Originally written June 15th, 2022
So, how did two thirty-somethings who had never planned on buying abroad find themselves with a house in a small Provençal village in the south of France? For that, we need to start back at the beginning, back in early March 2020, with the covid lockdown.
“I am so excited,” one of my 7th grade students said, rushing into my room and slamming an overflowing binder onto his desk. Papers scattered all around him on the floor, but he seemed unphased. “I’m going to sleep in and play video games and hang out with my friends for the next two weeks.” His friend, following closely behind him and sliding into the adjacent desk, nodding his head. “I’m going to stay up as late as I want and sleep all day!” Added the friend. I furrled my eyebrows as I set his packet of work on his desk. “Something tells me this isn’t going to be as fun or exciting as you two think.” More students scattered excitedly into the room and found their places.
It was March 13, two days after my 36th birthday and we just received the long, dreaded email instructing us to make two weeks worth of work to send home with our students. The state of Pennsylvania had instructed schools to close, covid was creeping in.
For weeks we watched on the news as it swept from one country to the next, grinding commerce to a halt and freezing daily life into snapshots of what once was. Even though we knew it was coming, it seemed everyone was taken aback by the closure email. Teachers who had taught for decades were left paralyzed, never having experienced anything like this in their careers, unsure of their next steps.
“Ok, ok, everyone,” my soft-spoken voice was getting lost in all of the excitement, “here is your work for the next two weeks. I will email you each a schedule of when the worksheets are due. When you have completed them, snap a photo of your page and email it to me for points.” I stood at the front of the room, the students buzzing around. “We are two weeks away from the end of the 9 weeks, so you all know the routine. The end of French will be the exact same as the end of Spanish.” I said passing out the last packet. I felt like I was literally in the eye of a tornado, this nervous energy swirling around me while I sat still trying to catch up with whatever the new reality would look like when the chaos moved on. It was as if the students were told they had two weeks worth of snow days. They were barely able to contain themselves. The introduction to something out of the norm had sent them into a tizzy.
The students had been instructed to walk through their daily schedule and visit each of their teachers to collect the work they would need to do during the time of the closure. Each teacher had 8 brief minutes to explain what was expected before the students flooded out into the halls in search of their next period. While the overwhelming feeling amongst the students was excitement, the teachers were silently, and some not so silently, panicking. Our school wasn’t set up for online learning, leaving us with a large question mark to carry home along with any materials we may need for the next 3 months. “Pack your materials as if you aren’t coming back for the rest of the year,” the final line of the email stated.
“Is this all that we have to do?” A small girl seated to my left looked up from her packet with big, chocolate chip eyes. Each of their backpacks and folders were bursting at the seams with anxiously cobbled together weeks worth of work. I’m not sure she, or any of her fellow students for that matter, could have fit another page into their already exploding binders.
“Yes,” I said sweetly. “For now. Just make sure to check your email in case things change.”
I was at the end of my second year of teaching high school language. For the first half of my day, I taught different levels of French. For the second half of my day I was the English as a Second language teacher and taught a 7th grade cultures course. The course was fun and light, walking 7th graders through 4 ½ weeks of basic French and then switching over to 4 ½ weeks of basic Spanish.
Feedback from the loudspeaker jolted everyone to a halt and the room quieted down. “Move on to your 8th period class,” boomed the principle. Office noise hummed in the background as phones rang off the hook and nervous chatter could be heard, but not fully understood. The speaker clicked off and students began to disperse.
“If I don’t see you, have a great summer!” I said, anxiously watching them bounce out of the room. A student brushed past me, “you too, but it’s only for two weeks! We’ll be back in no time!” She said, grabbing on to a friend's arm and sliding out the door. I stared blankly at the closing door. To be that young and clueless about the happenings around you; sometimes it’s a beautiful position to be in.
Walking behind my desk, I pulled an old printer paper box up onto it and looked around my room, trying to determine what exactly should be brought home. What materials would be needed if I were unable to return to this room? I puffed up my cheeks with a big breath of air then slowly let it out. This was going to be a long two weeks.
**Above is our journey from the Spanish boarder through the whole south and all the stops in between. You may notice Vaison is not marked, it was a totally by chance we ended up there!
Bonjour, Ciao, Salut! I'm Rachel and this is my story documenting our experience buying a home in France. If you are looking for advice on home buying, feel free to e-mail me or check the bottom of the home page for a link to a basic guide.