Friday, May 30, 2008

Leaving for Lyon

Well, the passports have finally arrived, so we figure that it's time to leak the news. (Drum roll, please...)

Shunning simplicity and sanity, our family has decided to tackle the adventure of spending the 2008-2009 school year in Lyon, France. Last night I sent in my acceptance of a post teaching English at ENS-LSH, one of France's Grandes-écoles (comparable to an ivy-league university.) This lectrice position is part of a graduate exchange program with the University of Illinois's French department.

The benefits: the monthly stipend is paid in Euros, a necessity given the dollar’s current exchange rate. Even more importantly, the teaching schedule isn't overly demanding so I should have plenty of time to be with my family. Jason is thrilled to be headed to Europe as he’s found his niche in architectural history. He will spend much of his time doing research for his thesis project there.

Even so, I’m slightly terrified. While taking off to Europe may sound idealistic and romantic, when you actually start to think about the logistics of moving a young family, it’s pretty overwhelming, especially since my French language experience is limited to 101! (Fortunately Jason speaks more, thanks to his time living in BYU’s Foreign Language Student Residence.)

And so, we’re in the market for advice… Any kind of advice. If anybody has suggestions, recommendations, good contact sources, etc., that might help us on our sojourn, we would love to hear them. We’re searching words of wisdom about plane flights, housing, furnishings, visas, preschool programs, travel insurance, immunizations, language learning, language teaching, food, public transportation, economizing—you name it, we’d love to know about it!

Deep inside, I know that next year will be difficult. I know there will be moments that we feel lost, lonely, and homesick. It will be hard leaving a familiar language and familiar culture, but it’s hardest leaving our friends and especially family. Yet from the time we first found out about this program in November, we have felt in our hearts that the Lord has a special purpose for us in Lyon, whatever it may be. To be completely honest, when the acceptance letter arrived, my first reaction was one of slight disappointment—it would be so much easier to stay! The school certainly had plenty of reasons to reject me (beginning with my novice language experience,) yet doors have continually been opened, and our prayers have continued to confirm that we need to go.

And thus, let the countdown begin! Three more months and voilà, la France!


Jackie said...

Wow! This is amazing! What a great opportunity! My bro and young family are moving out to NZ and it is a huge stress getting everything in order so I totally understand. What are your plans for all your stuff that you can't take? My brother ended up doing a lot of selling on craigslist. I'm afraid I can't be of much help because I've never been to France although my bro-in-law Ephraim served his mission there so you could ask him.

Good luck getting ready for the move! Let us know what we can do to help! We will miss you all but I'm so glad you have this blog so we can see how things go for you in France!

Kristin said...

I echo Jackie...Wow! That IS amazing!

I wish I had advice...but I do wish you the best of luck in such an exciting time for your family.

Talyn said...

Kevin's old RF Baptiste is from Lyon and his family is still there. He and his wife actually go back fairly often. We're still good friends with them, and I'm sure he'd love to give advice and connections.

chou said...

Whoot Whoot!

tweedlediva said...

So jealous! Je parle francais mais je n'habite jamais a la France! (ok, a little rusty I know). Get a rail pass and try to live in University Family housing (most major Euopean schools have them). They are nice and clean and inexpensive. Eat lots and lots of chocolate, cheese and bread! Oh, once again, so jealous.

arnoldzenio said...

Congrats, and welcome to Europe! If you ever need a place to stay near Frankfurt if you're coming to visit the temple, say hi, b/c we've got plenty of room (or rather, we will after about the end of july).

a bientot,


runnermonkey said...

I would recommend eating a wide variety of French cheese (Fr: fromage) before jumping across the Atlantic. It will help climatize your family to European living, and it is oh-so-tasty to boot.

Salt Lake City Allen's said...

Wow, congratulations. You guys are going to have so much fun.

PS.Kara, you don't know me, but I'm Jason's cousin. I've just found all of these awesome family blogs and I'm so excited to be able to keep in touch with everyone.

Mrs. M said...

Félicitations! I love your line "shunning simplicity and sanity". We will do our darndest to come visit you. I am supremely jealous.

Let's see, advice. Contact the mission office and find out about the wards. Find a place to live that is near the bus or metro lines so that you can be happy without a car.

You can brush up on your French by checking out
as well as watching French news at and check out French in Action:

When you get there, if you can have a computer and internet at home, download Skype and talk to friends and family for free. You can conference call with multiple people or do video calls with just one other person. Totally free.

Make a list of all the things you want to do while you're there, as far as traveling in Europe and exploring France. Prioritize them by top 12 and make sure you do at least one a month, assuming you're there for a year. Fit in the others as you can.

Make friends with at least one other family from your ward, or in your neighborhood, so that you can swap childcare and still go on some dates without having to pay a babysitter.

And, have fun!

Anonymous said...

Kara, Jason, Brooklyn & Talia:

You are brave and wise to seize this opportunity. You will make it a very good choice. There will be challenges to be sure... but that's what growth is all about. Perhaps you'll find a way to welcome a sabbatical-crazed father looking for a quiet place to research something related to road rage? Keep smiling!

Talyn said...

I don't recommend the Eurail pass. You usually have to pay for the train anyway (especially in France) and there are limited spaces open for Eurail pass holders, so you have to book months and months in advance. You'll save money and headaches by just buying train tickets. The French trains are incredible, but prepare yourself for major disappointment when traveling by rail in Spain. (The train in Spain drove both of us insane.)

makinzee said...

What an experience you'll have. And most likely the girls will be too young to remember any of it except pictures. That is soooo cool, we are so excited for you.

The Favorite said...

FRANCE! I am so jealous, it's not Buffalo, but it will do. That will be so fun for all of you, maybe we'll have to just update our passports now and come visit.