten how much I love this area! Not only is my community here, but DC is such an amazing area full of diversity. They say out of sight, out of mind; well, I was so happy and content being in France that I nearly forgot that I also love being in Northern Virginia! In my mind, I was leaving a place full of culture and tradition to come home to a bland place. However, I was immediately reminded how much my home is really a melting pot – I am constantly surrounded by people of different nationalities, cultures, and native tongues!
One of the biggest reasons I considered staying was that I felt like I was going to miss more than I was going to gain by going back. Last year I missed the first birthdays of both my nephew and my half-brother. Each of those days were extremely hard on me. I kept thinking, wow I’m going to miss their second birthdays as well!? Now my family will be growing by two more this fall – with twin nieces on the way! I couldn’t bear to delay meeting these little ones.
My family is so dear to my heart, this “Pro” for staying countered nearly any “Con” I could think of. Neither of my parents would weigh in on my decision, each wanting me to make the best decision for ME. This just made me even more thankful for my amazingly supportive family. I like to believe that I am an independent young woman 😉 . But, when you have a baby brother who squeals and runs to hug “Sissy” every time you see him, or when your sister-in-law (aka best friend) has two little babies kicking around in her tummy – how can you leave that in good conscience?!
On top of not wanting to miss out on family events, there was the financial reality. If I had a different contract, it would have been an entirely different story. I wrote previously about my struggle living with the low salary given to assistants. Partway through my last stay, I was informed that I could no longer defer my student loans. My monthly payments are about the same amount I was earning with the teaching contract! Though it was not impossible for me to make it work, I eventually decided that it wasn’t worth the stress.
The fact that the contract only bought me 8 or so more months in France, also led me to consider staying. I had such an amazing experience with TAPIF, but I felt like repeating the contract would almost put my life on hold for another year. If this means settling down and getting a real job instead of frolicking around Europe then so be it. Although I love Europe, there is still a lot of the Americas that I’d like to explore too – including a lot of the United States!
It’s a little disappointing to think that I turned down a chance to live in France again, but I feel very at peace with my decision. I’m really excited to be home and taking advantage of where I live! I have also already begun making lots of fun plans for the upcoming year. 😀 Hopefully a trip back down to South America will be in my near future! For now, I am just enjoying being back home and taking advantage of living in the DMV.