From Kansas to Réunion

Please pardon the dust while I figure out how exactly to work this site.

I am starting a travel blog, finally! It’s something I have wanted to do for years, especially during my study abroad experience in France, but alas I never actually did it. I often have ideas that never come to fruition, I dream things that will never happen, but sometimes the stars align. As I find myself sitting on my balcony in Reunion Island I’ve decided now is the time- I must create a blog!

Originally from Kansas, this year I have become sort of a nomad. I started the year in Kansas, worked the summer in Southern, high desert Oregon, and now I am living and working in Reunion Island! (You may have heard of it from the news of finding pieces of the Malaysia plane off the shore, or stories of shark attacks, but if not it is off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.) I am working as a language assistant where I help numerous teachers with English classes in both a middle school and a high school. Having just started, all the kids are super excited to have me there (“une américaine!”), so I hope that continues throughout the school year. I actually had 2 groups of students already stop me after class and ask if they can speak with me more outside of classes!

Okay, Amy, you are in the middle of seemingly nowhere. But how? why?

I am working through the program TAPIF, a great assistant program that works through an agreement between the French and American governments. There are other programs similar around the world as here in Reunion we have assistants from America, England, Ireland, Austria, Australia, Germany, Spain, Canada, and even China! I heard about the program while still in university and knew I had to do it someday! I never thought I would actually end up on Reunion Island! In fact we could choose 3 regions we would like to work, but I was first on the waiting list where none of your preferences are guaranteed. However, I somehow managed to score my first choice! I chose Reunion because back in 2012 while I was researching studying abroad I came across photos of this tiny French Department and had narrowed it down between Reunion and Angers where my university had an established program. In the end I chose Angers, but for TAPIF I thought hey, since I already lived in France, why not try something a bit different?? And boy is it!

Reunion is a world like no other! It is so diverse in every sense of the word. There are influences from India, Africa, China, France, all meshing on this little French island. Right around the corner from my apartment is a boulangerie with all the pastries you could hope for and right across from that there is a creole restaurant! There is also a creole language here which I have quickly realized I should probably learn as most people speak it here and I can’t understand at all! Mostly I just think I am not understanding their French, because with my level of comprehension that also happens a lot, but no it is in fact a completely distinct language!

There has definitely been some culture shock and difficulties in multiple capacities, but more on that to come. I’ve only been here a week and I am still settling in and trying to figure out how exactly does one teach?!?! (something I have NO training in, though I have a tiny bit of experience). One different aspect is the ocean is a 5 minute walk away from my apartment, not ~14 hours in the car from Kansas City, a small fact that my students were completely shocked to learn.  More to come! Alas, I have to figure out this washing machine! I will not let it defeat me! I conquered the bank and my phone finally, I can to this!

Best Wishes and a bientôt,

“ad astra per aspera” ~ to the stars through difficulty, the Kansas motto