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How did I get here?

Bonjour! Hello and Bienvenue!

I’m so glad you’re here and thanks for stopping by! One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to try to keep my blog more active - so welcome to attempt number one. In my first couple of years in Paris, I was pretty good at writing regularly and posting about what my life looked like in my new environment BUT a lot has changed since my early days. Now with nearly four and half years under my belt, I can certainly say I’ve learned A LOT.

I can’t believe it’s been as long as it has. I still have *pinch me* moments that feel surreal. I’m going to try to be more active in capturing my day-to-day life again. Even if in the end it’s just a fun exercise just for myself.

I figured I start out with a re-introduction of myself and how I got to Paris.

We have to go back to when I was in college extremely eager to see the world, but most of all to visit Europe. As an art student, I felt so compelled to visit the cities where some of the great artists, thinkers, and creators lived. I loved all of my art history classes and I would daydream of visiting the works we were studying in person. I graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from a liberal arts school in Nashville, Tennessee.

I finished school deep in despair, completely overwhelmed by imposter syndrome. I moved back home for a few months because I didn’t have a post-grad plan. I barely believed in myself and whatever self-confidence I had was hanging by a thread.

I can’t remember when I first learned about Au Pairing, but I remember being so intrigued because I had only known of studying abroad…I hadn’t really considered actually moving abroad for a year post-grad.

Long story short, I started applying to different families on a website called Au Pair World and got matched with a family just outside of Paris in a suburb called Malakoff.

(I’ll do a longer post another day explaining more in-depth my different Au Pair experiences.)

I quickly realized that I would want to stay another year and found a different family for the following year in 2018. At the beginning of my second go-round, I learned about a program called TAPIF which stands for Teaching Assistant Program In France which is through the French Department of Education. The purpose is they bring native speakers and place them in foreign language classrooms in public schools. I applied and got accepted for the 2019/2020 year and well…decided to stay again.

I got placed in a high school in Neuilly-sur-Seine and unfortunately, my time with the students got cut short due to the pandemic.

(Me leaving for France in August 2017!)

However, just before the beginning of the pandemic, I got accepted to live as an Artist in Residence at La Fondation Des Etats-Unis and have my own artist studio - which was a HUGE blessing.

Fast forward through multiple confinements, I accepted a Nanny position for the 2020-2021 year because honestly, I wasn’t sure else to do. (I’m skipping over some very extensive issues with my visa, but I’ll go back and explain in another post!)

I applied again to do TAPIF and was accepted for the 2021-2022 year in a Middle School in Villeneuve-le-Roi which is a suburb near Orly Airport.

So now in my fifth year in France, I’m working as a Teaching Assistant once again (as well as a barista and illustrator of course.)

To recap/ TL;DR

Year 1 - Au Pair

Year 2 - Au Pair

Year 3 - Teaching Assistant

Year 4 - Nanny

Year 5 - Teaching Assistant

So here I am, almost five years living in France. Still not fluent in French, but certainly improved since I first moved here. I’m grateful for every step along the way and I’m really proud of who I’ve become. Some days have been overwhelmingly difficult and there have been seasons where I felt like I couldn’t stay much longer. There are days that are so magical they feel like you’re living in poetry or a postcard. My friend Hope used to say, “sometimes Paris flirts with you.” It’s so dang true.

I often wonder what my life would look like if I had moved back after one year like the original plan. Would I be further along in my “career?” Would I be in a serious relationship? Would I have forgotten all of the french I learned? Who knows.

For now, I’m trying to just sit in the uncertainty and be present in my day-to-day life.

Here’s to uncertainty and challenges and staying hopeful and finding beauty in mundane things.

Until next time,

Mal <3

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