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!