New York ➳ Besançon

August 28, 2016

Last December I decided I wanted to apply for a lectrice teaching position at the Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon, France. I didn’t want to let my soon-to-be newly acquired French BA gather dust after graduation, and I also wanted to further my language skills. During the following months, I assembled rounds of CVs, cover letters, and a statement of purpose. In late April I received notice that I got the position.

I went through the steps of applying for a VISA. This felt far too easy by comparison to the student VISA I applied for when studying abroad in 2015. The idea of going to France still felt abstract a few days before leaving (and tbh, after arriving). I didn’t pack until a few days before and finished in a few hours. Packing is stressful, and I’d rather not do it! The night before leaving, I went to one last HV Tech meetup (and cried). Afterward, I spent time with friends (and cried more).

Getting to the airport and checking in wasn’t much of a problem. TSA felt a bit dehumanizing (as it can), but went without any problems. My flight arrived at about 1pm in France at a fun, round terminal. Border control took an immense amount of time but was also fine. Then finding baggage, also fine. Getting to the bus from CDG to Gare de Lyon, also fine. Then getting the train from Gare de Lyon and transferring at Dijon, also fine.

Essentially, a lot happened in a short amount of time and nothing was out of the ordinary. Despite the hours of travel that left me mentally and physically exhausted, I went for a walk when I got to my city. When I left Besançon after studying abroad last year, I didn’t know if I would ever come back. With that in mind, it was refreshing to come back to a city feeling as familiar as when I left it. Though it also felt utterly, utterly bizarre. Jet lag and airplane back set in the following days, as is somewhat expected.

Rentrer à Besançon — tout ça a l’air cool, hein ?

All this sounds golden, but moving cities in close proximity is hard. As is moving states. And definitely moving between countries that speak the same language. And even though I’ve lived here before and know people here, moving to a city in another country where all interactions require using a second language is hard af. For a second it feels like everything is up against you. It can be immensely isolating. But the only thing to do is keep going past these blocks.

A year ago I looked into how study abroad is marketed. One feature that comes up often is growth as an individual and becoming stronger as a person. This is true, but they don’t mention that this comes by making it through some of the toughest obstacles you’ve faced.

I’ve been here for a hot three days (literally and figuratively?).  I’m still looking at apartments and trying to get things going (bank, phone, OFII/VISA papers, work contract, etc.). And for a second last night, I thought that this whole thing is probably the most ridiculous thing I could have done. In the US, I was doing fulfilling work in my field under a super rad designer / in general great human being, in a place that felt like home, where I got to see friends frequently and led a comfortable life. But this morning, I realized that would have been the easy thing to do.

So, I have decided to take the hard route it seems. And while staying in the US would be so much easier, I’m going to pass a year in another country, put a fast dissipating anxiety disorder to rest (ayyyyy), get comfortable with discomfort, and try to use this opportunity to experience as much growth as possible.