Sunday, July 12, 2015


The start of my 35th year is going well so far! I had a lovely dinner with some long-time local friends at my favorite restaurant in DC and received several nice gifts and phone calls from family and friends. I feel celebrated!

Well, aside from a full-time job of learning French, I have to admit that I don't always feel like there's time for real life. Somehow, though, it still sneaks in. Since my last post I've had a visit from dad, been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and had a great visit with family in Duluth.

During Father's Day weekend I got in lots of conversation with my pops, as well as a fun weekend including farmer's market, documentary at the AFI Silver theater, brunch out at a fantastic authentic Mexican place, visit to a little-known DC aquatic park, and Bamako planning. As always, it was too quick a visit, but I'm glad we got to spend the time together.

Early on in June, I went camping with some work friends in Shenandoah National Park. It was fun, but I managed to pick up a bug bite which, two weeks later, turned into the much-dreaded "bullseye" mark. I tried to ignore it for a day or two before it's spread across my torso freaked me out enough to see the doctor. The onset of symptoms, vague at first with muscle aches, a persistent headache, and pain in my jaw, quickly defeated me right as I began taking the antibiotics (good prep for Mali, as it turns out, because they're actually malaria meds!). I was down and out for two straight days before the meds kicked in and started alleviating the symptoms. It'll take awhile longer, but hopefully this course of drugs will kick Lyme out of my system for good. It's been a nerve-wracking experience, but hopefully starting treatment within a week of seeing the bullseye means a permanent recovery.

And finally, I took the opportunity of a long Fourth of July weekend to go up to Minnesota and visit
family. I had braced myself for a tough visit, emotionally, knowing my grandfather was ill. It turned out that, while he is indeed seriously ill, I was able to connect a bit with him anyway, which was a lovely relief. Two full days with grandma was also fantastic, as we talked about living abroad and independently, and about life in general. I also got to visit with aunts and an uncle, and all in all I was incredibly pleased to get to spend time with everyone. It was also surprising to me how nice it was to be back in Duluth.

Upcoming: I take my interim language test a week from tomorrow. While it's not really a pass/fail type test, it is a formal, in-depth language exam that will probably take between two and three hours. I'll receive a score the next day which will help me know how close I am to finishing language training. It's a bit stressful because about six weeks later, I'll take what should be my FINAL test, where I am expected to score a 3/3 (generally fluent) and be done with this part of my training. I've gained quite a bit of confidence and feel that I'm progressing well, but it seems unbelievable that I could be considered close to fluent.

To that end, I applied for and was approved to do a language immersion in Quebec City. I'll be there the last week of July and the first week of August, and the goal is to gain confidence and fluency in everyday speaking/listening. There will be class for around five hours a day and I'll be doing a homestay with a French family. There will be no escape from French, which is exactly the point. It should be a nice change of pace!

Note to local hires going through language training prior to your first post: any immersion activity is completely out of your own pocket. Non-local hires will receive the per diem rate for wherever they go (though, this does depend on the language department you're with), but we do not. Fair warning.

And so begins my 35th year... pretty exciting stuff!


1 comment:

  1. There is something magical about you learning another language ... seems like you are becoming a person with new perspectives and a slightly mysterious dimension. Very intriguing.