Learning From My Move

By Jill Hanby

Well, it has been quite a busy few days here with blogging, working and general life happening around us. Although at the weekend we did manage to see the new James Bond film, have you seen it? It was so quintessentially British and classic, I loved it!

When I first moved to Bordeaux, a week would seem to last forever, but now with life settled down, a job and Bordeaux seemingly being 'home', the routine of life seems to take over and everyday is busy.

A sun shiningly pretty Bordeaux (for no other reason than to make you smile!)

In my previous posts I mentioned that I found my first six months in France hard, did anyone else find this? Or maybe you still are finding life to be a tad tricky? I think for me, no hang on a minute, I know for me, it was all tied up in my work. I had left a good job back home in the UK on a quest to follow my man - yikes, that does sound old fashioned, but it's true. He had an opportunity in 'la belle France' so it seemed like that was where we were going!

I clearly had 'issues' with this. I am not sure if it was just the giving up of a good career to move here or because I was effectively 'following' a man here. Whatever, it didn't sit well with me and I found it very hard to adjust. I didn't like leaving a career that I had worked in for 5 years and studied in for more and even more shockingly without that job/career I found it hard to feel like me.

It was at this point that I really understood how much our identity is tied up in our work - who we are become what we do. No wonder the first question we ask when we meet someone is 'What do you do?' Seriously, don't we want to know more about someone than their job?

I now realise that this must be the same for so many people - and not just women - be it moving abroad, changing careers or even just moving house with your partner. Of course, women who have children must feel the same *no little BritGirls to report yet, so this is not first hand knowledge*, in nine months their lives have gone from work, a job and possibly a career to being at home most of the time, looking after babies/children and often keeping the house too - a whole new job and responsibility.

I have seen friends do this without a question and they have done amazingly well at such a big life change. Seriously, one day they are running around an office at work and the next they are calm and relaxed at home as a Mum with their family; they look after them, teach them, help them... a completely new life.

It has taken me a fair while (lets face it, I have been here for 2 years now) to realise that my lifestyle change 'a la fran├žaise' might not be such a bad thing - quite possibly it could be a whole new chapter in my life and as they say 'a change is as good as a rest'!

I am now a happy *most of the time*, English teacher in France. Yes, I am cheating, I know. I live in France but work in English - how lucky am I?! It is a great job in many respects, I meet new people all the time, I help people achieve their goals (very rewarding and not much different to my old job) and at the same time I learn a lot about myself. I learn about French, France, Bordeaux and the lives of others....

Teaching is a good job for an Anglophone in France, but a word of warning, it is not as easy job. Just because you can speak English doesn't mean you can teach it - this I have learnt. It is a lot about patience, personality, understanding and technique as much as it is about English.

Of course, there must be numerous jobs for Anglophones in Bordeaux, from working in a bar (and lets face it, there are a zillion English/Irish bars in this city, so that must be a great place to start a job hunt), to working in a restaurant where a foreign language is ideal, if not essential, to work with the numerous tourists and business visitors we see in Bordeaux.

I also know a few expats who work in very different areas, from Science (where thankfully the international language is English!), to the vineyards and hotels surrounding our pretty city. However, I am most envious of those lucky expats who are bilingual and can speak French as well as their native language.... oh my! These lucky people not only speak two languages but are also usually able to find work in many different sectors thanks to their French tongue - I am in total envy of anyone who can speak two languages, I sometimes struggle with one, let alone being fluent in more than one!

So, did you find work easily? Are you still looking or maybe better yet, you have some helpful hints and words of wisdom for other expats here? Have you found the move to Bordeaux opened your eyes to yourself, like me? I have learnt so much in these past two years, and I am not just talking about which wine you should drink or how foie gras is made, but more about my character, my strengths and most definitely my weaknesses. Not only has a move here been my mini-adventure but also an eye opening experience! 
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